We all know GoPro is unrivaled in the best action cameras category. However, times are changing, and 2022 has introduced new challenges for the adventure photography crown. With the advent of brands like Olympus, DJI, and Akaso, Gopro faces tough competition in the market.
So, more brands are now offering cameras that capture videos and photos in a way that other ordinary cameras can’t. Due to the expanding extreme sports sector, there has been a tremendous rise in the demand and supply of these compact go-anywhere designs. The range of specs available on these best action cameras has also widened.
Therefore, choosing the right camera can get confusing. If you don’t know what you are looking for, you can get engulfed by the numerous options. Luckily, we have it sorted for you by dissecting each camera according to its built, design, and use.
But, before we dive into the specifications of each camera, let’s take a look at the history of action cameras. Knowing why, how, and when these exciting new camera types came into being is essential to understanding the purpose of its developments. Keep reading to learn more:
The Beginning of Action Cameras
It all officially started in 2006 when GoPro launched its first GoPro Hero Digital. This model changed the whole perspective of adventure photography by introducing VGA videos in 10-second sequences.
In the following years, Hero 2 and 3 came out with innovations like LCD touchscreens, WiFi, 4K video, editing software, etc. For almost two decades, GoPro sat alone in the mark for filming everything from skiing to hiking to surfing.
But, this is no longer the case. In the past decade, there has been an explosion in the options for uber-small action cameras. Be it recording stills in tight places or drones capturing stunning shots from the sky; the best action cameras have opened their arms to a wider world.
The best action cameras started with minimal features. They were waterproof and impact-proof. This allowed them to capture their user’s antics in the sea, underground, and even in the air. However, the absence of a screen and poor image quality limited their use.
So, it wasn’t until a decade later that features like time lapses, video stabilization, 360-degree, and slo-mo came into existence. Then, finally, users were able to show how extreme they were by capturing good quality video proofs of that 10-ft drop-off or surfing in a 100-foot wave.
Meanwhile, here’s a Youtube video from Top 5 Picks channel. They’ve laid out the top 5 best action cameras in 2021.
With time, many brands decided to launch GoPro alternatives. From Sony and Xiaomi to SJCAM and Akaso, all of them dip their toes into the action pool.
In this guide, we will look at what they have to offer and what makes these action cameras so unique.
Best Action Cameras and Their Features
Action cameras are critical and potent for both photographers and filmmakers. They fuse ruggedness, video capability, and connectivity to give you a whole package. Therefore, when you are deciding on purchasing the best action camera, look for one that offers:
- 4K at 30fps or more
- 1080p at 60fps or more
- Video stabilization
- Is waterproof
- Has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
Some Complimentary Features
The features above are primary features. If you want real pro pieces of equipment, you should also look for ease-of-use, video resolutions, output options (such as HDMI), a variety of frame rates, memory card slots, etc. We have listed below some complementary factors that can help in capturing your adventures even better:
- Touch screen
- Waterproof without a housing
- Replaceable lens
- Voice activation
- Motion sensors
- Waterproof remote
- Social media connection
So, with all the features and the list of brands to choose from, you can easily get confused when picking the best action sports camera. Therefore, we have listed our top six picks for the best action cameras to make your choice easy.
Top 6 Action Cameras You Can Buy Today
GoPro Hero9 Black
- Maxvideo resolution and frame rate: 5k 30p, 4K 60p, 2.7K 120p, 1440 120p, 1080 240p
- Max photo resolution: 20mp
- Video formats: MP4 (H.264/AVC), MP4 (H.265/HEVC)
- Maximum bit rates: 100Mbps (2.7K, 4K, 5K)
- Live Streaming: 1080p
- Battery: 1720mAh lithium-ion, rechargable
- Screen: 2.27-inch touchscreen (rear), 1.4-inch color screen (front)
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Waterproof: up to 33 feet
- Stabilization: Hypersmooth 3.0
- Dimensions: 71 x 55 x 33.6mm
- Weight: 124g
Undeniably, this is the best GoPro in town. It has introduced the most substantial update to the HERO series since the Hero5. This GoPro far exceeds its predecessor due to the significant increase in size, 5K video, 20Mp stills, and 30% longer battery life.
While the 5K-capability is enticing, it’s limited to 30fps. Nevertheless, the video quality that Hero9 generates is a grand step-up from Hero8 and other brands. Further good news is that this camera also brings removable lenses. This means that you can change the lens if it gets damaged or scratched.
