Buying a video camera for recording sports is a very different story from buying a camcorder for general movie making. For sports you’ll have to capture high speed motion, which might not be the case when recording other general videos. In such a case, you have to equip yourself with the best video camera for sports.
Now let’s imagine this scenario:
You are an action sports enthusiast. You would like to record your feats and show it to your loved ones or maybe simply record videos for some great memories. For that you would need the best action camera.
Let us now first look at some of the essential features that an action camera should possess so that it can classify as a competitive choice.
Before you choose an action camera, you must make sure that it possesses some attributes that ensure it is a dependable action camcorder. Read on to find out what they are.
Toughness and durability
This one is a no-brainer. It is but obvious that as the name suggests, you’ll be using your action camera for high-action and even extreme sports. Whether you’re mountain biking or scuba diving, if you’re carrying your action camera during the act, the camcorder is going to be exposed to some rather tough conditions. Particularly during high speed sports, there are chances of pretty rough usage. It is for this reason that the action camera you choose should be pretty tough and durable to last for a long period even if exposed to a harsh environment.
Seriously, what good is an action camera if it is not waterproof. One of the main uses of an action camera is in underwater sports. All those videos you see of scuba diving, underwater aquatic life and snorkeling; most of them have been shot with the help of action cameras. And the best thing of action cameras is that they’re pretty compact and hence can be carried by yourself till a specific depth to capture the underwater world.
Of course, there are limitations to how deep an action camera can be taken so that it is still waterproof. Most action cameras do fine till 30 m below the water surface. While almost all of them come with a waterproofing housing, the GoPro HERO7 is waterproof till 33 ft without a housing.
It goes without saying that an action camera needs to have better image stabilization than your regular camcorder. You encounter a lot of movement, bumps and change of angles when shooting any action sport. True for better stability, there are external devices available like gimbals, monopods etc. But even then, there are cases when you don’t want to use any external device. That’s when your camera’s inbuilt image stabilization feature can do a good job.
Mounts for a hands free experience
When you use an action camera for extreme sports like mountain biking, snowboarding or scuba diving, you will have to mount your camera somewhere so that your hands remain free if it is you who is shooting the video. Most of the times, it is on the helmet or the handlebars of the bike or cycle you’re riding.
Mounts are usually held in place by straps or clamps so that they remain fixed in any type of use.
Though resolution might not matter much for land sports, if you’re shooting underwater, atleast an ultra HD resolution is a must. The more preferable is of course 4K, but even if you have UHD, you can get a pretty good footage of your experience underwater.
That being said, with most of the action cameras coming to the market with 4K resolution these days, and that too at very competitive prices, there is no reason why you must not go for a 4K action camera. Especially when some of them are so affordable.
It goes without saying that you need a long battery life especially when you’re shooting outdoors and in the middle of recording an extreme sport. Most action cameras today come with sufficient battery life. However, at UHD and 4K resolution, the battery gets drained quicker so you need to check how much the battery lasts in these modes before you buy.
Some additional features
Voice Control or Remote Control
At least till 3 years back, very few action cameras came with voice control. Although a few of them came with remote control feature. Then in 2015, GoPro introduced the HERO5 which had the voice control feature. This was a great and much awaited feature as it made the overall task of shooting videos while performing the sport much much easier.
Now you could switch on and off your camera while in motion and also perform a lot of other basic actions just with the help of voice commands. Today, more and more action cameras are incorporating the voice feature in them.
If you are shooting at exotic locales and want to share the location with your friends and family, the GPS feature will help. However, this is not something that you must obsess after and moreover most of the action cameras today come with this feature.
The GoPro Hero 7 is our top recommendation in the action camcorder category.
There are quite a few camcorders for action sports in the market. However in this post, I will provide you with a list of the 5 best video cameras for recording sports in 2018. A longer list means more options and hence more confusion. Hence I have included only 5 sports camcorders. So let’s get on with it.
