Action cams are surprisingly small, solid, and handy

The Fascination with Action Cams

Four Reasons for Their Increasing Popularity with Athletes and Outdoor Enthusiasts

Whether in sand, water, or muck - action cams are able to function and operate in a multitude of different environments in which other camera types would fail. According to our ifolor Photo Report (only available in German), SLR and compact cameras manufactured by Canon and Nikon were the most-sold cameras in the Swiss market in 2015. However, these little robust action cams continue to gain in popularity. This is enough for one to wonder why the enthusiasm for this type of camera continues to increase.

Action cams are small, solid, and can be retrofitted and used for almost any kind of sport thanks to their various accessories and attachments. These features make action cams the perfect companion for anyone doing water sports, motor sports, winter sports, biking, climbing, flying through the air, hiking, and many other outdoor activities. Maybe you’ll end up catching the “action cam fever” as well and start making your own breath-taking videos and photos with your own action cam. Here you’ll find all the tips you’ll need to get started.

Action cams can be retrofitted and used for almost any kind of sport thanks to their various accessories and attachments

1. Action videos are taking over the Internet

Blazing speeds packed together in rapid montages - videos filmed with action cams are becoming more and more popular, especially on video platforms such as YouTube. Just attach a GoPro to your helmet while going downhill mountain biking, skiing, bungee jumping, or to your board while surfing, and your video is sure to go viral.

Action cams really impress with their simple operation, robust construction, and distinct wide-angle optics. This, along with the rising popularity of action cam videos on social media platforms such as Facebook or Google+, can explain the approximate doubling of sales in Switzerland in the last three years.

2. There is the perfect action cam for every situation

While conducting the Photo Report 2015, ifolor discovered that the Swiss prefer to photograph with middleclass cameras. In the segment about action cameras, there is a wide selection of different models available in all price categories, from beginner models to cameras that are capable of shooting a film ready for display on the big screen.

The market leader GoPro continues to show others how it’s done. With its GoPro Hero 5 product line, the company offers consumers camera models that fulfil a number of different demands with an appropriate price-to-performance ratio. With the Black Edition, the most expensive model in the product line, you can film action clips in 4K and take photos with 12 MP. Taking into consideration the camera model’s various functions that are meant for professional filming and the high price tag that comes along with it, this model is more suitable for experienced action videographers.

For hobby videographers and beginners alike, they also manufacture the GoPro 4 Silver Edition. This camera is in the middle price range, was the first model from GoPro to come outfitted with a touchscreen, and comes equipped with many great functions. You can use the camera in many different environments with the right accessories and by employing its special functions.

If you’re interested in getting an overview of recommended action cam models from various manufacturers, check out our article: Advice for Buying an Action Cam (Article only available in German).

3. You can film spectacular video clips with an action cam

The number of environments in which this robust and handy camera is able to operate is where other camera types reach their limit. The image quality is crucial for producing beautiful photos. In order to achieve an outstanding level of picture quality, it’s necessary to use the right settings. The manufacturer GoPro, for instance, offers many manual settings and functions to achieve this, such as the image rate, resolution, and vantage point.

Something that makes GoPros stand out is the Protune setting, which is especially well suited for professional filming. When using this mode, the camera doesn’t pre-process any of the photos or recordings and gives you room to use your own creativity. For those who would like to film while using Protune, however, they should definitely make sure they have enough storage space since the recorded material requires a lot more memory when filming with this setting.

To make a really spectacular action video, you can use the slow-motion setting. This will slow down complex as well as quick movements and will make them easier to see for the viewer. This mode is well suited for showcasing especially impressive and daring stunts.

Another important mode you can use while filming with an action cam is the time lapse. This accelerates photos taken over a period of time. You can use this mode, for instance, if you want to quickly show the viewer yourself getting ready for the action.

If you want to learn more about filming and editing videos with action cams, you can read our articles „Tips for Action Videos with the GoPro Action Cam“ and „Tips for Editing Action Videos“.

4. Breath-taking perspectives with action cam photos

When talking about action cams, many people immediately think about spectacular video recordings. However, with this small camera you can also shoot photos and selfies in stunning quality. The size and weight of the action cam allows you to schlep it with you everywhere you go without a problem. Even water or strong impacts won’t interrupt the action. Some models also offer the possibility to automatically snap a photo every couple of seconds.

A landscape shot just under the water surface offers an unusual perspective
Source: Björn Jacob,

The wide-angle lens, which is typical for this type of camera, is a popular trend at the moment. This effect makes photos taken with the action cam stand apart from other “normal” images taken with a smartphone, for example. When using a wide-angle lens, which is also called a fish-eye lens, it’s actually easier to take great selfies. As soon as you’ve gotten used to the unusual view of the lens, you can shoot fascinating photos and selfies from novel perspectives.

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