Furthermore, the Max Lens mode it features promises a 155° field of view. Lastly, the colored front screen and hyper smooth 3.0 stabilization make it perfect for recording yourself in action. The battery life is also impressive, making it the best action camera with long battery life.
However, as much as we love these improvements, its beefed-up body has drawbacks. It’s not compatible with the MediaMod module introduced before it. Moreover, this GoPro doesn’t work as well in low light as some of its counterparts. The results in dark areas are not as good as they should be.
- Dual Screen
- The waterproof housing is not required
- 8X Slow-motion
- Integrated front-facing screen
- Native horizon leveling
- The lens cover is removable
- Modules are expensive
- Not effective in low light
For us, it is the best action camera for mountain biking, hunting, and even snowboarding. It is perfect everywhere and anywhere!
Sony RXO Mark II
- Sensor: 15.3-megapixel Exmor RS CMOS sensor
- Waterproof: Yes – IPX8 equivalent
- Monitor: 180-degree tiltable LCD
- Crushproof: 440lb
- Shockproof: 7 feet
- Video: 4k at 30p
Sony made its mark in the action industry by launching this mini marvel. It is not only known as the best 4k action camera, but it is also the smallest cam out there. It can fit into your palm and weighs 132g.
However, even with its diminutive size, it fits a 1-inch sensor and produces 4K videos. Sony RXO Mark II also boasts an Eye AF function along with a 24mm f/4 Zeiss Tessar T* prime wide-angle lens.
If that’s not enough, there is a tiltable rear LCD screen to make viewing easy. Moreover, like all best action cameras, it is not only waterproof but is also ‘crushproof.’ The rugged outer body it sports protects this little beauty.
Lastly, like all cameras, the Sony action cam has its downsides. It’s tricky to handle, and it doesn’t serve worth $698; it is even pricier than GoPro!
- 1-inch sensor
- Flip-out monitor
- Handling is tricky
Mark II is worth it if you are looking for a rugged action camera with 4K capabilities and a great lens.
GoPro Hero8 Black
- Maximum video resolution: 4k 60fps
- Maximum photo resolution: 12mp
- Battery: Removable, rechargeable 1220mAh lithium-ion
- Screen: 2-inch touchscreen
- Storage: MicroSD USH-I
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- Weight: 124g
- Dimensions: 66.3 x 48.6 x 28.4mm
This 2019 launch of the GoPro series may not be as good as its advanced brother. However, it is also not like its previous three generations. The Hero8 Black features design tweaks that streamline usability. Moreover, it also sports an optional Mod system for vloggers.
Thus, if you compare it to Hero7 Black, there are major design changes. First and foremost, the cage has gone, and there is a new workflow to the UI. Its performance is undeniably good as all its photographs and videos are crisp. The TimeWarp feature is also something new which you won’t find in its predecessors.
While the camera’s handling and build are excellent, the side door comes off when released. Moreover, the newly released mounts are something to look forward to, but they can be a bit of a hassle when you fit them.
- The waterproof housing is not required
- Stunning video quality
- Excellent stabilization
- Price is high
- Mount is tricky to fit
- Side doors release completely
DJI Osmo Action
- Sensor: 12Mp 1/2.3-inch CMOS
- Dimensions: 65 x 42 x 35mm
- Stills resolution: 12MP
- Max video resolution: 4K
- Waterproof: 11m
- Battery life: 63-135 minutes
- Weight: 124g
You will find many GoPro competitors in the market, such as Yi, Nikon, Garmin, and Sony. However, only one brand produced a hero camera look alike, and that too under $300. Hell yeah, it’s DJI with its DJI Osmo Action.
This camera made it to our top six list of best action cameras because it is filled with all the features that a best sports camera must-have. From 4K at 60fps and voice control to touch screen, GPS, and motion sensors, the DJI Osmo Action Camera has it all.
But, oh, wait, how can we forget the live stream capability and top-notch image stabilization, which is quite close to what GoPro video cameras tend to achieve.
Moreover, the Rock Steady (RS) feature is the Osmo action camera version of HyperSmooth and is very impressive. The screw-in filters are also a nice addition to look forward to.
The quality is exceptional; however, it is a bit on the heavy side and larger than most of the best waterproof action cameras in the market. Also, the battery life is not something you can rely on. Finally, even though it is a great catch for its price, the absence of a live streaming feature puts us off.
- Video quality is on point
- Impressive Rock Steady stabilization
- Robust and tough build
- Battery life isn’t up to the mark
- No live-streaming feature
Not only is DJI the best budget action camera but also the best sports camera out there but with some drawbacks.
