Action cameras are carving a niche for themselves. Not only are they small, compact and portable, they record videos up to 5K with image stabilisation and can go virtually anywhere with you whatever your outdoor activity be it mountain biking, snowboarding, sky diving, snorkelling or scuba-diving. If you are in the market for one, be sure to check out the best in every category below.
These cameras also work well as standalone cameras to capture stills, time-lapse and continuous video recording like a dash cam. Depending on the build, you can get them with a whole host of accessories to suit your activity. Some are bundled with extra battery, separate charger, accessories and mounting kit, waterproof housing and memory card.
Let’s take a closer look at these cameras
1. AKASO EK7000 – BEST FOR VALUE
The AKASO EK7000 is a feature-loaded action camera. Apart from being able to shoot 4K footages at 30p, it comes with a wrist wearable 2.4G remote that will allow you to shoot videos without having to physically touch the device. That’s a great feature to have when you are shooting selfie videos. The device comes with a waterproof housing that further enhances its usability. It can survive a dive of up to a depth of 100-feet with the included waterproof housing. Considering that the action cam costs less than $60 it is incredible value for money. It is no wonder that is is one of the more popular budget options out there. Just make sure you invest in a good quality microSD storage card with high write rate around 60MB/s
- 4K Ultra HD action camera captures 4K 30fps, 2.7K 30fps videos, supports loop recording 16MP photos, 30 fps burst
- Wrist 2.4G wireless remote
- 2 rechargeable 1050mAh batteries for 90 mins each on a full charge
- WiFi connectivity, HDMI and app support
- 100ft waterproof with durable waterproof case
2. Insta360 GO – BEST FOR COMPACT SIZE
This is lightweight 360-degree action camera is designed to be your constant companion no matter where you are headed. Perfect for shooting vlogs though the angle of view is a bit too wide for most people’s preferences. This action camera comes with a proprietary FlowState Stabilization technology that ensures that you can capture super-steady footage no matter what. This is a true hands-free action camera, thanks to the large number of accessories that are provided in the box. There is one caveat though, if you are having a pacemaker it is not safe to wear the device or the magnet pendant that comes with the action cam around your chest.
- 15, 30 or 60 second clips at a push of a button. Hyperlapse recording up to 30 minutes, Time-lapse recording for hours, slow-mo with 100fps
- FlowState video stabilisation and auto editing with software
- IPX4 water resistance, submerged up to 10 seconds
- Magnetic attachment, easy clip and Magnet Pendant
3. DJI Osmo Action 4K – BEST FOR WEATHERPROOF
When it comes to weatherproofing or waterproofing, very few action cams can claim to have that feature without the protective housing. Yes, there are a few high-end action cams like the GoPro that do have weatherproofing and waterproofing without the need to use special housing, but they are very expensive. The DJI Osmo Action – 4K is one action camera that comes with housing-free weatherproofing. With its dual display setup and waterproof case up to a depth of 36 feet (11 meter) underwater, it is one of the best GoPro alternatives out there if you don’t mind the camera lens bulge.
On the technical side, the Osmo Action has a 12MP resolution 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor capable of capturing up to 4K video at a whooping 60fps. Rock Steady stabilisation using Electronic Image Stabilisation makes the captured videos super smooth. It can also capture 8x slow motion video. Another big selling point is its dual colour display, a feature reserved only for high-end action cameras.
- 4K/60fps at 100Mbps HDR video with Slow Motion (8x with 1080p resolution and 240fps.), Custom Exposure Setting (up to 120 seconds of exposure), Timelapse, Timed RAW Shooting Mode, Custom Mode, QS Button, SnapShot, Voice Control.
- RockSteady Electronic Image Stabilisation
- Dual colour monitor front and back, rear display is a touchscreen
- 11m waterproof body, mini SD card, USB Type-C charging port, App for settings, shooting and larger screen.
4. GoPro Hero 8 – BEST ALL-ROUNDER
You cannot leave a GoPro out of a discussion when it comes to action cameras. So, the GoPro Hero 8 makes its entry into this list as the best in terms of all-around performance and the most rugged build quality. This action cam comes with three different levels of image stabilization. So, you can choose between On, High, and Boost options. Leveling off the horizon is often a problem when shooting with small cameras. This camera comes with an in-app option to level off the horizon. Other interesting features include a Live Streaming feature at 1080p and a super stabilized time-lapse mode that captures and makes stunning stabilized time-lapses. While Live Streaming is on the footage is also recorded on your SD card to make sure that you have a recording to review. The camera is available with a variety of bundled options, from extra batteries to head strap, stands, case and remote.
