Liquid Image Hydra Series action camera floating in water

In the world of up close, personal perspectives, one action camera has become synonymous with getting the shot: GoPro. From mounting a GoPro to your helmet and jumping out of a plane, to bracing one on an extendable pole and going snorkeling along the ocean floor, action cameras like the ones manufactured by GoPro give your viewers an unparalleled first person point of view experience.

We can all agree, in some fashion, that GoPro’s are the Swiss army knife of video production; just about anywhere you drop it into your project, this popular action camera delivers great results. Let’s say for a minute, however, that you don’t have a GoPro. How are you going to capture those thrilling spills and spoils of life’s greatest moments? When your project requires a purpose-built action camera named anything other than GoPro, here are a few options you should consider.

Identifying Your Needs

First things first: Not all action cameras are created equal, nor are they all created for equal action. With that in mind, consider how you plan to use your action cameras and whether a camera that works great for one thing may not be the best for another — say, surfing the sand of Imperial Dunes Recreational Area versus like analyzing your grip on that new driver you got for Father’s Day.

Action cameras range in size, price and quality, so understanding what your needs are — production quality, cost, and durability — is the best approach when shopping for a purpose-built action camera.

Action cameras range in size, price and quality, so understanding what your needs are — production quality, cost, and durability — is the best approach when shopping for a purpose-built action camera.

Swimming with the Fishes

We’ve all seen videos of suntanned people swimming the reef and frolicking with the fishes. A GoPro camera is great at capturing this footage, but it isn’t the only game in town. If your video work takes you deep into the depths of the sea, consider the Hydra Series action cameras from Liquid Image (MSRP $120 USD), which feature a 720p camera integrated into a scuba mask. These cameras record onto a microSD card and offer a “hands free” operation, keeping the swimmer free to focus on swimming, snorkeling and diving. The Hydra Camera Mask records up to 60 fps VGA, can take 12.0 MP still images and has a two hour battery life. Liquid Image also offers a wide range of action cameras for above the surface fun.

Liquid Image Hydra Series
Liquid Image Hydra Series

Peddling Good Video

Extreme athletes and casual bikers alike enjoy capturing and sharing their rides on social media. You don’t always have to ride along mountain ridges or flip over fallen timbers to justify the need for a sturdy, stable action camera to mount on your handlebars. Sony recently released the upgraded HDR-AS50 action camera (MSRP $350 USD), which shoots stunning 4K video. The AS50 also features a beautiful ZEISS Tessar lens, a lightning fast BIONZ X image processor with speeds up to 50 Mbps, and an optional Live View Remote, which can be worn on your wrist and used to start and stop the camera. Simple setup and quick startup, the AS50 offers an intuitive interface that makes capturing your rides — whether on the road or off — worth sharing.

Sony HDR-AS50

Need for Speed

If your riding adventures find you revving up the RPMs and blistering the pavement below your tires, you need an action camera that can keep up with you. The SENA Prism (MSRP $399 USD) is an action camera that is built with the adrenaline junkie in mind. Mounted to your helmet, motorcycle or ATV, the Prism allows users to control the camera through Bluetooth connectivity. It features a multi-track audio record feature, which can be paired with multiple Bluetooth channels – giving you the ability to record the hoots and hollers of your homies as you hit the high peaks and viscous valleys on your path.

SENA Prism

Speaking of Speeding…

In large cities, motor vehicle fraud runs rampant as motorists will cutoff unsuspecting drivers and slam on their brakes, hoping for a quick payday from an accident. Wise drivers have started investing in dash cameras that capture video of both the front and back of their vehicle, documenting the actions of these deceptive drivers trying to stop short. The Drive Proof HDH-4000C Car Camera (MSRP $200 USD) is perhaps one of the best options for motorists hoping to plead their case against would be fraudsters. With a wide, 140 degree lens, motion activation, and a 4.3 inch touch screen, the HDH-4000C is an easy, helpful tool in protecting your vehicle — while also providing an interesting perspective of your automotive adventures.

