The first piece of kit that I’ll be covering in-depth is my action camera (or “GoPro” as many have taken to referring to any camera in the category, much like we hear talk of “Hoovers”, “Jacuzzis”, “Q-tips”, “Rollerblades”, “Post-Its”… Anyway, I digress), the only camera in my kit that I tend not to use at all for photography, though these cameras were never really intended for this purpose anyway.
What these cameras are made for is recording video. The Akaso EK7000 can shoot videos at resolutions up to 4k (25fps), but in my opinion really shines at 1080p 60fps (see example below), the greater frame rate being particularly ideal for smoothly capturing fast movement, and can permit smooth slow motion at anything up to 40% of the original speed (a reduction to the movie standard rate of 24fps). The camera, with its 170 degree wide-angle lens with no zoom (typical of action cams), is best put to use for filming point of view videos, and the addition of robust waterproof housing makes these little cameras particularly ideal for all sports and all outdoor activities, but, lightweight and easy to mount in an endless number of inventive ways, can be used to film anything.
Whilst this morning I filmed the example below at an abandoned BMX racing track by strapping the camera to a chest mount, I have also previously attached the camera to my dog’s collar, attached it to a float and brought it out to sea, and mounted it to a tripod for a range of uses from filming skateboarding clips to functioning as a dashboard camera (the loop recording option being particularly useful to ensure filming does not stop due to the camera’s memory becoming full).
A price to pay for its rugged simplicity becomes apparent when it comes to taking photos, which I tend to do only in conditions which would put a less rugged camera at risk: the camera is reduced to essentially “recording” a single frame; there are no camera controls at all, so with no ability to manually focus or set aperture, shutter speed, or ISO to get the perfect shot, or merely for artistic effect, you are as well filming a short video and selecting a single frame (or, conditions permitting, use any other camera):
A photo of Gloria taken on holiday in Malaga this summer, taken in 12mp photo mode.
As similar a single frame to the above photo that I could find, taken from a 1080p60 video.
The truth be told, despite not being ideal for taking photos, the rugged little thing has been incredibly fun to use so far, and after nearly a year of heavy use I love using it as much as ever (the floating-arm wide-angle chest mount position in particular – as seen in the above video – makes anything look cool… I’ve even filmed myself driving to work). And whilst mobile phones are increasingly competitive (and, let’s be honest, hugely convenient) when it comes to digital photography and recording videos, the ease with which I have accidentally put smartphones to the sword (falling on a pocketed phone while skating, dropping one – on carpet – while texting, putting one through the wash, and even dropping one in a bowl of cereal, yes, really), a lot can be said for durability.