You’re an avid cyclist, and you want to record your amazing experiences on your bicycle. However, you don’t want to splurge a few hundred dollars on a name-brand action camera, either. We’ve listed five of the best products that we would choose if we were in the market for a compact camera for cycling.
Do you need a compact camera for your bicycle?
With mobile phones getting more and more pliable when it comes to photos and video, can’t you simply mount your phone and get it to do your dirty work for you? You could, but do you really want to expose your mobile phone to the sun, rain, and the chance of it falling to the pavement and getting a cracked screen?
An action camera is built to be waterproof and resistant to shock, and their small size means that mounting them in places with high risks, like low on the front forks, won’t cause you endless worry. Plus, mobile phones keep the screen on while recording video, which drains battery charge alarmingly quickly. You don’t want to be stranded with a dead phone if you need help.
How do you narrow down your compact cycling camera options?
First, you’ll need the compact action camera you use for cycling to be, well, compact. The action cameras of today are all approximately the same size, with a few differences in size and weight coming thanks to waterproof housings or mounts.
You’ll want 4K video not just for the resolution, but also if you want a stable video; since that will allow you more scope for stabilisation in a video editing software. A bigger screen with better resolution will allow you to better judge if an image or video is sharp.
Waterproofing is a necessity since you’ll want it to function come rain or shine. The more the depth it can go to, the better, because that means it can resist water pressure, like the splashing from cars driving by.
Modes like slow motion, time-lapse, burst, and high dynamic range will all add value to your purchase. Wifi connectivity also is a necessity, which means you can set the frame and change settings and/or modes using your mobile phone.
Are there any other features you should look for?
Most compact cycling cameras will offer one or two basic mounts packaged with them. However, a deal that offers many different mounts packaged with the camera will be preferable – that way you won’t have to go hunting for compatible mounts. The mounts you’re most likely to use are a handlebar mount and a chest mount, so keep an eye out for those.
Five compact cameras that you should consider for cycling are:
Campark ACT74 Compact Camera
The Campark ACT74 promises a lot of value. It has an adjustable 170 degree fisheye lens, a 2 inch HD screen, a waterproof case that will keep it going up to a depth of 100 feet (30 metres), and connectivity to an Android or iOS phone via WiFi.
The video recording at 4K is a surprising 30fps, a dab more framerate than some of the more expensive cameras here.
The accessories kit is quite comprehensive with the Campark ACT74: you get two 900 mAh batteries, a handlebar mount, a fixed base, two helmet bases, two 3M stickers, two base mounts, three switch connections, four bandages, two clips, a wire rope, and four ribbons packaged along with the camera. The manufacturer recommends a 32GB class 10 micro SD card along with this product.
- Can be controlled with the phone
- Long-lasting battery life
- Very affordable
- Audio quality is average
Dragon Touch Vision 3 Pro Compact Camera
This has the edge over the Campark with a slightly higher capacity 1050 mAh battery but offers a similar video recording time. Like Campark, it has the capacity to take 4K videos. The other two modes match up to the other cameras, at 2K/30fps and 1080P/60fps.
It has an adjustable lens that can change the angle at 70, 110, 140 and 170 degrees. The display touch screen is 2 inch, making it an interactive experience to use the camera.
It has a wider range of accessories that ships with it, including the waterproof case, the extra battery, a bicycle mount, a helmet mount, a bandage, five tethers, a protective back door, seven mounts, and its biggest distinguishing feature against the Campark ACT74, a wireless remote in a wristband format.
The Dragon Touch Vision 3 can take up to a 64GB Class 10 micro SD card. The wireless remote will be a great value addition because it means you don’t have to handle either your phone or the camera while on the move; the remote can be worn like a wristband or mounted on the handlebar for easy access.
It also comes with a separate charger. The separate charger means that you can charge both batteries at the same time; one in the camera itself, and the other in the charger, halving your charge time for two batteries.
- It comes with a 4X zoom
- Despite its low price, it offers different modes for recording
- Can record only basic audio
- Lacks image stabilization
Apeman A79 Compact Camera
This action camera is a step up from the previous two compact cycling cameras. It offers more – there is electronic image stabilisation, and a 20MP sensor, 4MP more than the previous two cameras, thus enabling you to take sharper images.
It is also waterproof to further depths – it has 10 metres over the Dragon Touch and Campark, being waterproof upto 40 metres. It comes with remote control as well as different mounts for enhanced functionality and ease of use. A 64GB class 10 card is recommended with it. The greater resolution will allow you to zoom in more on images, or make bigger prints compared to the others before.
The electronic image stabilisation (EIS) of the Apeman A79 will help you eliminate shake, something that is very necessary for an activity like cycling. Your videos will turn out more stable, and those photos with blur thanks to speed will turn out much better thanks to the stabilisation.
It also supports an external microphone, which is included in the accessories package. The external microphone will help immensely if you want to keep up a running commentary while on your ride. The inbuilt mics tend to pick up a lot of wind noise, and no matter where you mount your A79, you can place the mic near your face for optimum sound recording.
- Improved casing means it is waterproof to a greater depth – 40 metres
- It has Electronic Image Stabilization which results in greater stability and smoother video
- The camera is reset to default date and time if the batteries are removed
Crosstour CT9000-U Compact Camera
Crosstour’s CT9000-U offers almost everything that the Apeman A79 offers. It offers the same resolution as the A79 of 20MP but does not claim to have electronic image stabilisation or an external mic. All the other features match that of the Apeman. A class 10 micro SD card of up to 32GB is recommended along with it.
One added feature is the WiFi capability and remote control that comes along with this camera. This makes it very convenient to use the action camera in any setting.
- A free action camera app – “DV KING 4K” – is included to control the camera on your smartphone
- A lot of accessories are included
- Copying files to the Mac can result in errors
Akaso Brave 4
The Akaso Brave 4 offers the same 20MP resolution and 4K/24fps, 2K/30fps and 1080P/60fps video resolution as the Crosstour and Apeman, but it adds image stabilisation to both video and photo modes for clearer results.
It also offers 5x zoom, where all the other cameras here offer 4x zoom. Two 1050 mAh batteries are included in your purchase, as are 19 accessories.
It has an average waterproof capacity of 30 metres underwater. The dive mode setting filters the red light out of underwater settings for more natural colours. The zoom modes will allow you to take photos and videos of details in a simpler manner relatively.
- Includes a built-in gyroscope for smoother video
- The angle of view can be adjusted as per requirement
- It takes 4K video at 24fps, unlike the others that take at 30 fps
So there you go! A round-up of the top compact cameras for cycling which promises to offer value to the cyclist looking to invest in a compact camera for cycling without breaking the bank.