If you are on a tight budget and are looking for the best video camera for sports within $100, you can check these out.
|Image||Product||Features that stand out|
|GoPro HERO7 Black||Extreme Stability, Voice Control, Live Video Streaming||Check Price on Amazon|
|Sony FDRX3000||Balanced Optical Steady Shot, Highly Durable Body, Better Noise Reduction||Check Price on Amazon|
|Sony HDRAZ1VR||Remote viewing through live remote, Ultra wide ZEISS Lens increasing the scope, 5 Video Modes||Check Price on Amazon|
|AKASO EK7000 4K WIFI Sports Action Camera||Low price but highly functional, Wrist remote control, Bestseller||Check Price on Amazon|
|Yi Lite Action Camera||150° wide angle lens, Longer battery life, 6-layer glass lens||Check Price on Amazon|
GoPro HERO7 Black
Launched in September 2018, GoPro HERO7 is the latest version of the GoPro action camera series to hit the market after the moderately successful GoPro HERO6. Packed with a load of features, this newest GoPro version is expected to exceed expectations this time. If you are ready to spend a few extra bucks, then the GoPro Hero7 Black is quite easily the best video camera for sports in the market today.
Features of GoPro Hero7
The GoPro HERO7 Black is now easily the most feature packed action camera in the GoPro HERO series. Launched in 2018, this much awaited action camera is fast becoming a bestseller due to its wide range of features and reliability.
It has some really amazing new features such as voice control, one button control and can withstand water upto 33 feet without a casing. Now that’s an added bonus since it reduces the weight of the camera.
The voice control is an interesting concept. With the help of a few pre-defined voice commands you can turn on and off certain features of the camera.
This is also the third GoPro action camera that has 4K display, after the HERO5 and HERO6. 4K is a revolutionary concept that changes the overall video taking and viewing experience.
Another thing I noticed in the GoPro Hero7 was excellent stability as compared to the previous GoPro versions, thanks to its hyper smooth video stabilization. You now get gimbal-like stability as it predicts your movement to correct for any camera shake that might occur while you’re shooting. This is easily the unique selling point of this version of GoPro.
Now you can also live stream a video into popular video platforms like Facebook and Youtube. This is a great feature if you’re a vlogger or run a video channel on any popular video platforms.
Who can buy?
This camera can be a great buy for GoPro enthusiasts who are looking for advanced features and more hand-off control in their action camera. For example someone who has a passion for dirtbiking can switch the camera ON and OFF with the help of a few voice commands. Also when you need more stability and want to use minimum accessories, the GoPro HERO7 is a great buy.
Of course, people who have never purchased a GoPro can also go for it. However, you must be ready to do some learning before you can use the camera to its fullest potential.
No product can be perfect and like any good sports video camera, the GoPro Hero5 also has a few drawbacks.
- You can live stream in any resolution including 4k. However this is limited by the platform that you want to live stream on. For example, Facebook only allows live streaming in 720p.
- If you are using the 4K60 and 4K30 mode, the battery can drain pretty fast. The maximum upto 90 minutes. That’s not much of a surprise since higher the quality, more is the battery consumption. An alternative is to shoot some part of the video in 1080p and some in 4K if you want to shoot high quality videos.
- You need to buy a waterproof casing for use beyond 33m underwater. This can add to the cost of an already higher-priced action camera.
If you are looking to buy a sports video camera that is well-built and with tonnes of features and is also not a burden on the pocket, the GoPro HERO7 is a very good option, and is fast becoming a bestseller on Amazon ever since its launch.
For best use of your GoPro 7, check out these GoPro tips .
Sony FDRX3000/W Underwater Camcorder 4K
I believe a lot in the power of the brand. Most of the times, you can expect a quality product from any of the major sports camcorder brands. The Sony FDR – X3000 is an example of it. It comes loaded with a ton of features for an optimum shooting experience.
Features of Sony FDR-X3000
It has the capability of shooting 4K videos. Although many other action cameras in the market come with 4K shooting ability, the challenge comes in image stabilisation. This is where the Sony FDR X3000 stands apart.
It has optical SteadyShot technology. This helps to provide better external and internal image stability than digital stabilisation. This is one factor that definitely makes the FDR X3000 stand out.
Like the GoPro Hero5, this also has a 4K video quality thanks to the ZEISS lens that it is fitted with. If you aren’t aware ZEISS is one of the leading lens makers in the world. Any product from them is a guaranteed high quality innovation.
Finally, another important feature of this camera that sets it apart from many other low-priced sports video cameras is the high quality audio that it records. A lot of noise is reduced in the recording stage itself and you get a much clearer output sound.
Who should buy?
Without a doubt, Sony enthusiasts have been the maximum buyers of this product. Besides those looking for the best configurations that an action camera can possess and are willing to shell out a few extra bucks, should go this action camera.
It is a sturdy sports camcorder and will definitely serve you well in the years to come. These types of cameras are the ones that are almost guaranteed to work well for a really long time.
