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Compare the best action cameras

Capture clear footage of your most extreme adventures.

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While you could rely on your smartphone, action cameras are built for rugged adventure — durability and mounting features mean you can take them virtually anywhere. Prices typically range from $150 to $1,000 or more, depending on the number of features, the brand and any additional accessories you may need, like mounting gear, tripods and waterproof cases.

Top HD action cameras

NameAvg. price
(USD)
Waterproof?Weight (g)Photo resolutionPurchase
SJCAM SJ7 Star
SJCAM SJ7 Star
$188.99Up to 30m7412MPBuy now
Olfi One.Five
Olfi One.Five
$179.99Up to 30m5516MPBuy now
Yi 4K+
Yi 4K+
$219.99No9312MPBuy now
Sony FDR-X3000
Sony FDR-X3000
$389.99Up to 60m11412MPBuy now
TomTom Bandit
TomTom Bandit
$No19016MPBuy now
GoPro HERO7
GoPro HERO7
$346.67Up to 10m11612MPBuy now
Olympus Tough TG-Tracker
Olympus Tough TG-Tracker
$199.00Up to 30m1807.2MPBuy now
Garmin VIRB XE
Garmin VIRB XE
$174.95Up to 50m151.712MPBuy now
GoPro Fusion
GoPro Fusion
$581.00Up to 5m22018MPBuy now
Data obtained February 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Pros

Action cams are small, rugged video cameras that can record footage in almost any conditions. They are specifically designed to capture sports, action and extreme activities and can be used hands-free with a range of mounting hardware. They are easy to set up and use, even for the most novice photographers.

The following are some of the best features of action cams:

  • Durability. Many action cams are built to withstand mud, sand and freezing temperatures. Others are completely waterproof and can be used down to 200 feet below the surface.
  • Ease of use. Action cameras don’t require any previous photography knowledge or expertise. They usually have only a few buttons so that you won’t have to mess around with any settings when you’re in the field.
  • Portability. Action cams are smaller than a typical digital camera or camcorder and can typically fit in a pocket or small bag.
  • Ultra HD quality. Many action cams shoot 4K or ultra high-definition video and have built-in sensors and stabilizers to give you clear footage — even when the camera is moving.
  • Mounting options. Action cams come with a huge variety of mounting accessories including hand mounts, head mounts and chest mounts so you’ll never miss a shot.

Cons

While action cams can capture footage of extreme adventures, they don’t always offer the video and image quality of high-end camcorders and digital cameras. Some of the downsides to action cams include the following:

  • Fisheye view. Most action cameras have a wide field of view that captures a lot of the action but distorts the footage. Video editing software can help remove the fisheye effect.
  • Pricey accessories. Accessories such as tripods, mounts and waterproof casings can help you get the most out of your action cam, but costs can add up quickly.
  • Limited battery life. Typically, an action camera battery will last from one to three hours of constant use. If you want to shoot for a whole day, you will need a backup battery or a way to recharge your camera while you’re on the go.
  • Limited image quality. Action cams are not generally designed to capture still images and don’t offer the image quality of many digital cameras.
  • No preview. Because action cams are small and lightweight, many have very small LCD screens or no screens at all. This makes it difficult or impossible to preview your footage while you are recording.

How to compare action cameras

When you are comparing action cams, consider your budget, level of durability and the features you may need.

Take a look at these important camera features:

Which action camera is best for me?

The best action cam for you depends on how you plan to use it. If you need a camera for your next scuba trip, look for something completely waterproof. If you want to capture still images of wildlife, look for an action cam that allows you to save high-resolution photographs.

To help you find the right camera, we’ve compared five of the most popular cameras below:

The goodThe bad
GoPro HERO7 Black
  • Records high-quality 4K video
  • HyperSmooth image stabilization eliminates the effects of shaking
  • Only waterproof down to 33 feet
  • Some users have found the touchscreen to be unresponsive
Yi 4K+ Action Camera
  • Records detailed 4K/60fps footage
  • More affordable than other comparable models
  • Waterproof case needs to be purchased separately
  • No GPS tagging
Sony FDR-X3000
  • Offers impressive image stabilization
  • Includes a wearable live-view remote
  • Still photographs are in lower resolution than video
  • Live-view remote sometimes drops out
TomTom Bandit
  • Battery life outlasts most competitors
  • Edit photos instantly with a smartphone app
  • Not waterproof
  • Heavier than many competitors
Olympus Tough TG-Tracker
  • Includes action tracking sensors
  • Drop-proof, crush-proof, freeze-proof and waterproof down to 98 feet
  • Tracking sensors drain the battery quickly
  • Smartphone app is limited and offers only basic features

Bottom line

Action cameras can be good equipment to have around if you want to take snapshots or videos of your extreme adventures. But compare your options first so you know you’re getting the right camera for your action-packed needs and budget.

How did we choose these products?

To create our list of the best action cameras, we considered price, image quality, battery life, Wi-Fi connectivity and overall features.

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