Facebook Pixel Code
 

Best Action Cameras

Updated October 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 54 Models Considered
  • 7 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 143 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best action cameras

    Last Updated October 2018

    Whether you attach an action camera to a drone to capture a scenic view or clip it to your helmet as you cycle through rush hour, the obscure and fantastic footage caught on action cameras today is must-see viewing.

    As early as the 1960s, photography enthusiasts who wanted to take their hobby to the next level began attaching cameras to helmets. That was the beginning of a change in the camera industry that eventually lead to tiny cameras that could produce quality videos in the most rugged of conditions. Today, action cameras are popular among those who want to record moving images as if they were in the action themselves.

    The product list above details our five favorites, and the shopping guide below covers answers to consumer questions and tips for making your shopping decision easier.

    So focus your lens, zip up your jacket, and head out into the elements with us as we explore the best products in the action camera field.

    Action camera features to consider

    If you’ve ever shopped for a regular camera, you know there are certain features you just have to have … and some you can do without. An action camera is no different. Depending on how and where you plan to use your action camera, certain features will come in handy.

    Image quality

    Because you want your footage to be lifelike, image quality makes all the difference. Most action cameras have at least HD, which produces images of 1080p. The photos and video that you take with an HD action camera will have the crisp, share-worthy quality so many photographers crave. Ultra HD and 4K produce sharper images that are even more vibrant. Thanks to these higher resolutions, there is very little pixel graininess in these images.

    Megapixels (mp) are also worth considering when it comes to image quality. Eight mp is fairly standard for cameras and smartphones, so it’s a good idea to use that as a guide when choosing an action camera. An action camera with lower than eight mp may look grainy compared to what you’re used to with your smartphone or digital camera.

    Stabilization

    Whether you are zooming through the woods on your mountain bike or scuba diving in the ocean, you want action photos and videos that are smooth and free of blur. That’s where stabilization comes into play. Action cameras have both built-in stability control and the stability they get from being fixed to the moving object. Higher-end models have enhanced stabilization that makes shooting images in motion easy to do.

    Build quality

    If you’re headed outdoors to catch the action, you’ll want to think about the build quality of your action camera. Budget models are typically less durable, while higher-end options have exteriors that are designed to withstand the bumps and drops that inevitably occur in action-packed situations.

    Seamless Quality

    The GoPro HERO6 provides quick playback of photos and video and speedy WiFi connectivity for easy sharing. It stands out from the crowd for its enhanced stabilization, which allows you to shoot seamlessly in almost any action-packed setting. Although it comes with a learning curve, anyone who wants to shoot professional-level images is bound to love the GoPro HERO6.

    Waterproofing

    Most action cameras have some degree of waterproofing. While many models can be submerged once placed in special waterproof covers, others are submersible to around 10 meters (about 33 feet) without a special case. The latter type of action camera tends to cost more, but it’s worth it for avid snorkelers, swimmers, and divers who have a flair for photography.

    Storage

    Though action cameras have varying degrees of built-in storage, SD cards are required for added space. Choosing a camera with more GBs of storage space will grant you longer recording time and fewer SD card changes. Notably, the higher the HD resolution, the more storage space your images will require.

    Bluetooth and WiFi

    Not all action cameras have both Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, but these features come in handy when sharing, saving, and emailing your favorite images. They’re must-haves for live streaming that make it easy to share your videos and photos without the need for an SD card or reader.

    Accessories

    It’s common for action cameras to come with some of the basics, such as adapters and rechargeable batteries. Some models come with accessory packages or can be purchased in bundles. These added accessories may include various attachment brackets, SD cards, headstraps, cases, and more.

    EXPERT TIP

    When mounting your action camera on a bike handle, helmet, or to another mobile device, attach the mounting unit very securely for stabilized, smoother images.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Shorter is considered to be better if you plan to shoot videos for online sharing. The reason: short videos tend to gain more traction with online viewers.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    If you like sharing photos and video on social media, an action camera with WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity can post your shots almost as fast as you take them.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Quality on a Budget

    If you want impressive action without the pro-level price, check out the GoPro HERO+. This model has functions that are easy enough for the beginner to use and an output that’s crisp and clear enough for anyone who wants to shoot memory-worthy images.

    Action camera prices

    Whether you’re a beginner looking for an easy-to-use action camera or a near-pro who wants a more sophisticated camera, there’s something for everyone on the action camera market.

    Low-priced action cameras

    Action cameras that fall on the lower end of the price scale between $75 and $150 are affordable and easy to use, but they tend to lack some handy features, such as high-resolution imagery and WiFi connectivity. They are also somewhat less durable than higher-priced options. However, you can still find affordable waterproof options.

    Mid-priced action cameras

    In the mid-level price range, you’ll find action cameras that cost between $200 and $350. These are more durable than their low-cost competitors and offer more features, including sharper video quality and reliable waterproofing. Hobbyists with slightly more photography knowledge than beginners would do well with a mid-priced action camera.

    High-end action cameras

    High-end action cameras in the $400 to $700 range are ideal for frequent users, those who wish to capture extreme motion, and even professionals. They typically feature ultra HD images, superior stabilization, reliable Bluetooth and/or WiFi capabilities, spacious storage capacity, and rugged build quality.

    If you want to take your action images to the next level, choose a model with 4K capabilities. Also referred to as ultra HD, 4K photos and video have higher resolution that regular HD, which makes the action in your action shots seem ever more alive. Some action cameras can be submerged for underwater photos or video footage.

    FAQ

    Q. Why would I need an action camera if I already have a smartphone camera?

    A. If you want a hardy device that can record “action” without breaking easily, an action camera should be on your shopping list. A smartphone camera simply can’t withstand the rigorous environments (high speeds, extreme weather, and so on) that an action camera is designed to handle.

    Q. Can I edit my footage while in the device?

    A. Possibly. It depends on the software that comes with each camera and whether it needs to be connected to a computer or not.

    Q. What happens if I record more footage than the device can hold?

    A. Usually the device will stop recording and give you some kind of indication that the memory card is full. Always begin a recording session with an empty card.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alvina
      Alvina
      Photographer
    • Amos
      Amos
      Director of Photography
    • Branson
      Branson
      Videographer
    • Ciera
      Ciera
      Production Assistant
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Vukan
      Vukan
      Post Production Editor

    BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
    and give us feedback about your visit today.

    Take Survey