Action cameras are designed for vloggers and extreme sports enthusiasts, but with developments in technology, it is now possible to use these devices as dashcams. Action cameras are also used by law enforcement agencies, journalists, and civilians for various purposes. On the other hand, Dashcams are also a popular choice to record your drives on the road and are particularly used for self-protection against thefts and embezzlement.

Action cameras and dashcams have the same purpose – recording videos, and the distinction between action cameras and dashcams comes in their design. Apart from this, there are other similarities and differences between the two. This article will discuss the mechanism of an action camera and its use as a dashcam. 

Basics of Action Cameras

An action camera is a video camera used for outdoor activities like stunting and capturing various stills and videos related to sports like karate, pole vaulting or gymnastics. Nowadays, action cameras are also being used by ordinary people for multiple purposes, not just for sports but also for recording multiple events in their lives like birthday parties, vacations etc. They are also used as dashcams.

Types of Action Cameras

There are many types of action cameras available in the market. They differ from each other in their features and capabilities. Some have built-in GPS, and some have a live view screen. Some have a wide-angle lens so that they can be used as dashcams as well.

Here is a list of different types of action cameras

1) Action Cameras With Built-In GPS 

It is a type of action camera that has GPS capabilities. It records and stores the coordinates of the place where it is used. Along with this feature, this versatile camera also has a camera control interface that helps it function as a dashboard cam. It has a wide-angle lens and is available in multiple shapes and colors with a lens diameter of 4mm. This camera is compatible with GoPro mounts and allows recording videos in 720p/1080p at 30 fps. 

Built-in GPS cameras also have SD card slots and USB ports to support memory cards of up to 128GB in size.

2) Action Cameras With GPS Modules

These action cameras are the same as the ones with built-in GPS, but you have to buy a separate GPS module for them. You can choose any of the GPS modules from different brands and attach them to your action camera. These cameras usually come with a mount where you can fix the GPS module directly on top of it or attach the camera to your helmet or anywhere else. Also, these cameras come with a backdoor where you can connect your backpack.

3) Action Cameras With Live View Screen 

These action cameras are available in various color options and are compatible with GoPro mounts. Primarily used by sports players who want to record stunts and events, these gadgets are user-friendly can be used easily worked upon. There are two versions of these action cameras- one with an external display screen and the other without any display screen, and they both come in different colors. For example, the black version has a black bezel around the screen, but the white version does not have this feature.

Features To Look In An Action Camera For Using Them As Dashcams 

There are various features available in action cameras to bring them closer to the requirement of a dashcam. Some of them are:

1. Live View Screen

The live view screen must be functional, and you should be able to adjust the settings on this screen, whereas the user-friendly nature of the camera allows for easy access to these parameters. Action cameras with a live view also come with a screen that can be utilized with the help of a small button on the camera. It allows playback and recording of footage and can be used to check the stills recorded by these cameras.

2. Wide Angle Lens

Wide-angle lenses are very much essential for action cameras as well as dashcams. It is used to record a wide range of pictures. These lenses should be able to capture the surroundings if you are recording while driving on the road. The lens should be fixed and not removable from the camera. It should also have the feature of autofocus for high-quality images. 

3. Motion Detection

A motion detection feature requires action cameras to record video footages while driving or in the parking lot. You can turn this feature on and off at your convenience. It automatically starts recording when movement is detected.

4. Camera Control Interface

Action cameras usually come with a camera control interface that allows you to adjust the parameters of the camera. You can make video recordings, take pictures as well as check the GPS location on this interface. You should be able to control the settings of videos and also be able to preview them on your laptop or phone using the built-in USB ports provided with these devices.

5) Compatibility With GoPro Mounts

For any action camera to function as a dashcam, it should be compatible with GoPro mounts. It means that the camera should have 1/4 inches screw holes on its mount that can help it to adhere to the car’s windshield or any other convenient place. 

6. Battery Backup

The battery of an action camera must be durable. These cameras come with a battery that lasts up to two hours but would also require additional battery backup as dashcams records stills and motion while driving as well as in a static position. 

7. Auto-Parking

Some action cameras have an auto-parking feature that saves the video file when the device senses reverse parking. This feature can come in very handy for recording accidents so you can have all the necessary evidence against the person who caused the accident.

8. Loop Parking

Some action cameras have a loop parking feature that allows you to record videos when your car is parked in a garage, on the street or anywhere else and is not moving an inch. This feature is very beneficial as it saves your memory from getting full and also never lets you miss any such important event which may happen while driving.

9. Advanced Options

These features are not required to use the camera as a dashcam but are essential for getting better quality videos. These features include an image stabilizer, time-lapse mode, burst mode and manual exposure options. With these features, you can record videos with better quality and a wide variety of different effects.

10. Audio recording

An action camera with audio recording capabilities is a must for any car camera. These cameras come with a built-in mic where you can connect it to your car’s stereo system and listen to the sound while you’re driving without taking your eyes off of the road in front of you.

Action Cameras That Can Be Used as Dashcams

Here are few action cameras which can be used as dashcams.

1) GoPro Hero 4 Black Action Camera

GoPro Hero 4 Black is a top-rated action camera with excellent video quality and a wide range of accessories available on the market. It comes with a waterproof case which makes it ideal to use as an outdoor unit. It also has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth so you can transfer your videos to your mobile devices directly without taking out the memory card. The battery life of GoPro Hero 4 black is long-lasting, and it can record continuously for 2 hours if you use a 32GB memory card.

2) Garmin Virb Elite Action Cam

Garmin Virb Elite is not as famous as GoPro, but it is a budget-friendly accessory. Also, it comes with useful features. This camera comes with a waterproof case so you can use it while driving on a rainy day and comes with a 4GB memory card too. 
3) Rexing V1 Action Camera

Rexing V1 is a China-made action camera with reverse parking and loop parking features for alarm purposes when the motion sensor is triggered or at the time of recording. It has a wide-angle lens that comes in handy while recording videos inside your vehicle. It also has an audio recording feature for taking voice recordings during driving without looking at the rear camera screen.
4) Xiaomi Yi Action Camera 

One of the most popular Chinese action cameras, now available as a dashcam. This gadget has great picture quality and can be utilized as a selfie camera with the help of its wide-angle lens. It has quite a few recording options, and you can connect it to your action camera using an HDMI cable or a standard USB. 

Also, this camera is waterproof, so you can use it while driving in the rain without having to worry about any damage to it. It comes with a wide-angle lens and has a semi-professional port. 
5) Sony FDR-X3000 Action Cam

Sony FDR-X3000 is a well-known, high-end product. Its features are useful, and its image quality is excellent. Sony FDR-X3000 comes with numerous built-in features like GPS, action pause, image stabilizer, loop recording, etc., making it more versatile. It records videos at 1080p full HD resolution and has a wide-angle 180-degree lens. The battery life of this action camera is long-lasting, and it can record continuously for 3 hours without needing a memory card.

How Can You Use Action Cameras as Dashboard Cameras?

1) Install Action Camera In The Car

When you buy an action camera, the first thing you should do is install it in your car and then start recording the video files. You can record only the vehicle’s front section with a dashcam, but an action camera can record your entire vehicle, including the back.

2) Mount The Action Camera

Mounting an action camera on your dashboard is nothing but placing it where you want so that it can capture everything around it. There are different types of mounting mechanisms available on the market for action cameras so that you can choose the best one. 

3) Connect Your Action Camera To The Car’s Stereo System

You will need to connect your action camera to the car’s stereo system if you want to watch videos while driving. You can connect it via onboard Wi-Fi or USB cables. Your action camera will send all the data to your car stereo system so that you can playback all the videos in real-time while driving.

4) Start Recording Videos 

Once you have connected your action camera to your car, you can start recording videos. You will see a video feed on the screen and will be able to play all the videos at your convenience. Also, you can use the car’s stereo system to play music while you’re driving.

5) Connect Action Camera To Your Phone

You can connect your action camera to your mobile phone using Wi-Fi, or you can also use the cable. Also, if you will use a memory card, you have to eject it from the camera and transfer it from the memory card to your mobile phone.

6) Start Recording Videos With Your Phone

Now start recording with your mobile phone. You will be able to watch the videos with your phone in real-time. Also, you can record voice and video with your action camera directly from your mobile phone.

7) Erase The Old Videos

For added convenience, you can delete all the videos recorded on the memory card of your action camera, which don’t seem usable. You can do this by inserting the memory card into a computer and delete all the old videos you don’t want to keep on a mobile phone while driving.

8) See The Videos In Your Mobile Phone

Now you can view the videos on your mobile phone. You can play them back or download them to a computer or SD card.

Benefits of Using Action Camera as a Dashcam

1) More Functions 

An action camera is a more advanced and versatile device than an average dashboard camera. Thus, you can use it for different purposes. You can connect it to your mobile phone and use it as a regular camera with the help of Wi-Fi or a mobile data connectivity feature. Likewise, if you want to take 360-degree images or record 360-degree videos, you can use an action camera for that too.

2) Size

The action camera is much smaller and lighter as compared to a small dashboard camera. It is easy to mount an action camera on your dash, which can be hidden in the car’s interior.

3) Price 

The action camera is a significantly cheaper accessory than a dashcam. If you want to get a good dashboard camera for yourself, it will cost you at least $150 or even more. Nevertheless, if you want to use an action camera as a dashcam, you can get one for just $75 or even less.

4) Durability 

The action camera is easy to use and smaller in size. It can be placed anywhere in the car without causing any inconvenience, unlike a dashboard camera. The action camera is also lighter, so there are fewer chances of getting damaged compared to a dashboard camera. Also, it comes with waterproof features that allow you to use it while driving on a rainy day or during snowfall without worrying about any damage.

5) Wide Angle Lenses 

The action camera comes with a wide-angle lens that allows you to record videos in a wider area. It comes with an angle of at least 170 degrees which can be adjusted as per your requirement. It is easy to fit this accessory in your car, and you can have picturesque shots of the surrounding environment.


Action cameras are perfect to use as dashcams because of their wide range of features. You can use them for different purposes, including taking pictures and videos of your entire car along with the surrounding environment. The video can also be kept on your mobile phone so that you can share it with others too. With a dashcam, you can get an idea of what is going on around you, but with an action camera, you can zoom in on your surroundings. Also, you can have a better look at what’s happening around your car before and after the accident.

Hope this article was informational and helped you in your endeavor to purchase an action cum dashboard camera.


Q. What Is the Difference Between an Action Camera and a Dashcam?

A. There is no difference between these two as they are almost alike, but action cameras are much better in quality. Action cameras come with some extra features which you can use for many other purposes than simply recording videos from your car’s dashboard. Overall, both the gadgets have their importance while driving; you need to choose one depending on your requirements and budget.

Q. Do I Need a Dash Cam?

A. The answer to this question depends on your requirements; if you feel unsafe while driving, it would be great to have an action camera installed on your car’s dashboard.

Q. Which action camera comes with a parking mode?

A. There are many action cameras available in the market which come with a parking mode; some of the brands include Black Box, GoPro, and Garmin.