The main issue with action cameras is that the lens covers are usually great for preventing all weathers at getting into the camera, not so good at stopping a BB flying at 500 feet per second.
If you play airsoft, action sports, take pictures of family or travel the globe action cameras now days are more advanced than ever. Personally I use an action camera for two main things Airsoft and my son’s RC car footage, both are good tests for cameras. As i’m sure you’re all aware any camera not sufficiently ruggedised will soon be found out in airsoft.
I still have this GoPro 7 black from new before I decided to take up airsoft. It was well used being strapped to the back of many of my son’s RC cars hitting everything and surviving.
I have 5 batteries for this camera and at most game days go through all 5 while having them on a power bank to charge while i’m in game. Even from new this GoPro 7 absolutely rinses batteries even with wifi control off. Like all GoPros the image quality is great and they still have in my opinion the best image stabilisation available. This camera is the last of the slightly more repairable ones if the lens breaks you can twist it off to replace.
I used the GoPro as a helmet cam and as you can see used in conjunction with the Official Go pro water proof case has lasted may years of abuse off road and Airsoft still going strong.
The GoPro Hero 7 black is not my first go pro I had a Hero 3 and 5 previously and always noticed when used in conjunction with the GoPro case gets very hot. I mean the Hero 7 get that hot it trips the thermal cut off if I record into a 2nd or 3rd battery without leaving it for a while.
That said i’ve always come back to GoPro due to the quality of the recordings and robustness of the housings. But when thinking about buying an action camera, you need to take into account some considerations.
- How much you want to spend will decide what you get in return.
- Do you want to record fast action building entry or slow methodical sniping as the stabilisation and frame rate are important
- Is the mountings a two prong GoPro mount? seems odd but the aftermarket mounts for GoPro mounts are 10 times easier and cheaper to get hold of over any other camera mount.
- Battery life is key and if you don’t want to carry loads for a days skirmish then see if the camera has the ability to record and charge at the same time, not all can and the ones that can get hot which can cause condensation inside the case and ruin recording.
- Battery charging, as I mentioned before I charge some batteries during a game as my Hero 7 can’t charge and record from a power bank
- Can you record from a wrist control which is so much easier especially with GoPro’s controller that shows runtime, battery level, start/stop recordings and take pictures without removing it from your head /weapon. Some brands have this ability and its worth the extra money if available.
- What card size does the camera take some cameras only allow up to 64gb cards and when recording in 4k lasts no time when skirmishing. As a bare minimum I look for 128gb which is handy for some cameras you will see later in the blog
- Buy the best memory card you can, it will prevent loss of recordings and most importantly allow the camera to write to the card faster capturing all of the epic video.
My Airsoft camera ratings
GoPro Hero 7 Black
- Robust construction
- Good user interface
- Excellent image quality
- Great robust cases
- Becoming less repairable
- Poor batterie life compared to others
- No record and charge function
Overall I would rate the GoPro a 8/10 it has its quirks but for an old girl thats taken a battering still a great camera compared to much newer ones with some great features. Mainly used as a head cam and as you can see from the footage for an overcast day it’s clear and crisp. It also does a good job with the sound even if it’s in a case, against wind, rain and being shot at. Unlike a scope cam that has a fixed focal point, for non sniper action you can cut the video of the Hero’s surprisingly far and keep a lot of quality allowing seamless transitions. The mounts are the real plus for me with literally thousands of suppliers making accessories it’s tough to beat.
Polaroid Cube plus 4k
This is an odd ball but stick with me, many of the celebrity Airsofters use the old faithful and sadly missed GoPro session. I had one and it was ace until I lost it at motocross, but its now going up in price because of the lack of competition for a small 4k cube camera. After many hours of trying to find a replacement looking at paying more money for an older one I gave up and found a Polaroid.
Yes a Polaroid not an instant camera you may be thinking of, a very small almost identical sized chap against the Hero Session. But a lot cheaper.
I initially bought one camera and after using it for a few games it was fantastic and just what I wanted. The cameras are made for families to go out and about so have some quirky features.
I can confirm it does record for the stated 90 min and recharges quick via a power bank. An aftermarket heavy duty case very similar to the GoPro one is available allowing waterproof recording mounting to GoPro mounts.
As you can see from the footage the resolution and general quality is good but unlike the GoPro Session or Hero 7 which deal with sounds much better. The Cube sound is horrendous even worse in a case, it struggles to pick up on voices, generally sounding muffled and no where near any GoPro sound quality. Personally I just use the footage but clip the audio so it runs split screen in my videos. However the sound it records of my Tippmann CQB HPA sounds insane despite it being no louder than your average HPA (See head cam GoPro comparison above).
- Size, weight and construction quality
- Good recording time
- Ease of use, one button
- Low cost compared to others
- HD video quality if good
- If you want it for any sound don’t bother
- Don’t use on vehicles as the stabilisation cant keep up
- No preview screen
So I bought two of these new from different web sites for £60 delivered half of what a hero session goes for, so with a bit of searching a great deal can be found. For the money i’m happy and it’s exactly what I wanted plus my son can use it without me worrying about trashing it. It does show you alternatives are out there and as I write this another one popped onto the radar. Runcam 5 which seems more accessible than the Cube right now.
Olfi One Five Black
The Olfi brand has had some very good reviews over the last few years with the arrival of the flag ship the One five black. What sets them apart form many other brands is they haven’t tried to copy others but take inspiration off them. The camera is as you can see very similar in size to a GoPro but orientated portrait instead of landscape.
It is however much lighter than any GoPros mainly due to the fact that it’s not water proof or shock proof in its standard trim. Although you do get a standard non submersible carrier like a GoPro to use for tripod mounting or vlogs.
Interface wise the Olfi is very different to any GoPros with no touch screen which is quite nice as all you need is one fo the 4 buttons.
It flicks between photo/video promptly with one button and other features like burst mode, timed picture, dash cam, drone FPV mode and even slow motion. The cameras waterproof case is very similar to that of a GoPro in terms of quality and operation with a locking lever on the latch.
Compared to the GoPro’s and other cameras that are orientated landscape with the lens slightly off centre. The Olfi One is orientated portrait with the lens central as you can see and once mounted it gives a better perspective when filming from a helmet mount.