Cycling can be exciting, thrilling, and breathtaking, and there’s no reason not to capture and re-experience these feelings over and over again. That’s why a good action camera can significantly improve your cycling experience, as you can create memories that’ll last you for life. Having said that, action cameras are an expensive investment that needs to be considered carefully.
When choosing an action camera for cycling, you’ll need to examine each option’s features, such as footage quality, price, stabilization, usability, etc. Afterward, take this information and compare it to your list of wants and priorities to choose the option that fits your needs the best.
To find out all there is to know about how to choose the best action camera for you, as well as some excellent suggestions, keep reading.
What To Look For in an Action Camera for Cycling
When looking for an ideal action camera for cycling, you’ll need to consider several important features before deciding on the best-suited option for you.
Here are seven of the most important factors to keep in mind when shopping:
Price is one of the most crucial elements you’ll need to consider before buying a new action camera. No matter how high-quality and long-lasting a product can be, if it can’t fit within your budget, it’s just not accessible.
On the other hand, going off of price alone when making a decision may not be the smartest choice either. Cameras that can give you high-quality footage while being easy to use and maintain often come with a heftier price tag. You’ll need to make a thorough analysis of your priorities in order to decide which product would make the best investment for you.
Although action cameras are still a considerable investment, their prices have been decreasing throughout the years as more suppliers are entering the market. Affordable options are also becoming more qualitative and durable, giving name brands a run for their money. So chances are, with enough information, you can find a decent-quality action camera for cycling at almost any price point.
Video, photo, and sound quality are the most fundamental features you should look for in your camera. Even if it has any other advantage mentioned on this list, a product that provides low-quality footage defeats the purpose of buying it in the first place.
If you’re a professional biker who wants to get the most out of their camera, you’ll need a camera with at least 4K resolution. You’ll quickly realize how much of a difference an adequate-quality camera makes in your experience. It’ll also be a lot easier to edit and add effects to your video while still maintaining great quality.
If you feel like the investment isn’t worth it, you can always opt for a more affordable, HD action camera. They’re also fine to use and ideal if you’re a more casual biker or on a tighter budget.
But always keep in mind that when it comes to video quality, spending a little more pays off. At the very least, you usually want to aim for a device that’s 1080p FHD (full high definition) if you’re looking to get clear and long-lasting footage.
Therefore, before searching for the best action cameras, consider the reason why you’re making this purchase and where your priorities stand. Having this information will make the selection process a whole lot easier.
You should also look into whether an action camera comes equipped with other essential features that can affect your recording abilities. These features include filming in slow-motion, time-lapses, zooming capabilities, as well as the field of view that your device can capture.
Having a camera that can capture a broad field of view is especially important, as you’ll want to record as much of your surroundings as possible with minimal view distortion. Therefore, always look for one equipped with powerful distortion control settings when buying a wide lens camera.
Battery life is especially important for cyclists who often go on longer rides or tours, as it can allow you to record beautiful uninterrupted footage for hours on end. Having said that, even with the highest-quality cameras available, battery life technology is an area that’s severely lacking nowadays.
Modern cameras with durable batteries are not easy to find because as the devices tend to get smaller and lighter, the battery quality will suffer. Realistically speaking, you’ll rarely find a high-quality camera able to last for more than four hours uninterrupted.
Therefore, thinking about alternative ways to elongate your battery’s life throughout your ride would probably be necessary for most long-distance riders, even if you choose a good battery option to begin with.
You can find an option that works best for you when it comes to keeping your action camera battery always charged. You can choose to pack a spare set of batteries before you ride, or you can opt to take a high-capacity power bank with you; either way, you’ll have to carefully think this part ahead before embarking on your next tour.
When using an action camera to film your cycling adventures, stabilization is a non-negotiable feature and arguably one of the most important. There’s no point in even buying an action camera if the footage you capture is so shaky it can’t even be usable.
This feature is especially crucial for mountain bikers cycling in rocky, uneven terrain. Fortunately, the camera technology when it comes to stabilization has come a long way, and you can find some fantastic options on the market today, even if you’re on a tighter budget. In most alternatives, the technology used to stabilize the image when recording is either gyro or optical.
- Gyro technology works by utilizing a sensor that picks up each individual movement and allows it to achieve almost complete elimination of shakes and trembling that may hinder the footage’s quality.
- Optical image stabilization, on the other hand, removes shakes and bumps from your recording by utilizing lens movers that counteract the involuntary movements of the camera. It doesn’t matter which one you go for, as both of them can deliver fantastic-looking results.
You should keep in mind that you will never neutralize all movements of your camera, and neither should you, as doing so would take away from the dynamism and mobility of the sport. But what today’s cameras are excellent at is erasing excessive movement that may hinder your ability to watch the footage clearly and easily.
Size and Weight
An action camera ideal for cycling needs to be lightweight and cause as little disruption as possible. A bulky, heavy camera can make riding more challenging, negatively impacting your movement and overall experience.
