To find the best action camera for your next adventure, we researched the essential factors that make an action camera shine, including recording resolution, image stabilization, built-in connectivity, and overall ruggedness. In a world of 4K Ultra HD televisions, we want to make sure that you don’t get stuck with an outdated, low-resolution camera. Whether you are looking to take an action camera on the track for your next drag-race, into the air for a flight cross-country, or deep underwater into the coral reefs, we’ve got an option for you.
During our research, our top pick for the best action camera came to be the AKASO EK7000 Pro, a 4K action camera with a built-in touchscreen and image stabilization, so that no matter how bumpy the trail gets, your video stays smooth. The camera features built-in WiFi connectivity so that you can connect to your camera from your smartphone or tablet with ease. The EK7000 Pros’ rugged design also allows for it to travel up to 40 meters underwater without issue. Keep reading to learn more about the best action cameras and which model is right for you.
Top 5 Best Action Cameras
#1 AKASO EK7000 Pro Action Camera
Award: Top Pick
WHY WE LIKE IT: The AKASO EK7000 Pro delivers premium features including a 4K Ultra HD resolution, image stabilization, and WiFI connectivity, all at an exceptional price. AKASO even includes a helmet kit for use on your bicycle at no extra cost.
The AKASO EK7000 Pro takes everything that we want to see from an action camera and packs it into an affordable package, delivering the best action camera under $100. The unit includes 4K/25 fps capture, meaning that you can cover your best moments in 4K Ultra HD. The built-in image stabilization is also an excellent addition that ensures your footage isn’t shaky.
AKASO opted for a rugged camera design that is waterproof up to 40 meters when used inside the included enclosure – great for underwater videography. WiFi connectivity to control the EK7000 Pro from a smartphone or tablet is also welcomed, but we would have also liked to see a zoom function for objects in the distance. If you want something smaller, the best compact camera may be for you.
#2 Dragon Touch 4K Action Camera
Award: Honorable Mention
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Dragon Touch 4K is the best budget action camera, and offers stunning Ultra 4K recording and 16mp photos, along with a built-in 4X zoom function for keeping your eye on the action. Dragon Touch also includes a WiFi wrist remote, allowing you to use the camera where you need it.
Read Full Review: Dragon Touch 4K Action Camera Review
The Dragon Touch 4K is an impressive little camera that can record in native 4K Ultra HD video at 30 fps – capturing all the action with ease. The 170-degree wide-angle lens also ensures that your intended target stays in the shot. You can control everything from the included 2-inch touchscreen or hookup a smartphone or tablet via WiFI.
We also enjoy that Dragon Touch includes a free mounting accessories kit that allows you to capture footage in a variety of situations – making it one of the best action cameras for motorcycles. You can even jump into the water as the Dragon Touch 4K is waterproof down to 30 meters using the included housing. Compare it to the best waterproof camera and see how it stacks up.
#3 GoPro HERO 7 Black Action Camera
Award: Best Quality
WHY WE LIKE IT: The GoPro line of products is what started the action camera trend, and the HERO 7 Black shows us exactly why with Hypersmooth video stabilization and the ability to shoot 4K video at 60 fps, even underwater.
Read Full Review: GoPro HERO 7 Black Review
GoPro is a name well known throughout the action camera world for its quality video and reliable products – no difference when it comes to the HERO 7 Black. Despite boasting a price tag considerably higher than the competition, the HERO holds its own thanks to native 4K Ultra HD videos recorded at 60 fps for high-speed action, and the company’s butter-smooth Hypersmooth video stabilization technology. You can even opt to live-stream your content to services such as Facebook Live. The GoPro Hero7 Black is definitely the best GoPro on our list.
Grabbing the camera with the best video and build quality will allow you to delve to watery depths of up to 10 meters without a housing, and many more with optional accessories. Speaking of optional, no accessories are included in the box, so be sure to add any needed mounting options to your shopping cart when purchasing the HERO 8 Black.
Update: GoPro has an upgraded model – from the GoPro Hero 7 Black to the new GoPro Hero 8 Black best for stabilization. The New GoPro Hero8 Black still has many of the Hero 7 Black features like 4K footage, voice control, and similar battery life, but has an improved electronic image stabilization with HyperSmooth 2.0 and TimeWarp 2.0. As for audio, the GoPro Hero8 Black features a front-facing mic, and new audio-processing algorithms.
If you are new to cameras read about the best dslr camera for begginers to intermediate.
#4 Sony FDRX3000 Action Camera
Award: Best Underwater
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you’re going for a dive, it would be foolish to go without Sony’s FDRX3000 action camera which offers 4K video recording capabilities down to 60 meters. The camera even includes three video modes and a 3x zoom capability.
Read Full Review: Sony FDR-X3000 Review
Sony’s FDRX3000 action camera offers the best option for underwater filming thanks to its ability to dive down to 60 meters – that’s almost 200 feet! The camera’s housing goes beyond waterproofing and features dust-proofing and shock-proofing, so you can use it in the dirtiest of conditions – go ahead and throw it on your dirt bike. The included ZEISS lens is the highest quality piece of glass we have seen on an action camera yet, and it offers a 3x zoom feature for zooming in on distant action.
