Some sports are severely restricted to where you can do them, some require masses of snow while others require dune upon dune of sand, but one sport which is a truly global practice is the noble art of surfing, whether you’re in Hawaii, California, Cornwall or on Australia’s famous Gold Coast, you can be sure to find hundreds of people taking to the waves on their boards, from first time amateurs right up to the seasoned pros.
Traditionally, surfing was simply a relationship between the person, their board, and the waves, but recently, as times develop both socially and technologically, a 4th member has been introduced to this family, and that 4th member comes in the form of a waterproof, high definition surfing camera, perfect for mounting onto your board so that you can record all of your action, and then share it with your friends and fellow surfers at a later date.
However, like with most things in life, choosing the right surfing camera isn’t easy, just like when choosing to buy a car you’re met with a mishmash of different brands, specifications and prices, ranging from the budget options, right up to the advanced top of the range models — but what are the differences? And what do you get for your Dollar, Pound, Euro or Yen? Well, here’s a bit of a look at some of the most prominent waterproof surfing cameras available on the market today.
The Braun VidiProof (£79.95/$129.74)
We begin with the cheapest of the offerings, the Braun VidiProof, with a 2-inch LCD screen, ideal for the watersports enthusiast on a budget, or for someone still looking to master their wave craft and not wanting to spend too much money straight away. Since it is significantly cheaper than offerings from bigger, rival companies, it would be easy to think that this camera is going to be short on quality, but anyone thinking that is going to end up pleasantly surprised. Waterproof for up to 3m of depth and no bigger than the average smartphone, the Vidiproof offers full HD video image resolution (1080p) along with a 5 megapixel sensor and the ability to take 8mp interpolated photo stills, meaning whether you’re filming or taking snaps, this camera can provide, and with space for a 16gb Micro SD card, this isn’t one of those cameras that will be asking you to delete your videos every 10 minutes either. Throw in the fact that it runs on AA batteries — so you don’t have to worry about charging — and that it has HDMI output so that you can watch your videos over and over again, and this is a little camera that while not top of the range, certainly punches well above its weight!
DogCam Bullet HD 2 1080p Bullet Camera (£199.95/$324.48)
Secondly, we have an offering from DogCam Sport, a UK based provider of action cameras, who created their very own addition to the market, the DogCam Bullet HD 2. Significantly more expensive than the Braun camera, $195 more expensive to be slightly more in depth, this camera may be slightly higher up the price scale, but that is reflected in the quality. Something of an “intermediate” offering, to the Braun’s “beginner” level specification, the Bullet HD2 is actually the smallest and lightest full HD bullet camera available on the market, making it perfectly mobile and easy to transport, fitting right in your pocket! Coming with an adjustable mount included, and offering over 3 times the waterproofing that the Braun does (10m) it doesn’t take long with this camera to justify the extra spend. Throw in the fact that this camera weighs just 60g but can record in 1080p at 25/30fps and 720p at 50/60fps through its 135 degree wide angle lens, and this camera will make the perfect addition to the kit of any watersport fans from novice right up to pro.
GoPro 3 Black Surf Edition (£325.00/$526.99)
And so with that we reach the “big boys” of the camera world, and when it comes to instantly recognisable brand names there are few that can outdo GoPro, just like there are very few waterproof cameras that can outdo the GoPro 3 Black, the most powerful GoPro ever. Released in 2012, this camera packs a punch in every area, offering professional 4k cinema filming capabilities, 12mp photo capture, and even built in wi-fi, this really is a state of the art gadget in its field, and the 60m waterproof housing that comes as standard with the surf edition means its perfectly at home captured all of your action out on the waves too. Nothing however quite shows just how much of an impressive device this is than the fact that with the GoPro smartphone app you can remotely control the camera from phones or tablets, adding that extra dimension to your recording experience. No doubt, it isn’t the cheapest of cameras, coming in at over $500, but it is also a piece of kit that will certainly not disappoint.
This is of course just a tiny survey of what is out there, and there are dozens of other options available, with special mention going to the Polaroid XS7 and the Contour+2, however those 3 mentioned above pretty much encapsulate what you can expect from each “budget” range of watersport cameras, from the beginner level Braun right up to the more expensive, but significantly more powerful GoPro offering. All of the cameras mentioned are very good devices that can do a great job, but theres no doubting that there is a massive gulf between what you can get out of one of these cameras, and the real reason is — you get what you pay for.
It would be easy for a seasoned action surfer to simply go for the cheapest option, or a first timer to jump in at the deep end and go for a 500 dollar camera, but simply put, a lot of the time it will not be fit for the task they put it to. So, simply put, when choosing a camera like this, take into account what you want to do and what level of ability it is you hold. If you’re just hitting your first breakers, then a simple offering like the Braun should be more than enough to get you started — you don’t need professional cinematic quality to capture yourself splashing around in the shallows! And if you’re planning on hitting the deepest water and the most high octane waves, then you’re going to be wanting something more advanced, or the truth is, you will probably end up disappointed. Choose the right camera for your level, and you will get the most out of it. Oh, and remember to share your great videos with your friends. Happy filming!
The author of this article is Danny Watkinson, the owner of DogCam Sport. Based in the Cornwall, the surfing capital of the UK but shipping worldwide, DogCam Sport is made up of a team of extreme sports enthusiasts who have a love for cameras and putting them to the ultimate test, stocking a wide range of items for everything from surfing, to motorsport, skateboarding, and beyond.