Mounting accessories and other stuff
Waterproof housing – A few action cameras are splash-proof or waterproof to a shallow depth on their own without a waterproof housing. Some cameras aren’t intended for underwater use. But most action cameras are intended for such use and require mounting in a separate waterproof housing to do so. Most manufacturers include the housing even in their basic packages but there are a few that don’t. Among accessories this can be one of the more expensive ones so if you need it, be sure to check if the camera you’re interested in includes one or if it’s available separately and how much it costs.
Mounting accessories – Nearly all action cameras come with at least a few mounting accessories and some cameras are packaged with a good number and variety of them. Other than a camera clip or the waterproof housing, mounting accessories are rarely proprietary. Even when they’re marketed as specially designed for a certain brand they’re usually usable across a variety of cameras. That’s because most mounting accessories are compatible with GoPro-style accessories. These are based on the design of GoPro camera accessories and are ubiquitous in the action camera marketplace. Many shapes, sizes and varieties can be found on virtually any website that sells photography accessories. Because they’re cheap and readily available, you shouldn’t let the lack of a few particular pieces influence your purchase decision.
Support and manuals – Forget about using support as a criteria in your buying decision. It isn’t that it’s unimportant, it’s just impossible to predict. Time and again on many review websites I’ve read about poor to utterly non-existent product support. With one manufacturer I was as likely to get a wrong answer as a right answer. With few exceptions you should assume that you’ll be on your own to figure things out. Usually the manufacturer’s manual (especially with the Chinese cameras) isn’t much help either. Typically they’re printed in illegibly small fonts and the English translation doesn’t make sense. I had one manual that described some other camera.
Warranty – Some manufacturers state that their camera has a one year warranty and spell out the terms and conditions, but often there’s no warranty information at all. How you deal with a defective camera depends on who you bought it from and where you’re located. If you’re in the US and buy from a US retailer, whether bricks-and-mortar or online, you can usually return the camera during a limited period of time – typically 30 days but sometimes up to 90 – after which you must deal directly with the manufacturer. That can be a hassle because almost all manufacturers are in China. Returning a camera for repair or replacement can take months and you’ll have to pay for shipping at least one way. If you’re in the UK and buy from a UK seller then you’re entitled to certain warranty rights for a period of six years. If you’re in the EU and buy from an EU seller your warranty rights extend for two years. But no matter where you are, if you buy from an online Chinese seller or directly from the manufacturer and your camera goes bad then you run into the problems I described above for US buyers. In the end it’s often cheaper to simply replace a broken camera rather than pursue repair or replacement under warranty.
Seller bundles and extras – Some retailers offer a bundle of accessories when you purchase an action camera. Sometimes these can be a good value, especially if they include things like spare batteries or a memory card. Others include lots of stuff you don’t want or need. They can also be a hit-or-miss proposition because you can’t be sure of their quality. Bundles and other extras might help you choose a retailer but don’t let them affect your basic choice of camera.