Despite being pricey, we love the Sony FDRX3000 for underwater adventures. We also love that Sony included built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC, capabilities for controlling and locating the action camera from your smartphone or tablet. It has some of the things that we love in the best point and shoot digital camera.
#5 Garmin VIRB Ultra Action Camera
Award: Best Aerial
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you want to record footage in an airplane, there is no better option than the Garmin VIRB Ultra with its ability to overlay cockpit conversations and ATV audio, as well as a built-in video filter for removing the propeller from view.
Read Full Review: Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 Review
If pilots could dream up the best action camera, they would likely have dreamt of the Garmin VIRB Ultra. This exceptional camera offers 4K Ultra HD video quality at 30 fps, but what makes it extremely unique is its ability to record wireless flight audio. Using the built-in Bluetooth functionality, the VIRB Ultra can record flight audio from compatible headsets and audio panels. You can even overlay flight data such as position, speed, and altitude over your video.
Due to the extremely high price-tag, we would have liked to see a bit more versatility as the VIRB Ultra doesn’t include a waterproof housing, and it isn’t naturally waterproof. However, we were happy to see that Garmin at least included a unique mount and lens cover for protection with its aviation bundle.
Note: Another camera worth mentioning that we haven’t fully reviewed yet is the DJI OSMO Action camera. Some of its premium features are 4K footage, waterproof, shockproof, and dustproof, and with amazing electronic image stabilization, the DJI OSMO Action is one of the best deals on action cams and it’s comparable to the GoPro Hero 8 Black.
How We Decided
With so many different action cameras available to take on your next great adventure, we began researching the essentials that make an action camera great, including its recording resolution, image stabilization, ruggedness, and connectivity. Every camera on our list meets a minimum set of requirements so that you can ensure the camera we recommend to you works great and won’t let you down.
When it comes to recording resolution, all of the action cameras on our list can capture video at a 4K Ultra HD resolution, so that you can enjoy the videos for years to come without worry of the quality quickly becoming dated. We also dismissed any cameras that could record in 4K but at slow fps rates – which would have made your video choppy. All of the cameras on our list also feature image stabilization so that the footage isn’t shaky as you ride your mountain bike down a hill, surf amongst the waves, or rally around a corner.
When it comes to ruggedness, all of the cameras we selected are either naturally waterproof or can utilize an external housing to take shots down underneath the water. All of our waterproof camera selections can dive down to a minimum of 30 meters, so you don’t miss out on any great shots. Thanks to the inclusion of WiFi on all of our selections, you’ll also be able to control your camera and view recorded video by connecting up to your smartphone or tablet.
Best Action Camera Buyer’s Guide
- Recording Resolution: When selecting an action camera, try to search out an option that offers 4K Ultra HD recording. While standard or Full-HD might sound impressive, it is quickly becoming dated as we consume more content on 4K televisions. The frame rate should be at least 25 fps to prevent jerkiness, with a 60 fps camera delivering the best quality.
- Image Stabilization: Action means motion, so if you’re taking your camera out on the trail or down a hill, you are going to want built-in stabilization. This technology ensures that your video won’t always be bumping up and down or side to side with every rock or bump you encounter. If you consider an option without image stabilization, know it might include motion sickness on playback.
- Ruggedness: Action cameras are built, or should be built, to handle rough situations. Make sure that the camera you are selecting features options such as waterproofing and shock-proofing. Even if you aren’t going swimming, waterproofing can protect an action camera from rain, snow, and other watery conditions.
- Connectivity: Ensuring your new action camera has WiFi or Bluetooth is an essential feature if you want to be able to control your device from afar, or offload and content to your smart device quickly. Some devices include options for GPS that allows the cameras to know where they are and record the data, so you know exactly where the video was captured.
Action Camera FAQs
Is there a better action camera than GoPro?
During our research, we found the AKASO EK7000 Pro to be our top pick for an action camera; it delivers premium features including a 4K Ultra HD resolution, image stabilization, and WiFI connectivity, all at an exceptional price.
What’s the best cheap action camera?
During our research, we found the Dragon Touch 4K to offer the best experience at a killer price. The Dragon Touch 4K offers Ultra 4K recording along with a built-in 4X zoom function for keeping your eye on the action.
What is the best alternative to GoPro?
Our best action camera roundup found the best alternatives to GoPro to be brands including AKASO, Dragon Touch, Sony, and Garmin. Each camera offers unique features that make them stand out from the common GoPro - read more about each camera in our guide.
Are action cameras worth it?
If you need to capture video from a first-person perspective, action cameras can be well worth their value. If you enjoy high-speed sports such as snowboarding, surfing, or racing, action cameras can capture shots where normal cameras just won’t function. Need to dive deep underwater? An action camera can do that too.
Why are action cameras so cheap?
For most action cameras, the components used during production aren’t extremely expensive, allow for affordable options to be released on the market. Some action cameras can be expensive as they add on more features and opt for higher quality video recording.
Which GoPro is the best?
During our research, we found the GoPro Hero 7 Black to be our favorite option from the famous action camera company; it features Hypersmooth video stabilization and the ability to shoot 4K video at 60 fps, even underwater without additional housing.
Also why not check out: