Action cams — hot or not?

Spend time filming or spend time riding — don't do both

We all want to share the experience of our last epic ride, but when it comes time to sit through someone else’s footage, do you really even want to watch a few minutes of video of your mate pootling along on their bike?

All too often it’s the same uninspired, unedited and uncut tortuous viewing experience. Action cameras are not the panacea to allow you to get great shots while out riding. They’re a tool you have to learn how to use.

Nor do you automatically become ‘rad’ just because you’ve got a GoPro strapped to your head. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that unless you’re sending the biggest of lines, anything you record is going to look distinctly…. unimpressive. Action cameras just make things look slower, smaller and less steep than they actually are.

You might not look as rad as you think you do
You might not look as rad as you think you do
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

Nor do I want to watch your uninterrupted video of the full climb of Alpe d’Huez. Nobody does. I want a story and context. Is it too much to ask for some different camera angles too?

You don’t have to record every single moment without any regard for what it’s going to be used for. I’ll sound like an old man, but what happened to living in the moment?  I just don’t believe you’re not going to miss the amazing, exciting or incredible shot if the camera isn’t rolling all the time

5 mistakes to look out for when using an action camera

The thing about filming is that it requires work and planning to get the perfect shot. So either go out riding or go out filming. Don’t try and do both.

You’re going to have to live with the reality that if you don’t put in the time, in the vast majority of cases you’re not going to produce something that people want to watch. Indeed, half the work is getting the footage and much more than half is then putting it together and editing it.

How long do you want to watch this for?
How long do you want to watch this for?

Don’t get me wrong, you can do a lot of things with a decent action cam, but there needs to be some substance behind what you’re doing. Just watching you trundling along doesn’t provide me with any sense of the experience of your ride. You might feel something when you watch it, but I’m not going to be engaged.

The only time you should be recording everything faithfully is if you’re doing it for your commute as ‘insurance’ in the case of any road rage, where it’s just providing documentary evidence. Other than that I want you to aspire to create something more.


By all means use your action cam, but use it as a tool in your arsenal of equipment. I’m sure you take your phone or camera along with you on your ride. Take some different shots, from different angles and different places, and put together a video that I and others actually want to watch.