Looking for the best action camera for your needs? Congratulations – you’ve landed in the right place.
Action cameras are unlike any other kind of camera. They’re designed to be attached to helmets, surfboards, cars and other objects, and they’re small, tough and simple to operate, with a lens that captures the world in high-definition video.
Their small size and dramatic POV (‘point of view’) footage has made them popular with extreme sports participants, who capture their adventures by attaching cameras to themselves or their equipment. They’re also used by TV production companies where using a regular video camera would be impossible.
You don’t have to be an adrenaline-junkie or filming your own TV show. Action cameras are also great fun for the family, especially on days out or vacations when you simply want to hit record and document you time together.
BEST ACTION CAMERA
GoPro Hero7 Black
Delivering silky-smooth 4K video footage, a streamlined design and excellent image stabilization, the Hero7 Black is the best action camera you can buy right now.
Read our in-depth GoPro Hero7 Black review
Who makes the best action camera though? GoPro is without question the market leader – in fact, they invented this whole action camera genre. They’re not alone though, with a number of new rivals out there to tempt you.
When it comes to key features on action cameras, most now shoot 4K footage, though some do these better than others, offering faster frame rates for buttery-smooth footage, while the very best action cameras have slick image stabilization systems to make the most of this.
While action cameras are principally for shooting video, the best action cameras also shoot pretty decent still images as well, though don’t expect anything better than a point-and-shoot compact camera.
Other features to consider when looking for the best action camera include Wi-Fi, GPS and touchscreen control. These all bump up the price, and while they are invaluable in some situations, you can still get great footage without them.
Before we look at our top picks of the best action cameras you can buy right now, GoPro has just announced three new action cameras.
The top of the range GoPro Hero7 Black replaces Hero6 Black and is our best action camera pick right now. We’d even recommend you now avoid the Hero6 Black. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not a bad action camera at all, it’s very good, but with the price of the older model only a few dollars or pounds less than the Hero7 Black, you’re better off spending your money on the newer model.
Best action cameras in 2019
1. GoPro Hero7 Black
The new king of action cameras
Weight: 118g | Waterproof: 10m | 4K video: up to 60fps | 1080: up to 240fps | 720: up to 240fps | Stills resolution: 12MP | Battery life: 1-3hrs est
Great 4K video and image quality
HyperSmooth is very effective
Can struggle with voice commands
Screen unresponsive at times
While it may share pretty much of the same headline video specs as the Hero6 Black that it replaces, the Hero7 Black offers a number of big improvements. The most significant of this is the addition of GoPro’s all-new HyperSmooth image stabilization technology. It really is very impress, delivering gimbal-smooth video footage.
TimeWarp video is a further new feature, one that combines the idea of regular frame-by-frame time-lapse shooting (which you can still do separately) with HyperSmooth – essentially, a stabilised hyperlapse, while the user interface has been overhauled for a much better user experience.
Delivering buttery-smooth 4K video footage the Hero7 Black is the best action camera you can buy.
2. Yi 4K+ Action Camera
The world’s best value action camera
Weight: 93g | Waterproof: N/A (optional case available) | 4K video: up to 60fps | 1080: up to 120fps | 720: up to 240fps | Stills resolution: 12MP | Battery life: Up to 2hrs
Sharp 4K/60fps video
Colorful JPEG and RAW photos
No GPS tagged locations
No mounts in the box
If you’re aquatic-minded, or you need to know exactly where you were, and how fast you are going when you took a video, buy a GoPro Hero7 Black.
However, if you’re more interested in saving money on features you didn’t even want, the Yi 4K+ Action Camera is one of the simplest and best designed gadgets around.
Everyone considering buying an action cam should have a look at the Yi 4K+ Action Camera because it’s almost exactly the same and, in some ways, even better than a GoPro.
3. GoPro Hero7 Silver
Weight: 118g | Waterproof: 10m | 4K video: Up to 30fps | 1080: up to 60fps | 720: up to 60fps | Stills resolution: 10MP | Battery life: 1-3hrs est
Pleasing 4K video quality
Easy to use
LCD can be unresponsive at times
Limited image capture control
While the Hero 7 Black is the top of the GoPro pile, the Silver fills the void beneath this and while it can’t quite pull off all the fancy tricks as its big brother, it’s priced far aggressively, especially once you see just how much tech you still get.
