How to Use an Action Camera: Go Pro Tips and Tricks for Beginners

How to Use an Action Camera: Go Pro Tips and Tricks for Beginners

The action camera is everywhere because it is such an amazing piece of kit to have when you go out.

Whether you are carrying it around with you, mounting it on your helmet, or attaching it to your vehicle, the action camera can capture the most important moments of your life and preserve them.

They can be a little daunting when you first use them but, we are here to help you out and have created a handy beginner’s guide so that you can get to grips with your new action camera and learn how to make the most of it. 

What is an Action Camera? 

There isn’t really that much that separates an action camera from a standard digital one because they both take pictures and videos, and the quality can vary according to which make and model you buy.

However, the thing that really separates action cameras from the others is the fact that they have a completely different size. The action camera is very small, lightweight, and portable, so you can take it with your anywhere.

They also tend to be a lot more versatile, as you can usually attach them to your helmet, clothing, or the inside of your vehicle. Some people even secure them onto dog collars when they are walking.

Despite all of this, they are made from some seriously tough materials and can withstand being knocked around and dropped while you are adventuring.

It is because of this incredibly durable design that they are used for everything from mountain climbing and surfing, to kayaking and skydiving – so you can record every activity that you love. 

The Things You Should Consider 

Before you buy your action camera, there are things that you’re going to need to take into consideration. You want to buy the best possible model, after all, so here are our top features:

The video and image quality

This is such an important feature, just as much so as the image quality, because the whole reason you are buying an action camera is so that you can have outstanding video footage of your trips, and pictures to go with them.

The best video quality at the moment is 4K, which is followed by 1080p and 720p respectively. However, if you don’t own a 4K computer or TV then it is pretty pointless (although worth investing in some 4k tech because the picture is amazing).

As a quick side not with regards to the image quality, the megapixels are important to look at as well. The average phone has eight megapixels, and it is strongly advised that you don’t go any lower than that. 

The size, shape, and weight

The classic action camera comes in a box shape, which is what makes it ideal for mounting on your chest or helmet, as well as carrying around. There are others, however, that come in the shape of a bullet, which some do prefer for helmet mounting. 

The durability

As a standard, action cameras have an incredibly robust and durable build. However, there are other features you need to consider.

They should be resistant to the weather, including rain and snow, as well as able to withstand temperature changes. While many can be taken underwater, there are some that will need to be put in a waterproof casing for protection.

The battery life

Ideally, you want something that has a long battery life that can last you throughout the day. Most cameras come with rechargeable batteries, so you can keep them powered wherever you are. 

The memory and storage

Your action camera needs fast memory, because this is what keeps the video smooth and good quality. Slow memory results in jerky footage and distortion, so spend a little extra on a camera with great, speedy, memory.

You also want it to have an excellent amount of storage so that you can keep taking pictures throughout your holiday without the card getting full and making you delete content in order to make new recordings. Just like memory, storage is an essential factor. 

The connectivity

Being able to connect to the internet means you can upload pictures and videos quickly to ensure they are saved and backed up. It also allows you to use a whole other range of accessories to enhance your experience. 

The accessories

There are loads of mounts and accessories for your action camera to make recording your most cherished moments a whole lot easier. You can check the website of the manufacturer of your action camera to see the accessories you can pick up. 


Mounting Your Camera onto a Helmet 

This is not nearly as difficult as it looks or sounds, and if you have the right accessories, you are going to have no problem at all. Usually, you get a set of strong mounts that snap into place and firmly attach themselves to the helmet.

Most will come with some industrial strength tape to secure it onto the helmet, but there are other accessories for this if you don’t feel like the tape is going to be strong enough – just check the manufacturer's website.

As a little side note, you can even use the mounts on your walls for things like vlogging or for taking videos for friends and family while you are away. 

Tips for Chest Filming 

If you are attaching your action camera to your chest, there is a key piece of information to remember – always tilt it further up that you think is right.

By doing this, the camera will be more vertical than you want it to be, but when you are performing your chosen activity, the natural movement will adjust the angle accordingly so that you reach the perfect level.

Additionally, when you have the camera mounted on your chest, you tend to lean forward more, which will also adjust the angling to a comfortable level. 

go pro chest mount

Tips for Getting Started with Your Action Camera 

We have collected a handy selection of tips for getting started with your action camera and all the fun features that it has for you to play with.

