Best Action Camera | Guide & Reviews
Wouldn’t it be nice if every type of camera or video shot you take is just as easy as taking a family portrait with everyone arranged perfectly? But that’s not always the case, especially if you intend to take photos in the midst of extreme sports. You may want to take a photo or a video of how it looks like from your perspective, while you’re riding a bike, paddling on a kayak through rapids, or skiing down a steep slope.
You may want to take a picture while you’re underwater. You may even want to take an aerial photo with the use of a drone. In any of those situations, you can’t just use any standard camera. You need the best action camera that fits your circumstances.
How to Choose the Best Action Camera
But what does it mean to have the best action camera? To get the one you need, you have to consider the following factors:
1. Mounting and suitability
If you need an action camera, you will have to first make sure that the cameras you consider are suited for the task you have in mind.
- It’s really simple—if you plan to shoot videos from your bike or kayak, then it should be mountable on your bike or kayak.
- If you wish to shoot underwater videos, then the camera should be waterproof at the right depth. Some cameras can be brought deeper under the water so you can go scuba diving. Others are only okay against water splashes, so you can only use them for kayaking.
- If you plan on shooting aerial videos, then that means you can mount the camera on a drone.
- Some cameras are very versatile, so it may offer mounting options for a variety of situations. Other cameras even have harnesses so you can mount down on your pet dog.
- First you will to look at the size and weight, as these factors will determine just how easy to use a camera with you. This is especially true if you plan on mounting a camera on your helmet. It if it’s too heavy for you, it won’t be long before you feel uncomfortable. If it’s too bulky, then it may get in the way of the action.
- Portability also depends on battery life. It shouldn’t be too short or else you end up interrupting your recording while great action is going on.
- And of course, dependability is also crucial. You don’t want an “action camera” that can’t actually withstand the stress of all the action.
3. Image clarity
- One is frame rate, which is measured in frames per second (fps). A 30 fps rating is fine for standard playback, but when you slow the action down you’ll get blurry images. On the other hand, you can slow down a 120fps video and still get clear images.
- The other thing you have to consider is resolution. While 1080p resolution is standard, somehow the 1080p footage of one camera can look better than the same resolution video from another camera. Some also offer 4K recording, which can really improve the resolution.
4. Features and ease of use
Some cameras offer their own controls, while others also use apps. You’ll want a camera that’s easy to use especially while you’re in the middle of the action. Apps are great especially when you can use your phone as a live viewfinder. You can use your smartphone as a wireless remote with the right app.
Recommended Best Action Camera
With these factors in mind, you can then gauge the following action cameras to see if any of them suit your needs.
1. DBPOWER Original EX5000 WIFI 14MP FHD Sports Action
For most people, the go-to brand for this type of action camera is the GoPro. The problem is that the price of that brand is a bit out of reach for a lot of folks.
And that’s why the DBPOWER Original EX5000 has a lot of fans. You’re basically able to do a lot of things that a GoPro can, except the price tag is about ⅓ of the GoPro price.
It offers terrific quality for daylight outdoor shots. However, night recording doesn’t really offer great results. You even get grainy shots when you shoot indoors at low light.
The ultra-wide view and the fisheye lens let you cover a lot of the action so you don’t miss things. You can even have use up to 4x zoom. But the fisheye lens may warp the image at the ends of the screen. Also while at 1080p you can only use 30fps. For 60spfs, you’ll need to lower the resolution to 780p.
You also won’t miss anything due to short battery life, as this can last for almost 3 hours. You even get 2 batteries as part of your purchase.In fact, you get a lot of accessories with this action camera. But you may have to take some time figuring out what these are for. Some of these things have obvious uses, while others will need you to investigate further.It’s very easy to use, as the LCD screen has a 2-inch display size.
Others in the DBPOWER EX line only offer a 1.5-inch LCD display.Wi-Fi is built in, so you can use an app to control it.It’s waterproof enough for snorkeling.It has lots of other features (such as stability features) that make it perfect to use when you’re on vacation.
2. SJCAM SJ5000X Elite Action Camera 4K 1080P Wi-Fi
First things first: the 4K recording that’s supposedly available with the SJCAM SJ5000X isn’t really the true 4K recording capability you were hoping for. It is “interpolated”, which basically means it simulates 4K recording quality by guessing what missing pixels are needed to make the picture quality good enough.
Now the quality of the 4K recording and the normal 1080p resolution is about the same when you only have a 1080p TV, but if you have a 4K TV then you may find this feature better for image quality.
With the Wi-Fi capability, you can use your smartphone to see what your camera sees. And the live feed is excellent, with easy syncing and minimal delay between the real action and what you see on your smartphone screen.You can get 60fps for your 1080p recordings, although that dips to 30fps when recording with 2K.
