Action cameras have gained in popularity in recent years. These small camcorders were developed for use in extreme conditions, and they were initially used for first-person video recording. However, they are increasingly common when recording in places that professional equipment cannot reach.

Over the last few years, the arrival of – mostly Chinese – new brands on the market has led to a rise in the available supply. Simultaneously, the drop in prices has made these products much more accessible to the general public. You no longer have to be a professional athlete to buy your very own action cam.

Key Facts

  • Action cameras are specifically designed for use in extreme conditions, their main use being for first-person video recording.
  • They are the perfect partner for all your adventures, and leaving without it will be impossible for you. GoPro was the very first action cam brand, but new brands have flooded the market in recent years.
  • Prices have significantly decreased lately, and the general public has gained greater access to action cameras. Few current models can record 4K resolutions at 30 fps.

Ranking: The best action cameras on the Australian market

The section below will introduce you to our very own ranking of the best action cams currently available on the Australian market. We tried to include the needs of different types of users in our selection, and all models offer great quality.

No. 1: APEMAN A77 Action Camera

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Chinese company APEMAN is one of those young brands that has taken the market by storm, offering quality action cameras at reduced prices. Capable of recording with a maximum resolution of 4K at 25 fps and taking photos at 16MP, the APEMAN A77 has become Amazon’s Choice in the category, a guarantee of value for money and overall quality.

The small remote control included helps you manage your cam at a distance, and the built-in Wi-Fi allows you to share content in a hurry. The spare battery is definitely a nice perk for longer recording sessions, and the waterproof casing means you’ll take it everywhere with you. Past customers say it’s “worth every dollar”, so what are you waiting for? This product comes with a 12-month warranty.

No. 2: GoPro HERO7 Black

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The absolute best in the business, GoPro is credited as being the very first action camera brand in history. While its sales have taken a toll with the arrival of substantial competition, GoPro gear remains a go-to for top quality. The HERO7 is the latest camera by the brand, and has already become Amazon’s Best Seller for the category.

Presenting incredible features, it was designed to anticipate your movements and adjust the camera, offering a truly fluid image. One great thing about it? You can take it up to 10 metres underwater with no casing. It can be controlled through voice command, and records in 4K at an incredible 60 fps. You can broadcast live with it, and its 8x slow motion video is just a cool perk to enjoy!

No. 3: Xiaomi Mijia Mini 4K Action Camera

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Chinese electronics brand Xiaomi is definitely one of the toughest competitors for GoPro, and that’s because they really do it right. This action cam offers a maximum recording of 4K at 30 fps, and you can shoot up to 2 hours at this resolution. This means you’ll have all the footage you need by the time your battery runs out.

You can quickly connect to the Mi 4K Action Camera app via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, while the touchscreen makes it easier to navigate the different modes available. These include time-lapse and slow-motion for video, and nine scenes are features for photos. The battery is removable, so you can switch with a spare one if you want even longer recording times. 12-month warranty included.

No. 4: Lightdow LD4000 Action Camera

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Lightdow arguably doesn’t provide the best quality out there, and it won’t be your first choice if you plan on using your action cam professionally. However, the LD4000 is incredibly affordable, presenting the lowest price in our ranking and full HD recording.

It also comes with a bunch of accessories that include a waterproof case and several mounts to take it everywhere with you. Past customers say this model offers amazing value for money, and it’s a great place to start your journey into the world of action cameras! 1-year free replacement warranty.

No. 5: YI Lite Action Camera

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YI is another Chinese company that’s developed quality action cams and made them available to the general public. The YI Lite is a tiny but powerful product capable of recording 4K images at 20 fps or full HD at 60 fps. Its long-range Wi-Fi capabilities are one particularly interesting feature, allowing you to control your camera with your smartphone up to 100 metres away. The YI Lite also offers great battery life, with over 2 hours of recording on full HD. Available with or without waterproof case.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about action cameras

There are several key criteria that you have to pay attention to before purchasing your action cam. Remember that each model presents its own characteristics and features. We’ve designed this section to tackle the main questions people ask themselves up buying an action camera.

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We encourage you to see sample shots before choosing one. A picture is worth a thousand words. (Source: Boyarkina: 52819507/ 123rf.com)

What is an action camera exactly?

These small, compact, lightweight and rugged cameras are designed to record videos with a wide-angle lens. Specifically built for use in extreme conditions, they often come with a waterproof housing for underwater adventures. The very small size of action cams makes them ideal to be worn on the body.

The fixed wide-angle lens provides the peripheral vision sensation of our human eye, which also ensures that you have proper framing at all times. Outdoor adventurers and athletes are particularly fond of action cameras.

Their light weight means they are also suitable for use as drone cams.

