Buying an action camera is very different from buying a camcorder for general movie making. Action cameras need to record high-speed motion in extreme conditions, which might not be the case when recording other general videos. For recording extreme sports and other high-speed motion videos, it is better to equip yourself with the best action cameras.
Now let’s imagine this scenario:
You are an extreme sports enthusiast. You have just bought that latest dirt bike you’ve always wanted to ride and you can’t wait to give it a spin. Or you are finally going to go scuba diving off the coast of that exotic island in Europe. Or let’s say you simply want to vlog about your travel adventures
Wouldn’t you want an action camera that is convenient to use and records the best quality videos and images?
Well in this post that’s what I will try to address – Helping you choose the best action camera for your adventure.
Table of Contents
My list of the best action cameras for the money
1. GoPro HERO8 Black (#1 Recommendation)
Launched in October 2019, GoPro HERO8 is the latest version of the GoPro action camera series to hit the market after the highly successful GoPro HERO7. Packed with a load of features, this newest GoPro version is expected to exceed expectations this time. If you are ready to spend a few extra bucks, then the GoPro Hero8 Black is quite easily one of the best action cameras and our #1 choice in the market today.
Distinctive Features of GoPro Hero8
The GoPro HERO8 comes with a tagline which is quite self-explanatory – ‘Smooth just got smoother’. Building upon the superior stabilization that HERO7 offered which resulted in smooth videos, the GoPro HERO8 comes with a feature called Hypersmooth 2.0. Of the three modes in Hypersmooth 2.0, the boost mode offers maximum stability and smoothness. It’s almost unbelievable when you watch the videos taken in ‘boost’ mode.
While the previous model had Timewarp too, the HERO8 has an upgraded version of the Timewarp. So when you take time-lapse videos, the settings of the timewarp get adjusted depending on the speed of your motion, the lighting available, and the scene of the shot. That’s pretty useful because it enables you to take a more enhanced time-lapse video.
If you’re a vlogger or a professional filmmaker, you will have a need for enhanced audio, better lighting, a tripod, and probably frontal display. The HERO8 can be fixed with accessories known as Mods which can provide these additional functionalities. The three Mods that are currently available are the Media Mod (for better audio; an external mic can also be attached), a Display Mod (Frontal display), and a Light Mod (Enhanced lighting). These Mods have to be purchased separately and can be attached to dedicated slots in the HERO8.
It is ergonomically designed for better handling and portability. It has pre-built, foldable extensions at the base that enable you to interchange mounts very easily. Also, the lens is now 2 times more resistant to impacts.
The in-built audio quality is much better than the other GoPro models.
It comes with digital lenses that give you 4 different modes of view – Narrow, Distortion-free linear, wide and super-view. You can choose any view depending on your requirements.
Live streaming quality has been improved to 1080p from the 720p in the HERO7.
Low light performance could be better. Not everyone may want to buy the Light Mod.
In Hypersmooth mode, only the new HERO8 batteries can be used. If you have old GoPro HERO6 or 7 batteries, they can work only in the normal mode in HERO8.
If you want to know how to make better use of your Gopro, check out these GoPro tips and techniques.
Distinctive features of the DJI Osmo Action Camera
The DJI Osmo Action Camera uses the same sensor as the DJI Mavic drone, so if you’re already a Mavic owner, you’ll be familiar with the resolutions and color profiles that you will get out of the Osmo. If you’re not, the Osmo Action Camera can capture stills in RAW, making it easier for you to correct color profiles in post-processing.
If you want something usable right off the bat, you can always switch on the HDR mode which works for video as well, or creates your custom mode and save it – something that no other action camera offers at this point.
The circular lens cap makes it very easy to swap filters, for example, ND filters for shooting in bright sunshine, and the front screen coupled with the quick switch button makes it very easy for you to switch from taking a selfie video to taking a video from your point of view, even underwater.
Did we mention that the Osmo is waterproof to a depth of 36 feet? So you can use it for underwater activities like snorkeling and scuba diving too.
The RockSteady stabilization will make your videos unbelievably shake-free, and the Osmo Action Camera remains the only action camera on which you can shoot in slow-motion and also watch the slow-motion back on the camera itself.
It has a front screen. The DJI Osmo Action remains the only action camera with a color front screen, which means that you can set up your selfie shot without wondering if the frame is right. Meaning it remains compact and its battery life is as advertised.
RockSteady stabilization is unbelievably good. The Osmo Action’s stabilization has to be seen to be believed. It is available at all resolutions and frame rates up to 4k30fps.
