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The best action cameras: Capture your summer fun
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 choose the right one. We’ve compiled a list of the best action cameras you can currently buy.
Should you buy an action camera?
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. Thanks to their ruggedness, image stabilization, and various mounting options (you can attach action cameras to equipment or yourself), they are prevalent among the extreme sports crowd. 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.
They don’t produce the same breathtaking results when shooting stills, but you don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy an action camera. Because they are so small, they are great for vlogging on the go or even just capturing family moments on vacation. 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.
The best action cameras:
Editor’s note: This list of the best action cameras will be updated as new and better devices launch.
1. GoPro Hero 9 Black
- Price: ~$399
- Pros: Front and rear displays, 5K recording, HyperSmooth and TimeWarp 3.0
- Cons: Expensive
If you’re going with GoPro, sometimes you have to splurge on the best around. The Hero 9 Black is the top of the line, but you can expect to shell out a pretty penny to capture your action.
The device has a 23.6MP sensor, can record 5K video, has a front touchscreen, and packs all of the fancy features you expect from the GoPro name. It 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 as well as TimeWarp 3.0
If you have a wide-open budget and want the best, the Hero 9 Black is a premium pick.
2. GoPro Hero 8 Black
- Price: ~$299
- Pros: Amazing video stabilization, built-in mounting system, many accessories available.
- Cons: Pricey, the interface could use some work.
GoPro is right back into the fray with another one of the best action cameras. This company is responsible for making action cameras popular, and it continues to make some of the best products in the category. The Hero 8 Black is GoPro’s previous high-end action camera, so you should be able to shave a few bucks off of the asking price.
HyperSmooth stabilization surprised us when it launched with the GoPro Hero 7 Black, and it has only gotten better with its successor. The GoPro Hero 8 features HyperSmooth 2.0 video stabilization, and it works wonders. Other specs include a 12MP sensor, RAW support, the ability to record 4K video at 60fps, a plethora of shooting modes, and even live streaming at 1080p. The GoPro Hero 8 Black will also withstand being submerged in water up to 10 meters, or 33 feet.
Also read: Best point-and-shoot cameras
What also makes the GoPro Hero 8 Black unique is that it comes with a built-in mounting system. This is pretty cool, as it may no longer be necessary to buy as many extra accessories.
If you are looking for 360-degree content, you may also want to look into the GoPro Max. We didn’t include it in this list because it is a more niche product with a higher price point.
3. Sony DSC-RX0 II
- Price: ~$700
- 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. Just like the GoPro Hero cameras, it can film stunning footage in 4K, and the folding preview display makes it easy to keep your quality top-notch. Video at 4K maxes out at 30fps, while 1080p video can be captured at 120fps.
Also read: Best Sony cameras
However, while that might be an issue for extreme sports fans, those who enjoy filming more “cinematic” footage won’t mind the difference. The Sony DSC-RX0 II can also capture extreme slow motion at either 960 or 1,000fps, depending on your settings. It doesn’t fall behind in durability either — it’s waterproof up to 33-feet without an external case, making it one of the best underwater action cameras for diving enthusiasts.
The price will be the biggest drawback for many. However, the DSC-RX0 II is one of the newer action cameras, and it should serve you well for years to come.
4. DJI Osmo Action
- Price: ~$250
- Pros: Dual screens, great stabilization, a bit cheaper than comparative cams.
- Cons: No live streaming, no GPS.
The DJI Osmo Action is capable of filming 4K video at 60fps and 1080p video at 240fps. It also offers HDR video (without stabilization), 8x slow-motion Full HD time lapses so you can capture every second of your adventures, and best of all, it too has voice controls.
Its dual screens make it an even bigger standout. The front screen helps you frame yourself easily, making the DJI Osmo Action ideal for vlogging on the go. Of course, just like the other action cams on our list, the DJI is rugged and durable. It is waterproof (up to 11 meters or 36 feet), as well as temperature resistant. Where it falls behind is the lack of GPS and live streaming abilities. However, if you can go without those, the DJI Osmo Action is one of the best action cameras you can buy.
5. Akaso Brave 7 LE
- Price: $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 video in 4K at 30fps. While it may not be the sharpest or most powerful camera, you’re bound to save a chunk of change.
Also read: 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 easily $50 less than you can spend for the other action cameras on this list.
6. Insta360 One R
- Price: ~$450
- Pros: Modular, durable, 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.
Fine tune your action camera just how you want it.
The One R is a joint venture with Leica’s powerful camera history planted firmly behind it. You can grab a bundle that includes a one-inch lens mod and capture even better still images than with the base unit. Also, the red camera base serves as the battery for your adventures, so you can easily carry more than one and record for hours on end.
Insta360’s One R isn’t a cheap customer, but there’s a chance that it’s an indication of where action cameras are going in the future. Grab yours below.
If you’re not sure any of the cameras on our list suit your needs, check out the Polaroid Cube Act II. It’s a great basic action camera for more casual users, and your wallet will thank you for choosing it. And if you want to give an advanced gimbal a try, check out the DJI Osmo Pocket 2.
These are our picks for the best action cameras. We’ll be adding more as they come to market!