By James Dansie

Technology is advancing every day and it’s amazing how it changes our lives. Almost all of us walk around with a smart phone. Even the idea of having a tiny computer in your pocket was science fiction fifteen years ago. As an outdoor videographer, I’m amazed at how every year, cameras are getting more advanced and more affordable. Buying a camera with 4K capabilities used to be something for only the rich, and now we have that option in tiny action cameras. The cool thing about so many cameras being affordable now is that we can all film our outdoor activities and make some killer home videos. In this article, I’m going to talk a little about the action cameras that are carried at Sportsman’s Warehouse and about some things to consider when trying to decide which camera is right for you.

At Sportsman’s Warehouse there are three main action cameras available; the Spypoint Xcel HD series, the GoPro series and the Garmin Virb Elite. When deciding what’s right for you, you need to think about what you want the end result to be.

Spypoint Xcel HD is a perfect action camera for those looking for an easy setup and great looking video.

Spypoint Xcel HD is a perfect action camera for those looking for an easy setup and great looking video.

The Spypoint Xcel HD camera line has three different models – the Xcel HD, the Xcel HD 2 and the Xcel Stream hunt. The Xcel HD and Xcel HD 2 are very similar. The Xcel HD2 is a little more expensive and really the only difference is that it features a 1x to 4x zoom that is controlled by the included remote. The zoom will allow you to get a little closer to your subject matter without actually moving the camera. Both cameras can film in up to 1080p. 1080p is a term used for HD or High Definition. Most new televisions now display images in 1080 as long as you have an HD receiver. They can also film in 720p or 480p, so if camera battery life is more important to you than having a full HD image, you can just film in those modes. Both cameras also can take still pictures up to 5-mega pixels and both feature a time-lapse mode, which can be a cool effect for home videos. They both have a remote, making it easy to start and stop the camera up to 40 feet away.

The Xcel Stream is the cheapest of the three, but actually packs a big punch. It can record in super HD 1296p or in 1080p. It has built-in Wi-Fi, making it so you can connect it to your smart phone with their free mobile application. Being able to setup your shots with your smart phone is huge and will greatly improve your footage, because you know exactly what its recording. If your smart phone runs out of battery or if you forget to bring it with you, the Xcel Stream features a 2-inch screen on the back to insure you know where the camera is pointing. There are also a lot of different mounts for the Xcel cameras, making it easy to put them in just the right place to get the perfect shot.

GoPro4 Black Edition. Also Available in 4 Silver Edition and Hero+.

GoPro4 Black Edition. Also Available in 4 Silver Edition and Hero+.

The next camera we are going to look at is the GoPro series. GoPro is probably the most popular action camera, because they were the ones that started it all. Being the first in the industry means that they have a step-up on everyone else, just because they have been at it longer. There are several different models, but the three that are carried at Sportsman’s Warehouse are the Hero+, Hero4 Silver and the Hero4 Black. The Hero+ is the most inexpensive model, but still packs a big punch. You can record in 1080p in 60 fps or in 720p in 60 fps. 60 fps means 60 frames per second and most cameras film in 30 fps. By having a camera that films in 60 fps means that your footage is going to be smoother, especially during actions sequences. The Hero+ can also take pictures at 8-megapixels. All of the GoPro’s are Wi-Fi enabled and can be controlled through the free GoPro application.

The Hero4 Silver is definitely a step up from the Hero+ and is the first GoPro to feature a built-in touch screen, meaning switching shooting modes and framing your shots has never been easier. It records video at 1080p at 60fps and at 720p at 120 fps. Being able to film at 120 frames per second means that you can slow down your footage four times, resulting in awesome slow motion. The Hero4 Silver will also capture high-quality 12-megapixel photos. It will also take night photos and even do time-lapse at night with night-lapse option.

The Hero4 Black edition is the most expensive because it has the most features. With the Hero4 Black you can record in ultra high-resolution 4k at 30fps. You can also film at 2.7k at 50fps and 1080p at 120fps. Being able to film in this high of quality means that your feature is going to be crystal clear. It will shoot pictures at 12-megapixels and has a whole host of other options, making it easy to shoot footage or pictures at any time of day, even at low light. GoPro also has more mounts than anyone else, so it is super easy to find a way to put your camera anywhere, even on your dog’s back.

Garmin Virb features a screen on the top to help with setup and control of your shots.

Garmin Virb features a screen on the top to help with setup and control of your shots.

The Virb from Garmin is another great option when it comes to action cameras. The Virb is really awesome if you have other Garmin products because it uses ANT+ wireless connectivity to enable you to use compatible Garmin products as remotes. The Virb allows you to film in 1080p, 960p and 720p. It will take images in 16-, 12- and 8-megapixels. Out of all of the other action cameras, the Virb takes the highest quality still images, so if the reason you are getting an action camera is just for picture taking, you really need to check out the Garmin Virb. It also features a screen on the top, which will make setting up shots both quick and easy.

The Virb is also rugged, durable and waterproof, making it the only action camera that doesn’t require a protective case in order to take it to the outdoors. It is easy to use with a large instant record slider switch, so you can use it all year long and even while wearing heavy gloves. While recording video, you can also take still pictures at the same time, which will allow you to take the best photos of your outdoors adventure. It also has a huge battery life and will allow you to film up to three hours at 1080p, ensuring you never miss a moment. The Virb also has built-in digital stabilization technology called Lens Distortion Correction, or LDC, that will work to make your videos play back smoother.

Any of these camera will be a great addition to your outdoor gear list and make it easy for you to share your outdoor adventures with your friends and families. I would suggest buying extra batteries no matter which camera you’re looking at. Nothing is worse than having a perfect shot and then finding your camera was not recording because you were out of battery. No matter which camera you choose, have fun coming up with your own shooting styles. Remember, no one else sees the outdoors like you do and its up to you to show them just that. Check out all of these great cameras and accessories at your local Sportsman’s Warehouse.