Video cameras have come a long way, and they have gotten so many improvements from their old versions. Video cameras also perform so many roles in videography. If you’re a videographer, looking to acquire a new video camera, this guide is right for you, as we would be discussing the differences between action and DSLR video cameras.
What is a DSLR Video Camera?
DSLR Video cameras are one of the most common types of video cameras available out there. The best part of them is that they can click amazing pictures along with great videos. And there are almost every YouTuber is using DSLRs to shoot their videos.
DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera. Inside the body of the camera, there is a mirror that reflects the light coming from the lens. Also, when you hit the shutter, the image gets flipped up and the light coming out from the lens shot by an image sensor, and this is how a photograph is made. Also, for video, the image sensor starts recording it instead of clicking a shot.
The camera also supports the various size of the lens. As a result, you get to click or shoot different types of videos or images. Overall, DSLR cameras are the most popular types of cameras, and they are pretty affordable too.
Main Advantages DSLRs:
- Better image quality. A DSLR camera typically has a much bigger sensor. Having a big sensor helps to get images that have much less noise (noise is the grain you typically see in a picture) and much better overall image quality.
- Better sensitivity to light. Less noise means that you can work in very dim environments and capture photographs that you would never be able to with an action video camera.
- Shutter and focus speeds. DSLRs can acquire focus very quickly and take multiple shots per second. Professional DSLRs are capable of capturing up to 10 frames per second. All professional action and sports photography are done with SLRs.
- You see what you shoot. A DSLR is constructed with reflex mirrors, which means that you look through the lens, instead of a see-through hole in the camera.
- Flexible Controls. DSLRs are not necessarily created for “simplicity” as most points and shoots are. So, you will typically find a lot more buttons and controls on a DSLR than on a point and shoot. Once you learn how to use those controls, you can quickly change settings, if necessary.
- Better investment. Generally, DSLR cameras hold their values much better than point and shoot. Although no digital camera can be considered a good investment, the chances of selling your DSLR at a reasonably good price are much higher than even a slightly used action video camera.
- Ability to use different lenses. There is a big array of lenses that can be mounted and used on DSLRs, from super-wide-angle to telephoto, depending on your needs. My husband uses long telephoto lenses such as the Nikon 300mm f/4.0 for his bird photography, while I primarily shoot with portrait lenses such as the Nikon 50mm f/1.4. On-point and shoots, you are limited to the “optical zoom” of the camera lens. DSLR lenses are also much better optically compared to lenses in point and shoot cameras.
- Full control over depth of field. You are fully in charge of isolating the foreground from the background or bring everything in focus through aperture control of the lens. Some portrait and telephoto lenses can really isolate your subjects and create a creamy and beautiful background blur, also known as “bokeh“.
- Weather sealing. Forget about using a point and shoot in challenging weather conditions. While point and shoot cameras are only suited for normal use, higher-end DSLRs can withstand dust, moisture, rain and snow, and severely cold weather. My husband often shoots landscapes in subzero temperatures with his DSLR and he has never had a problem with it.
- Solid construction. DSLRs are built to last. While there are some parts that are made of tough plastic, the professional DSLRs are made of magnesium-alloy and can take a lot of physical abuse, while point and shoots would quickly break down.
- Price – while they are coming down in price (especially at the lower end) DSLRs are generally a more expensive digital camera. Also, consider that you might want to upgrade your lens (as kit lenses are generally not of super high quality) or you may wish to add more lenses later and that this adds to the cost of a DSLR.
- Size and Weight – the only reason I take my point and shoot out with me is on those occasions when I don’t want to lug my DSLR (and its lenses) around with me. DSLRs are heavy and sizable and when you add a lens or two to your kit bag you can end up with quite the load!
- Maintenance – a factor well worth considering if you’re going to use a DSLR with more than one lens is that every time you change lenses you run the risk of letting dust into your camera. Dust on an image sensor is a real annoyance as it will leave your images looking blotchy. Cleaning your image sensor is not a job for the faint-hearted and most recommend that you get it done professionally (which of course costs). This is a problem that is being rectified in many new DSLRs which are being released with self-cleaning sensors.
- Noise – DSLRs are generally noisier to use than point and shoot. This will vary depending upon the lens you use but while point and shoots can be almost silent when taking a shot a DSLR will generally have a ‘clunk’ as the mechanisms inside it do their thing. I personally quite like this sound – but it’s something that is a factor for some.
- Complexity – while DSLRs are designed for manual use this of course means you need to know how to use the tools that they give you. Some friends that have bought DSLRs in the past few months have told me that they were a little overwhelmed at first by the array of settings and features. The learning curve can be quite steep. Having said this – all DSLRs have fully Automatic mode and many have the normal array of semi-auto modes that point and shoot digital cameras have.
