Choosing the best action camera of the summer

    For many, the term “action camera” is strongly associated with the visual image of GoPro cameras. But besides this brand, there are many other worthy samples on the market. With the opening of the summer season, the demand for action cameras among athletes and tourists increases many times, so we decided to make a comparative review of several interesting models: GoPro Hero 4 Black, Panasonic HX-A500, Xiaomi Yi, HTC Re. We also wanted to consider the Sony FDR-X1000V, but the representative office of the manufacturer decided to refuse to participate in the review.

    Main characteristics

    Gopro hero 4 black

    The flagship model of 2015 became extremely popular among extreme sports enthusiasts and fans of all kinds of sports. The manufacturing company does not skimp on marketing and advertising, constantly throwing in new videos shot on GoPro in the most incredible situations. A feature of this model was that it is the first camera under this brand, which has the ability to shoot video in 4K. We have already examined this camera separately , so here we will repeat only the main points.

    GoPro cameras are also famous for the fact that a large number of various accessories are available for them. Therefore, the manufacturer is severely limited in the ability to change the form factor of new models, because a considerable proportion of GoPro fans appreciate precisely the variety of high-quality related devices. Hero 4 Black is not shockproof and not moisture resistant, therefore, a protective corporate cover is necessary for any outdorschik.

    All the inconvenience of the controls moved to this model: a small screen without backlight, the interface is in its infancy. Alas, for some reason, the touch screen was installed only in the younger model - Hero 4 Silver. Unlike the models of previous years, the remote control will have to be purchased separately. But the same can be said of almost all the participants in this review.

    Using a proprietary mobile application, you can configure the camera and view the shot, including by other users of this application. True, there was a discrepancy during the review: the application requested an 8-digit password, and the camera issued only a 6-digit one. We managed to get around this by resetting the settings and choosing the default password, but this is not the most correct solution. Hopefully this incompatibility will be fixed soon. The lack of NFC was also puzzling. This module does not consume much energy and would allow you to quickly connect the camera to a smartphone.

    The matrix and lens have not changed. The photosensitive element is made by Sony, it has a format of 1 / 2.3 inches and a resolution of 12 megapixels. The lens is equipped with glass lenses (6 aspherical elements), the minimum aperture is F2.8. Viewing angle of 170 degrees. Shooting 4K video has become possible thanks to the new processor.

    The shooting resolution reaches 3840x2160 with a frequency of 30 frames per second and progressive scan. When you turn on SuperView (maximum viewing angle), the frame rate decreases to 24. The image changes smoothly, without jerking. However, the bitrate is only 60 Mbps. For comparison, the Panasonic AX500 shoots in 4K with a bitrate of 72 Mbps. When shooting at night, you can activate the Protune mode, now it allows you to adjust white balance, photosensitivity, exposure compensation, color and sharpness. Nevertheless, night shooting is not the goal of GoPro, and the small matrix size is to blame. You can also use the new Night Lapse and Night Photo modes. But they work unstably, we recommend using an external display or controlling shooting using the GoPro App.

    Pay attention to how sharpness is reduced when using a proprietary protective cover (clip with dynamic shooting):

    The maximum resolution of photography is 4000x3000. Simultaneous video and photo shooting is available, in this case the video resolution is limited to 1920x1440. But in terms of the quality of photos GoPro is not up to par, this mode makes sense to use only for timelapses.

    So, the main advantages of GoPro hero 4 Black: “honest” 4K video and a wide range of accessories. The disadvantages include inconvenient management and a high price - 28,000 rubles.

    HTC Re

    A periscope camera that copies the shape of an army L-shaped flashlight. Glossy plastic in bright colors is clearly visible if you drop the camera in the grass. Due to the shape of the body, the camera is especially suitable for shooting selfies, while allowing immersion to a depth of 1 m. It is unlikely to appeal to extremals, but thanks to a good set of accessories, we decided to include it in the review.

    If desired, you can buy an additional accessory that allows you to dive with HTC Re to a depth of 3 m. The camera is very ergonomic, fits perfectly in the hand. At the same time, it is compact and fits well in pockets.

    The large silver button behind the lens starts shooting a video (you need to hold it) or a photo (single click). The button under the lens is for slow motion shooting. The microphone records mono sound. Under the cover at the bottom of the camera is a tripod socket, a micro USB connector and a micro SD slot. A wrist strap is also attached to the lid. As accessories are available: fastenings on clothes, on a backpack, in the car, a glass for charging. Not too much.

    Since HTC specializes in the production of smartphones, the camera is also controlled from them. There are versions of the application for Android and iOS. Connection is via Bluetooth 4.0, data can also be transmitted via Wi-Fi. There is no NFC module. The application is quite convenient, not only allows you to configure the camera, but also use your smartphone as a viewfinder. There is a download shot in the cloud services, instant messengers and social networks. You can even broadcast it directly to Youtube, which may be useful for bloggers. The camera uses a matrix from Sony format 1 / 2.3 inches and a resolution of 16 megapixels. The lens has a viewing angle of 146 degrees and an aperture of F2.8.

    Available shooting FullHD-video with a frequency of 30 frames. Everything is ordinary here. In slow motion mode, the resolution drops to 720p, the frame rate increases to 120. Under normal lighting conditions, the shooting quality is quite decent. However, in dark conditions, quality is markedly reduced. We do not recommend switching on the digital stabilization mode, and a rather unpleasant effect is obtained.

    The resolution of the photos is 4592x3456 or 4000x3000, depending on the selected viewing angle.

