History of Action Cameras Over the Last Years

While first-person footage is effective at making your audience feel that they are experiencing the action vicariously, it is very difficult to take action shots or first-person video with a regular camera, due to the relative delicacy of the equipment and the necessity of using one's hands to operate the camera. The solution has been to create action cameras that are durable, waterproof, and able to strap onto a wrist, helmet, or piece of sporting equipment, such as a surfboard. Though they didn't even exist 20 years ago, today they are a booming industry, with many manufacturers offering many different options.

The action camera of today is a sophisticated digital camera with the ability to shoot 4K video, time lapse photography, and more. However, the basic concept behind the action camera is much older than you might expect. As early as the 1960s, athletes and daredevils were trying to find ways to attach cameras to helmets to capture first-person video of extreme sports and similar activities. These early prototypes met with varying degrees of success, but they were all used by professionals. There was no helmet-mounted camera option for amateur action photographers until the middle part of the last decade.

The seeds of the action camera we know today were sown in 2002 by the founder of GoPro, Nick Woodman. He sought to create a waterproof camera that could attach to his wrist and take pictures while he was surfing. He made an agreement with a Chinese manufacturer to modify an existing model to be waterproof and attach to a wrist strap, and the action camera was born. The first GoPro was an analog model capable of taking still photos only that first went on the market in 2005 and sold for $20. A digital version with limited video-recording capability was introduced the following year. Since then, a number of other manufacturers have adopted the concept, and action camera technology continues to advance, offering photographers new features all the time.

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