Best GoPro Action Camera Alternatives 2015
Part of the mantra of 21st century snowboarding is ‘If a rider lands a trick, and nobody is there to film it, did they stomp it?’. But a GoPro isn't your only option, there are plenty of options, so here are our best GoPro action sports camera alternatives 2015.
Luckily, with the rise of the action sport camera, semi-professional camera equipment is now available to every Thomas, Reimond and Herby out there.
The GoPro is arguably the market leader in action sports cameras. One of the huge contributing factors to this is that there are just so many accessories available for the GoPro. You’re now just as likely to see a GoPro on a stick up the Eiffel Tower, as you are in your local park or hill. On a side note, the selfie stick literally makes us want to vomit all over our keyboard ‘caus we all know that it was the OG broken ski pole with some duct tape for follow camming that made it, but such is life.
But, if for some reason you’re not down with the GoPro, we’ve rounded up some of the best alternatives in the market. With GoPro shares currently going for $62 a pop, it’s a rapidly expanding market that’s becoming more and more competitive. This means over the next 12 months, we’re sure to see some more camera brands getting the big guns out and cashing in on the market.
First up, the TomTom Bandit action camera...
TomTom Bandit Action Camera
| Price: £300.00 |
Newcomers to the action camera world are TomTom; the Dutch navigation and wearable tech company.
Whilst some might argue that the entry of the Dutch startup to the action camera world, is a last minute land-grab of market share; the reality is that they've been working on the TomTom Bandit for the last two years, which hardly reactionary in our opinion.
In the tech department, it boasts a roster of frames that'd make Dorian Grey green with envy, with 1080p at 30 and 60fps; and 720p at 60 and 120fps. It also offers 4K at 15fps, depending on how expensive your computer is, alongside the usual time-lapse, still and slow-mo options.
Where the TomTom Bandit comes into a new class though, is the software that goes alongside the action camera. The camera uses a variety of sensors to track speed, rotation and g-force whilst you're riding; and if you've got a TomTom sports watch, it'll even bring your heart-rate into the stats.
Once you link the camera up to your smartphone via the built-in wifi connection, the app takes this data that's woven into your footage to create 'highlights' of your day, based on your highest speeds, heart-rates and g-force pressure. This means you don't have to trawl through hours of footage to find the best bits.
You can use those highlights, and literally shake the phone, and it'll edit them into an order for you to instantaneously publish onto the world wide web.
If you want to twiddle and tweak with your footage, the compressed footage uses a super-easy drag and drop cutting timeline for you to cut out sections of your footage for you to put into your own edit. Wack your own tune over the top, and your ready to go.
We'll be getting a full review of the TomTom Bandit up soon, so stay tuned to find out more. In the meantime, check this video to see how it works.
iON Air Pro 3 Wi-Fi
| Price: €349.95 |
The iON Air Pro 3 Wi-Fi is iON camera's latest offering to world of action sport cameras. Whilst brands like Contour were the first to go down the barrel shaped camera route, iON have arguably begun to perfect it. Weighing in at a smidgen heavier than the GoPro Hero 3+, the camera’s super easy record button is a slider switch on the top that you could probably turn on with a pair of boxing gloves on, let alone snowboard gloves.
iON have wooped up the recording quality of the Air Pro so that it now records 1080p at 60 frames per second, the sound quality is still pretty awful, but that goes across pretty much every action sports camera on the market, so we’re not losing any sleep over it. Besides, nobody wants to hear the sound of your knees shattering when you come up short on a kicker anyway.
Battery life is advertised as 2.5 hours, but again that’s probably in a controlled environment and not a -20 arctic day in Scandinavia. The iON does come with an app downloadable from the App store for Android and iOS enabled devices, this again drains the battery, but it does give you a live feed so you can check your angles before you decide to send it off that cornice with the camera facing the sky.
Sony Action Cam FDR-X1000V 4K
| Price: €449.00 |
Just as the date rolled into a new year, Sony made the first month of the year a helluva lot more interesting by showcasing their latest camera the FDR-X1000V.
Now one of the most exciting things about this camera, is its ability to record 4K resolution footage at 30 frames per second. Whilst most of us don’t have the ability to edit, watch or even tickle near 4K resolution, what it does mean is that when editing, you can take stills from the footage at a much higher quality than you would have at lower resolutions.
Sony have obviously been thinking of the airbourne enthusiasts among us with their new image stabilization software. The SteadyShot EIS technology specifically aims for low pitch movement AKA the vibration of rotor blades. This means if you’ve got yourself a flying octocopter of death, but don’t have the cash to spork out for a gimbal, you’re shots aren’t going to resemble the nauseating shake of Cloverfield.
All in all, this camera looks like it could be a very strong competitor for the high end GoPro – Whilst we haven’t been able to get our hands on it, we’re hoping to take it for a whirl at some point and see how it actually holds up as an alternative to the GoPro.
Drift Innovation Ghost S-Action Camera
| Price: €369.99 |
The most versatile of the Drift Innovation camera is the Ghost-S, elder brother to the Drift Innovation HD Ghost, but with a few steroid-pumping improvements. The Ghost-S packs a 60fps capture rate at 1080p so you can now savior that cliff drop in all its crispy goodness. There’s also a whole host of other high frame rate options including a 240fps setting, but that does drop you down to 848x480 resolution, which in simple terms brings you down to near 480 resolution, whilst not being ‘progressive’.
The camera is designed to be mounted horizontally with an LCD display on the side so you can peep your angles before you drop. Unlike the GoPro, the Ghost-S is designed sans case, so there are no foggy issues when it comes to temperature changes. It also comes with your standard tripod mount, so it’s super versatile when it comes to accessories that you might want to stock up on for shooting.