    In general, the camera can be attributed to good accessories for every day, for family shooting on vacation. However, the camera’s capabilities are not much greater than that of an ordinary rugged smartphone, while the price is comparable: 12,000 rubles.

    Panasonic HX-A500

    The manufacturer took the path of a non-standard solution: the camera consists of a lens connected by a wire to the control unit, which contains both the battery and memory. On the one hand, this allowed us to solve the problem of overheating, but we have to put up with the inconvenience of the configuration. By the way, this was the first action camera in the world that allows you to shoot video in 4K.

    A block with a lens will not have to rotate in search of the correct position, for this a flat face is made on the cylinder of the housing. The wire has a fairly dense braid of dark gray color.

    The inconvenience of the form factor mentioned above is manifested in the fact that the camera cannot be fixed the first time so that the horizon is not obstructed. It is good that the image can be controlled on the screen on the control unit.

    Included with the camera is a head mount assembled in two parts. On the head it sits firmly and reliably, but the anatomy of everyone is different, and for example, the mount rubbed behind my ear. The control unit is mounted on the arm with a soft belt case. The length of the wire is 1 m.

    Despite the presence of the screen, it is impossible to view the whole captured video, only a small fragment is shown. There is also a micro USB connector and a micro SD slot. Thanks to the spaced configuration, this camera is the most convenient from the point of view of shooting control. Various accessories are available for sale, including a microphone protector. Perhaps, in terms of variety of accessories, this camera is second only to GoPro.

    Wi-Fi and NFC modules are available for wireless communication. With their help, you can configure the camera, arrange an online broadcast and shoot through a wireless access point. To broadcast on the Internet you need to register on the Lumix Club service.

    The camera uses a 1 / 2.3 format matrix with a resolution of 16 megapixels and backlight. You will laugh, but the matrix maker is again Sony. Viewing angle of 160 degrees, aperture F2.8. The camera is equipped with a Crystal Engine Pro + processor.

    During video recording, you can use the horizon alignment function and digital stabilization (at FullHD resolution and 25 frames, with a normal viewing angle). Also available is a timer function for starting recording, white balance adjustment, backlight compensation, wind noise reduction, loop recording (at the end of the space on the memory card, recording starts again). 4K video is recorded at 25 frames / sec. (versus 30 for GoPro) and a bitrate of 72 Mbps (versus 60 for GoPro). The quality is good.

    Despite the resolution of photographing 5376x3024, the quality is not so hot. There is also no time-lapse shooting mode.

    This camera will be a good option if you need to shoot 4K video. The cost of the HX-A500 is about 15,000 rubles. However, remember that the exploded configuration does not suit everyone. The number of accessories is also much inferior to GoPro, but then decide what is critical for you.

    Xiaomi Yi

    It is obvious who served as the inspiration for the creators of the camera. The Chinese are positioning their camera at the GoPro level, but in terms of function and quality, it does not hold out.

    The camera is not copied 1: 1, but very close. The lens is located a little lower, the buttons are slightly different. The main difference is that there is no screen. Also, the Chinese camera comes in cases with bright colors. There is an inconspicuous Yi badge on the back. Since there is no screen, all control is carried out using the buttons. At the same time, the settings are changed only through a proprietary mobile application.

    Curiously, the application is not publicly available on Google Play. You can download it only by the link encrypted in the QR code. Plus, the application is not fully translated into English, there are also pieces of Chinese. At the same time, a fully localized version is available in the App Store.

    The application allows not only changing the settings, but also using the smartphone as a viewfinder, downloading the footage. Pairing with a smartphone is via Bluetooth, and downloading via Wi-Fi.

    The kit comes with a fairly high-quality monopod, a wrist strap and a mount on a backpack or belt. Necessary minimum for a selfie on trips. A waterproof case and head and arm mounts are also available.

    Here, the Sony Exmor R matrix is ​​used in a 1 / 2.3-inch format with a resolution of 16 megapixels. Viewing angle - 155 degrees, aperture F2.8. Available video in FullHD resolution with a frequency of 60 frames. There are two slow motion modes: 720p at 100 frames / sec and 480p at 200 frames / sec. You can also activate the horizon alignment function.

    The resolution of photographs reaches 4608x3456. In daylight, the quality is quite decent. There is a function of shooting timelapses.

    Xiaomi Yi will be a good option for beginners who have not yet taken pictures of their achievements. With a camera cost of 5-7 000 rubles. you can bury your eyes on many flaws. For many features this camera will be more than enough, and the desire to change to something else will not even arise.

    Our opinion

    The cameras considered can be divided into two categories: professional and amateur. The first include GoPro and Panasonic. The first: a huge selection of accessories, compactness, a successful mobile application and the presence of a time-lapse shooting mode. Panasonic is much cheaper, equipped with an NFC-module, more convenient to manage, but not for everyone because of its design.

    HTC Re and Xiaomi Yi are good as a gift and entertainment for a wide range of users. With the proper level of perseverance, the Chinese may well create a cheaper competitor for GoPro and a number of other manufacturers from their camera. But for this they will have to significantly expand the range of accessories and bring to mind the Android version of the application. The HTC’s camera among all those considered is the most convenient for handheld shooting and has an unusual bright design; it itself looks like a certain accessory.

    In any case, none of the action cameras can be compared in terms of the quality of shooting with good equipment, even with the same SLR cameras. With small wide-angle lenses and tiny matrices, a miracle will not happen, even despite shooting 4K video. Each device has its own niche, and you need to be aware of this, choosing one model or another for your tasks.

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