With an increase in the need and use of action cameras, there comes a wide range of action cameras, pricing from $50 to $500 and featuring 4K or even 5K recording, waterproof capability, live streaming, and more.
With so many choices, it is difficult to decide whether an action camera is the right choice for you and if there is a better alternative. We have studied more than 70 action cameras available in the market for 2021 and have selected these best action cameras based on different needs. The list will be updated regularly to make sure you can always get the latest information.
What is an Action Camera?
As a kind of digital camera that allows for recording action while being immersed in it, action cameras can be useful anywhere; they are helpful at home, at places of recreation, and even at work.
Typically, action cameras come as digitally compact, rugged, and waterproof devices that can be used for sports, hunting, fishing, motorcycling, and more. Also, they can also record 4K/HD videos at up to 60fps or even 120fps, which makes them perfect for YouTube, live streaming, vlogging, etc.
12 BEST ACTION CAMERAS
The quest to find the best action cameras can be rather tricky. We select the following action cameras based on the specifications, the price, the advantage (pros), and the disadvantages (cons). Without further ado, let’s analyze these top 12 action cameras in 2020.
Best budget action camera - AKASO Brave 7
Video: 4K/30fps | Image: 20MP
Waterproof: 5M/16FT | Battery life: 112 mins
Price: $159.99 | Dimensions: 6.2 x 4.1 x 3.2 cm
Highlights: Dual-screen design
As AKASO‘s latest flagship in 2021, Brave 7 is packed with a bunch of new features that are exclusive to new devices, including the front-facing screen like GoPro Hero 9 and IPX8 waterproof without a case.
A front-facing display has been missed out on action cameras until DJI OSMO Action. GoPro Hero9 has also adopted the dual-screen design to add a new front-facing screen for users to frame themselves. Now the clever design is also available on AKASO's Brave 7, which is only half the price of Hero9.
And it also features IPX8 waterproof, a new underwater functionality that only can be found in action cameras at twice the price, which enables the camera to take videos 5M underwater.
With six-axis gyro image stabilization, Brave 7 can deliver stable 4K videos at 30fps.
- ✓ A new front-facing display
- ✓ IPX8 Waterproof without case
- ✓ Powerful features at an affordable price
- ✓ Mountable accessories in the box
- X No 5K video recording
- X Shorter battery life
Sony RX0 II
Video: 4K/30 fps | Image: 15.3MP
Waterproof: 10M(33FT) | Battery life: 60 mins
Price: $699.99 | Dimensions: 2.4 x 1.6 x 1.3 inches
Highlights: 1.0-type (13.2mm x 8.8mm) Exmor RS CMOS sensor, wide-angle ZEISS® Tessar T* 24-mm3 F4 lens
This action camera from Sony comes with exquisite features for users. RX0 II is a great camera that delivers high-quality images anywhere. Its design makes it simple to pack and store. It also comes with an F4 lens that produces quality images.
- ✓ High quality 4K videos with CMOS sensor
- ✓ Crushproof metal design
- ✓ Tiltable Flip screen for taking selfies
- ✓ Waterproof without case
- X Very expensive for an action camera
- X Non-touch screen
Best action camera 2020- GoPro Hero 9 Black
Video: 5K/30 fps | Image: 20MP
Waterproof: 10M(33FT) | Battery life: 120 mins
Price: $399.99 | Dimensions: 71.0 x 55.0 x 33.6 mm
Highlights: front-facing screen, 5K video recording
Hero 9, the newest GoPro model, bring two main changes comparing to its predecessor: a brand-new front-facing screen and 5K video. With a 1.4-inch front color display, taking selfies and vlogging with this GoPro Hero 9 is easier than ever, although Osmo Action has taken the first step on the front-facing display. While other action cameras are bragging about 4K video, Hero 9 levels it up to 5K videos, which you can enjoy on devices like 5K iMac or laptops with 5K display. Moreover, the GoPro 2020 also improves the image stabilization capability with HyperSmooth 3.0.
- ✓ First action camera with 5K recording
- ✓ Dual-screen design
- ✓ Longer battery life
- ✓ Removable lens
- X Heavy
- X Touchscreen responsiveness issue
Best action camera 2019 - GoPro Hero 8 Black
Video: 4K/60 fps | Image: 12MP
Waterproof: 10M(33FT) | Battery life: 50 mins
Price: $299.99 | Dimensions: 6.2 x 3.2 x 4.5 cm
Highlights: Improved image stabilization, new Mods attachments
This product comes with top-notch features such as a streamlined design. The streamlined design makes the camera even more portable. Also, the design allows for a quick change of batteries and allows you to swap mounts easily. It allows for an awesome night lapse video in 4k, 2.7k. 1440p or 1080p. Added to its exquisite design, it features high-fidelity audio with three mics and reduced wind noise.
