Find the tough action camera that's right for your
Sports cameras (aka action cameras) are tough digital devices
designed to record extreme sports action from your point of view -- you mount
them on your equipment, helmet or body. Most can shoot both still photos and
videos, and the best ones shoot in full HD (1080p). Great for skiing,
snowboarding, ATVs, mountain biking and motocross -- some sports cameras are
fully waterproof, so you can take them scuba diving, surfing or kayaking.
Look for these features on the best action cams:
image quality: Most sports cams shoot full 1080p HD video and 5-megapixel still
photos -- but the top-rated GoPro HD Hero2 bumps that up to 11 megapixels, and
its video looks better than others' in tests.
sound quality: Sports cams often wear protective cases that can muffle sound,
but some (including the Hero2) offer microphone jacks so you can plug in an
- Waterproofing: The best
sports cameras can go surfing, snorkeling and more -- although some charge
extra for a waterproof case (GoPro includes one as standard equipment).
controls: If you're wearing gloves or have cold-numbed hands, fiddly
controls can be a pain. Some cameras (like the GoPros) let you tweak controls
on the fly, right on the camera, while others require you to hook the camera up
to a computer.
- Shape and
size: Slim, oblong cameras (like the Contours) fit best on a helmet or
goggles, testers say. GoPro cameras are boxy, which can make them more
features: You can add extras like Wi-Fi hookups and Bluetooth connectivity
to share or remote-control your camera, but these usually cost more.
that fit your sport: Action cams usually come with an array of mounts in the box --
and you can buy additional mounts for your surfboard, roll bar, bike handlebars
etc. Just remember to budget for any extra mounts you may need.
that fits your budget: Rugged as they are, it's entirely possible
that your sports camera could get trashed in a wreck or washed away at sea.
Experts point out that you can get a very good sports camera for $200 or less
-- and that could be your best bet, if you'd worry about ruining a costlier
tough cameras: You'll also find rugged and waterproof cameras in our digital
camera and HD camcorder reports. These can work well for shooting
firsthand sports action, if you don't plan to totally abuse your camera.