What are the main uses of action cameras?

As we mentioned earlier, these products are mostly used for first-person video recording, very often in extreme situations. Their small sizes makes them ideal for reaching places that standard cameras cannot get to. Action cams are also useful to take aerial and bird’s-eye-view shots.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of action cameras?

These very light, compact and shock-resistant cameras are particularly easy to transport. You’ll find many accessories available out there to carry your camera on your own body, be it on your chest, your head or your arm. Most models also have protective cases specifically designed for underwater use.

Due to market supply, prices have significantly dropped in recent years; it is no longer a huge investment to buy one. On the other hand, one great disadvantage of this kind of product is that the built-in microphones tend to record low-quality audio.

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The sharpness of the lens depends on its quality. (Source: Gilmanshin: 49316934/ 123rf.com)

What types of action cameras are available out there?

We generally identify two types of action cams: you have the more affordable, lower-end models, and high-end cameras that offer much higher performance. The mass arrival of low-cost Chinese brands on the market is at the origin of this clear distinction.

Type Features
Low-end Much more affordable, but also much fewer features. They generally don’t include as many accessories. They target less professional users.
High-end These cameras are aimed at people with much higher budgets. They are intended for professional use. They give you the possibility of recording in 4K.

How do I use my action camera?

There are many different ways in which you can use this product. In the end, your activities greatly influence how you’ll use your action cam, but we do have some basic tips that we’re sure you’ll find useful. Our first suggestion is that you practice and get to know your new toy before you start recording.

You naturally have to make the most of all your cam’s accessories. Placing real physical filters in front of your lens will help you correct the light that reaches it; you need to take full advantage of the light. Memory and battery are two aspects you definitely don’t want to overlook. You wouldn’t be the first to miss out on key shots because you’ve run out of either.

What are the main accessories for action cameras?

We suppose tripods are the first one people think of. Similar to the selfie stick, the extension pole is another very common accessory that lets you place your action cam in the opposite direction.

Head mounts and helmet fastening systems are also very popular to get the perfect first-person perspective.

Helping you avoid possible discomfort from weight on your head, chest harnesses are also frequently used. A shorter, more ergonomic version of the pole is often carried by divers. Last but not least, suction pads are very useful to attach your action camera on your vehicle.

For whom are action cams recommended?

Nowadays, the profile of people who might be interested in this kind of product has truly broadened. First of all, athletes wanting to record their performances or training sessions will be very fond of action cams, just like surfers who want videos of their rides without worrying about their camera being damaged by water.

Many bikers and cyclists now use them, and skiers often attach them to their helmet or chest. Other target groups include skaters and street performers, such as musicians and dancers. Action cameras are also ideal for outdoorsmen, adventure lovers and other adrenaline junkies.

Advantages
  • Light
  • Shock resistant
  • Easy to transport
  • Versatile
  • Water resistant
  • Moderate price
Disadvantages
  • Average audio quality
  • You won’t want to leave home without it

Shopping Criteria

The following section will introduce you to several key criteria that you can’t forget when the time comes to make your purchase. They will make your decision-making process much easier, and we’re sure you’ll be satisfied with your choice. One thing we definitely don’t want is for you to be unhappy with your action cam!

  • Personal use
  • Resolution
  • Frames per second
  • Bit rate
  • Optics
  • Image stabilisation
  • Sensor
  • Connectivity
  • Mobile application
  • Accessories
  • Battery
  • Audio quality
  • Size
  • Brand

Personal use

You’ll need top quality for professional use, but that won’t be a necessity if you buy it for personal purposes. The frequency of use is also something you have to consider. The shooting conditions and places you want to use your action camera should play a role in your final decision.

Will you be using it for specific activities or sports? This is important as you’ll for example need a waterproof protection for surfing.

The accessories that will be useful to you depend on your personal use, so think about it.

Resolution

Do you absolutely need an action cam that can record in 4K resolution, or will Full HD (1080p) be good enough? Currently, most of the video content we consume is actually in Full HD. However, there are a number of great advantages gained by recording in 4K and scaling down the image to 1080p.

You’ll obtain a much sharper image, and you’ll be able to apply software stabilisation and zoom during the editing process. On the downside, this requires more demanding editing equipment in terms of power and storage capacity, not to mention the time you’ll need to edit your footage.

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Action cams are perfect for travelling and outdoor adventures. (Source: Kumtanom: 66078412/ 123rf.com)

Frames per second

A higher number of frames per second (fps) will provide a sharper motion of the moving bodies in the image. For reference, know that 24 fps are usually used in cinema; this creates what what we call the motion blur effect. This cinematographic style is particularly pleasing to the eye.

You’ll get much greater realism and clarity of movements when recording at 60 fps, which is often used in documentaries or broadcasts of sporting events. Recording with a higher frame rate gives you the possibility of later applying slow motion effect during the editing.

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The opposite of slow motion is called time-lapse photography.

Bit rate

This value corresponds to the amount of video information produced by your camera, and it gives you an idea of how much compressed video data passes through the camera. Considering the incredibly high work volume of these cameras, remember that they cannot actually transmit all the data generated.

This means that the camera will either compress or discard some of this data. You naturally want as much data as possible when editing your video, so you should always prioritise a higher bit rate. However, keep in mind that more data also means more resources and time needed, so finding the right balance for you is key.

Optics

This is without a doubt a fundamental aspect of any camera. The sharpness of your lens will greatly depend on its quality. Here are some data about action cameras that may be useful: the maximum aperture usually revolves around value of f/2.8, while the focal length varies between viewing angles of 150° to 170°.

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The range and quality of your camera will be clearly defined by its price. (Source: Gargantilla: 43260193/ 123rf.com)

Image stabilisation

We imagine that you’ll be moving around quite a bit if you need an action camera, And you definitely don’t want vibrations while you record videos. If you simply won’t let ill-timed vibrations ruin your moment of glory, know that several techniques will help you obtain a perfectly stable image.

When it comes to video, the most effective one tends to be external stabilisation. While optical stabilisation is particularly efficient for correcting vibrations, few cameras feature this characteristic.

Yo can also opt for internal electronic stabilisation, which is considered to be quite effective; however, this comes at the expense of quality and image angle.

Sensor

The sensor of your action cam is also a determining factor in the quality of your video. This key component captures the light, which then passes through the lens and the diaphragm before being converted into image. A bigger sensor will be able to offer higher image quality by capturing more light.

Connectivity

Action cameras generally feature a USB connection so that you can connect it to your computer or other electronic devices. Nowadays, technological advances has led to most models offering the possibility of connecting via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, with higher-end cams even allowing connection through NFC (near-field communication) technology.

Mobile application

Camera manufacturers offer very handy mobile applications, so don’t overlook them. Depending on the app, you will be able to speed up video transfer from your camera to your mobile phone. We know just how important smartphones have become for content sharing. Note that not all apps will present the same features.

Accessories

This aspect is particularly important as it will determine the different types of cases, anchors and other accessories you’ll have access to. In the end, you will always find the right accessories separately online, but you’ll save money if they directly come with your action cam kit. Avoid surprises by checking available accessories first.

When it comes to range of accessories, GoPro remains the undisputed industry leader. We definitely recommend you to buy a model with a similar format, which will give your action camera access to many more accessories – at more affordable prices.

Battery

We know you know this is a fundamental aspect for any type of electronic devices, let alone cameras. It’s very likely that you often find yourself in situations where charging your battery is simply impossible, whether you’re up high in the sky or riding swells. One available option is having spare batteries handy, but you might realise in the long run that this is extra weight to carry.

Most current action cameras feature lithium ion batteries, which contribute to making this product lighter. Milliamperes hour (mAh) is the technical unit used to measure the autonomy of batteries, but many manufacturers will also include the autonomy in hours in the product’s specifications.

Audio quality

As we mentioned earlier, most action cameras unfortunately lack top quality when it comes to sound. If you need quality audio, you’ll need to equip yourself with an external microphone or simply a digital recorder.

This will naturally be an additional investment, although some kits include an external mic.

Size

Size and weight are two fundamental aspects, as they will determine how easily you can carry your action camera around. But we don’t mean taking it from point A to point B during a trip. We’re talking about having it with you while you’re parachuting, surfing or exploring mountains on your bike.

Brand

The brand par excellence is GoPro, which practically created the concept of action cams. Sony and YI also offer high quality devices. Other recognised brands that offer quality equipment include SJ, Tom Tom and Toshiba.

As we mentioned already, the arrival of Chinese brands has developed the lower-end market, making these products more accessible. Brands like Xiaomi have even come to outmatch GoPro’s highest range models. This democratisation of the market isn’t something the general public is complaining about.

Summary

An action camera will be the perfect companion for your life full of adventure. The appearance of much more affordable models has contributed to the increasing popularity of this product, and the offer has considerably expanded in recent years. We like to think this is a very positive thing.

But it’s true that this phenomenon has also made choosing the right camera a little bit of a hassle. Knowing the key specifications and your needs is therefore essential, so make sure you consider aspects such as resolution, bit rate, frames per second or battery life.

We hope you found this guide interesting and helpful. If that’s the case, feel free to share it with your friends and family on your social media. You can also leave us a comment in the section below!

(Source of featured image: Vasilev: 114210766/ 123rf.com)

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