If you want the best action camera, you’re spoil for choice. Most folk would simply go for the best GoPro, but there are plenty of alternatives which are cheaper, smarter or offer better quality (but not all three, which is why GoPro is still at the top!).
1- DJI Osmo Action
DJI is best known for producing some of the best drones around and also handheld gimbal camera stabilizers) – but has turned its attention to the action camera market with the arrival of the Osmo Action. It look and feels like it has been made to be a direct competitor to the GoPro Hero7 Black – and does a real good job of giving the GoPro a run for its money. We particularly like the addition of a full-color front LCD display – which makes it one of the best action cams for selfie sequences or vlogging.
DJI’s entry in the action cam market brings a front-facing selfie screen
Weight: 134g | Waterproof: 11m | 4K video: up to 60fps | 1080: up to 240fps | 720: up to 240fps | Stills resolution: 12MP | Battery life: 1-2.25hrs
Front color LCD monitor is great for vlogging. Excellent image stabilization. Doesn’t have all the accessory options of the GoPro range – The app needs some work
2- The DJI Pocket 2
It is an odd thing, describe this compact 4K video camera with the built-in motorised gimbal to someone, and inevitably they’ll come back with the fact that they could just use their mobile phone. Give the new DJI Pocket 2 Creator combo to someone for five minutes and they’ll be wanting one. With the new model, DJI has done enough to really differentiate between the features of the Pocket 2 and a Smartphone when it comes to all-out usability and video quality.
Weight: 116g | 4K video: up to 60fps | | Stills resolution: 34MP | Battery life: 140mn An upgraded 1/1.7 INCH SENSOR allows better image quality both during the day and night | Waterproof case available Here
3- Gopro 9
The ante just got upped. If you want the very best action camera around it’s got to be GoPro’s latest flagship. It’s true that the brand’s first action camera to feature a vlogging-style front-facing screen won’t be for everyone, but the appearance here also of 5K resolution surely makes it the front-runner.
Even if you’re not after 5K video as such, a new sensor allows you to get 14.7 MP grabs from 5K video, as well as take 20MP stills. It’s also got a a larger 2.27-inch display than the GoPro Hero8 Black, super-smooth Hypersmooth 3.0 video stabilization, TimeWarp 3.0 for handheld time-lapses, a travel case, and an upcoming Max Lens Mod accessory that will bring GoPro Max-style features like 360º horizon lock and an ultra-wide 155º Max SuperView mode.
The ultimate action camera – and now better value…
Weight: 158g | Waterproof: 10m | 5K video: up to 30fps | 4K video: up to 60fps | 1080: up to 240fps | 720: up to 240fps | Stills resolution: 20MP | Battery life: 1-3hrs estimate. Front-facing screen 20MP photos 14.7 MP grabs from video Larger physical size than other GoPros 5K video takes up a lot of memory
4- Sony RX0 Mark II
The Sony RX0 II is expensive but comes with features that make it definitely worth considering. Being able to shoot short bursts of slo-mo video at up to 1,000fps is one of them – you certainly can’t do that with a GoPro. And while the RX0 was capable of producing 4K UHD footage only to an external recorder, the RX0 Mark II can record 4K internally (and about time too). The 1-inch sensor produces beautiful images, whether shooting stills or video, expands the camera’s low-light efficacy and provides gorgeous dynamic range. It’s an expensive proposition to be sure, but if you need gorgeous slow-motion footage then there’s nothing better and you’re looking for ultimate image quality above all else, this is one the best action cameras to get right now. The Sony RX0 II also gets a flip-action front-facing screen, which makes it much more effective as a premium-quality vlogging and content creation tool.
The RX0 Mark II gets much needed internal 4K recording
Weight: 110g | Waterproof: 10m | 4K video: 30p | 1080: up to 1000fps | 720: up to 1000fps | Stills resolution: 15.3MP | Battery life: 60 mins. Large Exmor 1-inch sensor. Super-slow motion available. Front-facing selfie/vlogging screenVery expensive.
5- Garmin VIRB XE
Could you buy an action camera that only deals in Full HD resolution? The Garmin VIRB XE offers a compelling reason as to why you should. It’s waterproof to 50m without a case and can withstand temperatures as low as -10ºC, but this action camera isn’t just made of tough stuff. The Virb XE is also smart, with a suite of G-Metrix sensors that can measure GPS, compass direction, temperature and even speed, which adds an exciting layer of data to video. It can even get data from compatible ANT+ devices, such as heart rate devices and smartwatches. As a bonus, for those who think audio is just as important as video, a Bluetooth microphone can be attached to it.
Unbeatable waterproofing and a suite of sensors for data collection
Weight: 151g | Waterproof: 50m | 4K video: no | 1080: up to 60fps | 720: up to 120fps | Stills resolution: 12MP | Battery life: 2hrs. Waterproof to 50m Bluetooth audio options. Full HD only Expensive.
In 2012, I went cycling around New Zealand for two months, I was on a tight budget, I ordered a cheap one online. It was very small (ideal for bikepackers) and also extremely slow to connect to the internet and software like Photoshop and Premiere pro kept crashing all the time. Let’s say it was a great tool to test my patience.