The dedicated slo-mo mode will allow you to watch slow-motion footage right on the Osmo Action after you’ve shot it, which is something no other action camera allows even now.
There is no GPS or HDMI port. This means you can’t have a speed overlay or watch footage directly from the camera. On the other hand, it translates to lower cost and longer battery life – never a bad thing with an action camera!
The screen could use more brightness. The screen is adequately bright in all but the harshest sunlight. Again, this is a tradeoff for better battery life.
The mobile phone app can be improved. DJI’s mobile phone app lacks some of the sophistication and sharing options that are present in the competition’s apps.
I believe a lot in the power of the brand. Most of the time, you can expect a quality product from any of the major action camera brands. The Sony FDR – X3000 is an example of it. It comes loaded with a ton of features for an optimum shooting experience.
Features of Sony FDR-X3000
It has the capability of shooting 4K videos. Although many other action cameras in the market come with 4K shooting ability, the challenge comes in image stabilization. This is where the Sony FDR X3000 stands apart.
It has optical SteadyShot technology. This helps to provide better external and internal image stability than digital stabilization. This is one factor that definitely makes the FDR X3000 stand out.
Like the GoPro Hero5, this also has a 4K video quality thanks to the ZEISS lens that it is fitted with. If you aren’t aware ZEISS is one of the leading lens makers in the world. Any product from them is a guaranteed high-quality innovation.
Finally, another important feature of this camera that sets it apart from many other low-priced extreme sports cameras is the high-quality audio that it records. A lot of noise is reduced in the recording stage itself and you get a much clearer output sound.
Who should buy it?
Without a doubt, Sony enthusiasts have been the maximum buyers of this product. Besides those looking for the best configurations that an action camera can possess and are willing to shell out a few extra bucks, they should go it.
It is sturdy and will definitely serve you well in the years to come. These types of cameras are the ones that are almost guaranteed to work well for a really long time.
- Many users have said that a backlit in the display screen would have been a great added advantage. I agree with this. Even when you are using the action camera in daytime, the exposure to sunlight would make it difficult to read the display screen. In such a scenario, a backlit can definitely help.
- Sony should have included a remote control especially since unlike the GoPro Hero7, it doesn’t have voice commands though it retails at a comparable price.
Where to buy?
You can buy the Sony FDR X3000 at various offline and online stores. However, since you get some good discounts and deals and can also read other customer reviews and questions, you can check it out on Amazon.
No wonder it makes my list of the top action cameras. With tonnes of features packed into it, as also some really helpful improved functions make it a serious competitor with the GoPro.
Japanese electronics giant Sony has come up with a splash-proof action camera that has delivered great promise. The smallest splash-proof sports camcorder by Sony, you can be assured of a very smooth video even on rough passage with SteadyShot image stabilization.
Features of Sony HDR-AZ1VR
This sports video camera by Sony boasts some powerful features.
Smaller and lighter It’s a mini action cam and is quite light to carry. Its slender, custom design is about two-thirds the size of other sports action cams by Sony. Consequently, you have less wind and water pressure acting on it.
Splashproof Its spashproof design makes it possible to withstand showers, sprays or even snow when out of the box.
Remote Viewing With the help of One Touch Near Field Communication (NFC), your compatible smart devices can be turned in to remote viewing devices via wifi.
Live View Remote RM-LVR2 With the help of the Live View Remote RM-LVR2, it is now possible to frame your shot, turn GPS on, change the shooting modes and control up to 5 Action Cams.
Steadyshot for fast action sports The steadyshot technology reduces the chances of blur appearing because of bumps and sudden movements in fast action sports like skiing and motocross.
Built-in stereo mic As is the trend these days, the Sony HDRAZ1VR/W sports camera comes equipped with a builtin stereo microphone which is good enough to capture quality sound.
Ultra-wide ZEISS lens The camcorder comes equipped with a pro quality ZEISS lens with a wide angle scope extending upto 170 degrees. This increases your perspective while taking panoramic views of ski slopes or mountain hills.
Equipped with Exmor R CMOS sensor This technology makes it possible to shoot high quality videos even in low light.
5 video modes available 1080/60p @50Mbps HD and 2x slow motion
The Sony HDRAZ1VR/W is 30% smaller than other versions of Sony action cameras and is hence easy to carry.
- With a resolution of 12 megapixels and an option to shoot 1080/60p, it is certainly a great buy.