A camera’s parameters are even more crucial to consider if you want to mount it on your helmet rather than the bike itself, as heavier options could be highly uncomfortable. And although you can stand for frame or bar mounted action cameras to be a little bit bigger, there’s still a size limit, after which the equipment becomes a snag.
Image of my GoPro Hero and Garmin computer with a KOM quick release handlebar mount.
Ease of Use
This feature is self-explanatory: ease of use refers to how easily you can mount, operate, and carry around your action camera. The buttons need to be accessible and distinguishable, while the commands should be quick and straightforward.
Try to stay away from models that rely heavily on using touchscreens, as they can be difficult to navigate in particular weather conditions, especially when wearing gloves.
Water resistance is another feature that can add immense value to an action camera, as many cyclists need to be prepared to ride through challenging weather conditions. Although most action cameras will function normally in light rain or if they come in contact with small amounts of water, when making a pricey investment like this, it’s usually best to be prepared for any scenario.
If the camera you’re looking for isn’t waterproof, you’ll most likely need to purchase waterproof protective cases and accessories to ensure that your equipment can withstand more difficult weather conditions. Using this type of gear may compromise the audio recording and make your camera bulkier and heavier. Still, it’s a more affordable ideal for those on a smaller budget.
Best Action Cameras for Cycling
Even after reading through the criteria, it still might be hard to search for and find a product that you’ll feel confident spending your money on. If you’re still unsure, take a look at some of the most popular and well-received action cameras in the market today.
All products are available on Amazon.com:
GoPro has been leading the action camera industry for years now, and with good reason. Their products may make for a rather pricey investment, but their durability, range of features, and image quality more than make up for it.
The Hero 9 version allows you to shoot breathtaking 5k videos with an incredible 23.6-megapixel sensor. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to record higher-quality footage using any other device.
Its stabilization feature allows for the creation of smooth, faultless recordings. Although bigger than previous models, the Hero 9 comes with extended battery life, making it ideal for those frequently taking part in tours and longer rides.
This waterproof option comes with an array of amazing features, such as enhanced video quality, amazing time-lapses, and a high-quality front display. It’s an overall excellent choice for any cyclist if you don’t mind paying a premium price to obtain a reliable, durable, and amazing-quality alternative.
GoPro Max is a waterproof 360 camera that’s designed for versatility. It comes with a flawless stabilization feature, complete manual control, and a digital lens function that allows you to shoot in any direction without moving the camera at all. The lenses include wide, narrow, distortion-free, and Max SuperView, which enables you to capture a view from any angle you desire.
It’s one of the priciest options on the list, but its durability and versatility make it ideal for professionals looking for the groundbreaking features that this product offers.
The 360 execution is one of the best you can find on the market right now. Not only can it be easily transformed into conventional photos and videos, but you can also reframe the recording in post-production, which ensures that you will get perfectly-captured moments every single time.
DJI is one of the closest contenders to GoPro when it comes to action cameras. Gaining a competitive edge with their more affordable pricing, they still are able to offer excellent quality products with a vast array of features.
Even when cycling on the rockiest terrains, DJI Osmo’s stabilization feature will deliver flawless, smooth footage every single time. However, while doing so, it often offers a more restricted field of view compared to GoPro.
This waterproof, dual-screen, high-quality option is an excellent affordable alternative for the GoPro, making it ideal for more casual cyclists or those on a smaller budget.
Although not a very common alternative used among cyclists, the Sony FDRX300’s unbeatable stabilization and water resistance features earn it a lawful spot on this list. By using a groundbreaking optical image stabilization technology, this option is able to deliver even slow-motion stabilization unaffected by difficult light perfectly.
Its features are vast, including:
- 3X zoom, water resistance
- Noise reduction
- Three different viewing angles
- Premium-quality footage
These unique features come at a premium price, as this is the most expensive alternative on the list, but if your budget allows for it, purchasing a Sony FDRX3000 is an excellent investment.
This high-quality 360 camera allows you to pick views from any preferred angle and organize them according to your preferences. The excellent quality that’s hard to find in a 360 camera is achieved thanks to the product’s modular design, which combines several lenses in capturing flawless, well-rounded footage.
It’s a reliable, waterproof, affordable alternative that can be ideal for those starting to experiment with 360 cameras without wanting to invest in a more advanced option. The Insta 360 is a lightweight option that delivers high-quality footage, but you may want to pack a spare set of batteries when using this action camera.
When buying an action camera for your cycling adventures, you’ll need to consider several essential features thoroughly before making a pricey purchase.
The main features to consider are footage quality and stabilization, as they can directly affect the clarity and usability of your final result. You’ll need to consider all of these characteristics in the context of your budget. Having said that, it’s not advised to make a choice based on price alone.
GoPros are usually the safest bet when it comes to action cameras. Although pricey, they make for an excellent investment.
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