Action cameras vs camcorders/cameras, for static tripod use?

ShadowFiend

Novice Member
Hello everyone, thought i'd ask you lot as i'm kind of confused and a bit lost. Have often lurked the forum for valuable information :D

I would like to know how/ why action cameras are so cheap, yet cameras and camcorders seem considerably more expensive but often cannot shoot in 60p at high resolutions, or above 60p, and don't offer anything inbetween 4k and 1080p.
Action cameras have smaller sensors, to what difference that makes i'm not sure as the footage appears great, and i don't understand the numbers. They offer things like super wide angle and warp/distortion correct, amazing built in digital stabilisation at minimal cost to resolution, water proofing as well as a few other bits.
Camcorders/cameras have zoom, optical stabilisation, flashes, better low light, but that's about it- from my uneducated view.

I'm looking at getting a new camera of some kind, i merely want to put it on a tripod and press record. I will be filming sport from that static position with no cameraman to move the camera about to follow any action. Maybe 20% of the time i would like stabilisation of some kind to freehand film some sport also.
I have a Canon HF G25, which has more features than i know how to use, and lightly of not much use to me. But i feel the quality of its footage is a little dated, and sport on it ghosts anyway.

Any help, thoughts, input, etc?

Thanks in advance.
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Action cameras are designed to film stuff happening a few metres away. They normally have an electronic shutter and are much closer to a mobile phone camera to to a camcorder.

It's things like a decent optical zoom, mechanical iris, LCD preview screen and better audio that sets a proper camcorder apart. You also need to compare apples with apples as many of the £40 action cams look truly horrible and a Go-Pro or similar is the same sort of money as a camcorder.
 

dosdan

Active Member
I was using two Panasonic camcorders to shoot football so our team could review their performance. I was using one of these cameras as a static cam side-on to the goal area. Since I didn't have 3 cameras, I had to decide on which goal area to cover. As our team was dominant in the competition, I usually covered the opposition's goal area.

I used fixed-focus, as I didn't want the AF to select the wrong player in the area. So, when setting up before the match, I'd place a hat or bag in the central goalie position and focus on it, highly zoomed in, and then zoom out to to set a wide framing. This is OK in daytime, as the cameras have small-area sensors which means even with a low f-number aperture (f/1.8, f/2), you still get a lot of DOF. This would not be the case with a large-area sensor in a DSLR.

Under lights or on a heavily overcast day, the performance of a small sensor with a wide aperture (low f-number) is not good for large DOF or for noise. In this situation you want a large sensor and good AF performance.

The side-on perspective helped with depth determination. My main cam was situated at the mid-field sideline and sometimes its capture of an attacking player gave the impression that the player was closer to the goal area then was actually the case. This is due the optical "perspective flattening" effect when using large zoom-ratios in telephoto lenses.

Also an intervening player might obscure capturing some vital stage of the action as seen from the main-cam position

Where it was helpful I used digital zoom-and-pan in the video editor (Sony Vegas Pro) to concentrate on the action leading up to a goal. (Frame-by-frame digital panning adjustments can also help to correct jerky panning and overshoot when you were try to follow action close-up and were unsure where the player or ball was heading to next.)

In the 2 goals clip presented here, I've not used digital zoom-and-pan for processing the side-cam in the 1st goal replay, but did in the 2nd goal. It depended on how busy the action was in the fixed-frame capture,


I've also seen stuff where a GoPro was behind the goal area or tied to the goal net in the top-back area. I think for analytical use, a side-cam position is more useful.

An important consideration in rolling-stutter cameras such as these, where each horizontal line in a frame is captured in turn, (instead of all at once as is the case in a global-shutter sensor), is that the top of the frame is captured earlier than the bottom. So, if you're panning quickly, vertical objects like players and goal posts will appear slanted during the pan. So sensor readout speed is an important parameter for these cameras, but rarely provided in the specs.

BTW, for use on a tripod, IS, which is these action cameras is probably just EIS, not OIS or Hybrid/Mega IS (which is EIS+OIS), is not needed, and should be disabled.