- Some users cited concerns about the camera not giving a very sharp focus being underwater for a longer duration.
- Others commented that it is a better idea to shoot with 1080p than with 720p. But overall users were quite satisfied with the product.
5. AKASO V50 Elite Action Camera (#1 Budget-friendly)
The first thing that caught my eye with the AKASO V50 Elite 4K Wifi Action Camera was the ability to shoot 4K videos at 60fps. Most of the 4K camcorders, action or regular, record at a resolution of 30 fps. The V50 Elite’s ability to shoot 4K videos at 60fps and full HD at 120 fps along with 20MP image, ensures very high-quality footage.
There are a lot more enhanced features that make your recording experience a memorable one.
Features of Akaso V50 Elite
A very useful feature that has been added in this model is the voice command feature. When you’re bungee jumping, or riding your bike and want to switch your action camera on or off, the voice command feature comes very handy. You can operate the camera pretty much “hands-free”.
An important requirement of an action camera is that it must have high stability as most likely, you will be recording your adventure videos in motion. The EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) of the AKASO V50 Elite is an intelligent stabilization technology that reduces the image shake to a minimum.
It also offers you the option of choosing the angle of view for shooting the video. You can choose between wide, medium and narrow depending upon the situation.
It is a great action camera for water sports like scuba diving and snorkeling as it is waterproof up to 131 feet, having an ability to record clear videos and images even underwater.
Some other features that make it one of the highest-rated action cameras for the money include: An auto low light feature that enables it to take images in low light as well, a slow-motion feature and a wrist remote control for enhanced control.
- Hands down, the price. very rarely you get such a feature-packed sports action camera at such a price.
- It comes with a tonne of free accessories. You can use them to make your action camera perform better in any scenario.
- Longer battery life. The Akaso V50 Elite comes with two rechargeable 1050mAh batteries. Each battery can record for as long as 90 minutes. That’s quite a powerhouse performance.
- At higher resolutions, the battery can get warm.
- It does not come with an option for adding an external mic. Whether it’s a drawback or not, depends upon your preference.
Considering the price, the features and the quality of the videos recorded, this camera is definitely a buy for those who are looking for a good quality sports video camera with a lower price tag.
The Yi 4K Action camera is a budget 4k action camera that features among the top action cameras under 200. It has been very successful and is still one of the best-selling action cameras on Amazon. Hence we have included it in our list here.
The Yi 4k Action Camera is an extreme sports specialist camcorder with a 150° wide-angle lens. This is a relatively new launch in the market, yet already has earned the coveted Amazon’s Choice badge. It is a very sturdy camcorder with excellent video quality and a lot of essential features.
Let’s have a look at some of these features:
Features of the Yi 4k
Long Battery Life
One of the most important aspects to look at while buying an action camera is the battery life it offers. Usually, batteries of action cameras with a resolution of 1080p and above tend to drain fast. If you’re not prepared with an extra set, you can be left in the lurch.
The Yi 4k Action Camcorder has a lithium battery that enables you to shoot videos and take images up to 120 minutes. This is in 1080p/60 fps. Keep in mind that if you shoot in 4K mode, the battery might not last that long.
Best In Class WiFi
WiFi capability in sports camcorders these days is much more than a luxury. With convenience taking priority in our lives, the availability of WiFi in the action camera makes it very easy to perform some mundane editing tasks.
It has a dual-band Wifi – 2.4G/5G. It allows you to download your photos or videos to your smartphones at speeds up to 50 Mbps. This also allows you to use your smartphone as a remote to operate the camera up to a distance of 330 feet away.
Professional and High-Quality Video Recording
The Yi 4k action camera comes with a Sony IMX206 image sensor which is responsible for high-quality images and videos. An image sensor can be considered as the CPU of the action camera. For a better understanding of the analogy, an image sensor in a digital video camera is like a film in an analog video camera.
You have the option of recording you in 4K/20fps, 1080p/30fps, 1080p/60fps, and take images with a 16MP camera.
6-Layer Ultra-Wide Angle Glass Lens
150° wide-angle lens with an f2.8 aperture helps you take bright and clear images and videos. The lens comes with a 6 layer of coating to reduce the glare that can happen in bright light.
