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The best action cameras: Capture your wildest adventures
Are you getting ready for your next adventure? You might want to put an action camera on your to-buy list. They’re small, portable, rugged, and can withstand almost anything you put them through. Thanks to GoPro’s explosive popularity, the market is now flooded with action cams, but don’t worry — we are here to help you find the right one. We’ve compiled a list of the best action cameras you can currently buy.
Who should get an action camera, and why?
Before we jump into our top action camera picks, let’s have a look at what action cameras excel at and if you should buy one.
Generally, they’re for those that lead an active lifestyle. They are prevalent among the extreme sports crowd due to their ruggedness, image stabilization, and various mounting options (you can attach action cameras to equipment or yourself). These gadgets are great for capturing exciting point-of-view style footage when diving, hiking, mountain biking, and more. Many of them are waterproof, which is also a huge selling point.
You don't have to be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy an action camera.
You don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy an action camera, though. Because they are so small, they are great for vlogging on the go or even just capturing family moments on vacation. It helps that you can throw them in any bag or pocket. You don’t have to break the bank to get one, either. There are some great budget options, which we have included on our list.
Also read: The best camera phones available
The best action cameras
Editor’s note: This list of the best action cameras will be updated as new and better devices launch.
GoPro Hero 10 Black
- MSRP: $499.99
- Pros: Super portable, high-quality 5.3K video, rugged, waterproof, dual displays, and great stabilization
- Cons: Expensive
GoPro keeps its position in the action camera market, and it’s hard to beat it. The company’s latest high-end offering is the GoPro Hero 10 Black. The unit can produce 23MP images and up to 5.3K video at 60fps. It can also record 4K video at 120fps. These capabilities are impressive even in more extensive, serious video cameras.
Not only is it a capable camera, but the GoPro Hero 10 Black is very resistant. The housing is waterproof (up to 33ft) and built to withstand plenty of torture. This is likely the very best of the best action cameras, if money is no object.
GoPro Hero 9 Black
- MSRP: $399.99
- Pros: Dual displays, 5K recording, HyperSmooth, and TimeWarp 3.0
- Cons: Expensive
The Hero 9 Black is no longer the latest and greatest from GoPro, but it’s still a worthy option if you don’t need the Hero 10 Black improvements and would rather save yourself some cash. This device still has a 23.6MP sensor, can record 5K video, has a front touchscreen, and packs plenty of fancy features.
It also has a rugged design and can be submerged in water up to 33 feet deep. The unit can also be controlled by voice, includes noise reduction, and offers HyperSmooth 3.0 and TimeWarp 3.0.
Sony DSC-RX0 II
- MSRP: $699.99
- Pros: Tiny, 4K resolution, Zeiss Tessar lens
- Cons: Expensive, expensive, expensive
Sony finally replaced its aging FDR-X3000 with a brilliant new action camera. It stands out with optical and digital video stabilization that produces some of the best results on the market, combined with its Zeiss Tessar lens. Its 4K footage may not match the 5K and 5.3K footage we see in the GoPro cameras, but 4K is still plenty good for most users. There are benefits to going with Sony, though.
Also read: The best Sony cameras
For starters, the design is arguably more appealing. The unit doesn’t have displays in the front and back, but the folding preview display makes it easy to record in any direction. It also comes with a one-inch sensor, and the build quality is adamant, as the unit can withstand water, shock, and crushes. Depending on your settings, you’ll also get fancy features like capturing extreme slow motion at either 960 or 1,000fps.
The price will be the biggest drawback for many. However, the DSC-RX0 II is one of the best action cameras, and it should serve you well for years to come.
DJI Action 2
- MSRP: $399—$519
- Pros: Easy customization options, excellent stabilization, portable, good-looking design, sturdy build, a bit cheaper than comparative cams
- Cons: No live streaming, no GPS
Regarded as one of the biggest GoPro competitors, the DJI Action 2 is an impressive offering. Created by drone manufacturer DJI, this camera rivals GoPro’s Hypersmooth stabilization with RockSteady 2.0 and HorizonSteady.
The DJI Action 2 can film 4K video at 60fps and 1080p video at 240fps. It also offers 8x slow-motion Full HD time lapses so you can capture every second of your adventures, and best of all, it has voice controls.
Likely its most unique feature is the ability to adapt accessories magnetically. This makes interacting with the camera and expanding its features a breeze. There are plenty of accessories to choose from, too.
