Eight years ago, if you were in the market for an action camera, to paraphrase Henry Ford, you had a wide range of choices – provided that choice was a GoPro Hero. Thankfully, since then there has been a meteoric rise in the number of action cameras available, with each of them vying for your hard-earned dollars. If you’re looking to get your hands on a new action camera but have aren’t sure which one is right for you, here’s our breakdown of some of the most popular action cams available.
Pros – 4k video at 60 frames per second (fps); digital image stabilisation; great audio.
Cons – Comes with a higher price tag
The latest offering from GoPro, the Hero 6, is undoubtedly their best yet. It’s the first truly professional quality, somewhat affordable, action camera. It seems that GoPro’s mantra for this camera was ‘no holds barred,’ to the point where they even developed an entirely unique processor specifically for the Hero 6. This impressive camera can shoot up to 4k video at 60 frames per second (fps), has digital image stabilisation that negates the need for an external gimbal, three independent microphones that it switches between, on-the-fly, to capture the optimal audio, 5Ghz wifi and a brand new format of video compression – this is a serious camera! For a professional quality camera though, you will have to pay a professional price. The Hero 6 is GoPro’s most expensive camera yet, and while there’s no doubt it’s good value for money, it is definitely the Ferrari of action cameras.
The Hero 6 is perfect for professionals and avid enthusiasts alike.
Pros – 4k video at 30 fps; G-Metrix; can be controlled by other Garmin devices
Cons – Shorter battery life.
Garmin is one of the new kids on the block when it comes to sports cameras, but their expertise from other cycling technologies is clearly evident. With Bluetooth and Ant+ that seamlessly integrates with your cycling computers, you get complete control of the camera from your Fenix watch or Edge computer. Garmin has also jam-packed the Virb with data collection tools. Built-in GPS and accelerometers mean you can add awesome metric overlays to your footage at the press of a button. With 4k footage at 30fps, digital image stabilisation and voice activation, the camera on the Virb is more than capable of doing the job. A nice touch was enabling the Virb to use the same mount as the GoPro, so all your old accessories will clip right onto this camera.
The one major drawback of this camera is the battery. With so many sensors running at once, you don’t get a long battery life. Fortunately, the batteries are interchangeable and readily available, so if you’re out on a long ride, just bring a few spares.
The Garmin Virb Ultra is great for someone wanting high-quality video at a cheaper price point than the Hero 6.
Pros – Great value for money; data linked recording; 20 megapixel camera.
Cons – More limited resolution, shooting up to 1440p
The snappily titled CM-2000 might be the most connected camera available. If there’s something electronic on your bike, the CM-2000 can probably connect to it. Yes, that includes your Di2. From your heart rate monitor to your cadence sensor, the CM-2000 can use the data produced from your peripherals to control when the camera starts recording, and for overlays in editing. For instance, you might want to record only the descents on your ride to save memory, so you can set the camera to start recording when your GPS registers that you’re moving above 40 kph; or, if it’s the epic climbs you want captured, set the camera to start recording when you drop down into the small ring. The possibilities are endless. With image stabilisation, waterproof casing and an aerodynamic design, the CM-2000 is definitely a camera worth looking at. It only records up to 1440p, but keep in mind that it’s almost half the price of the Hero 6 as well.
Shimano’s CM-2000 is perfect as a first action camera, or for someone who just wants to ‘set and forget’ and get on with the riding.