What Is an Action Camera? How To Choose One and Common Accessories

Whether you're an athlete, adrenaline junkie, adventurer, vlogger, or filmmaker, an action camera can be your best buddy for capturing exciting and thrilling content. But how do you know which action camera is suitable for you? What accessories can add to the experience? What should you keep in mind while buying?

Making the right purchase can be daunting, so we have put together this easy-to-follow guide to help you choose the best action camera and all the essential accessories you need. Let's jump right in!

What is an Action Camera?

An action camera is a rugged, compact device that records high-quality videos and images in the heat of the action. They're perfect for capturing sports, travel, and adventure — environments where traditional cameras may not perform as effectively.

If you opt for an action camera, you'll get the best of both worlds: a portable, easy-to-carry camera that still packs a punch. Plus, with the wide range of sizes and designs available, you're sure to find the best match for your needs.

Their small size and flexibility mean you can attach them virtually anywhere! That means you can throw yourself into the fun, knowing every moment is being captured without hassle.

What Can You Use an Action Camera For?

An action camera is ideal for capturing a wide range of activities. Whether you're into outdoor adventures, sports, vlogging, filmmaking, or just want to document everyday moments with friends and family, it's the perfect tool for the job.

Using an action camera for surfing

Let's take a deeper dive into these activities and see how an action camera might be useful for you:


With small, durable action cameras, it's now easier to capture the thrills and excitement of winter sports like skiing or snowboarding. They're equally useful in capturing high-speed activities like downhill mountain biking and dirt biking. Action cameras enable you to capture every dynamic moment with stunning clarity. You'll want to make sure your action camera has a good battery life, in-camera stabilization and can handle a bump or two!

Daily Vlogging

Vlogging has become increasingly popular, and now, with the availability of highly capable compact cameras, getting started has never been easier. If you plan to shoot videos and pictures regularly, you'll need a durable, user-friendly camera. An action camera, which can capture every crucial moment without any hassle, allows you to still be in the moment as you record. Having a flip screen means you can see what you're filming and make sure your shots are framed perfectly; plus, you'll want to make sure the action camera has good audio quality or easy mic attachments.

Cinematic-Style Shots

Action cameras are usually more affordable than traditional video cameras, making them an excellent choice for filmmakers on a tight budget who want to capture high-quality footage.

Built to endure tough conditions, action cameras are ideal for filming in demanding environments, whether it's extreme weather or underwater. Their compact, lightweight, and convenient design allows for easy use in various settings, making them ideal for on-the-go shooting or in cramped spaces where a larger camera would be impractical. Make sure your action camera has good image quality (like a large sensor or high shooting specifications), manual control over parameters and settings and a good editing suite!

How Do I Choose an Action Camera?

When choosing an action camera, it's essential to consider your specific needs and activities. Whatever it is you're filming, here are the essential factors to keep in mind to ensure you pick the best action camera for you:


Before investing in an action camera, knowing how you intend to use it is crucial. Ask yourself: Does it need to endure extreme weather? Are you planning to take it underwater? Activities like diving or extreme sports require a camera that is, at the very least, weatherproof, if not waterproof.

Consider the camera settings and modes required for your adventures. Underwater photography demands features that can capture crisp images beneath the surface, while mountain biking might call for different capabilities like stabilization.

Stabilization Technology

Most cameras come equipped with either optical or electronic image stabilization. Electronic stabilization uses algorithms to reduce shakiness in the footage, offering flexibility across different shooting activities.

Optical stabilization delivers superior results in specific conditions. Picking a camera with stabilization is crucial for capturing clear and stable footage, especially during speedy adventures or challenging environments.

Video Quality and Frame Rate

The highest resolution available in action cameras is 8K, but a high resolution might not be essential for your needs. For beginners or those on a budget, starting with a lower resolution, like 4K or below, should be sufficient for sharing your videos on social media, with the option to upgrade to a higher-resolution camera later.

Frame rate is crucial for smooth motion capture, with 30fps suitable for standard video and 60fps or higher preferred for fast action.

Battery Life

Most action cameras can record continuously for up to an hour. But, if you plan to shoot high-resolution videos or in cold environments, the battery may drain more quickly. So, choosing a model with a long battery life is important to ensure you can capture your adventures without frequent interruptions and have a charger and spare battery to hand!

Size, Shape, and Field of View

Action cameras are designed to be more compact and portable than traditional ones, yet there are important considerations regarding their shape and size depending on how you mount them.

If you plan to mount the camera on your chest, a larger, box-shaped or vertical action camera may be suitable. On the flip side, smaller or bullet-shaped cameras are better suited if you want to attach them to a bike handle or helmet.

Most action cameras have a wide-angle Field of View (FOV), which can capture a broad view of the surroundings. It's beneficial to use a camera that provides multiple FOV options, such as wide, medium, and narrow. Having these options helps prevent distortion and the fish-eye effect in your images and videos.

What Are the Best Action Cameras of 2024?

No matter the activity, there's an action camera for you! Here's a quick dive into three of the most popular Insta360 action cameras:

Insta360 X3

Insta360 X3 transforms the way creators capture their footage. It allows them to shoot first in 360º and then reframe later, so one video can be edited in endless different ways. This makes it easy to frame later in the Insta360 app for different social media platforms without losing image quality.

Insta360 X3 is the ultimate 360º action camera for capturing winter sports, water sports, mountain biking, and other high-action sports and activities. Because of leading FlowState Stabilization and 360° Horizon Lock, your shots stay smooth and level no matter how intense the action is.