Plus, there are some things that you need to remember when you have an action camera and are out adventuring. Take a look at our top tips:

  • Never leave without at least one spare set of batteries, don’t let low charge get in the way of capturing what you love 
  • Always pick a camera that has Wi-Fi compatibility so that you can save and store your recordings wherever you go (something we have mentioned previously)
  • Make sure the accessories you buy come from the official manufacturer or licensed partners, never buy knock-offs because they could end up damaging your camera 
  • Read the instruction manual carefully so that you can learn about all of the different functions and what they can do for you
  • When you first get the camera, spend some time filming around your home so that you get the hang of how things work and can fiddle with the angles as well as features 
  • Leading on from this, play with the filters and see which ones make your footage and images look best
  • If you are editing videos afterwards, always capture some extra footage so that you have a good range of choices
  • If you are a bit of an editing pro, you can get cameras that allow you to edit on the move, so you have some more flexibility while you are out and about

Getting the Most Out of Your Action Camera 

If you just stick to the very basics, you can’t expect to make the most of your action camera and all of the excellent features that are available.

So, if you are looking to get the most out of your funky new tech toy, we have quite a few pieces of advice that you really need to take. First, experiment. We talked about filming around your home to get the hang of things, but you need to take it one step further.

Play with the angles, try the same thing from every single one you can find to see which ones look best and the ones that you prefer. It’s important to experiment as much as possible, because this is the best and fastest way to learn about how things work.

Leading on from this, test your camera out in different locations. Attach it to your helmet when cycling or riding your horse, put it on your dog’s collar while they are walking for a look at the world from their viewpoint.

Attach it to your chest or vehicle. Seriously, put it anywhere and everywhere you can so that you can learn more about the way it works. Don’t be afraid to learn from other people around you.

There is no shame in coming to grips with something new and a little more complicated.

Whether it is learning how to film, or edit videos in a way that you enjoy, there are people across the world (and likely within your family) that can help you learn more about how things work and the most effective way to do things. 

Also Read: Best Action Camera Under £100

camera action

Test your shots before you take them. If you have a camera that is compatible with Wi-Fi, you can link it up to your phone to see if you have the correct angle width, and formatting for what you want to capture.

This means that you will be able to film and photograph things just the way you want to, and ensure that it looks perfect from the get-go. When taking selfie videos, frame the shot perfectly.

The best angle is around the chin because you get the horizon in the background, so the viewer can see your face as well as some gorgeous scenery. Plus, if you’re travelling at fast speeds, you can really capture just how fast you are going.

A seemingly odd tip when you are filming in really wet conditions is to lick the lens of the camera. Yes, I can see your face and the confusion on it, but there is a good reason behind this advice.

When you lick it, the water droplets are dispersed, and the lens is left looking a lot clearer. So, when you are filming in pouring rain or on the waves, just give the lens a lick, and the picture will be clear again.

Before you start filming properly, talk to the camera and let it know where you are and what you are filming.

On your adventures, you are likely to be taking a lot of video footage, and this little note at the start will help you to sift through them all and document them in an efficient manner. If you’re going to create videos to post on websites like YouTube, keep them short and sweet.

Viewers prefer things that are three minutes or less, and you can ensure they remain engaged if you do this. There is a place for longer videos with heavy levels of editing, but it’s not always a good idea to post them regularly if you want to build a big audience quickly.

Further Reading: Best Budget Action Camera

To Conclude 

Hopefully, this guide has been able to teach you a whole load of new information about what action cameras are, how to use them, and the ways in which you can make the most out of their incredible features.

Every moment deserves to be treasured when you are out adventuring, and having an action camera with you means that you are always equipped to capture them.

While they can be pretty high-tech, once you get the hang of them they become really simple to operate, and we guarantee you will have an absolute blast.

What did you think of our guide to using an action camera? If you found it helpful, or there are things you would have added to it, we would love to hear about it so leave us a message in the comment section below. 

About the author

Tim Rhodes

As well as being Chief editor here at - Dan is a freelance writer and blogger, as well as tech, loves a chilled weekend river fishing with his mates.