After several hours of research and the careful analysis of some thirty models, we realized our selection of the best action cameras for the money in the current market.
The best, in our eyes, is the GoPro Hero7 Black. It indeed has all the assets of a good action cam, its resistance, its video quality, and it’s settings options that allow you many effects, suitable for any situation.
Here are the best action cameras for the money.
1. GoPro Hero7 Black: the best high-end
Released a year ago now, the GoPro Hero7 Black is unanimous on the market and is probably the most powerful.
Aesthetically, it is similar to its two sisters (the Hero5 and the Hero6 Black) since it ships the same waterproof chassis to 10 m. It has a rectangular and compact format with dimensions of 4.49 x 6.23 x 0.33 cm but it is the lightest with its 116 g.
At the 2.2 “screen, it is the same interface as its predecessors with clear and intuitive menus. In addition, a refresh has been made to make it more readable, like the tutorial very practical for beginners. Otherwise, responsiveness is required but to facilitate handling, we recommend that you go through the application, complete and easy to access. Via the latter, you can also share your shots on social networks.
Regarding the components, we find the same voice control, the same processor and the same sensor 12 Mpx. Video level, it is now possible to shoot in 4K 60 IPS or Full HD 240 IPS. It allows for effective slow motion. Several fields of view are available including linear (without distortion), wide and SuperView (the third is not available in photo).
One of the improvements of the Hero7 is its stabilization “HyperSmooth”, pledge of quality as bluffing as the optical stabilization. You can use it up to 2.7K 60 IPS, while normal stabilization goes up to 4K 24 IPS.
Because there are photo settings and modes adapted to each situation, the image quality remains the same but with a little more precision and better fidelity of the colorimetry.
Side connectivity, it integrates Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a video output, an HDMI output, and a USB-C. A MicroSD slot is used to place your memory card.
The battery remains the same as on the Hero5 and 6, thus maintaining a correct battery life of up to 2 hours in Full HD 30 IPS and a little over 1 hour in 4K.
In short, if the GoPro Hero 7 does not revolutionize the world of action cams, it does not add unless you need more features and image quality, who hoist it handily on the first step of the podium.
2. Yi 4K + : the high-end alternative
In its sober looks, the Yi 4K + is probably the only one capable of competing with GoPro thanks to its performance in 4K similar to those of the Hero7 Black. It seems that the principle of supply and demand has led to an increase in its price, which is now less accessible.
From the point of view of design, Xiaomi adopts a soft, compact and lightweight look. It is compatible with the accessories of the Yi 4K (the previous model), like the waterproof case, the spare battery or the fixings. The only thing that physically distinguishes the 4K + is its carbon fiber effect layer at the front. It measures 4.2 x 6.5 x 3 cm and weighs 89 g.
Its 2.2 “touch screen is very responsive, with the same intuitive menus as the Yi Discovery and many additional options. Despite a single physical button, you have the option to manually adjust the shutter speed on video and lock the sensitivity, to adjust it better.
This model was the first to offer a 4K video in 60 IPS. On the other hand, in Full HD, it does worse than the Hero7 since it is limited to 120 IPS (against 240). However, the stabilizer can go up to only 30 IPS in 4K (against 24 in GoPro).
If the sensor offers “only” 12 Mpx, the image quality is remarkable. The coverage angle is 155 °. Without being on the top step of the podium in this area, it’s already a good result. Sound side, we are less enthusiastic since the already perfectible base, the sound is inaudible with the waterproof case.
Regarding the connection, there is a USB-C, provided with a cable to RCA for connecting to the TV and a cable to jack to connect to an external microphone. The Wi-Fi is integrated and you can deposit your microSD card in the space provided for this purpose.
Finally, about autonomy, it is a little less effective than its competitor, taking less than 1 hour in 4K 60 IPS, but it remains satisfactory. However, if you often navigate between the menus, the battery can quickly empty.
Elegant design, compatibility with accessories from old ranges, recording 4K 60 IPS, many settings of the image … Here we have a small action cam very nice to use. Admittedly, it is not perfect (a waterproof model would be welcome, like a battery of better quality), but it has under the hood!
3. DJI Osmo Action: the best mid-range
It’s not long since DJI (China’s leader in the recreational UAV market) has started making action cams. And this is promising in terms of results if we rely on the Osmo Action, freshly released in May 219.
With dimensions of 6.5 x 4.2 x 3.5 cm and a weight of 124 g, it has a similar format to the inevitable GoPro Hero7. Although a little cheap, its chassis is shockproof and waterproof up to 11 m. You also have the possibility to add a box in order to benefit from a waterproofness up to 60 m.
In addition to its two physical buttons and its QuickSwitch command for the change of mode, it is equipped with two screens. One is tactile and responsive and allows access to the menu with a simple grip. While the other, positioned on the front serves as a mirror for self-portrait use and is practical for framing.