With 4K, you drop all the way down to 24fps.When you’re recording in 1080p, you can expect only about 80 minutes of use before you have to recharge. Recharging takes about 3 hours.It’s very easy to use, as the menu system is quite intuitive.You get a waterproof case for underwater action, along with lots of clamps and holders for different mounting capabilities.
Unlike many other action cameras, the audio quality is excellent. The mic picks up lots of sounds clearly even through the waterproof case.
3. Lightdow LD4000 1080P HD Sports Action Camera Kit
This is another affordable action camera, but the quality isn’t cheap at all. In fact, at this price range many consider it the best, since it can match the quality of more expensive cameras.
This is very durable, so with the price tag it’s the perfect gift for a rambunctious kid who wants to take videos while riding a bike or swimming on the beach.
It takes great underwater shots. Just make sure you use the waterproof casing—there’s even an extra one.
You also get lots of different accessories for various mounting possibilities. There’s even an extra battery too.It’s easy to pick a setting to use for this camera. So you can use it as a body camera, mount it on a vehicle, or use it as a security camera.As a security camera, you even get to use its motion detector.
There’s a mic built in that records good quality audio, although that’s only if you’re not using the waterproof case.The picture quality is also almost GoPro quality, although when you try to zoom in you’ll get grainy results.The customer service is although commendable and helpful, so if you find a defective part you can get help as to how to get a replacement part.
4. Sony AZ1 Action Camera Mini POV HD Video Camera
I have to admit that I’m a bit of a brand name snob. While you have to pay more (and in this case a lot more), you also get not just the features by the durability you need to set your mind at ease.
The AZ1 is the smallest “splash-proof” Action Cam from Sony, but it’s still heavy too at almost 13 ounces. However, you get a lot of features you won’t find in more affordable cameras.
You have 5 video modes to choose from, and that includes 1080p at 60fps. There are even 2 slow-mo modes.You also get automatic stabilization features that compensates for blurring and for bumps.The built-in mic is good enough to get good quality sound, but there’s no option to stick another mic in so you can talk while the camera is mounted elsewhere.
With the waterproof housing, you can take it down underwater. But even without the waterproof casing, it doesn’t mind sprays and showers all that much with its IPX4-class rating.There’s also a power save option, although the battery life is still a bit iffy.
Even though this is a Sony, the instructions are also on the skimpy side with lots of missing info.Pairing the camera with the remote (you can also use your smartphone) isn’t really easy the first time. But after that, it works well.
5. GoPro HERO action camera
Now we come to the brand that defines the category. This is the camera that seems to offer just about everything you’ll need to take it with you on your action adventure.
And it’s actually somewhat affordable too.With its more than 60 mounts and accessories, you can mount this to just about anything.The video quality is nice enough at 1080p at 30fps, and 780p at 60fps.
If you’re a YouTube fan, then you can just use 780p at 60fps for your videos, and that’ll give you more than 4 hours of battery life.
It can withstand many different types of extreme conditions. Don’t even worry about getting it wet or taking this underwater. It’s rated for a depth of up to 40 meters (131 feet).It can also take time lapse or burst photos.It’s very light, so mounting this in your helmet won’t make you feel uncomfortable with the weight. It’s just 3.9 ounces.
Its small dimensions also mean you can take it anywhere with you, as you can just put it in your pocket.It’s also very easy to use. Basically, all you need to do is to press a single button!The waterproof cover can mess with the audio quality, although you can always just replace that with a regular cover.There’s also no LCD viewer at all. And if you get the GoPro remote, that’s extra (and extra expensive too).There’s no Wi-Fi!
6. GeekPro 4.0 Sport Action Camera 2inch Sports Video WIFI
This camera is also for all types of action adventures, and it can also go underwater up to a depth of 30 meters. With this you get a remote controller that’s on your wrist, while you can also use your smartphone too.
There’s also a nice carrying bag for the camera and all the accessories.
It is very light as it weighs a mere 2.1 ounces. So bring it along while you run and you won’t notice its weight at all.You can get 1080p resolution with 30fps, or 780p with 60fps.Lots of helpful features are available, including time lapse, continuous lapse,
7. Lightdow LD6000 1080P HD Wi-Fi Sports Action Camera Kit
This is a lot more affordable than a GoPro. So because of that it doesn’t have some nice GoPro features like the ability to use an external mic.
The manual doesn’t really give you a lot of useful info, and downloading the app is more troublesome than it ought to be.
You can get the YouMera or SJCAM app you need from the Google Play Store instead of bothering with the QR code on the manual.