Dan.
 
Last edited:

ShadowFiend

Novice Member

A very helpful post, so thankyou!

I'm concerned about ghost/lag, so the higher frame rate recording is what attracted me to them to avoid this, whether that is the definitive solution i'm not sure as don't know enough.
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
It would help if you give some detail of what you are filming and any intrinsic limitations present.
As others have suggested action cameras are fine for sports where a lightweight unobtrusive/maybe waterproof video is needed. Bike rides through woods is a good example, but you need to vary the shots to make any film "Interesting" - This implies some other angles/positions besides the bike/rider. If quality audio is needed then a dedicated digital recorder is the easy solution.... esp. since action cams are pretty dire when in the waterproof housing. A wide-angle video can be "difficult" esp. if the action is in the distance . . . . However, for a budget "Action" event, a couple of these cheapies will bring home a lot of video - the next issue is doing the EDIT...!
That is "Telling the story"
Cheers.
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
Camcorders/cameras have zoom, optical stabilisation, flashes, better low light, but that's about it- from my uneducated view
An option I use is my camcorder (Panasonic HC-V800 but earlier models would also work) mounted on a Panasonic VW-CTR1 powered pan/tilt head. This combination can be controlled via a Smartphone App or be set to follow the subject (Moving Object mode) The current range of Panasonic cameras are very tolerant to external conditions with good OIS and auto focus. I suggest you look up the specs for both bits of kit.

I'm looking at getting a new camera of some kind, i merely want to put it on a tripod and press record. I will be filming sport from that static position with no cameraman to move the camera about to follow any action. Maybe 20% of the time i would like stabilisation of some kind to freehand film some sport also.
IMO a good camcorder will do all you want and more.
 

chrishull3

Well-known Member
Hello everyone, thought i'd ask you lot as i'm kind of confused and a bit lost. Have often lurked the forum for valuable information :D

I would like to know how/ why action cameras are so cheap, yet cameras and camcorders seem considerably more expensive but often cannot shoot in 60p at high resolutions, or above 60p, and don't offer anything inbetween 4k and 1080p.
Action cameras have smaller sensors, to what difference that makes i'm not sure as the footage appears great, and i don't understand the numbers. They offer things like super wide angle and warp/distortion correct, amazing built in digital stabilisation at minimal cost to resolution, water proofing as well as a few other bits.
Camcorders/cameras have zoom, optical stabilisation, flashes, better low light, but that's about it- from my uneducated view.

I'm looking at getting a new camera of some kind, i merely want to put it on a tripod and press record. I will be filming sport from that static position with no cameraman to move the camera about to follow any action. Maybe 20% of the time i would like stabilisation of some kind to freehand film some sport also.
I have a Canon HF G25, which has more features than i know how to use, and lightly of not much use to me. But i feel the quality of its footage is a little dated, and sport on it ghosts anyway.

Any help, thoughts, input, etc?

Thanks in advance.
Personaly i have never used an action camera only Camcorders in the past and normal cameras for the past several years,i do know having seen my sons phone footage even they take great video now adays,for ease of use a cam or Bridge camera may be best for you,here is a little info on action cameras


There is a large range of mini micro four third cameras as well
 
Last edited:

12harry

Distinguished Member
As I am understanding, a fixed view of a field of sport will create very small view of the action for most of the time. A camera-man by comparison can adjust the zoom to (reasonably) match the action as it happens.
Most action cameras have an excessive viewing angle and those that offer alternatives are performing digital zoom.... whereas a camcorder offers Optical zoom, so the quality is greatly improved. However, a fixed viewpoint is rarely a good idea as the audience wants to see the action. Action cams are cheap because they don't have expensive zoom lenses with stab. That also help making them more rugged.
Cheers.
 

ShadowFiend

Novice Member
Thanks for the additional replies. I have done more further reading on cameras/camcorders in my accepted price range, but many just fall short when i personally value their worth.