Drive Proof HDH-4000C

Grip and Rip

Action cameras are great for capturing the moments we replay in our minds — especially when it comes to sports. Golf cameras tend to serve as teaching tools, and there aren’t many better than Swingshot’s Cyclops golf camera (MSRP $200 USD), which aims to capture your swing and allow you to break it down frame by frame. As the company pitches the Swingshot, users can “simply plant, point and record” your next round of golf. This camera really couldn’t be easier to operate. It has one button to start and stop recording, features a stainless steel spike that drives into the ground behind you. Once you finish your round, you can download the footage right to your phone or tablet for review and sharing.

Swingshot’s Cyclops

Bring Others Along With You

While golfing, off-roading or diving might not be your thing, perhaps your idea of action involves getting involved in your community and sharing the sights and sounds of things happening in real-time. Livestreaming has allowed professionals and enthusiasts alike to share their perspectives during events and incidents.

While phones with unlimited data can give you a grainy presence, a camera like the Sioeye Iris4G (MSRP $499 USD) will bring your followers with you wherever you can grab a cell signal. It’s currently being tested on the T-Mobile and AT&T wireless networks. The Iris4G broadcasts live in 480p and record in 1080p HD video simultaneously, and with a 150 degree wide angle lens, your viewers will feel fully immersed in the action wherever they are.

Sioeye Iris4G

Purpose-built action cameras is a niche market that’s gaining greater depth and reach. While carving off market share from the almighty GoPro could present major challenges for these cameras, knowing that users have options — sometimes cheaper options of comparable quality — could be just the thing camera manufacturers need to create the next big little thing in action cameras.

Dave Sniadak manages the corporate communication and video production initiatives for a Minneapolis-based regional airline. 

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Susan is the Art Director at Videomaker and YouTuber Magazines.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hey there, this is Micah from ZOOM and I really enjoyed learning about these video recording options as opposed to the ubiquitous GoPro. I also wanted to share some information on a series of cameras that serve a whole other audience who also need an ultra-portable camera option…the Creators.

    Our ZOOM Q-Series of cameras are taylor-made for those to whom high-resolution SOUND is very important, as well as the ability to record in low-light where GoPro’s often struggle…

    – Q2n ($159.99, zoom-na.com/Q2n): The Camera for Musicians. Up to 1080p video, 24-bit/96 kHz audio up to 120 dB SPL. The rear LCD is paired with simple push-button setting changes, and it has a 1/8″ stereo line-in. It doesn’t get easier to record video with superior audio. Perfect for musicians: whether they want to record a YouTube hit in their bedroom, document studio sessions, or capture live performance in a dynamically lit club.

    – Q4n ($249.99): Many of the same features of the of the Q2n, but with up to 2.3k video, conferable mics to either X/Y or A/B recording configuration to record 24-bit/96 kHz high-resolution audio up to a thunderous 140 dB without clipping. It’s great for musicians, YouTube video-makers, live performance capture, and much more. 10 lighting Scene settings make sure that you can take it from bright sunlight to low-lit club to vivid sunset.

    – Q8 ($349.99, zoom-na.com/Q8): Imaging taking the recording inputs and mic’ing versatility of the ZOOM H5 Handy Recorder and pairing that with the Q4n Handy Video Recorder and you’ll have the Q8. This camera is the much-loved go-to for podcasters and DSLR filming enthusiasts who use it for everything from BTS interviews, reference video recording, to a second and simultaneously recorded point of view. For audio, it uses the same ZOOM Interchangeable Mic Capsule System as the ZOOM H5, H6, U-44, F4, and F8. It also has two rear TRS/XLR combo inputs, giving your action-camera style recorder 4 tracks of high-resolution audio.

  2. On ebay, search WiMius and find an action camera competitive with GoPro, but for only $50 to $70!!! It has wifi, built-in 2″ screen, most kits come with 2 batteries, and uses GoPro mounts. Comes with underwater housing, and yes, it is 4K. Side-by-side it appears to be very slightly inferior image quality compared to GoPro, but by itself the image quality is very good. Another alternative is the Garmin VIRB (XE). This is only about $50 to $100 less than GoPro, but integrates the GPS location and speed much easier than GoPro on the final image version when editing. (What would you expect from Garmin?) I have no financial interest in either, but have found them useful alternatives to GoPro.

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