They weigh next to nothing, they're small, and can be usually taken just about anywhere. They're mostly well-protected against elements. You can use them in almost all situations, bringing first-hand experience to people, to learn, enjoy, and to delight in action. We call them action cameras.
However, what follows can be applied to any camera, and for a variety of purposes - not only for video shooting.
Every day a new model will arrive, featuring even better specifications and abilities. But at the end of the day, the way their operators handled the cams will matter the most. Technical quality of the video is augmented and sometimes even surpassed by the ability of the cam operator to correctly record, whatever the theme.
And keeping cameras horizontal is correct; excepting some high-action scenes where stable point of view is impossible. Keeping your small camera perfectly horizontal is not so easy, but it will nevertheless be important in some recording modes, like in photo or video-lapse scenes.
Here is a little helper you can add yourself, so as to be able to setup and/or hold the smallish action cams horizontally whenever it is required or possible. It will also help a lot with setting up the camera to your tripod or camera clamp, if you’re planning to shoot a photo or video-lapse sequences.
There are many types of bubble levels to choose from. There are (bigger and more expensive) transparent pieces containing two or three bubble levels meant to put into the camera hot shoe. Other are button-like, fashioned to replace the hot shoe covers on your photo camera. And there are these small tubular thingies in many sizes, to help you keep your action cam in horizontal position.
Bubble levels like I used here are dirt cheap. On eBay, for instance, a package of ten (!) will cost you about $1.29 - and that includes free international shipping!
I have superglued a small tubular bubble level to the relatively protected spot on my cam casing between the casing hatch and protective rims surrounding the cam’s top commands (see photo below). Since the bubble level tube, cam casing and superglue are all acryllic, this was actually a chemical welding which resulted in very solid bond.
First clean the bubble level and the place on the cam casing to remove all fat residue, such as fingerprints. To clean an acryllic surface take care never to use alcohol or cleaners that contain alcohol, benzene or similar solvents. Use a drop of dishwashing gel in small glass of warm water to cotton-wipe the connecting spots thoroughly. Then wash the camera casing in running warm water and let it dry.
Next, apply three drops of superglue to fix the bubble level to the cam casing. Place one drop under the level, and the other two between it and the command pin protective rims. Press the bubble level firmly in place and let it be for an hour. This should give the glue solvent sufficient time to completely evaporate. However, don't use in water until next day.
Your action cam casing may look different from this one, but the principle is the same for any model. Experiment by placing the bubble level on the camera where it does not hinder any operation and where you can see it from all positions. It will work much better than having to control the horizontality by the cam's tiny monitor.
If you, like me, acquire a package of ten bubble levels, you might find it useful to add some also to your tripod head, and other cam accessories – maybe even to your photo camera. I have glued another one to my Olympus TG-2 underwater camera too, placing it in the groove above the monitor, to the left of the GPS antenna. Works great for all kinds of use.
The ideas for useful applications will come by themselves. This small device will reduce your post-processing time otherwise spent on horizon levelling corrections.
SJCAM M10+ in its underwater casing with an added bubble level sized 6,5 x 18mm.