GoPro HERO10 Black
- Video: 5.3K/60FPS, 4K/120FPS, 2.7K/240p
- Stills: 23MP
- Screen: 2.27″ LCD rear + 1.4″ front Color LCD
- Special Feature: Anti-Shake, Low Light, Time Lapse,
- Connection: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB
- Video Capture Format: MP4
- Maximum Focal Length: 30 Millimeters
- Waterproof: 10m
- Voice control: Yes
- Image stabilization: HyperSmooth 4.0
- GPS: Yes
We would have placed GoPro HERO 10 Black on top of the list, but the only thing that holds us back is the price. This newest addition is the best GoPro if you don’t look at the hefty tag.
Even though it looks very similar to its predecessor, it sports a brand new processor that makes it smoother and slicker than Hero 9. As a result, the boot is quicker, and even the transfers are fast.
Moreover, the frame rate is also doubled over, and at higher resolutions, the video maximizes at a massive 5.3K, 60FPS. Moreover, the stills resolutions have also been enhanced up to 23MP.
Lastly, the excellent addition of a front-facing live preview screen introduced in the previous version has been upgraded to a more responsive system. This will be highly appreciated by sports enthusiasts and vloggers. There is good news for water sports fans, too, as the lens accompanying it is hydrophobic and more scratch-resistant.
On the downside, GoPro has ensured that not everyone can afford this beauty. The only places where it dips are the price and battery life. The battery has the same capacity as Hero9, but it struggles to keep up with advanced features this beauty beholds.
- Very speedy
- Higher resolution than any camera out there
- Water-repelling and scratch-resistant lens
- Horizon leveling supported a 45-degree tilt
- Very expensive
- The battery struggles to keep up
Extremely pricey, but it is the current flagship in the GoPro series and the best action camera so far.
- Max video resolution and frame rate: 4K 60fps
- Max photo resolution: 12
- Screen: 2.2-inch
- Storage: MicroSD
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 65 x 42 x 30mm
- Weight: 94g
- Waterproof: Optional case available
- Battery: High-density lithium polymer 3.8V, 1200mAH
- Battery life: 2hrs
If you are looking for an action camera that feels like the best GoPro action cams, but you don’t have the budget, then YI 4K+ is a good look alike. It is the best budget 4k 60fps action camera with smooth recording and impressive quality.
Moreover, the Yi 4K+ has a highly intuitive Gorilla Glass touchscreen that is easy to read. You will find it very handy for viewing and framing in sunlight. The image sensor it sports is also built with cutting-edge technology. Lastly, it is packed with complementary features such as Voice Control, Live Streaming, USB Type-C. Etc.
However, unlike other best-action cameras for live streaming, YI 4K+ isn’t waterproof. Instead, it comes with a waterproof casing that can take work up to 130 feet underwater. In addition, the casing is strong enough to withstand temperatures as low as -22 degrees and protects the camera from scratches.
So it’s not a deal-breaker, but it might be a turn-off for divers who require a camera without housing.
- Impressive resolution and framerate
- Large touch screen
- Exceptional 4K video quality
- The waterproof housing is required
- Updates are needed
If you are looking for the best cheap action camera which does not compromise on video, then YI 4k+ is something you should keep in mind: It’s not an ordinary sports camera but rather the best action video camera for sports.
How can I Find The Best Value For Money Action Cam?
Usually, the best action cameras are valued at $300 or above. But there are best action cameras under 200 as well. So if your budget is tight, you can go for these, and trust us, they don’t compromise on quality.
Can I Find the Best GoPro Alternative?
Yes, you can. There are many cameras like GoPro, and Yi, Sony, and DJI manufacture the best ones. They are not exactly like the Hero series but cut quite close, and some of the features they hold are better than what best GoPro Cameras provide.
Are action cameras also 360-degree cameras?
No. Not all action cameras are 360 video cameras. But some high-end action cameras do sport this feature. The best 360 action camera you will find out there is GoPro Max.
So if you are looking for POV cameras, aka the best action cameras, hold tight to this guide. First, look at your requirement, your budget and then use the knowledge we have imparted to make the final decision.
Remember, don’t just go for a cheap one to save a few bucks. The poor quality and build design can easily destroy your adventure recording. Moreover, don’t go for GoPro because it’s a renowned name. There are other best action cameras out there too. Give them a chance, especially if your budget is not high for a Hero.
Our advice for you is to go through all the cameras listed above and read their specifications carefully. You will surely find something that clicks with your action and wallet!