For capturing your daring exploits, the best action cameras are necessary. After all, how will they know you actually did it if they don’t see what you’ve been up to?
All of the cameras on our list have unique abilities that make them perfect for the job. For protection against the elements, as well as against drops, spills, and falls, the majority have been ruggedized. Additionally, unlike other types of cameras, action cameras are small and portable, making them simple to tuck away in a bag or mount on a helmet, bike, skis, motorcycle, or even your dog.
Action cameras are portable camcorders that are compact, lightweight, wearable, mountable, and occasionally waterproof. They are practical because you can attach them to just about anything, including bicycles, skateboards, surfboards, helmets, body parts, and even your pets.
In the market, they have almost entirely displaced conventional camcorders. For wide shots and vlogs, family historians and aspiring filmmakers now use a GoPro or comparable camera, while smartphones and more recent mirrorless cameras are the preferred equipment for home movies.
Action cameras can be used professionally as well. When possible, use a camera with a large sensor and swappable lenses, but modern action cams can record video that is good enough to be edited.
What is the purpose of an action camera?
The top action cameras are small, robust, and simple to use. Action cams can be used to record footage in situations where most standard cameras would not be able to due to their robust construction. Action cams are also great for recording smooth video while you’re moving around because the best models have excellent image stabilization.
To document their adventurous activities, such as mountain biking, skydiving, or snowboarding, many people use action cameras. Some outdoor enthusiasts use the best action cams, which are waterproof, to record underwater video while swimming or diving or to record watersports. The majority of action cameras come with a variety of mounts, making it simple to fasten them to your handlebars, helmet, or even a strap that goes around your chest. As a result, you ought to always be able to find an appropriate attachment.
Action cameras can be installed inside cars as well, either to record the road like a dash cam replacement or to record what the driver is doing. Action cameras are installed in some motorsport series cars to record racing drivers.
However, not everyone uses action cameras for risky activities. Many vloggers use models like the GoPro Hero 10 Black to capture videos for social media because they are simple to use, have innovative shooting modes, and provide excellent connectivity options (including support for live streaming). Due to their image stabilization and small size, action cameras are excellent for recording while moving around.
For shooting slow-motion b-roll or capturing additional angles to add variety to their videos, some content producers use action cameras as a second camera in addition to their primary mirrorless model.
Best action cameras for travel bloggers, according to a list
- GoPro Hero11 Black
The GoPro Hero11 Black has a sizable 8:7 aspect-ratio, 1/1.9-inch image sensor. In addition to allowing you to record expansive views, this format’s square shape also gives you more editing flexibility. You can export your video from the GoPro Quik app in a variety of formats, including the TikTok-friendly 9:16 aspect ratio.
The Hero11 Black’s superior image stabilization, which allows you to rotate the camera 360 degrees while maintaining a level horizon, also makes it the best action camera overall. Additionally, new shooting options let you record star trails and experiment with light painting, and GoPro’s Quik app makes video editing a real pleasure.
- Insta360 One R
The battery, control, and camera blocks make up the Insta360 One R, a properly modular action camera. As a result, you can switch between a 360-degree camera and a 4K action camera as needed to suit your shooting situation. Even a 1-inch sensor block is present (see the Insta360 One R 1-Inch Edition at number 2). But does this entry-level model live up to its claim that it is three cameras in one? Yes, in many ways. When clipped together, the One R is just a little bit bigger than the Hero 8 Black and feels surprisingly sturdy, though you must fit the mounting case to make it water resistant. Additionally, the image quality is stable and sharp, with good detail in the shadows.
However, it struggles in other areas. For example, the image processing (at least on the 4K module) fell short of the Hero 8 Black or Hero 9 Black, and the 1.3-inch touchscreen is inadequate for framing 16:9 video. But keep in mind that the dual-lens package is less expensive than the GoPro Max by itself.
- GoPro Max
The GoPro Hero 8 Black and Hero 9 Black continue to be better options if all you want to do is capture traditional action camera footage (i.e., non-360 video) at the highest quality. However, the Max is definitely worth taking into consideration if you like the idea of being able to edit your videos after they’ve been shot and are looking for excellent audio quality.
The most expensive action camera from GoPro shoots spherical 5.6K video using two fisheye lenses, which you can later convert into standard 2D video using OverCapture software. It also has six microphones for audio recording, which is excellent but not quite as good as GoPro’s “shotgun mic,” TimeWarp shooting modes, and built-in mounting fingers so you won’t need an additional mount to attach it to anything.
The drawbacks include the fact that it can’t quite compete with the Hero 8 Black or Hero 9 Black in low light situations and that it can’t produce the best 2D video quality (due to the need to convert it from a fish-eye image and the maximum 1440/60p resolution). However, it continues to be the top waterproof, 360-degree action camera available.
- DJI Action 2
As long as you’re okay with its limitations, the DJI Action 2 might just be the better option for you. It’s a neat, modular alternative to GoPro’s action cameras. You can purchase the tiny metallic cube known as the Action 2 with one of two additional units (either a standard battery, or a battery with a second screen for vlogging). We particularly liked the magnetic mounting experience because it is much easier to use than GoPro mounts. It’s a real treat if you enjoy gadgets.
The Action 2 overheated quite a bit when recording 4K video, and we found that recordings were limited to about five minutes. This indicates that it’s a great action camera for people who want to take quick videos. Additionally, while the front touchscreen module and power module are both water-resistant with a case, the main unit is only waterproof to a depth of 10 meters. Even so, if those issues aren’t deal-breakers for you, we found that video captured in the daytime looked fantastic, and Horizon Steady—which enables you to tilt the Action 2 almost 180 degrees without distorting the image—is a handy action camera trick.
- DJI Osmo Action 3
The GoPro Hero 11 Black is superior in terms of overall image quality, but the DJI Osmo Action 3 is a much better value. It’s a tough tool with a long battery life and passable video capabilities, combining the power of the Action 2 with the iconic action cam styling of the original.
The DJI has excellent diving credentials thanks to its waterproofing to 16 meters, and its 155-degree field of view is wider than any GoPro’s. Action 3 faces difficulties when balancing exposure across the frame because of that expansive angle. The best also outperforms it in terms of detail and dynamic range, but it still produces visually appealing footage in bright lighting. Even though adjustment judder is noticeable in low-light situations, horizontal leveling is still excellent for the money.
Although DJI’s software interface is less ornamented than the Hero 11 Black, we thought it was very user-friendly, and the Memo app actually seemed more dependable than GoPro’s Quik alternative. Even though the portrait case isn’t as adaptable as the Hero 11 Black’s 8:7 sensor, the front touchscreen was useful when shooting alone, and its mounting system proved to be quickly switchable. The Action 3 is a solid and trustworthy option if you don’t require the best video quality available.
According to the needs of the majority of people, the action cameras we suggest above are the best available right now. We take into account the cost, customer reviews, and accessibility.