Many users have said that a backlit in the display screen would have been a great added advantage. I agree this. Even when you are using the action camera in daytime, the exposure to sunlight would make it difficult to read the display screen. In such a scenario, a backlit can definitely help.
Sony could have included a remote control especially since unlike the Hero5, it doesn’t have voice commands though it retails at a comparable price.
Where to buy?
You can buy the Sony FDR X3000 at various offline and online stores. However, since you get some good discounts and deals and can also read other customer reviews and questions, I suggest you buy it at Amazon.
No wonder it makes my list of the top sports action cameras. With tonnes of features packed into it, as also some really helpful improved functions make it a serious competitor with the GoPro.
Sony HDR-AZ1VR Waterproof Action Cam
Japanese electronics giant Sony has come up with a splash-proof action camera that has delivered great promise. The smallest splash-proof sports camcorder by Sony, you can be assured of very smooth video even on rough passage with SteadyShot image stabilization.
Features of Sony HDR-AZ1VR
This sports video camera by Sony boasts of some powerful features.
Smaller and lighter It’s a mini action cam and is quite light to carry. Its slender, custom design is about two-thirds the size of other sports action cams by Sony. Consequently, you have less wind and water pressure acting on it.
Splashproof Its spashproof design makes it possible to withstand showers, sprays or even snow when out of the box.
Remote Viewing With the help of One Touch Near Field Communication (NFC), your compatible smart devices can be turned in to remote viewing devices via wifi.
Live View Remote RM-LVR2 With the help of the Live View Remote RM-LVR2, it is now possible to frame your shot, turn GPS on, change the shooting modes and control up to 5 Action Cams.
Steadyshot for fast action sports The steadyshot technology reduces the chances of blur appearing because of bumps and sudden movements in fast action sports like skiing and motocross.
Built-in stereo mic As is the trend these days, the Sony HDRAZ1VR/W sports camera comes equipped with a builtin stereo microphone which is good enough to capture quality sound.
Ultra-wide ZEISS lens The camcorder comes equipped with a pro quality ZEISS lens with a wide angle scope extending upto 170 degrees. This increases your perspective while taking panoramic views of ski slopes or mountain hills.
Equipped with Exmor R CMOS sensor This technology makes it possible to shoot high quality videos even in low light.
5 video modes available 1080/60p @50Mbps HD and 2x slow motion
- The Sony HDRAZ1VR/W is 30% smaller than other versions of Sony action cameras and is hence easy to carry.
- With a resolution of 12 megapixels and an option to shoot 1080/60p, it is certainly a great buy.
- Some users cited concerns about the camera not giving a very sharp focus being underwater for a longer duration.
- Others commented that it is a better idea to shoot with 1080p than with 720p. But overall users were quite satisfied with the product.
AKASO EK7000 4K WIFI Sports Action Camera
The first thing that caught my eye with the AKASO EK7000 4K Wifi Action Camera was its price tag. It is much cheaper than the more popular GoPro series and other action cameras. But then looking at the price, I wondered whether the quality and features are really worth it to feature it among the best sports action cameras.
Well, the number of features and its spectacular performance put those doubts to rest.
Features of Akaso EK7000
Flexible Resolution It is an action camera that can record videos and take pictures in 3 resolutions – 4K at 25 fps, 2.7K at 30fps and also 1080p at 60 fps. Now the 1080p resolution is an added feature as most 4K video cameras do not come with the facility to shoot 1080p.
Wrist Remote Control An additional feature that impressed me a lot was the 2.4 G wrist remote control that comes along with this action camera. Shooting videos or taking pictures becomes much simpler now at the click of a button and you don’t have to reach out to your camera always.
Waterproof The AKASO EK7000 4K Wifi Action Camera is waterproof upto 100 feet. So it fits the bill of an underwater sports action camera as well. Only care you have to take is that the remote control is not waterproof to such a depth.
Built-in WiFi App Control It comes with a built-in WiFi and HDMI. By downloading the App,EZ iCam, you can sync your photos and videos with your tablet, PC or mobile. A very handy feature!
- Hands down, the price. very rarely you get such a feature packed, top rated sports video camera at such a price.
- It comes with a tonne of free accessories. You can use them to make your action camera perform better in any scenario.
- Longer battery life. The Akaso EK7000 comes with two rechargeable 1050mAh batteries. Each battery can record for as long as 90 minutes. That’s quite a powerhouse performance.
- Though the videos recorded at 4K and 2.7K resolution have turned out to be excellent, some users have complained that the photos taken are not of as excellent quality as the videos. If you’re only interested in recording videos, then this should not be much of a concern to you.
- This sports video camera does not come with an option for adding an external mic. Drawback or not, depends upon your preference.
- The wrist remote control is not waterproof. So you cannot take the wrist remote underwater to large depths.
Considering the price, the features and the quality of the videos recorded, this camera is definitely a buy for those who are looking for a good quality sports video camera with a low price tag. It might not have as many features as the GoPro or the Sony FDR X3000, but for this price range it is definitely one of the best sports video cameras.
Yi Lite Action Sports Camera
After the grand success of the Yi 4K Action camera in the high end action camera market, Yi Technology decided to build a product exclusively for budget customers – The Yi Lite Action Camera.
The Yi Lite Action Camera is an extreme sports specialist camcorder with a 150° wide angle lens. This is a relatively new launch in the market, yet already has earned the coveted Amazon’s Choice badge. It is a very sturdy camcorder with excellent video quality and a lot of essential features.
Let’s have a look at some of these features:
Features of the Yi Lite Action Camera
Long Battery Life
One of the most important aspects to look at while buying an action camera is the battery life it offers. Usually batteries of action cameras with a resolution of 1080p and above tend to drain fast. If you’re not prepared with an extra set, you can be left in the lurch.
The Yi Light Action Camcorder has a lithium battery that enables you to shoot videos and take images upto 130 minutes. This is in 1080p/60 fps. Keep in mind that if you shoot in 4K mode, the battery might not last that long.
Best In Class WiFi
WiFi capability in the sports camcorders these days is much more than a luxury. With convenience taking priority in our lives, the availability of WiFi in the action camera makes it very easy to perform some mundane editing tasks.
YiFi Lite has a dual band Wifi – 2.4G/5G. It allows you to download your photos or videos to your smartphones at speeds upto 50 Mbps. This also allows you to use your smartphone as a remote to operate the camera up to a distance of 330 feet away.
Professional and High Quality Video Recording
The Yi Light comes with a Sony IMX206 image sensor which explains the high quality images and videos. An image sensor can be considered as the CPU of the action camera. For better understanding of the analogy, an image sensor in a digital video camera is like a film in an analog video camera. If you’re interested, you can read more about the IMX206 image sensor here.
You have the option of recording you in 4K/20fps, 1080p/30fps, 1080p/60fps and take images with a 16MP camera.
6-Layer Ultra-Wide Angle Glass Lens
150° wide angle lens with an f2.8 aperture helps you take bright and clear images and videos. The lens comes with a 6 layer of coating to reduce the glare that can happen in bright light.
There’s also the option of choosing your own parameters for the videos thanks to the self-defined image quality parameters. This helps you to change the settings based on the light available as well as select any of the 9 modes which includes burst, time-lapse to record even better videos. For low light, there is a switchable auto low light setting in the menu. (The previous version had a non-switchable auto low light setting which meant it would turn on low light mode and be that way when it sensed a drop in brightness)
2 inch LCD screen with Corning Gorilla Glass
I was impressed with the 2 inch LCD display screen which has a Corning Gorilla glass protection. The display scores high on UI – you can easily navigate through the different modes and have a great preview and playback experience. The Gorilla glass protection protects the screen from scratches and minor impact.
Of course, if you throw it on the floor deliberately, the impact would be too much (Who does that anyway?!) But for daily use, you can be least worried about damage to the screen.
- It goes without saying, the price. At this price, you won’t get many action cameras that are so reliable and having and having these features.
- The audio is much better than the Yi 4K Action Camera which had a poor audio experience in my opinion. The audio functionality has been improved to a great extent.
- After sales support and service is pretty good. Some of the improvements in the functionalities of the newer models have been carried out on direct suggestions made by customers.
- Easy to use interface with a long battery life.
- One of its cons is something I found it hard to believe. It does not have a waterproof case included with the camera. Although you can buy it from Amazon as a separate item.
- Talking about long battery life, there is a flip-side to it. It records for more than 130 hours only in 1080p/60fps mode. If you record it in 4K, you will not experience the same length of the battery life.
- It does not have an input for external mic. Though audio quality is better than the Yi Action Camera, some improvements can be made.
This sports video camera will easily exceed your expectations. If you are looking for a durable yet affordable camcorder for sports, go for the Yi Light Action Camera. You won’t regret it!