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All You Need to Know About Buying an Action Camera or Camcorder

If you’re planning a Winter adventure holiday and are going skiing, snowboarding or even on a sunnier break to surf, then you’ll want to capture those fantastic memories.

But with plummeting or soaring temperatures alongside sand, snow and water – not to mention a bit of rough and tumble – often a normal camera or camcorder won’t handle the job.

You risk ruining your traditional snapper, not least if it gets dropped on a mountain, so the answer to your problems could be a brand-new flash Action Digital Camera or Camcorder.

These rugged devices are made with extreme sports in mind and some can even be worn on clothing or your head or attached to a bike to produce the closest possible footage.

But how do you go about buying one? Well, here’s our guide to picking from the latest range of Action Digital Cameras and Action Camcorders on sale right now.

Digital Action Camera or Digital Action Camcorder?

This is the first question to ask yourself. Are you looking to capture mostly still images or record video footage.

Of course, some still cameras will also do movies and some movie cameras will also do stills, but their primary role will always produce the best results.

If you’re looking for an Action Camera then Pentax and Panasonic both have devices to choose from.

For movie-making, you can pick from Panasonic and ION.

Underwater or on dry land?

This is the next most important factor. Are you looking for an Action Camera that can take pictures underwater? If so the Pentax range is perfect as it offers underwater shooting up to 12 metres deep.

Are you after something that’s wearable or mountable? Well if so, then ION is the natural choice and can be attached to a bike, helmet or ski pole for example. These are best for movies but will also shoot stills at five megapixels.

And if you’re searching for a neat all-rounder that’s tough in extreme conditions and weathers, then the Panasonic range features both traditional-style cameras and small handheld camcorders.

Live streaming action or upload to YouTube?

If you’re indulging in some action-packed extreme sports, then you’ll want to show off what you’ve been doing, maybe even while you are doing it.

If so, the ION range come with a host of neat features that can allow you to upload footage to Facebook or YouTube in an instant, or even watch it on your smartphone while you do it.

The ION Air Pro WiFi is an Action Camcorder that can be connected to your mobile using a special app.

It records footage on a Micro SD card inside allowing you to increase the amount of storage available and shoots in 1080p high definition at up to 60 frames per second. You can also attach a separate microphone.

What’s neat though is when it’s mounted on your helmet or bike, and connected to your phone, you can control how it works using a remote control – using your phone as a viewer.

Then when you’ve stopped, a simple couple of button presses can upload the footage straight to YouTube or Facebook using WiFi.

Waterproof up to 30 feet, the ION range can all shoot stills but are far better for video and have a battery life of around 2.5 hours.

A WiFi adaptor is available separately if you want to add it to the ION Air Pro Plus or the ION Air Pro.

Lights, Camcorder, Action…

A more traditional way to record action movies in a variety of weathers and conditions is with one of Panasonic’s handheld Action Camcorders.

With a flip-out screen, they shoot in high definition and some are waterproof but check each model specifically to understand how splash proof it is.

These camcorders like the Pansonic HX-WA20B-H have digital zooms to get up close and personal to what’s happening and an HDMI output to connect them straight up to a TV to show off your footage.

They can also take high quality still images and often do so while a video is recording. They can also upload straight to YouTube with one button push, once connected to a computer and an internet connection.

Snap happy while on an extreme action holiday

For those of you hoping to capture pixel perfect pictures while toughing it out on a mountain, sliding over ice or stomping through snow, then both Pentax and Panasonic have products available.

The Pentax devices look and feel a lot more rugged while the Panasonic cameras appear to be more traditional in style.

Each model will handle different extremities but common features allow them to be rustproof, waterproof (to certain depths), freezeproof (to a certain minus temperature) and shockproof (from a certain height) – but check exactly how far you can drop them without it breaking before flinging it off a mountain.

Like with normal stills cameras, they will have functions such as Blink Detection, Smile Detection and Face Detection.

But on the Pentax models you will also find a large three inch screen on the back for watching back your movies – handy if you’re wearing skiing goggles and chunky gloves.

You can also buy a Pentax model with GPS functionality, the Pentax Optio WG-02 GPS. It won’t give you directions like a sat-nav but the GPS chip allows you to Geo-tag your photos. This assigns them with the co-ordinates of where they were taken allowing you to keep a record of exactly what you shot and where, wherever you are on the planet.

A great all-round action hero

The Panasonic range of Action Cameras for stills are not as rugged as the Pentax versions but they will go underwater up to 3m or 10ft.

They’ll also shoot both stills and video and are small enough to fit in a pocket because they’re styled and sized like a normal camera. They also come in a range of bright colours, such as the orange Panasonic DMC-FT20EB-D so you’ll easily spot them amid the sand or snow if dropped.

There’s a rear screen size of 2.7in and a 4x optical zoom, making them very much akin to traditional snappers.

But the toughened body ensures a decent level of being rustproof, shockproof and freezeproof, which may not suit the most hardened explorer but will be fine for most of those going off the beaten track for a bit of an adventure.

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