Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


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Picture This: Action Cams

Small video cameras pump up the thrills in outdoor photography.

By Earl Nottingham

It’s hard to turn on the TV or computer these days without seeing some exciting action footage created with a particular breed of small video camera. These cameras have brought us deeper into the worlds of surfing, kayaking, mountain biking and skydiving with breathtaking immediacy.

Photography has long been an integral part of the way we enjoy outdoor activities, and in recent years video cameras have evolved to take a pounding in jarring extreme sports and to function in underwater or freezing environments. The action camera (or “action cam”) is now the tool of choice for many photographers not only for video but for still and time-lapse photography as well. Both amateur and professional photographers are turning out footage with these tiny wonders.

Without a doubt, the GoPro name has changed the world with its popular matchbox-sized line of video action cameras. It’s hard to see any type of outdoor event these days without a GoPro camera strapped, braced, clamped or affixed in some manner to a helmet, handlebar, gun barrel or pole, to name just a few variations. Admittedly, the combination of high image quality, small size and numerous mounting configurations makes the GoPro a prime choice.

However, in the GoPro shadow are other notable action cams. Each has its own unique features and capabilities. Most offer full HD (high definition) 1080P video as well as the options to shoot still and time-lapse photos.

While action cams may have many similarities in their functions, they quickly distinguish themselves in their appearances and useful features. Unlike the box-shaped GoPro, many cameras like the Sony Action Cam and Contour Roam 3 have a more aerodynamic, bullet-shaped form. One significant variant is the iVUE Horizon Camera Glasses, which are actually a pair of sunglasses with an action cam built in.

Check out the numerous action cams available and see how they fit with your particular outdoor or sporting activity.  Here is a closer look at three of them.

iVUE Horizon 1080P Camera Glasses keep your hands free while you record all of your sporting adventures in either 1080P or 720P HD video via a removable SD card. Features include a 135-degree wide-angle lens, a noise reduction microphone, video stabilization and a 5 megapixel camera. The frames come with interchangeable polarized and clear lenses. The sunglass lenses have remarkably good sharpness.

The Contour Roam 3 is one of the few action cams made to be waterproof (up to 30 feet) without a case. In addition to 1080P and 720P HD video, it features a 270-degree rotatable lens with a 170-degree field of view, a laser leveler, a Quick Photo mode (which allows you to instantly toggle between video and photo mode without changing settings) and an instant-on record switch.

The Sony Action Cam is one representative of the new generation of 4K-resolution cameras from Sony. In addition to full HD video, it features slow motion (up to 240 frames per second), image stabilization, a stereo microphone and a splashproof body (optional waterproof case). Notably, it can be monitored and controlled via a smartphone or Sony’s LiveView Remote unit.

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For more on TP&W magazine photography, go to our Photography page


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