Action cameras, such as the GoPro, are designed to get great shots while you are moving. People often wonder if you can use them for still photography as well. Do they take great still photos? The answer is that the quality of any photograph depends on the camera and how well the photographer understands the technical aspects of it. In other words, if you know how to get the most out of your action camera, you will get good photos. That said, you need to have reasonable expectations when based on the capabilities and mechanics of the camera you are using.
What Are Action Cameras?
An action camera is a portable camera that is made specifically for action photography or video. They work well when you are involved in the action and unable to carry a traditional camera. You might use them for diving, snowboarding, biking, or playing team sports. When you use them for photos, you can capture some unique shots that would not be possible with a traditional camera.
These cameras are compact and lightweight. They are very easy to use, and they are rugged. They can handle being banged around, stepped on, going underwater, and more. They are made so that you can take photos in situations where you wouldn’t with a standard camera.
How Does an Action Camera Compare to a DSLR?
Action cameras and DSLR cameras are very different because they are designed for different purposes. DSLR cameras have greater control over your shots, and they have more features. They are also larger, so they have room for more components and can handle more attachments. You can use a variety of lenses and attach different types of flashes, and you have a lot of control over how your photos turn out.
However, action cameras are durable and practical in a variety of situations. They can capture shots that you simply couldn’t capture with a DSLR camera. They can produce photos with high resolutions, and they make videos up to 5K. They also have features such as auto-editing, time lapse, 360-degree shooting, and a front facing screen. Although they lack the high control that a DSLR offers, they have a different set of features that a DSLR doesn’t offer.
Types of Action Cameras and Their Features
Nearly all action cameras are compact and durable, and they can handle any action video or photography you want. Most of them come with fisheye lenses. This is designed to get more action on the screen when you are shooting. Many action cameras have a Linear Field of Vision mode where the camera can actually take linear photos with the fisheye lens. This means that you don’t need to change the lens to get your linear photos.
Some action cameras also have moveable screens that can tilt, and they are also waterproof. You can capture photos underwater that you could never take with a DSLR camera. The screen can tilt up to 360 degrees so that you never miss any angle. You can get a front screen, a side screen, or, in some models, a perpendicular screen.
Another feature that many of these action cameras have is that they create RAW files, so you have great quality and complete control over your images after you shoot them. You can tweak exposure levels and color correction because your images are not compressed. They come out better when you print them, and your original is not changed when you make edits.
Action cameras are small and lightweight, and they are durable enough to work well with drones as an added bonus. This type of photography is developing rapidly, and you can take some amazing photos.
How to Take Still Shots with Action Cameras
It is important to understand photo composition and the mechanical abilities of action cameras so that you get the most out of it. It is important to understand photo composition, the Exposure Triangle, and the dynamic range of your camera. You will want to understand the relationship between your camera’s aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Then, you need to know what the best exposure levels are.
When you understand how to compose your shots and how to get the most out of your camera, you can create the shots that you want.
Can You Use Action Cameras for Still Photos?
You can absolutely use an action camera for still photos, and you can capture some great shots. First, you need to consider what your goals are. If you are looking for a camera with a lot of accessories, and you want to customize it, you might be better off with a DSLR camera. These cameras offer a lot of options, and you can use different lenses to shoot portraits, wildlife, landscapes, and any other kind of photograph you can imagine.
Action cameras are designed for action, and they are made to withstand a lot of banging and extreme weather conditions. If you want a camera that you can take anywhere you go, including diving or out on the ski slopes, then picking up an action camera is a great choice.
If you are taking professional photos for a client, you may need the features and options offered by DSLR cameras. But if you are using them for your personal photo collection, they work well as long as you understand how to make the most of their features.
The Disadvantages of Using an Action Camera for Photos
There are several disadvantages of using action cameras for photos. First of all, they don’t have a great battery life. They only last a few hours in most cases. However, you can bring along extra batteries, or you can use an external battery to get more life out of them.
Another issue is that they don’t perform as well in low light. They usually have a small sensor, and it has stayed that way in spite of the higher resolution in current models. It is important to remember that having higher resolution doesn’t mean it has better image quality. The high ISO performance of these cameras isn’t nearly as good as it will be with a DSLR.
In addition, the lens is fixed, so you don’t have a zoom. Most models have a fixed lens, but there are some with a digital zoom. However, it isn’t the same as having a true zoom lens, and it is more similar to cropping.
The controls in an action camera are not as responsive as they are in standard cameras. The shutter is not as precise when you push it. This is primarily because they are designed to prevent accidental photos, and you will find that the software in the camera isn’t as responsive as you might want it to be. This isn’t a problem when you are taking videos, but you can miss a photo opportunity from time to time.
While you have control over some settings, such as the ISO, exposure compensation, exposure meter type, and the shutter speed, it is a process to access them and change the settings. This is not a problem if you have time to set up before a shot, but it can be tricky if you are shooting and don’t have that time. Some modes do offer presets for your most used settings, but you need to become familiar with how your camera works before you are out shooting.
Another disadvantage is the color balance. Action cameras do a great job outdoors with bright lighting, but they are challenged in low light environments. You will want to understand how the camera works so that you can use it in these situations.
You can use an action camera to take photos, as long as you understand how the camera works and how to get the most out of it.