This includes stabilised 4K video recording, waterproofing down to 10m, together with a 2-inch touchscreen on the back and Voice Control that allows you to instruct the camera to perform almost all main functions without you raising a finger. A fine choice for first-time users.
4. Sony RX0 II
The world’s smallest 4K video cam
Weight: 132g | Waterproof: 1m | 4K video: up to 30fps | 1080: up to 120fps | 720: up to 960fps | Stills resolution: 15.3MP | Battery life: Approx. 2hrs
The RX0 II is part action camera, part stills camera. This tiny second-generation camera boasts a large 1-inch sensor (just like Sony’s premium compacts) that can shoot 15.3MP still images, while there’s a top class Zeiss Tessar T* 24mm f/4 fixed wide-angle lens.
Not only ultra compact, but crushproof and waterproof with it, the RX0 II can shoot 4K footage at 30fps and Full HD footage at 120fps. This second-generation model comes with a Soft Skin Effect mode and advanced Eye AF, while Sony’s also managed to squeeze in a tilt-able LCD screen (capable of tilting up to 180° and down by 90°).
It’s a bit fiddly to use and expensive, so doesn’t lend itself to the casual user, but for those looking for a rugged camera that can shoot great 4K footage, this shouldn’t be ignored.
5. Olfi One.Five Black
Cheap and extremely cheerful
Weight: 60g | Waterproof: 30m (with case) | 4K-video: up to 30fps | 1080: up to 120fps | 720: up to 240fps | Stills resolution: 16MP | Battery life:: 1 hour 20 mins
Fool-proof menu system
Impressive picture quality
Mounts and accessories feel cheap
App is basic and clunky
There’s not much an Olfi one.five owner is left wanting, despite the unit costing half the price of GoPro’s leading camera.
GPS, voice activation and the ability to link external sensors, such as Garmin’s numerous cycling products, are just a few things missing from the package, but for those who simply want to capture good-looking footage without breaking the bank, there’s very little to complain about.
6. GoPro Hero5 Black
If you don’t need the latest and greatest, this is still a good buy
Weight: 118g | Waterproof: 10m | 4K video: up to 30fps | 1080: up to 120fps | 720: up to 240fps | Stills resolution: 12MP | Battery life: 1-3hrs est
Voice-activated camera controls
Improved video and image quality
Not as sturdy as previous gen
Editing on desktop still clunky
It may have been overshadowed by both the Hero6 Black and Hero7 Black, but the Hero5 Black still has a lot to offer. Shooting 4K footage up to 30fps, video footage is incredibly smooth, while the ability to shoot stills in raw format brings even more flexibility.
Waterproof down to 10m without the need for a protective case, it’s also simple to use, while the addition of a rear touchscreen, voice control and GPS make it one of the most feature-packed cams currently available.
The great news is that it’s never been cheaper, making it an even more tempting proposition.
7. Yi 4K Action Camera
A 4K action camera at a cheap price
Weight: 94g | Waterproof: N/A (optional case available) | 4K video: up to 30fps | 1080: up to 120fps | 720: up to 240fps | Stills resolution: 12MP | Battery life: Up to 2hrs
Smooth 1080p at 120fps
Weighs just 94g
Can’t shoot stills in raw format
Image stabilization could be better
How often do you take an action cam underwater? If the answer’s not a lot, then the Yi 4K Action Camera could be for you. While there’s an optional underwater case available, the camera isn’t waterproof.
There is a large and responsive touchscreen, a big battery and a fast file transfers however, and while it may lack a few niceties – and we would include lens distortion correction and image stabilization in that list – the Yi 4K Action Camera remains a great value addition to any adventurer’s kit bag.
8. GoPro Hero (2018)
Back to basics, and all the better for it
Weight: 118g | Waterproof: 10m | 4K video: N/A | 1080: up to 60fps | 720: N/A | Stills resolution: 10MP | Battery life: Up to 2hrs
Easy to use
No exposure control
No sub-Full HD quality options
We can’t all afford a GoPro Hero7 Black, but you can still grab yourself a relatively recent GoPro Hero model if you’re on a budget. Understandably, this cost-effective alternative misses out on a handful of features, like 4K video recording and HyperSmooth stabilization, but it still captures good Full HD footage and is waterproof straight out of the box, with the 2-inch touchscreen that graces the back making it just as simple to operate as its bigger brothers.