The purpose is to film myself mostly, and the audience is mostly again, myself. Friends/family will also be audiences at some point, but their opinion comes second to mine in regards to this 😝

I now feel that it's still to early for 4K camera investment. Higher frame rates are more of a concern, and the cameras in that i looked at, (Sony AX53 f.e), weren't high performers in the spec range. No 4K 50p, and 1080p at 50p is still only 50mbps bit rate. While the viewfinder, and manual zoom ring are very enticing hardware options, the price cost versus a GoPro seems extreme.

I have just made a purchase for a Gopro 8, as they do a 30 trial period. 1080p at 50p, and 60mbps. With tripod shooting i can film with stabilisation off not lose quality, i hope! With the free SD card, i can get an entire hour of recording, and 1hour 20mins of battery at the above settings.

However, i will await some footage and see for myself if these action cameras can produce.

I am curious to see if i can pan and zoom within a video editor and not lose too much quality, when filming at the above settings. If this is not possible, i can step up to 2.7k at 100mbps even. But that's where the Gopro does win me over, 50/60p at higher resolutions.

In regards to "tracking the user" features of cameras, i very much do not like that tech currently. I feel for capturing one-off and unreliable subjects, the software is too sketchy to be relied upon. My phone is old and i dislike the idea of pairing and then being tech reliant on hardware that quickly goes out of date.

Hopefully i will report in not too long and report my results.
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
I'm looking at getting a new camera of some kind, i merely want to put it on a tripod and press record. I will be filming sport from that static position with no cameraman to move the camera about to follow any action
My point on "tracking" is that the pan/tilt head replaces a cameraman to a certain extent.

I am curious to see if i can pan and zoom within a video editor

Pan and zoom in a video editor is obviously restricted to the size of the original shot. Clearly you cannot pan outside that shot. Pan and zoom works but too much zoom will tend to pixilate the shot.
You need good video before you can play with it.
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Shooting 4K but editing in pan and cropped HD will give you a perfectly acceptable result.

Don't get too hung up on the data throughput unless you want to use green screen and need a really sharp edge around the image. 25mbs is normally sufficient for most applications, hence why higher rates are not always offered.

Things not to overlook are the quality of the optics and the depth of field. If it's just you talking to a camera, a shallow depth of field - IE a DSLR with a relatively large sensor and an open aperture will give a much nicer shot than having what could be a distracting background behind also in focus. Basic action camera optics are designed to give an extremely wide DoF with minimal lens elements and weight and quality can suffer because of this.
 

ShadowFiend

Novice Member
Just a little update for those that were curious.

I picked up the Gopro 8 on the 30 day money back guarantee, and after testing am thoroughly happy with it. A full size camcorder would of been preferred for non tripod use, but as i don't have that opportunity as much, paying double the price for the additional features wasn't worth it right now for me. (as mentioned previously, most filming is done on a tripod as i'm away from the camera).

I am thoroughly impressed with the device, it has obvious shortcomings like battery, poor user interface, and small screen, along with a couple of bugs it seems. Definitely need to do colour correcting to bring the image out, and with selective exposure area being quick and easy i've not found outside environments that poor. This was either when the sun was under the horizon a little, and also when the sun was directly facing into the camera.

I'm just filming in 1080p in 60mbps, along with 60fps. Tripod use with fast moving subjects either close or far away have given me decent results.

IF the gopro wasn't on sale i'd of not been as inclined to purchase it with the gap being smaller between it and a full size camcorder. The free SD card they supply is adequate enough when compared with the battery life at 1080p. Other filming resolutions i could see having to purchase a bigger card, more than 1x additional battery making the Gopro poor value however, along with additional annoyance. I also won't be purchasing any of their official accessories, just lowers the Gopro's price to performance ratio considerably. I got a tripod converter for the Gopro for a few quid online.

Again, thanks for the input previously everyone.
 

The latest video from AVForums

LG G1 OLED Evo TV and SVS SB-1000 Pro subwoofer reviews, Samsung OLED rumours and more...
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom