I love action cameras. In fact, I have four GoPros: three original HD HEROs and one HD HERO2. I have taken them through water, used them suction-cupped to my car, and paired them in GoPro’s stereoscopic enclosure mounted on a K-Tek Norbert. I am not a particularly athletic individual, so my GoPro reel doesn’t include skateboarding, skydiving, bungee jumping or surfing footage, but those little GoPros still have allowed me to do things I couldn’t imagine doing with my stable of cameras, which range from DSLRs to a Sony PMW-F3. Here’s a rundown of new, forthcoming and even rumored POV cameras that’ll help you add some action to your shots.
GoPro HD HERO2
GoPro has been the market leader in the action camera category for casual users, extreme sports filmmakers and indeed even broadcasters for some time.
If I were a true action videographer I would add the optional dive housing to my GoPros. The dive housing is fully waterproof and pressurized to 197 feet.
I don’t yet have the Wi-Fi BacPac, which adds Wi-Fi capabilities to the HD HERO and HD HERO2 including live video remote control, preview and playback via the GoPro app on a smartphone or tablet and Wi-Fi transfer of footage. With the optional remote, you may remotely control one or up to 50 HD HERO2 cameras at a time from up to 600 feet away. GoPro has promised an upgrade that will enable live streaming.
Other accessories include the LCD BacPac, a removable LCD screen for HD HEROs, and Battery BacPac to extend camera recording times.
JVC ADIXXION on the slopes
JVC is entering the action camera market with the 0.28 lb. JVC GC-XA1 ADIXXION, which shoots 1080/30p as well as 720/60p formats (and WVGA) in addition to 5-megapixel stills. It records MP4 videos to SDHC/SDXC cards.
Featuring a built-in 1.5” LCD display, the camera is waterproof to a little over 16 feet, shockproof to 6.5 feet, and dust- and freeze-proof. Wi-Fi functionality is standard, so it can send footage to an iOS or Android device.
The CMOS sensor features image stabilization to reduce camera shake. It even includes circuitry to reduce rolling shutter and skew artifacting endemic to CMOS sensors. And if that’s not enough, the camera can stream footage live to Ustream without an intermediary computer. Other features include auto/manual white balance, HDMI output, time lapse (intervals of 1 or 5 seconds), ultra-wide lens and, last but hardly least, a 5x digital zoom.
The camera ships with a flexible mount, a goggle mount and USB cable. Numerous optional mounts will be available.
Veho Muvi HD NPNG Edition
British company Veho has a line of 1080p action cameras. The Veho Muvi HD is available in several configurations, but most relevant to us is the Muvi HD Professional Handsfree Camcorder. It records 1080/30p or 720/60p video to microSD cards (8 GB card is included) and features digital zoom, 1.5” LCD and touch control panel. Its internal rechargeable battery provides a continuous three hours record time. The camera ships with a wireless remote control, HDMI port with TV out, and mounting kits for car, helmet and anywhere a 3M adhesive may be placed.
Its target market is not just the action market but, owing to its noise-activated feature, in security situations. Its offers a much higher resolution than conventional security setups. Again, a variety of mounts and waterproof enclosures are available. Here is a camera that can record your surfing exploits and then work security for your board.
Contour makes several action cameras, including the ContourROAM, ContourGPS and Contour+. All record 1080 or 720 video to microSD cards in an H.264 MOV format, and all three weigh about 5 oz. Various helmet, body and suction mounts are optional, as is a waterproof enclosure.
Both the GPS and Plus models include GPS tracking, with the Plus adding features including HDMI, external mic jack (really important) and a flush front lens. The Contour units’ tubular form factor mounts particularly effectively on a helmet.
The base Roam and Plus models share 170° wide lenses, while the GPS model sports a 135° lens. Contour claims sharpness as one of its major features, made possible by a high-quality optic.
Contour offers the widest options of mounting and waterproof cases of any of the action camera vendors; the Contour line is definitely worth considering if you’re in the market for a new action camera.
Sony’s unnamed action camera
In a blog post, Sony teased with preview photos and posted a few cryptic hints about their action camera in progress. The camera will feature Sony SteadyShot technology in a package with an Exmor R CMOS sensor and a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens. There was no word on what will come standard with the camera, but the blog post notes that at least two ruggedized housings will be available.
Simply by virtue of the number of units sold, GoPro is the reigning king of action cameras. Veho’s Muvi HD and Contour’s line are worthy of consideration, however, as they offer several features or mounting options not necessarily found in the GoPro line.
The JVC ADIXXION pre-release information radiates excitement—while it might not supplant the GoPro, it certainly will attract market interest. And we await with anticipation more information from Sony, whose use of a CMOS Exmor sensor promises the best picture quality of all.