For adventure seekers who are looking for a better way to document their various trips than by using a cell phone camera, the Action Camera is the way to go. These small, portable devices offer their users incomparable ruggedness and image clarity that produce out-of-this-world footage of all the extreme things you enjoy doing.

From waterproofing to shock resistance, these portable action cameras carry few limitations and are often packed with an impressive array of features tailored to the extremists needs. Not to be ignored is the incredible image quality some of these little babies are capable of making. Over the years, the photographic industry in general has seen a drastic improvement in image quality as small portable cameras have jumped in image sizes from 2 or 4 megapixels to well over 14. These action cams have also seen a drastic increase in their imaging capabilities with the GoPro, as an example, going from a 35mm camera in its inception in 2004 to the 12MP beast of a little HD camera , the GoPro Hero 3 Black edition.

If you’re in the market for an action camera, but not familiar with the terminology and applications enough to know what to look for, have no fear, we’ve laid it all out for you. In this two part guide, we will break down the various features of the Action Cam and what they mean for you in terms of the actual shooting and editing process of action video making.

  • 720p vs Full HD 1080p – While it is a common misconception, there is actually no such thing as 780p HD or even 760p HD. True HD exists only in 1080p format, and everything below that, while still a crisp image, is considered standard definition. Regardless of the number used, the basis of the definition is the same. The 720p format displays 720 horizontal lines at the same time 60 times a second, and the 1080p displays 1080 lines. This results in a progressive image display, which is where the “p” comes from.

Before you make your decision based on this high-resolution factor, there are a few things you should be aware of regarding the 720/1080p difference. While the 1080p signal has of late become a standard for television, very few broadcasters actually produce content that supports that much data. As a result, more often than not, you want shows and movies in 720p on your 1080p screen. The exception here is BluRay, which is 1080p standard. On the same lines, if you purchase an action cam with 1080p and only have a 720p television, you won’t get the same clarity as you would playing your movie back on a 1080p television. Keeping that in mind may help shave some money off your price tag, it’s good to note that typically the higher-priced options, such as the Go Pro Hero 3 Black and White editions edition come with several shooting modes that allow you to choose between 1080p, 960p, and 720p, while base models, such as the Silver Edition, offer only the 720 option.

  • 4x HD slow motion – As the name implies, 4x HD slow motion capture video 4 times slower than usual to play back slow-motion footage. This means that your 1080p camera, which typically shoots at 30-frames-per-second, will instead capture footage at about 7.5 frames per second.

Before you make your decision on a need to shoot in slow-motion, remember that this effect can also be easily obtained in most post-production editing programs, including iMovie, which may offer you additional capabilities in how to create your final product. Creating your slow-motion footage in post rather than in-camera gives you the option to use the footage in regular speed or slow-motion, whereas footage shot in slow-motion can only be used in slow-motion within the final product. Where this becomes an awesome feature is if you are looking for a second or third camera to add to your setup. Dedicating a single cam for slow-motion footage and then splicing that footage in with that of the rest of the cameras gives you the best of both worlds, without sacrificing image quality that arises from too many changes made in post.

Check out part 2 where we cover the LCD screen and Ruggedness features of the action cam, as well as available accessories.

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Category: Technology