- ✓ Excellent image stabilization
- ✓ New built-in light & mic mount
- ✓ Improved audio quality
- X No significant improvement compared to Hero7
- X No front display
- X Poor low-light performance
Best action camera under 100 AKASO EK7000
Video: 4K/25 fps | Image: 12MP
Waterproof: 30M(98FT) with case | Battery life: 90 mins
Price: $49.99 | Dimensions: 6 x 4.2 x 3.1 cm
Highlights: Extremely affordable
AKASO EK7000 is the best value action camera that you can get for only $49.99. It offers 4K video recording at up to 25 fps and electronic image stabilization to deliver smooth videos when the camera needs to capture footage in motion. It has a waterproof case for you to take videos underwater. The camera is operated by a touch screen, which is easy and intuitive, even for kids.
- ✓ Decent video quality at an affordable price
- ✓ Touch screen
- ✓ 15 mounts and accessories included in the box
- ✓ Multiple modes: time lapse, loop recording, etc
- X Waterproof case is needed when using underwater
- X No external mic supported
Best 360 action camera - Insta360 One R
Video: 5.3K | Image: 6080 x 3040
Waterproof: 5M | Battery life: 70 mins
Price: $449.99 | Dimensions: 7.2 x 4.8 x 4.3 cm
Highlights: Super 5.7K 360° capture
Amazingly, these cameras have a stabilization feature. With the flow-state stabilization, you can achieve a gimbal stabilization even without the gimbal. The Dual-Lens 360 Mod raises the bar with a super 5.7k resolution. Also, it leverages H.265 encoding, advanced image processing, and an AI-powered finishing algorithm to give you premium footage. Please note that the specs below are for the dual-lens 360.
- ✓ Multiple lens：360 lens，4K wide-angle lens
- ✓ 5.7K 360° Capture
- ✓ Gimbal-like stabilization
- ✓ Reversible screen
- X Small screen size
Best action camera for live streaming - DJI Osmo Action
Video: 4K/60fps | Image: 12MP
Waterproof: 11M | Battery life: 63 mins
Price: $199 | Dimensions: 65×42×35 mm
Highlights: 4K/60fps, front-facing display
This camera comes with dual screens, allowing you to capture that moment with just the touch of a button. Also, the camera is waterproof and is -10 degrees Celsius temperature resistant. An additional top feature is its rocksteady technology. The RockSteady technology ensures stable and shake-free footage every step of the way. Asides from these other features, it comes to a voice control tech that allows five voice commands.
- ✓ Great image stabilization
- ✓ Forward-facing screen
- ✓ Vivid image quality
- X No stabilization for HDR video
- X Stabilization not as GoPro
Best battery life action camera - OLYMPUS Tough TG-Tracker
Video: 4K/30fps | Image: 12MP
Waterproof: 30M(100 FT) | Battery life: 90 mins
Price: $399.99| Dimensions: 1.37 x 2.22 x 3.67 inches
Highlights: 5 built-in sensors to record GPS, eCompass, Accelerometer, Thermometer, and Barometer
Designed for adventure, Tough TG-Tracker supports continuous shooting at 4K/30 fps for 95 minutes and 480 shots for still image. And as a tough camera, it is not only waterproof and shockproof but also dustproof and up to -10°C freezeproof to help you take a good shot in any circumstance.
- ✓ Crushproof to 220 lbf (100 kgf), shockproof from 7 ft (2.1 m), freezeproof to 14°F (-10°C), and dustproof
- ✓ Tilt-out LCD monitor
- ✓ GPS for latitude and longitude
- X Non-touch screen
- X No front-facing screen
Best 4K action camera - Yi 4K+ Action Camera
Video: 4K/60fps | Image: 12MP
Waterproof: 130 FT with case | Battery life: 70 mins
Price: $344.99| Dimensions: 2.56 x 0.83 x 1.65 inches
Highlights: First action camera to take 4K at 60fps
Impressively, this camera has features like 4k/60fps, 12MP, and an H.264 .mp4 file format. Also, it includes a 155 degrees ultra-wide lens, making the photo and video experience much better than ever. It also comes with about five voice commands like take photos, shoot burst, begin recording, stop recording, and turn off.
- ✓ mage stabilization for 4K videos
- ✓ Touch screen
- ✓ Voice control
- X No waterproof without a case
Is it worth buying an action camera?
You have your smartphone with brilliant cameras and you might also have a compact camera or even DSLR, so you wonder: do I really need an action camera? Or is an action camera worth it? The short answer is: yes, a great action camera is totally worth it, but the key is to figure out what you want to do with the action cam before you make a purchase.
There are many good reasons why it is worth buying an action camera. For example, it is a small camera with image stabilization that you can carry everywhere to capture videos when in motion. It is perfect for cycling, motorcycle, hunting, vlogging, traveling, hiking, in which other digital cameras are too bulky and inconvenient. Also, most action cameras are waterproof and can be taken into the deep sea. That's why surfers and divers need action cameras for their adventures. And action cameras often come with mounts, which let you put the camera on any place you need to capture as much as you need.
Action cameras are convenient if you need to capture what is happening when you are immersing in what you are doing. It sets your hands free and is able to take clear and crisp shots even in extreme situations.
What is the best alternative to a GoPro?
GoPro is the most well-known action camera. With a great reputation, it comes at a high price. That's why many people are looking for GoPro alternatives with the best value. The good news is that there are many great options whether you need a cheaper alternative to GoPro or a strong competitor to GoPro.