- No live LCD – in many DSLRs the only way to frame your shot is via the optical viewfinder. Some photographers prefer to use a camera’s LCD for this task. This is another thing that is changing with more and more new DSLRs having a ‘Live View’ LCD which enables you to frame your shots without looking through the viewfinder (update: please note that Live View isn’t perfect
What is An Action Video Camera?
Action cameras are far better compared to any other cameras out there. The thing about them is that they come with quite a lot of accessories. As a result, you can attach an action camera to your helmet, bike, or anywhere. They are small in size and made out of durable materials.
They come with a single lens that is capable of shooting in high definition from a wide-angle perspective. Also, some of the cameras are capable of shooting in 4K. This kind of camera is mostly used by travelers or at sports events when you need to capture shots from a bike, car, or anything.
Also, the best part is that they are pretty inexpensive compared to other types of cameras available in the market.
What makes a good action camera?
Action cameras can vary in price and features, so it’s important to identify which camera will suit you. Whether you’re after a cheap action camera or a more advanced model that shoots 4K video, our expert advice can help you choose from the available cameras.
- Resolution This is the number of pixels in each frame captured by the camera, and the amount of detail. 1,080p video format is Full HD (1,920 pixels wide by 1,080 pixels tall), and 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels) is considered as standard HD resolution. 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) is four times as many pixels as Full HD. Even if you haven’t got a 4K TV or monitor, if you’re buying a new action cam, it’s worth looking at 4K models first for top-quality video and stills.
- Frames per second The frame rate is measured in frames per second (fps). It’s a measurement for how many consecutive images a camera can handle each second. A typical camcorder shoots in 30fps and normal TV is at 24 or 30fps. Higher-end action cameras can shoot 60fps, which makes motion appear smoother and less blurry. Some cameras can support even higher frames per second, such as 120fps, which can be used to create crisp slow-motion footage.
- Image stabilization Even the best action cameras suffer from shaky video footage, looking like the Blair Witch Project film. If you want to ensure steady videos that are easy to watch, look for an action camera with built-in image stabilization. You can also buy a gimbal, an accessory that stabilizes the camera.
- Field of view A wide field of view is important for action cameras as it allows you to record video or stills in a more immersive perspective than a traditional camera or camcorder. In simple terms, the field of view is a measurement of the total viewable area at any given moment. Measured as an angle (eg 170 degrees), the larger the value, the wider angle of view.
- Still, photos Action cameras specialize in recording video, but they can also capture still photos. They don’t produce high-resolution images as you would expect from a compact or DSLR camera, but generally, cameras with a larger megapixel rating will produce sharper and clearer photos.
- Water-resistant and waterproof It’s important to select a camera that is waterproof if you plan to use the camera underwater. Some models are water-resistant, meaning they can only be submerged in water to a limited depth. Other cameras require a special waterproof case, called a housing, to be fully waterproof. Check the camera specifications for details on acceptable water depths.
- Weatherproofing Recording high-quality video in tough weather conditions is no longer limited to extreme sports enthusiasts or adventurers. With an action camera by your side, you can instantly record video and still images without fear of breaking it. Typically offering waterproofing, shockproofing, and dust proofing, these cameras are ideal for extreme activities.
Action Camera Features
It’s worth bearing in mind that, once you choose a camera, you’ll also have to think about other features and may want to buy some additional accessories to get everything that you want out of your new camera. Here are some important ones to look out for and remember.
- Battery life
Even the best action camera with a sizeable battery will only last a few hours, so it’s worth investing in multiple batteries, or a portable charger, to ensure your camera doesn’t run out of juice when you need it most.
- Mounting system
Almost all of the action cameras are designed to be mounted or attached to different surfaces or objects, which is essential for shooting videos of your adventures from a first-person perspective. Most cameras come with one or two mounts in the box, but additional mounts cost extra. If you’re looking to attach your camera to a specific area, such as bike handlebars, you’ll need to source a specific bike mount. A good action camera will have a universal mounting system, which means you can clip your camera onto anything without the need to buy additional accessories.
Buying the right type of memory card is essential for making sure that you get the most out of your camera. When filming HD movies, video files occupy a lot of storage space, so it’s worth choosing a large-capacity memory card to ensure you can save as much footage as possible.
Most action cameras use micro-SD cards, and we recommend picking up a Class-10 card to ensure the best video quality. The higher the ‘class’ of the card, the faster it can save the video. If you use a slower class of cards than recommended, recorded video will be jerky and there will be a noticeable camera slowdown.
- Wireless connectivity
Some of the high-end action cameras include wi-fi, Bluetooth, near-field communication (NFC), or all three, so you can use your smartphone or tablet as a screen. This means you can easily control the camera via an app or adjust camera settings on the fly.
With a built-in GPS (Global Positioning System), your action camera will automatically geo-tag all your videos and stills. This means that when you get home you can link your photos and videos to an online map, pinpointing the exact locations of your travels.
If you read through the above guide, you must have picked one or more points to aid in your search for a good video camera. Video cameras have a lot to offer, especially to videographers. We hope this guide was helpful