Akaso Brave 7 LE
- MSRP: $140
- Pros: Front and rear displays, very affordable
- Cons: Poor sound in the waterproof case
If you want to get in on the action at the lowest price around, the Akaso Brave 7 LE is the action camera for you. It is designed for just about anything, thanks to an IPX7 certification and a pair of convenient displays. You can snap 20MP stills and record 4K video at 30fps. While it may not be the sharpest or most powerful camera, you’re bound to save a chunk of change.
Also read: The best beginner cameras
The Brave 7 LE is even compatible with several GoPro accessories, should you ever change ecosystems. It also comes with an extra battery, a handy remote app, and the waterproof case you need to capture your next adventure.
The major draw for the Brave 7 LE is the price. It retails for just $140, which is much less than what you can spend on some of the other best action cameras on this list.
Insta360 One R 1-inch Edition
- Price: $549.99
- Pros: Modular, durable, 1-inch sensor, powered by Leica.
- Cons: Bugs at launch, must purchase mods separately.
If you want a unique experience, the Insta360 One R is the action camera for you. Instead of going for the traditional box setup, the One R is modular. That means you can flip the lens to face the touchscreen or record the world around you in seconds. Of course, you might run up quite the tab as you add more mods to your collection. Our favorite lens module is the 1-inch Edition, which offers better image and video quality when compared to the other options.
The Insta360 One R 1-inch Edition can record 5.3K video recording at 30fps. You can push the camera up to 120fps if you lower the resolution to 1080p. It also shoots 19MP photos, has great stabilization, and is waterproof up to five meters. Voice controls, HDR images, and a reversible screen further sweeten the deal.
Insta360 Go 2
- Price: $299.99
- Pros: Amazingly portable, solid battery life, all accessories included
- Cons: Lower resolution video, UI isn’t great, limited storage
Those looking for the most portability possible will find the Insta360 Go 2 to be a great option. The thing is tiny! Even the carrying case is smaller than most other action cameras, and it can easily fit in any pocket. Don’t let the tiny size fool you, though. The Insta360 Go 2 is very capable.
Its IPx8 rating gives it waterproof capabilities (up to 4m). Also, even though it has no 4K recording capabilities, the video is sharp and clean. The battery can only last about 30 minutes, but the case can charge it about five times. We wish there was 4K video recording, more memory (or expandable memory as an option), and a better UI. Still, the camera is excellent, considering its lower price point and portability.
- Price: $499.99.
- Pros: 360-degree video, 6K recording, good stabilization, waterproof.
- Cons: Pricey, large, bad for regular video.
The GoPro Max is one of the best action cameras if you want a device that can shoot 360-degree video. Spherical video tops off at 6K resolution, which is pretty good, and it comes with six microphones for better wind noise reduction.
Its spherical video focus makes it less enticing in other departments, though. Regular video is limited to 1440p at 60fps, and the 18MP photos aren’t as impressive as the competition. It also doesn’t help that it’s so large.
Q: What are IP ratings?
A: IP stands for “ingress protection.” This is a standard created by the International Electronics Commission to rate a product’s resistance level against solids and liquids. You can learn more about IP ratings here.
Q: What does “fps” mean?
A: Fps stands for “frames per second.” This determines how many images per second a video displays. Higher framerates produce smoother video and can help slow down videos without losing quality.
Q: Are action cameras expensive?
A: Generally speaking, action cameras can be pricey considering their limited functionality compared to more prominent dedicated shooters. These are much smaller, portable, and resistant devices, though, which is mostly what drives the prices up. An affordable action camera from a reputable brand is usually no less than about $300.
Q: Do I need a phone to use an action camera?
A: Action cameras can usually operate independently, but some specialized features will often require an active connection to a phone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This can also facilitate file transfers.
Q: What video resolution should my camera record?
A: It depends on multiple factors. Higher resolution video gives you more editing freedom and will look crisper on high-definition screens. That said, even the cheapest action camera on this list can record 4K content, which is often more than enough for most users. 5K-6K video recording might be overkill, and it will create much larger files. Many will probably be happy recording in more traditional definitions like 1080p.
These are our picks for the best action cameras. We’ll be adding more as they come to market! Don’t forget to check out some more of our photography content before moving on. We have plenty of recommendations, tips, tricks, and things to know to improve your stills and videos. We also have a list of the best cameras, just in case an action cam isn’t enough for you.