When you delve into the inner layers of the Ghost-S, the back panel opens up for a mini USB charging/connectivity port as well has having a 3.5m audio jack port so you can plug in external mics to boost the audio quality.
One thing that’s worth noting is the rotational lense as seen in contour models. When you change the mounting of the camera, you’ve got to ensure that you rotate the lens to that orientation otherwise you’ll have to do some post-production magic to bring it back to a normal orientation.
It does boast a whopping 3.5 hour battery life, which is probably longer than your legs can last.
Contour Roam 3 Action Camera
| Price From: €243.00 |
Countour were once the second in line to the GoPro throne, they had a stacked team of riders, kept up with the progession of filming technology and they didn’t make you look like a 'radical unicorn' which is always a plus.
Back in August 2013 however, in a very abrupt announcement they shut their doors, took their phones off the hook and turned on the ‘ol auto-reply on the emails. In a matter of months though, they were bought out by investment company Clarke Capital Partners, who gave them the funds (although on a ‘diet’ scale), to open their doors once more.
And so, the Contour Roam 3 came to be! In all honesty though, they haven’t really gone too NASA, in a way of updating the Roam with lots of tech. Instead, they’ve made a few tweaks to the usability of the camera, made it a bit more waterproof…and that’s about it actually.
However, we reckon that part of Contour’s new strategy is to go in as a loss leader to gain some market share back as the Contour Roam 3 is a damn sight cheaper than anything else out at the moment. We’re sure that the Contour bods are hard at work in the lab getting a GoPro killer ready though, and it’s sure to be a battle to behold.
JVC ADIXXION GC-XA2 Action Camera
| Price: €358.00 |
Next in our list of camera heavyweights that are getting into the action sports camera market are Japanese brand JVC. Whilst they might been more widely known for their pioneering development of the VHS, they’ve progressed somewhat since their inception in 1927 and have released the second version of what they call the ‘ADIXXION’ range.
Dodgy names aside, the GC-XA2 packs a punch with a 7.99 megapixel camera which is a marked improvement on their previous incarnation which was running with 5 megapixel technology.
As the JVC GC-XA2 is still packing a normal sized memory card, it means you can wack up to 512GB into the camera if you’ve got $799.99 to spare. Although you probably don’t require that much space as the camera doesn’t support 4K shooting, it does mean that you’re much more likely to run out of battery than you are storage if you forget to dump the footage at the end of the day.
On the topic of battery, the JVC GC-XA2 does fall a little short of ideal. According to bikeradar.com the camera lasted a mere 50 minutes at 720p – even that doesn’t take into account the sub zero temperatures that we all operate our cameras in.
Rollei Actioncam 7S WiFi Action Camera
| Price €329.99 |
Whilst it sounds like some sort of Bolle side-project, Rollei have been making cameras since 1920. The Actioncam 7S WiFi is a beast of a camera offering up to 4K resolution, but you do sacrifice a fair amount of quality due to the 12fps rate that makes it jumpy at times.
It does bare striking resemblance to a GoPro shape, but what we’ve begun to think is that companies that produce other cameras tend to go for the GoPro shape as it’s a bit more like a ‘classical’ camera shape. That does however mean that the Rollei Actioncam 7S WiFi has a removable LCD screen on the back panel, which is something that the cylindrical shaped cameras can’t do.
The Rollei does have a myriad of possible options to shoot in including either NTSC or PAL formats, though you’ll need to do your homework to ensure you get the best settings for you though.
As with most of the cameras, the Rollei Actioncam 7S WiFi comes with a custom designed app to link up to your phone with. Many reviewers have found it easier to navigate the different shooting options on the app rather than trying to do it on the camera itself though.
Garmin VIRB Elite Action Camera
| Price: €360.00 |
Whilst Garmin might be more known to our fellow mountain loving ascenders (road cyclists), they’ve made their move into the action camera market with the VIRB elite camera. They haven’t made a half hash of it either!
The VIRB elite lasts 3 hours whilst on continuous record, so once again, your legs are going to tire out faster than the battery will. Like some of the other cameras, the VIRB elite has a 3.5mm audio jack so that the audio is as good at the vision on the camera.
On the topic of definition, the camera has the ability to shoot the following; 1080p@30fps, 960p@48fps, 720p@30/60fps and 848x480@120fps. Which is enough choice to make more than a few heads spin.
The Garmin VIRB elite is probably a better choice for the backcountry enthusiasts among you due its ability to link up with other Garmin products such as heart rate monitors and other health based accessories. The VIRB elite is GPS enabled, allowing the camera to track elevation, location and speed which is pretty nifty for finding your way back to that couloir that you cant remember the location of.
Another super useful feature is the ability to take photos whilst you’re filming, which if pretty nifty if you don’t land the trick, but still want the Facebook likes… you shameless narcissist, you.
Replay XD Action Camera
| Price: €299.00 |
Replay released the fourth incarnation of their camera last year, and with a healthy helping of custom designed tech, it’s not to be snubbed if you’re looking for a decent action camera without having to remortgage your gaff.
The Replay XD has a custom built lens that the rest of the camera is built around, rather than it being an afterthought. The f2.7 Hyperion CinePrime lenshas aspherical, antirefelection coated glass elements which gives the lens a whopping 140 degree vision spread.
Out of all of the action cameras included in this list, the Replay XD is the smallest, so if you’re more of a ‘radical unicorn’ user rather than doing follow cam filming, you’ll be glad to know you won’t have a chunky or heavy bit of kit attached to your head. On the topic of weight, it comes in at a mere 99.2 g which as far as we’re concerned is just sheer witchcraft.
They don’t sacrifice on battery life either with it lasting 3.5 hours whilst filming, however, this is probably much less when filming in colder conditions. The Replay XD also packs a hefty app to adjust various options including the integral white balance that is the bane of all snowsports filmers.