Still even at this lower price point it offers a nice image 1080p quality. The quality is similar to what you get with a GoPro SJ7000.The menu is easy to use, so you don’t really need the manual all that much. Still, the manual would have been nice so you can use the High Dynamic Range more effectively.
It has a dash cam mode, it has motion sensors, and anti-shake stabilization features. You can also get 4x zoom. The motion sensors allow you to use it as a security camera around your house.You get lots of accessories, while you can also use your old GoPro accessories with it.It’s waterproof enough that you can take underwater pictures and video. For snorkeling and even for some not so deep scuba diving, it’s good enough.
8. Spy Tec Mobius Action Camera 1080P HD Mini Sports Cam
Calling the Mobius ActionCam a “mini” camera is accurate, since this thing is tiny. It only measures 2 by 1 by 1 inches and it weighs a negligible 1.2 ounces!
The only problem here is that you may not notice anything different if you drop it from your pocket or from your helmet.Because of its small size, many people use this as a very discreet dash cam.
That means you can have an accurate recording of what transpired if you get into a traffic accident or you’re stopped by police.
The video quality is good enough for that at 720p resolution at 60 fps, although you can also get 1080p at 30fps.This comes with a Japan-built glass lens with a horizontal field of view of just 131 degrees. While that may not compare with the standard 170 degrees you see in other models, with this at least you get very little distortion at the edges.
The video quality is really good, and you can match the best quality you can find on YouTube.This is strictly for land use, as it doesn’t have any water0rsistance to speak of. While you can buy a waterproof case for it, some people have reported issues regarding the heat in the heat sinks.It offers a very long list of features, although it’s not quite as easy to use as it ought to be.
The video may get a bit shaky, as there’s no built-in image stabilization. While this is not a big deal if you use it as a dash cam, if you out it on your bike handlebars the results can be nauseating. It’ll be like watching The Blair Witch Project! That wasn’t fun for me, let me tell you.
9. Garmin Virb Elite Action Camera
The Garmin brand is famous in the fitness tech industry, so it’s not surprising that they’d enter GoPro territory. And they’re very good at it too.
If you’re looking for a GoPro alternative, this is a solid choice.Out of the box, it has am IPX7 rating, which means you can immerse it in water up to a meter deep and for about 30 minutes.
So that means you can use it while it’s raining or while kayaking. The dive case that lets you bring this down to 50 meters underwater is a separate purchase.
It offers a 1.4-inch display. It may be small, but it’s in color.The battery lifespan is impressive, as you can record at 1080p for up to 3 hours.There are 5 different HD video modes. They range from 1080p at 30fps to 480p at 120fps for clear slow motion action stills.The wireless technology lets you pair it up with your smartphone or with some Garmin wrist technology.
It also comes with GPS plus accelerometer and barometric altimeter. Basically, you can use the Garmin camera to determine your speed so you can brag about it when you’re riding your bike or when you’re skiing downhill.It’s very easy to use. In fact, it’s been designed so you can use it while you’re wearing gloves.
Pictures look great. It even has digital stabilization and distortion correction, so you don’t end up with useless video.The mounts let you set it up just about anywhere. The decks you put it on can be curved or flat. You can put it on your helmet, your shoulders, or your bike handlebar.
10. Sony HDRAS50/B Full HD Action Cam (Black)
Again we come to Sony, and this time we have a rather large unit that weighs more than 15 ounces. But it does offer a lot of great features.Getting a high quality video or photo isn’t a problem, as you get lots of stabilization features.
You can even get photos at 4K.It’s easy to use too. The in-camera menus are intuitive and the button placement is convenient.
The angle of vision is adjustable, so you can get a narrow or wide view.The audio is great, but that’s not true if you’re using the waterproof case.Without the water-proof case, there’s really no water-resistance at all.
It isn’t splash-proof.The minimum focus distance is about a foot so you can’t really get close-ups.The battery life is decent at about 2.5 hours.There are plenty of features, with time lapses and loops.You have an option to get Live View Remote.
Now you may be thinking that an action camera isn’t really something that you have to have. But that kind of thinking doesn’t last long with the right action camera. You’ll find out that it can really make your life much more interesting. In some ways, it can make your life easier for you too.
Take it with you on your vacation, and you get a handy device that gives you great videos and photos of every exciting thing you’ve done. Or even if you’re not on vacation, you can use it as a dash cam in your car and as a security camera at home. You can also take great pictures of your kids at play. Get one, and you’ll be amazed at what it can do.
This is the modern of keeping souvenirs and mementos and recording great experiences. Just upload your photos and videos to your social media network. It will make all your friends and family feel as if they’re there with you on your adventures!
As a subscriber, you never miss a post and you get access to my exclusive free guide/weekly content/whatever benefits you offer. Sign up today to join over 20,000 happy subscribers!