Insta360 X3

It captures 5.7K 360º videos with Active HDR and incredibly detailed 72MP photos powered by dual 1/2" 48MP sensors, ensuring even the smallest details are clear in your action footage. It also has the fan-favorite Invisible Selfie Stick effect, meaning the selfie stick automatically disappears from your 360º shots, so you can capture third-person POVs that are only possible with a 360-degree action camera.

You can take cinematic 360º timelapse videos up to 8K, which will speed up time and space, perfect for those urban city shots. For those who prefer traditional, flat images, Insta360 X3 does not disappoint. It offers a Single-Lens Mode that delivers ultra-wide, sharp 4K images.

Insta360 Ace Pro

The AI-enhanced action camera, Insta360 Ace Pro, makes action capture smarter and increases image quality with AI-powered features and crystal-clear resolution. Designed to keep up with the most dynamic activities, this camera features a tough, waterproof build and a magnetic mounting system that allows you to easily swap out mounts wherever your adventures take you.

Insta360 Ace Pro is packed with unique, intelligent shooting features that utilize the latest in AI developments. This includes the ability to pause or cancel recordings and to use gesture and voice control. AI Highlights Assistant and custom-keyword-based AI Warp revolutionize the shooting and editing experience, making them more intuitive and efficient.

It comes equipped with a Leica SUMMARIT lens, 5nm AI Chip, and a 1/1.3 sensor, capable of recording 4K Active HDR video and sharp and crisp 72MP images day and night. Steady filming is guaranteed thanks to the built-in FlowState Stabilization, which produces super smooth videos, and Active HDR will ensure stabilized capturing even in high-contrast environments.

PureVideo comes to the rescue in challenging low-light conditions, minimizing noise and enhancing brightness to ensure every shot delivers exceptional clarity. The 2.4" flip touchscreen makes the action camera easier to use and preview shots, suitable for vlogging and taking selfies.

Insta360 GO 3

If you're looking for a small, handy camera packed with wonderful features, Insta360 GO 3 is your go-to choice! This action camera is the smallest in the world, perfect for vloggers and content creators, allowing you to create immersive POV shots.

A tiny cam means easy mounting! With its magnetic body design and included accessories, Insta360 GO 3 gives you endless creative possibilities, hands-free POVs and angles no other camera can handle. At just 35g, it can easily clip onto your pet's collar or child's clothing for a unique look into how they see the world!

Insta360 GO 3

It comes with a multi-functional Action Pod featuring a 2.2" flip touchscreen. The Action Pod not only charges your Insta360 GO 3 but also provides remote control and a preview of your shots, particularly useful when you've mounted the camera in a position that is hard to reach.

Insta360 GO 3 with the Action Pod is IPX4 splashproof, so you don't need to worry about staying indoors for those rainy days. Insta360 GO 3 is IPX8 waterproof to 16ft (5m) for the camera, so you can go catch those waves or go diving without worrying. Voice Control 2.0 allows you to capture moments instantly with a single command and stay hands-free in the heat of the action, and it has two mics for crisp audio during walk-and-talk vlog sequences.

What Are the Must-Have Accessories for Action Cameras?

Mounts are the most common accessories for action cameras, serving as essential tools for securely attaching your camera during a variety of adventurous activities. They offer incredible versatility, allowing you to attach your camera to different surfaces so you can capture stable footage and interesting angles even in the heat of the action.

Third person motorcycle view from action camera

Take a look at these top mount options:

  • Head Straps

Action camera head mounts are perfect for activities in which you can't use your hands to hold a camera. The Insta360 Head Strap is great for capturing first-person shots hands-free. You can mount up to two cameras using this strap to record more of the action from front to back.

  • Helmet Mounts

Helmet mounts are extremely popular for motorcycling and mountain biking, allowing creators to mount a camera on the front, top, side, chin, or back of the helmet. The Insta360 Helmet Mount Bundle captures moments from a unique perspective and gets a true rider's point of view!

  • Chest Mounts

The Insta360 Chest Strap is ideal for hands-free, first-person POV shots that really show a sense of speed. If you want to showcase your skills on the slopes or trails, we recommend this accessory for its adjustable, non-slip design, perfect for action-packed activities. The rotatable mounting base allows quick switching between horizontal and vertical shooting, offering flexibility to capture varied angles.

  • Backpack Mounts

For those of you who want epic third-person, drone-like shots, choose the Insta360 Third-Person Backpack Mount. Its high-damping ball head design and your Insta360 camera's FlowState Stabilization ensure smooth shots even during the most intense action. It's adjustable, easy to wear and keeps your hands free during the action.

But it doesn't stop here; plenty more action camera accessories will enhance your experience. If you plan to be out all day, consider spare batteries and larger memory cards to ensure you don't lose a second of action.

Action camera protectors like lens guards and screen protectors are necessary if you want to keep your camera in good condition for longer periods, and there is so much to choose from, depending on your needs. A dive case is a must-have if you regularly shoot underwater activities such as diving. It keeps your camera tightly sealed and means you can dive deeper than with the camera on its own.

What Now?

Hopefully, this guide gave you tons of valuable insights into the world of action cameras, essential accessories, and top-notch camera options. Whether you're going on outdoor adventures, taking exciting photos, or just exploring new places, make sure you have the right gear and know-how to enjoy every moment to the fullest.

Pick up your Insta360 camera today from the Insta360 store.

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WRITTEN BY @Insta360
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