Regarded as the most important feature of any video camera, the quality of a video will certainly be in your top 3 priorities when choosing an action camera. So how does one inspect the quality of a clip?
Most people just type “Camera XYZ video sample” into a YouTube. Let me tell you right away, while watching samples from websites like Vimeo or YouTube seems like a logical thing to do, the most reliable way to actually see the footage quality is to try to find downloadable samples.
Why? Because streaming websites always compress quality of a video. YouTube is especially known for calibrating uploaded videos in a weird way.
That’s why the best thing to do in order to inspect the video quality of any camera is to find a downloadable, unedited video sample, download it and watch it on your own PC. To be more precise, I personally encourage people to download VLC software (Windows link | iOS link |, since this one really works well and is able to play most of the video formats without any issues.
For instance, on our website, we always offer unedited video samples which people can get, for all the action camera we review. If you are having a trouble finding an unedited (raw) sample, you can post a request of plenty of online forums where owners of that particular camera happily provide few short videos. My recommendations are aerial photography section of RCGroup Forum, and DashCamForum. There are probably few more online communities similar to the mentioned duo, so feel free to do your own research and let me know if you have any other reliable website.
It would be good if you can preview movies recorder in different situations and various light conditions (For instance, low-light, night footage, direct sunlight, etc). Assuming you downloaded the VLC, while watching the sample, feel free to pause the video and closely inspect the paused frame. Make sure that the sharpness is satisfying, that there isn’t too much glare under the direct sunlight or that you can see objects at night.
To summarize it’s extremely important that you download unedited, raw sample and preview it on your own computer via reliable player, such as VLC. Under no circumstances should you judge video quality based on a video uploaded on any sort of a streaming website, since those sites compress quality and lower bit-rate, making the video look blocky. If you can’t find a downloadable sample, either ask manufacturer support to send you one or ask for help on online forums. Pay special attention to video colors, stabilization, sharpness and low-light performance while evaluating a sample.