9. TomTom Bandit
Shake-to-edit features could tempt users away from GoPro
Weight: 190g | Waterproof: Splashproof, with lens swap | 4K video: up to 15fps | 1080: up to 60fps | 720: up to 120fps | Stills resolution: 16MP | Battery life: 3hrs
GoPro mount option
Easy to use
Heavier than some rivals
Needs separate cover for waterproofing
Bullet shape cams might have fallen out of fashion recently thanks to GoPro and its box-shaped cameras, but the TomTom Bandit bucks the trend. In fact, the Bandit packs features that other manufacturers will need to follow if they’re to keep up with this newcomer.
Taking years of GPS experience, TomTom has built in a series of sensors that not only record location but speed and G-force too, so that when these sensors pick up that something exciting has happened they automatically tag the footage.
Back in the pub and with the app open and connected, a quick shake of your phone and the app will automatically edit your footage ready for upload. It really couldn’t be easier.
10. Olympus TG-Tracker
The next generation of sensor enabled action cameras has arrived
Weight: 180g | Waterproof: 30m | 4K video: up to 30fps | 1080: up to 60fps | 720: up to 240fps | Stills resolution: 7.2MP | Battery life: 3hrs
GPS and motion sensors
4K video at 30fps
Screen doesn’t rotate
App and software need work
The TG-Tracker’s futuristic design is hard to miss with an ultra wide 204 degree lens. Headline video resolutions include 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps and an impressive 240fps at 720p for slow motion capture. This is an action camera ready for anything and even features a small LED video light built in.
Sensors are the big news for the Tracker with GPS, compass, acceleration sensors plus a barometer and thermometer all capturing data from inside the compact case. The intel from these can all be displayed when viewing back the footage or in the video edit so you can show just how extreme you are.
What’s more, it’s waterproof to 30m, features built in stabilization and can withstand temperatures down to -10C.
DJI Osmo Action
Fancy a full-color screen on the front? You got it
Weight: 124g | Waterproof: 11m | 4K video: up to 60fps | 1080: up to 240fps | 720: 240fps | Stills resolution: 12MP | Battery life: Up to 2hrs 15 mins
Super-useful front-facing screen
Great HDR video color
GoPro video quality a little better
No stabilization in HDR video
The idea of an action camera with a front-facing screen isn’t exactly new, but the Osmo Action has a full colour display that lets you see everything that’s going on. That makes it super useful when framing up your footage or stills, where you may otherwise be simply guessing what’s right. But on top of that USP is a raft of other goodies, from RockSteady stabilization to help keep footage smooth and HDR video for better detail in highlights and shadows. You also get 11m waterproofing straight out of the box, together with Voice Control, 8x slow-mo video recording and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in. Arguably the strongest challenger yet to GoPro’s flagship Hero7 Black – and at a damn good price too.
DJI Osmo Pocket
A pocketable DJI gimbal that records 4K video
Weight: 116g | Waterproof: N/A | 4K video: up to 60fps | 1080: up to 120fps | 720: N/A | Stills resolution: 12MP | Battery life: Up to 2hrs
Miniaturized gimbal stabilization
Records 4K video up to 60fps
Audio isn’t great in all situations
Not nearly as durable as a GoPro
Though not technically a action camera, DJI’s Osmo Pocket is still going after the same audience. While it’s not as rugged as dedicated action camera rivals, the Osmo Pocket has a clever trick up its sleeve in the shape of a built-in gimbal.
Gimbals as designed to counteract unwanted movement and help you shoot super-smooth videos – while GoPro’s Hero7 Black has some clever image stabilization tricks, there’s no substitute for dedicated hardware. The Osmo Pocket features three-axis stabilized gimbal and measures just four inches tall.
The 1/2.3-inch sensor is capable of recording 12MP still images and 4K video footage up to 60fps, while there are built-in dual microphones that use advanced noise-canceling algorithms, which DJI says should ensure that you capture high-quality audio to match your footage. We’ve already got our hands on one, and you can see what we think by clicking the link below.