- 4K/60 UHD 2160p resolution with SuperView, Wide, Linear or Narrow FOV/Digital Lenses
- HyperSmooth 2.0 and in-app horizon levelling, three levels of stabilisation, 8x slo mo
- TimeWarp 2.0 for super stabilised time lapse, Night Lapse Modes, Time Lapse
- Live Streaming at 1080p and webcam mode
- Live Burst records 1.5 seconds before and after your shot for best frame when shooting photo
5. Kodak PIXPRO SP360 – BEST FOR 360
It may look like something out of the yellow submarine, the Kodak PIXPRO SP360 is a 360-degree action camera designed to capture the action in all directions. The Advanced CMOS sensor comes with multiple viewing modes. There are multiple recording modes as well. You could switch between recording Full HD videos to time-lapse just by pressing a button. Additional features of the action camera include a design that can withstand a drop from up to 2 meters, dustproof and splashproof. It can withstand a temperature of up to –10 Degrees. Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC ensure that you can pair the camera with any compatible device and would be able to transfer your images and videos wirelessly. It also gives you the option to shoot videos remotely.
If you have two SP360, you can mount them together and use the Stitch Software to pull together photos or videos for a fully immersive 360 degree x 360 degree VR shot be it video or photo.
- Full HD 1080 video, Full HD images in 10fps, 16MP CMOS sensor, Multiple Viewing Modes (Ring, Dome, Front Degree/Rear 180-degree, 360-degree, Panorama, Globe.
- WiFi and NFC
- Shockproof, freeze proof, dust proof and splash resistant body
- PIXPRO remote viewer app
6. GoPro Hero 9 Black – BEST FOR 5K
There are very few action cameras that are capable of capturing 5K videos and the GoPro Hero 9 does exactly that. 5K while not 8K is still incredibly high resolution. Most widescreen TVs are only just catching up to 4K resolution. With 5K you can capture a vast amount of detail. And if you are interested in shooting stills you can shoot high-resolution 20-megapixel images to capture the action around you. The Hero 9 comes with a dual display with the rear display supporting touch functionality. It is pretty much like the Osmo Action above but with a bigger sensor.
With the dual display, it is a lot easier to frame and make your images with the Hero 9 than the earlier models. Just like the Hero 8 above, the Hero 9 Black comes with Live Streaming functionality at 1080p Full HD along with HyperSmooth Image Stabilization for smooth video captures. You can also use it as a web cam although Mac users particularly those based on new M1 chip might find it a challenge. Apart from that, this model comes with the unique housing-free weatherproofing that allows it to be practically anywhere you want it to be.
- 5K Video – Shoot stunning video with up to 5K resolution, perfect for maintaining detail even when zooming in
- 20MP Photo with SuperPhoto: Capture crisp, pro-quality photos with 20MP clarity. And with SuperPhoto, HERO9 Black can automatically pick all the best image processing for you
- Front Display + Rear Touch Screen: A new, larger rear touch screen with touch zoom on HERO9 Black and a dazzling new front display makes for easy framing and intuitive camera control
- Live Streaming + Webcam: Live stream in 1080p on social, get HyperSmooth stabilization as you broadcast
- HyperSmooth 3.0: Experience the ultimate smoothness with our most advanced video stabilization ever. TimeWarp 3.0: Record mesmerizes time lapse scenes as you move on the road, on foot or anywhere else.
- Rugged + Waterproof: Shoot in the gnarliest conditions imaginable. HERO9 Black can take it. It’s tough as nails, and waterproof down to 33 feet right out of the box
7. Hero 7 – BEST FOR LOW LIGHT
Even though its more advanced siblings are already selling in the market why did we pick the Hero 7 as the best for low light performance? Because if you compare the footages from the Hero 7, and those shot using the Hero 8 and the Hero 9 of the same scene shot side-by-side, you will realise that the footage from the Hero 7 looks a lot more natural than those shot with the hero 8 and the Hero 9. The footage from the Hero 8 and the Hero 9 are warmed up way more than one would like.
Apart from these obvious advantages with the Hero 7 you also get some additional advantages. The Hero 7 now retails at a much lower price. So, it offers a lot more value for money. You can shoot 4K videos at 30p with the Hero 7. It has excellent weather sealing, is completely impervious to dust and splashes. Plus, some cool voice-command features allow you to take a picture or start recording videos using your voice.
