Actioncam 4K, what to look out for

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With the right equipment like 4K TV, 4K set-top box and of course 4K content, you get extremely sharp videos with a great contrast dynamic range.

Meanwhile, many action cams are offered that allow video recording in 4K or UHD. From the image sensor alone, theoretically all cameras with an 8 megapixel image sensor could also shoot 4K video. However, this is only half the truth, because in order to be able to record really detailed videos with a large dynamic range, much higher demands are placed on the hardware than with Full HD.

4K means nothing other than 4 times the HD resolution. Accordingly, four times as much image information must be processed and stored in the camera than with a video recording in Full HD.

4K Videos – File Size

26s video taken during a paragliding flight in 4K. The video is 68MB in size as an MP4 file. Video Sizes Calculator

CodecResolutionFrames/sVideo lengthVideo size
H.264 1.0801920×10803010min7,23GB
H.264 1.0801920×10806010min14,47GB
H.264 2.1604096 × 21603010min28,92GB
H.264 2.1604096 × 21606010min57.88GB

The examples in the table may vary to a greater or lesser extent in practice for each camera. Here it depends primarily on which video codec the manufacturer uses and how strongly the video data is compressed by the camera software.

Frame rate of 4K action cams

This is where the “wheat is separated from the chaff” when it comes to action cams. Many 4K action cams in the mid-range price segment up to 200€ can only offer 25fps in frame rate for 4K videos. Which doesn’t mean anything else than that the hardware can only process 25 images in 8MP per second.

However, this does not have to be a bad thing, because here it depends quite decisively on the planned use. For a shot while paragliding, on a drone or even just handheld, this will certainly suffice.

When recording fast movements, the situation looks quite different. Here you definitely need a framerate of min. 60 frames per second to capture smooth 4K video. In addition to the high frame rate, cameras for this use must necessarily have an image stabilizer. But maybe this won’t be enough and you will need a gimbal so that everything doesn’t look shaky.

SJCAM SJ8 Pro Action Kamera 4K / 60FPS WiFi Sports Cam 2,3 Zoll Touchscreen mit 170 ° Weitwinkelobjektiv EIS 8X Digitalzoom wasserdichte Kamera Schwarz

If you want to film a downhill run or a motocross race in 4K, you need a high-end action cam like the GoPro Hero 7 Black* or the SJCAM SJ8 Pro*. These action cameras are then also equipped with correspondingly powerful hardware in order to be able to process these enormous amounts of data.

Conclusion

The trend is clearly going towards 4K content, you can hardly find any TVs that don’t have 4K resolution. However, this very content is still lacking. TVs can upscale Full HD content to 4K resolution, but true 4K content is a different story. Meanwhile, some streaming services offer movies and series in 4K but mostly only for new releases.

As you now know, 4K video takes four times the storage space and the action cam’s battery life will likely be cut in half.

So if you like to record your videos in 4K, then you should consider what activity you want to record and what device you want to show the videos on. Therefore, it only makes sense to record 4K videos if you want to show them on a TV set. If you only want to post the video on Facebook, Youtube etc. or only show it on a smartphone, then Full HD with 60fps is also sufficient.

One important point should also not be forgotten to mention. If you want to edit your 4K videos afterwards, you need a powerful computer with a lot of RAM. 10min of 4K content at 60fps is about 60GB in size. The rendering can take an hour or more.

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