Action cameras are different from all other types of cameras. They are designed to be attached to helmets, surfboards, cars and other objects, and they are small, strong and easy to operate, with a lens that captures the world in high-definition video.
Their small size and dramatic POV (‘view of view’) images have made them popular with extreme athletes, who capture their adventures by attaching cameras to themselves or their equipment. They are also used by TV production companies where the use of an ordinary video camera is impossible.
You don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie or film your own TV show. Action cameras are also great fun for the family, especially on days out or holidays when you just want to shoot together and capture your time together.
Best action cameras in 2019
GoPro Hero7 Black
While it can share quite a lot of the same headline video specs as the Hero6 Black that it replaces, the Hero7 Black offers some great improvements. The most important of these is the addition of GoPro’s all-new HyperSmooth image stabilization technology. It is really very impressive, delivering gimbal-smooth video images. TimeWarp video is another new feature, one that combines the idea of regular frame-by-frame time-lapse recordings (which you can still do separately) with HyperSmooth – essentially a stabilized hyperlapse, while the user interface has been overhauled for a much better user experience. The Hero7 Black is the best action camera you can buy, with butter soft 4K video.
Yi 4K+ Action Camera
If you are watery, or you need to know exactly where you were, and how fast you go when you take 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. Anyone considering buying an action cam should take a look at the Yi 4K+ Action Camera because it’s almost exactly the same and in some ways even better than a GoPro.
GoPro Hero7 Silver
While the Hero 7 Black is the top of the GoPro pole, the Silver fills the void under this pole, and while it can’t quite pull out all the fancy tricks like its big brother, it’s much aggressively priced, especially once you see how much technology you still get. This includes stabilized 4K video recording, waterproofing to 10m, along with a 2-inch touch screen on the back and Voice Control that lets you instruct the camera to perform almost all important functions without having to raise a finger. A great choice for new users.
GoPro HERO6 Black
What’s not fun about the genre-defining GoPro HERO6 Black? Yes, it’s pricey, but the 4K video recording from the action camera with 60fps video is hard to beat. That’s partly because low-light performance has improved over the previous HERO5 Black, and excellent image stabilization to suppress camera shake, although there’s much more to choose from here than video quality alone. Speech activation is useful when your hands are full, and the waterproof design – up to 10 meters without any additional housing – makes it insanely usable. The same goes for the excellent Quik smartphone app, which comes with a QuikStories feature that automatically transfers and edits videos for you. With its many features, the GoPro HERO6 Black is the best action camera available.
Sony FDR-X3000 Action Camera
The highlight of Sony’s latest attempt at an action camera will be the Live View remote control – a wireless wrist-worn touch screen that lets you control the FDR-X3000 and watch a live broadcast from its ZEISS Tessar lens. In practice, this accessory is unreliable, but the FDR-X300 has much more to offer. Its 4K 30fps video is superb quality, with its impressive Balanced Optical SteadyShot proving to be the highlight; somehow making even the most unsteady handheld shots look smooth, Sony’s camera shake compensation technology is unsurpassed. As a bonus, Sony’s MPK-UWH1 waterproof housing inside the box makes the FDR-X3000 waterproof to 60m. This is one of the best Sony action cameras you can get.
Olfi One. Five.
Here is a small action camera with a large number of features. The One.Five is a tiny device that incorporates a Sony Exmor R CMOS sensor. Features include motion detection, time-lapse and loop recording. The latter continuously overwrites the oldest files so you can choose when to save the last minutes. This works well for action sports and just as well as a dash cam. However, his 4K video claim comes with reservations; not only will the 4K video probably mock the 24fps of the Olfi One.Five – GoPro and Yi now go up to 60fps – but, worse still, his 4K video is actually interpolated by a 2.8K sensor, so it’s all a bit of a fudge. His smartphone app isn’t much either, and his battery life is short. At its core – and especially with the optional 30m waterproof plastic housing – the Olfi One.Five is an affordable action camera for cyclists and even riders.
TOMTOM BANDIT ACTION CAMERA
Thought TomTom only made navigation devices and clocks? Well, you’re wrong. They also make this pretty rugged action camera. The TomTom Bandit is the perfect flat shape that you can attach to the side of your helmet when mountain biking, snowboarding or off-roading.
The TomTom software automatically processes the material (with GPS and motion sensor) so it’s a good choice when you’re holding your hand when you’re new to video editing.
The Bandit is certainly one of the heaviest in our best action camera guide, but it’s easy to use and records great footage. Bonus: It’s compatible with GoPro mounts.
DRIFT GHOST 4K
A range of resolution and frame rate options ensure you get the best footage for every situation. For quieter shots, the maximum 4K Ultra HD resolution of 30 frames per second lets your antics shine on the screen.
Digital image stabilization starts at less than 1080p, taming the vibrations of the high-octane effect and producing fluid material.
The camera’s flat design and rugged outer shell make the Ghost 4K ideal for two-wheeled adventures (mounted on bars or helmets) or as an accessory with Drift’s waterproof housing to explore depths up to 40m.