- 4K30 Video: also shoot time lapse videos to turn longer events into short, shareable moments
- Rugged + Waterproof: tough, tiny, totally waterproof and up for any adventure
- Touchscreen with a touch screen and simple, streamlined capture modes
- Voice Control: hands free with voice commands like “GoPro, take a photo” and “GoPro, start recording
- 10MP photos with WDR: takes beautiful, vibrant 10MP photos even in challenging shots that mix bright light and shadows; and with burst mode, you can get 15 photos in one second
- Video stabilization records smooth, steady video whether you’re skiing, snorkeling or chasing your dog around the yard
- Shoot vertically capture photos and videos in portrait orientation, perfect for snapchat and Instagram stories
8. Campark X35 – BEST FOR SELFIE
The Campark X35 is a relatively unknown camera from an unknown camera brand, but when it comes to shooting beautiful videos it is not far from the best. But the main reason why we have picked it is because of the large second screen at the front of the camera. This brilliantly bright screen gives you the perfect view to capture a selfie. The 2-inch main screen too is a joy to work with. It is large enough to give you a clear view of the scene in front of you. But that is not all. There are a bunch of other features that you will love to use.
The Campark X35 shoots 4K videos at 30fps. Did you know that you could change the angle of view of the lens of the Campark X35 according to your need? With the standard setting, the camera can capture at an angle of 170-degree. That’s almost fish-eye perspective. There is a built-in gyroscope-based image stabilization system that ensures that the camera can record stable video without any issues. To add to these you get a Wi-Fi vlogging functionality too.
- Video Resolution: 4K 30fps/2.7K 30fps/1080P 120fps/1080P 60fps/1080P 30fps/720P 240fps/720P 120fps/720P 60fps/720P 30fps
- Photo Resolution: 24M;20M;16M;13M;8M
- Dual screen
- Battery: Two 1050mAh Li-ion Batteries (Included)
- Wi-Fi Connection: Android/iOS Supported(8-15 meters)
- Waterproof Depth: 40M
9. Drift Ghost XL – BEST FOR BATTERY LIFE
Purely in terms of battery life, there are very few choices in the market that offer you more than 3 hours of battery life. But the Drift Ghost XL is rare because it offers you not 3 but 9 hours of battery life on a single charge. You could record hours of footage before you will need to recharge the batteries. The camera comes with an IPX7 rating which means it can survive submerged under a 1-meter depth of water for up to 30 minutes without issues. It can easily survive a splash, snow, and dusty environment without issues. The unique lens design can rotate up to 330 degrees and therefore regardless of the way you mount the camera you can still point the lens in the direction you want it to be pointed.
With the Drift Ghost XL, you get an optional Bluetooth remote. There is a provision for mounting an external microphone too which ensures better sound quality. Just like the GoPro Hero 8 and the GoPro Hero 9 the Drift Ghost XL too comes with live streaming functionality. Interestingly there is a built-in clone mode on this camera. This is designed to interconnect up to a maximum of 10 Drift Ghost XL cameras. The idea is to control and capture multiple cameras at the same time. If you change any settings on one camera, all the cameras will mirror the same settings. When you start recording on any camera all the other cameras will start recording.
- Full HD 1080P 30 FPS / 720P 60 FPS / 12MP Photos
- 9 Hours Battery Life (3000mAh) recording at 1080P
- IPX7 Waterproof – Submerge up to 1 meter in water
- Dimensions: 3.6 x 1.9 x 1.4 inches (133g)
- Waterproof TRS Power Connection
- Internal Microphone & External Microphone capability
- Bluetooth Enabled – Compatible with Bluetooth remote control
10. Yolasin 4K Action Camera – BEST FOR BEGINNERS
A beginner action camera needs to have the basic things of decent quality. By that, we mean decent video quality, image stabilization, and some sort of weatherproofing so that the user can make some good videos and master the art of capturing action footage. Of course, another important parameter is the pricing. When we weigh all these parameters the Yolasin 4K seems like a good option. It checks most of the boxes. It is of decent build quality. It comes with a 20 Megapixel sensor. The camera can capture 4K videos with its 170-degree wide-angle lens. The optional waterproof housing is available that enables the camera to shoot at a depth of up to 40 meters. You can choose to mount an external microphone for better quality sound.
- Sony IMX175 View Angle: 170° FOV
- 20MP Video resolution: 4K/30fps, 2.7K/30fps, 1080P/60fps (more to discover) Video Codec: H.264
- Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS)
- Ports: Micro USB, HDMI, DC2.5 Extermal Microphone: Supported (External Mic included)
- WiFi: 2.4G WiFi Battery: 2x 1200mAh Rechargeable batteries
Edited by Samuel J. Tan