Action Cameras on a Budget

Action Cameras on a Budget

Paying board for two horses means I’m broke broke broke. That doesn’t stop me from wanting cool gadgets, thoughit just means that I have to think about my budget when I get the urge to splurge on a new toy. When I realized that an action camera might be a good arrow to have in my quiver I knew I wasn’t going to be able to buy a top of the line GoPro, but the nice thing about it being 2017 (almost 2018!) is that there’s literally 1,000,000 GoPro knockoffs to choose from on Amazon.

So many options… TOO MANY OPTIONS 🙃

Right off the bat, I knew I wanted my camera to film in 1080p at 60fps. Those 60 frames mean that if you add slow-mo to your videos in post-processing the video stays over 30fps. I also wanted a 170° wide angle lens. Action camera’s have about 90 minutes of battery life and I wanted a model that came with two batteries. I wasn’t picky about megapixels, but I did want the camera to be able to connect to my phone via an app (and it was a huge bonus if it produced .mp4 videos that were compatible with my Android). On top of all of those nifty features, it also needed to come with a good set of mounting hardware.

Oh, and I wanted all of that for less than $40, if at all possible, sooooooooo… 😅

After a few hours of watching camera footage and comparing specs, I settled on the Campark ACT74.

a cool $50 purchase—slightly over budget, but worth it

The Campark came with a whole case full of accessories, half of which I have absolutely no clue what to do with (and it’s a Made in China camera, so the instructions are a strange mixture of almost English and diagrams). There’s a lot of parts and pieces to sort through, but now that I’ve owned it for a few days I’ve got a good sense of which ones are most helpful for pony pursuits.

The easiest way to attach the camera to my helmet is by using one of the nylon straps and one of the little platform-esque gadgets included in the Campark bundle. I’ve got the platform cinched down on top of my helmet so that I can clip my action camera into it whenever I want to use it.

The first day I got the camera I didn’t have time to figure out the helmet situation, so I set it on a ledge at the edge of the arena instead. The angle of the lens makes it so that the camera can cover about half of the arena (around the size of a twenty meter circle) without turning us microscopic.

Those videos were filmed in 1080p at 60fps (though I’m pretty sure my video editing software exported it at 30fps 😕). Quality wise, I’m super happy with what I got for my $50! My only complaints are 1) The camera splits videos into ~3GB chunks that I have to edit together later, and 2) The videos come out just a smidge on the dark side. But luckily both of those things can be addressed in post-processing!

Top/Left: Directly off of the Campark, Bottom/Right: Slight brightness and contrast boost

The audio quality of the camera’s recording isn’t spectacular (though it would probably be better without the waterproof casing, which has to be on in order to use the mounting system), so if I want to have clear commentary on my rides I’ll probably want to invest a little extra cash in a separate microphone system.

I got the right helmet mounting configuration figured out on Sunday (AKA the windiest day known to man), so I recorded all 25 minutes of our ride. Here’s the uncut version for your viewing pleasure:

There are a few choice moments in that video, but if you don’t want to spend the time to watch it all (can’t blame you, most of it’s a snoozefest 😅) I picked out a small handful of clips to share on my Instagram.

Anyways, I’m excited to have this nifty new angle and I think I got a great value for my money! 😎

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