The top 5 action camera mistakes, and how to avoid them

Record footage to be proud of by avoiding these common errors

The top five action cam mistakes and how to avoid them

Action cameras are capable of capturing amazing riding footage, yet playing videographer doesn't come naturally to most.

Thankfully, most people's footage can be easily and drastically improved by simple set up tweaks and with a few sneaky tips — and that's where we come in. 

We quizzed our talented video team on their best advice for action camera users and they came up with this, the top five action camera mistakes and how to avoid them. Covering everything from camera placement to recording settings, we've included all you need to up your video game.

1. One boring angle

Don't use just one boring angle
Don't use just one boring angle

Now this is irrelevant if you just want to record your commute, for safety reasons. However, if sick edits are your thing then you're going to want a few different angles to keep things interesting.

Invest in a few mounts, and spend time finding out what works for the riding you do. We'd recommend a chest mount for nearly every rider as handlebar and helmet mounts could result in a boring, shaky or slow account of your riding skills.

2. Dirty lens

Watch out for rain or dirt getting on the lens
Watch out for rain or dirt getting on the lens

Rain, mud and wildlife droppings are an inevitable part of cycling. Don't let them get onto your camera lens though, so check and clean as often as possible.

If it's just rain, try giving the lens a lick to get it clean and dry.

3. Blinded by the spec

Try not to be blinded by the marketing
Try not to be blinded by the marketing

If you haven't bought your camera yet, try not to be blinded by buzzwords and numbers. Some 4K cameras create footage that compares badly to some older 1080p models. While resolution is the easiest thing to market a camera on, it's not the most important.

Check out our buying guide to the best GoPro and other action cameras currently available.

4. Riding in the dark

Avoid recording at night or in low light
Avoid recording at night or in low light

Action cameras have tiny lenses, so they can't gather as much light per second as a bigger camera. They try to compensate by boosting sensor sensitivity or slowing down the shutter speed.

A slower shutter will blur fast motion, while more sensitivity will increase noise — neither of these is a good thing. If you already have your camera set up correctly the only solution to excessive noise or blurring is to spend as much time as possible filming in daylight.

5. Wrong frame rate

Try to only use high frame rates when you want to get slow-mo
Try to only use high frame rates when you want to get slow-mo

Your action camera can probably shoot high-speed video (anything above 30 frames per second), to allow for slow-mo playback. But don't leave it in this setting as you'll eat into your memory space and create extra sensor noise.

That's because a higher frame rate means faster shutter speed, so your camera will probably underexpose everything to compensate. That's not good.

Rather than put it into auto-lowlight mode, we reckon it's better to set the frame rate manually: high if there's plenty of light and you might want slow-mo footage, 30fps for everything else.

What have we missed? What do you think is the #1 mistake people make with action cameras? Let us know in the comments below.

Article last updated 20 October 2017

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