If you are a photography enthusiast, it is time to expand your horizons with action cameras.
Taking photos with action cameras is very similar yet slightly different from using a smartphone or compact camera. If you are familiar with taking photos, it would be easy to adapt your skills to make the most out of action cameras.
Read on to learn more about action cameras, and if you already own one, we have a list of handy tips for you to take amazing photos with your action camera.
What are Action Cameras?
Action cameras are similar to digital cameras, where you can shoot pictures and videos which can be stored in external memory.
The main outstanding feature of action cameras is its form, which gives it its specialized function.
Action cameras are changing the playing field in the world of photography. You do not need sophisticated equipment to capture unique high-quality photos, all you need is to learn how to use action cameras the right way.
Why You Should Take Photos With Action Cameras?
It goes without saying that portability is an action camera’s greatest asset. They’re small, compact and lightweight for easy storage and handling. You won’t have to worry about space in your luggage. The small size gives you the freedom and creativity to place it almost anywhere for unique perspectives.
As action cameras are meant to fit and be carried everywhere, they are built to handle it. Smartphones and other digital cameras are usually too fragile to go on thrilling adventures, especially in extreme locations or while moving at high speeds. Action cameras are made from sturdy materials to withstand knocks and bumps, and most models are also waterproof to different degrees.
3) Easy to use
Unlike high-end camera systems, action cameras are designed with minimal buttons. You don’t need a thick instruction manual to understand how to operate an action camera. Sometimes the on/off button also doubles as a shutter or to start/stop recording. Action cameras that have a monitor are usually touchscreen-enabled too, while others may even feature voice control so that you don’t have to stop whatever you’re doing to capture the moment.
Action cameras usually come built-in with a super wide-angle lens, you can be sure that your photos will include almost everything at once wherever you point it. It will also be easier for you to shoot selfies together with the amazing scenery you encounter on your adventures. If you travel in a group of family or friends, no one would have to worry about being left out of the picture.
Tips for Taking Photos With Action Cameras
1) Battery life
One of the first things you should plan in advance of any trip would be your action camera’s battery life. On average, most action cameras can last about one to three hours of continuous use. So, remember to charge your device beforehand to make sure you can capture each moment of your action-photo adventure. You should even consider spare batteries or a portable charger for those longer journeys.
As most people would want to shoot in high-quality, you should have a memory card with a large capacity and fast writing speed for these files. Again, having spares is a good practice, not only for when you run out of memory, but also if the card accidentally becomes corrupted.
3) High Resolution/RAW
We recommend that you shoot in the highest resolution JPEG, or better still, in RAW. When shooting in RAW, most cameras will also create the same image in a JPEG format in case that your editing software is not able to handle RAW formats. Of course, the higher the resolution, the bigger the file size and the more storage you need, but it will be worth it. Action passes by in the blink of an eye and can be impossible to recreate. Besides, RAW photos give you full control over editing without losing detail, which means that you can safely enlarge your stunning photos and display them for everyone to admire.
4) Mounting Accessories
Action cameras have their range of accessories for mounting to a variety of surfaces, both flat and curved. Common favorites include mounts for helmets, handlebars, and chest belts. It would be good to know in advance what activity you plan on capturing with the camera as well as which angle you are going for. A cheaper alternative that many people use is duct tape, but we would advise that you invest in custom-made mounts for the safety and security of your action camera. For mounting on more specialized surfaces such as surfboards or even hockey sticks, you may need to do some research to find a suitable and compatible mount.
5)Selfie-stick or Tripod
Because of the super wide-angle lenses in action cameras, it is easy to capture memorable moments with you in the picture for a personal touch. While taking selfies with an action camera, you should be aware of the distortions from the fish-eye effect of the wide-angle lenses. To lessen these effects, you should try to hold the camera as far away from your face as possible. This is where a selfie-stick or tripod really helps. For action cameras, these are much smaller, lighter, and collapsible than regular tripods. Not only will you get more balanced photos, but you will also be able to capture more of the beautiful background during your travels.
6) Get to Know Your Action Camera
Before you go out into the field, take some time to familiarize yourself with your action camera. Even though using action cameras is meant to be as easy as pointing and shooting, if you want truly professional and exceptional photos, try experimenting with several of these features:
Because of their compact size and ability to be mounted anywhere, action cameras are perfect for exploring new perspectives in different environments. Some positions may offer more exciting views but stability may be more challenging. Nevertheless, try shooting from any angle you can think of, and let the results surprise you.
b. Field of View
Though action cameras come with a fixed wide-angle lens, the settings allow you to choose whether you want to use all of it or to narrow it down. This is called field of view. The fullest view gives you the most background, but as mentioned before, it could have curved lines or distorted proportions. Sometimes this is desirable for dramatic effect, but sometimes, especially for people and close-ups, your subjects could be enlarged in a way that does not look artistic. Each setting has its uses, so it would be good to know when to choose what.
In general, the best photos are made in bright and natural lighting conditions. Action cameras either have automated exposure adjustments or allow some limited control. In low light or night-time shooting, you should consider mounting your action camera on a stable surface to reduce shaking. If your action camera comes with HDR features, it can help to some extent in certain tricky lighting.
Most action cameras are equipped with WiFi or WLAN connectivity which gives two main functions. By installing a compatible app on your smartphone or mobile device, you can firstly easily transfer your photos, edit, and share them instantly. Secondly, your smartphone can become a remote control for your action camera, where the app will show you a live view and you can press the shutter at the precise moment. This allows you to capture photos from a safe or further distance, such as group photos, fast-moving sports or even wildlife. Also, some accessories require this connectivity feature to work with the camera.
8) Underwater Tips
Action cameras themselves are built to be waterproof to a certain degree, but that is mainly from splashes or droplets you may encounter on the go. For more serious underwater photography, consider investing in a proper underwater casing which lets you take your action camera down to depths of about 50 meters. To take clear underwater photos, you will need to adjust to this different environment too. For example, the deeper you go, the poorer the lighting becomes, so you will need to keep your camera steadier than usual. Besides, your photos will appear blue at larger depths, and this can be partially compensated with a red filter or corrected in post-processing.
Action cameras are the next big thing in photography. Once you understand the capabilities of taking photos with an action camera, you may never want to go back to their heavier, bulkier traditional counterparts. These small cameras are not to be underestimated, as they are powerful in their own way.
With a bit of practice and experience with your own action camera, you will be shooting fantastic action shots that would impress anyone. It would be a refreshing and unique way of sharing your adventures. Just bring along your trusty and handy action camera wherever you go. It’s time to get into action!