Any relatively new smartphone, digital point-and-shoot or SLR camera can record high-definition video.
But none are well-suited to filming your point of view as an “action figure” whether you are skiing, surfing, skateboarding, row, row, rowing a boat, or simply walking across the planet.
For that you need a camera that can be attached to you and follow your eyes.
Here are three choices for buying such a camera.
Going with GoPro
GoPro cameras are probably the best-known of the three “action cams” that I’m going to cover.
The company sold its first camera 10 years ago and has been producing digital video cameras since 2006.
The free GoPro Studio software (for Windows and Mac) lets you edit and add titles, music and audio to your GoPro “movie” before sharing it with the world.
The free GoPro App (iOS, Android, Windows) lets you use your mobile device to remotely control your camera, view and share your content, and watch videos on the GoPro Channel.
So what does video shot with a GoPro look like? This company promotional video provides a wide sample of clips shot with GoPro cameras.
Haven’t seen enough to convince you to buy a GoPro? Check out other videos on the GoPro YouTube Channel.
Going with Kodak
Kodachrome may be history, and Kodak may not be the camera company it once was, but based on this spectacular skydiving video, its new Pixpro SP360 Action Cam may give GoPro a run for its money.
You don’t have to engage in activity as extreme as skydiving to make good use of the Kodak Pixpro SP360. It should work fine for tamer sports such as paddleboarding, and you can stick it inside the windshield of a car and capture some “road trip” video while driving.
The Pixpro SP360 can also take still photos in burst mode and timelapse video.
As with the GoPro, there are iOS and Android apps that allow the Pixpro SP360 to be remotely controlled, and video shot with it to be viewed and shared.
At a suggested retail price of $349 it is $50 less than the GoPro Hero4 Silver, $150 below the price of a GoPro Hero4 Black.
Going with Polaroid
Like the GoPro and Kodak cameras, the Cube can record 1080p high-definition video and can shoot still photos. Unlike those cameras, it’s dirt cheap, retailing for $99.99 (not including mounts and accessories).
Here’s a quick look at the Cube which, like the Pixpro SP 360, is cube-shaped.
But is the Cube just a way-too-cheap substitute for the “gold standard” GoPro? Here’s what Molly Wood of The New York Times said after doing tests comparing the two, which she recaps in this video.
Where to Buy Them
All three cameras are available for purchase directly from their respective manufacturers.
Best Buy sells GoPros, but not the Kodak Propix SP360, and its stock of Polaroid Cube cameras is apparently sold out online and not available in its stores.
REI carries the GoPro, but not the other two cameras.