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I'm thinking of getting a chest-mounted action camera to free up my mind, eyes, and hands while I'm traveling so I can just experience the joy of being somewhere more deeply without diverting my attention.

I used to spend half a day photographing a place exhaustively before relaxing into things, but most of my recent trips have centered on activities like cycling, hiking, water activities, kayaking, and boxing. Not taking photos actually makes the experience more enjoyable.

The number of photos I've taken on recent trips has been close to zero. As an example, during a kayaking trip in Thailand, I passed by numerous towering limestone caves. I felt the grandeur couldn't be captured without VR goggles or an IMAX screen to represent the reality. I initially wanted to take out my phone to capture it, but both my hands were busy paddling, and I knew I wouldn't paddle back for another look, so I let it go.

I do want to share my experiences with friends and family afterward, but I don't want to spoil the fun in the moment.

So I'm considering two chest-mounted action camera options:

A. DJI Osmo Pocket
Pros:
More ideal due to its three-axis stabilization. When securely mounted, you can be sure of the framing without needing to check the screen.
Cons:
Seems to be relatively fragile.


B. GoPro
Pros:
More rugged.
Cons:
Difficult to confirm framing when mounted on the chest, and there's a concern about it being misaligned after mounting.

How should I choose? I would appreciate guidance and insights from experienced individuals.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I didn't read every word, but it seems like you don't really have a question or problem here. If you don't want a camera to get in your way, fine. Some friends of mine don't understand why I bother with a camera, and the notion of having more than one camera is absolutely alien to some people. Not everyone is going to have the same interests or priorities in life. That's all there is to it. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Commented Jan 15 at 12:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't look back over photos from past trips every day...but when I want to look over them, I'm delighted I have them to peruse through. Memories fade too, and I feel like it's possible to strike a balance between enjoying the moment and capturing something worthwhile for posterity. (You don't have to treat photography like you're running around with a machine gun.) You just have to decide for yourself where that balance of enjoyment falls for you. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Commented Jan 15 at 12:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, I have to wonder... if you don't look back at photography from previous trips, what chance is there you are going to ever watch any of the hours of footage you will record with a chest-mounted action cam?? \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Commented Jan 15 at 12:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ While this appears to verge into video and not photography, this is a well-written subjective "how to choose" question between two action cams that can be, and are, used to capture the moments (i.e., stills) in ways that aren't practical or convenient with larger cameras, or even smartphone cameras. Thanks to @inkista for editing efforts to keep this open. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented Jan 16 at 16:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @scottbb, thanks. I was a little worried at how severely I edited it. Good to have confirmation I didn't overstep. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Commented Jan 16 at 23:46

3 Answers 3

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You outlined two main problems:

  1. taking out the camera ruins the moment for you because as I understand it you need too much time to take a picture

  2. your photos do not reflect your rich experiences


Body-mounted cameras sound like a good solution for you since you can take both still images and videos given that you don't need superior quality of a big sensor camera and high quality output. Still images might be important for your audience because they require less time to perceive. If you need to frame better you can always unmount the camera.

The only significant disadvantage for your use case will be limited dim light capabilities. If you want higher resolution photos you also need to pay attention to whether the camera has a function of taking high resolution photos during video recording.


I also would like to point out that you might try improving your camera skills:

  1. For a lot of scenarios you might capture significant part of your experience in a few photos. It of course requires some imagination and creativity. If you want to spare time you should photograph specifically the scenes which are important for your viewer.
  2. It totally does not require 50 seconds to do one photo if scene is not difficult. You might improve your single shot skills. You can also use raw image format to extend your post-processing abilities to reduce time required to take a photo.

It's totally understandable that you want to experience the scene yourself first and foremost, but it might be possible that you can improve your skills to achieve that with handheld camera.

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I actually think this decision is quite easy: get the GoPro.

If watersports are involved, the DJI Osmo Pocket models are not waterproof and would require an additional waterproof case, bulking it up considerably. GoPro Hero models are all waterproof out of the box. They're also smaller and more rugged.

As an Osmo Pocket (1) owner, the gimbal mechanism that makes it so attractive for videography is fragile, and you aren't going to have any easier time framing things correctly while chest-mounted vs. a GoPro unless you're going to take the time to use it over wi-fi with the smartphone app, which also isn't going to be particularly waterproof, or leave your attention free for your travel experience. And the longer shape can be more awkward to use one of these with an standard action camera mount, which tend to assume the GoPro form factor.

I would also say, both of these options are perhaps better for videography than photography. As stills cameras, they're both going to be a limited vs. an interchangeable lens camera. First off, because the lens is always wide angle if not ultrawide or fisheye (so you can vlog at arm's length). And the sensor maxes out on on the Osmo Pocket 3 at 1"-format (2.7x crop) and on a GoPro Hero 12 Black, 1/1.9"-format (~5x crop).

But as a stills camera, the GoPro Hero 12 Black can deliver 27MP (at the format size, though I wouldn't expect the best dynamic range or high ISO noise performance), while a DJI Pocket 3 only delivers 9.4MP stills.

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You are comparing two different products.

If you want a DJI chest-mounted camera the one to compare is the Osmo Action.

One interesting feature for your case is the pre-record (for video) It will save the previously defined video time.

So to decide, look for specific specs compared to GoPro. Resolution? Battery? Accessories? Image quality?

Do a specific cooperation review and choose.

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