There’s also the option of choosing your own parameters for the videos thanks to the self-defined image quality parameters. This helps you to change the settings based on the light available as well as select any of the 9 modes which include burst, time-lapse to record even better videos. For low light, there is a switchable auto low light setting in the menu. (The previous version had a non-switchable auto low light setting which meant it would turn on low light mode and be that way when it sensed a drop in brightness)
2 inch LCD screen with Corning Gorilla Glass
I was impressed with the 2 inch LCD display screen which has a Corning Gorilla glass protection. The display scores high on UI – you can easily navigate through the different modes and have a great preview and playback experience. The Gorilla glass protection protects the screen from scratches and minor impact.
Of course, if you throw it on the floor deliberately, the impact would be too much (Who does that anyway?!) But for daily use, you can be least worried about damage to the screen.
- It goes without saying, the price. At this price, you won’t get many action cameras that are so reliable and having such features.
- After-sales support and service are pretty good. Some of the improvements in the functionalities of the newer models have been carried out on direct suggestions made by customers.
- Easy to use interface with long battery life.
- One of its cons is something I found hard to believe. It does not have a waterproof case included with the camera. Although you can buy it from Amazon as a separate item.
- It does not have an input for an external mic.
- The audio quality at the time of recording was not up to my expectations. It could have been better.
This sports video camera will exceed your expectations. If you are looking for a durable yet affordable camcorder for sports, go for the Yi Action Camera. You won’t regret it!
Action Cameras – All You Need To Know
Action cameras work like normal cameras, but do their similarities end there? The answer and more are in this beginner’s guide below.
What Is An Action Camera?
An action camera works quite the same as a normal camera that captures photos and videos. However, this type of camera is mainly used for outdoor and extreme sports. An action camera is also popular with vloggers due to its small size and versatility. They come with a lot of accessories that you can fix on your helmet and handlebars. Unlike a normal camera, this type of camera can be taken underwater.
Action cameras usually capture images in time-lapse and burst modes. They also shoot videos in a 4K mode with the shooter’s point of view. Most of them come with a micro SD card for storage and a micro-USB connector to link with other devices.
The category is linked with GoPro cameras. Many of them come with a GoPro mount adapter to take benefit of the accessories offered for these cameras.
Types Of Attachment
Most action cameras come with a lot of attachments. The type of accessories may vary from one brand to another, but the basic ones are:
Handle Bar Attachment: This is good in making movies when riding a bicycle.
Headcam Attachment: This attachment is great if you want to let other people see exactly what you’re viewing as you zip line, surf, and ski.
Windscreen Attachment: If you ride a car through the mountains, you can create some short videos with this.
Underwater Casing: This is great for taking images and videos when snorkeling and other underwater adventures.
Remote Control: This is very useful if you don’t want to touch the camera while doing something else.
Advantages Of Action Cameras
Action cameras are often linked with outdoor and extreme sports. That’s why most of them are designed with rugged construction that can withstand the constant beating of harmful elements. They’re also small so you can bring them anywhere outside.
Shoots Continuous Action
With its burst mode and time-lapse mode, you can continuously shoot the action without interacting with the camera. You can also mount them anywhere, including a dash cam, handlebars, and helmet to record your perspective.
Unlike normal cameras, action cameras have a wider lens. That means you can have more width to your pictures.
One of the great benefits of action cameras is that you can bring them underwater. Simply place them in their waterproof cases and you can shoot underwater scenes while you’re diving.
Frames Per Second (FPS)
A video is made by hundreds of motionless images that are successively taken to produce the appearance of motion. Think of animation. The speed of FPS can, therefore, produce various effects. The standard is 24 FPS so you shouldn’t choose a camera below it.
Things To Look For When Buying An Action Camera
Purchasing an action camera can be pretty daunting with the many elements that you need to be aware of. Here are some things you might need to look for in choosing the right action camera for your needs.
You’ll want a high definition (HD) video quality to get a high-quality playback on your television, smartphone, and computer. HD, Full HD, and 1080p all refer to the same thing and that is HD.
If you want a super high-quality video, look for 4K or Ultra HD. This resolution offers clearer images than 1080p. You can use this footage quality on digital TV and digital cinematography.
The number of megapixels can determine the picture quality of an action camera. If you want a high-quality picture, look for at least 8 megapixels. Anything below can give a poor image quality.
If you want to use an action camera for diving, make sure that you know how far it can go underwater. Look for action cameras that can handle at least 30 meters in underwater depth.
Wifi Or Bluetooth Capability
You know how taxing to remove the SD card from the camera to export photos and videos on any device. For your convenience, look for a camera with a Wifi or Bluetooth capability. This way you won’t have to remove the SD card anymore.