Your Guide to Wearable Cameras

From the GoPro to the Narrative


Thanks to the huge popularity of the GoPro wearable action camera, most of us are familiar with the concept of clip-on cameras. And whether you're an amateur thrill-seeker looking to capture your trips on the slopes or are simply curious about a device that can capture your perspective throughout everyday life, there's likely a camera in this category to pique your interest. On the other hand, if you're more into tracking your everyday activity than your everyday experience, this primer on fitness trackers may be more up your alley.

GoPro Hero 4 Silver

There are no fewer than six wearable cameras available from GoPro — three entry-level and three higher-priced "performance models" — but for the purposes of this post, I'll focus on the Hero 4 Silver, a $400 model that has more than enough features to satisfy the average user. (If you're looking for a more basic pick, check out the $200 Hero+.) With a built-in touch display and the ability to capture footage at up to 1080 and 60 fps, this gadget is relatively easy to use but by no means dumbed-down. 

In addition to shooting video, the Hero 4 silver features a burst mode for capturing photos, and there are also Night Photo and Night Lapse modes for shooting after dark. This single GoPro camera is actually available in three different editions: Silver, Surf (with a surfboard mount and camera tether) and Music (with a mic stand mount and two removable instrument mounts).

Narrative Clip

Currently available for pre-order at $199 a pop, the Narrative Clip 2 is the second version of a simple concept from a Swedish startup: a small camera that clips on to your shirt and captures still images throughout your day.

The original Narrative is available for about $120 on sites like Amazon, and it features a 5-megapixel camera (versus 8-megapixel on the newer model). The Clip 2 also includes video capture, which wasn't available on the original product. By double-tapping the device, users will be able to shoot 10-second clips in 1080p. Finally, the newer version also covers a wider angle, 90 degrees, so you'll be able to capture more.​

iON SnapCam

The $150 SnapCam looks similar — and indeed features similar functionality — to the Narrative Clip, but in addition to recording stills and video, this device can live stream up to one hour of footage. Like the new Narrative Clip 2, it features an 8-megapixel sensor and built-in Wi-Fi for sharing photos and videos.

Bonus: Google Glass

Yes, Google Glass is more or less on the way out — it's no longer available for purchase, and it was geared more toward developers than the general public when it was first announced. But no discussion of wearable cameras would be complete without this prototype device, which is responsible for sparking some intense debate over the privacy implications of wearing a somewhat discreet recording device on your person. 

Glass was more about the concept than about the tech specs; it featured a 5-megapixel camera and shot 720p (rather than 1080p) video. Still, the device captured the imagination of plenty of developers and brands — with everyone from Starwood to Virgin Atlantic running test programs with this piece of Google tech. Still, in the context of the other products mentioned in this post, it's interesting to see how most manufacturers have gravitated away from the head-mounted design toward clip-on cameras for both casual and professional users.