Note that several automatic settings enhance the beginner experience. And if you want to deepen the setting, the application DJI Mimo is available but its connection leaves something to be desired.
At the component level, it incorporates a 12 Mpx sensor and covers a field of view of 145 °. The video image is perfectible in that it sometimes shows a delay in the display but can rotate in 4K and 2.7K at 60 IPS and Full HD at 240 IPS. Its RockSteady electronic stabilization system does not absorb strong oscillations but it remains correct.
In addition, image quality tends to be lost when you increase to more than 400 ISO. Fortunately, the Dewarp mode prevents deformations. As for the sound, there are two microphones that produce an audible sound but that lacks a little natural.
From a connector point of view, there is no HDMI port but a USB-C and a microSD slot. The latter is easy to access but can quickly be damaged by its position. Finally, the autonomy announced is a little over 1 hour for intensive use of 4K.
In the end, here is an innovative action cam with two screens useful for its user. If its image quality is perfectible, it is resistant and enjoys easy and intuitive handling. It is, therefore, an excellent tool for self-portraiting!
4. Olympus TG-Tracker: the mid-range alternative
Level format, it is in the originality and robust appearance of a camcorder 2000 but in a more compact version, with a rectangular shape and the camera placed at the end. The brand announces a resistance of 100 kg of pressure. However, it is quite imposing (180 g) with dimensions of 10 x 3 cm. This feature can cause a tendency to move during video captures.
Few accessories are provided. Only the selfie pole, the waterproof protection and the stabilizing handle, as well as some mounting brackets for helmets, are at your disposal. But it’s a bit lacking compared to GoPro and you’ll probably have to buy some more.
The 3.8 “LCD touch screen can be opened for better shooting, even if the viewing angle is an honorable value of 204 °. And above the camera, there is an LED lamp (more than 60 lumens) that acts as a flask.
Regarding the shooting, the number of images in 4K is less than the Osmo Action (30 for 60 IPS) and stabilization is not active at such a resolution. On the other hand, the angle of view of 204 ° beats records and the stabilization is really effective from 2K 60 IPS.
The image is beautiful with very present details. The brightness adjustment is reactive, just as the color balance is perfectly achieved. At the sound level, the absence of caissons gives way to more qualitative sound recordings.
Connectivity side, you can connect it to HDMI and connect Wi-Fi to OI. Share application. The latter allows control of the device, viewing of captures, content sharing and acts as a GPS tracker. However, the setting is only possible on the device itself. Note that in addition, there is a slot to insert the battery, one for the memory card and a mini-USB.
The big downside of the TG-Tracker is its low autonomy. Indeed, its battery resists only 35 minutes in 4K.
Ultimately, despite low autonomy and limited compatibility, it is a versatile cam action and resistant to the most extreme situations. Its image quality and sound are no doubt and have conquered its users. We still slightly preferred the Osmo Action for its 60 IPS in 4K and its greater autonomy.
5. Yi 4k Discovery action camera – the best cheap
The Yi Discovery offered by the Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi is positioned as the alternative (since its performance is lower) of the Yi Lite, which was the heyday of the brand in action cam very low price.
Design side, we are facing a very compact model, with the same dimensions as the Lite (6.5 x 4.2 x 3 cm), for a still reduced weight (66 g). So, it is compatible with its waterproof case.
It is a gray rectangular camera, equipped with a touch screen 2 “responsive and easy to use. The latter is assisted by a physical button for switching on the device. However, for better ergonomics, you have a mobile application offering many remote settings.
Compared to the Lite, the power button has not been improved since it is always on the top and the two microphone ports. The trouble is that the positioning of the fingers damages the capture of the sound.
Apart from that, no lack of ergonomics is deplorable, even if users would have wanted caches at micro-USB and SD slots, to better protect them.
On the component side, even though its 8MP sensor is a little weak, its 150 ° objective nevertheless offers interesting shots.
You can shoot in 4K but this can only be done at 20 IPS. However, to obtain a smooth image, it is necessary to count at least 25 IPS. On the other hand, one can film in Full HD in 30 and even in 60 IPS. It is unfortunate that this device is devoid of any electronic stabilization system, even if the image quality and sound remain correct for its price.
As for the connection, it is pretty basic with a Micro-USB charging port, a MicroSD slot, a Wi-Fi connection, and Bluetooth.
Finally, with its 900 mAh battery, you enjoy a battery life of approximately 1h15 recording Full HD 60 IPS, with the screen and Wi-Fi on.
In the end, this Yi Discovery, despite its low price and compactness, has interesting characteristics resulting in satisfactory catches. Although the 4K is not really useful and there is no fixing system, it is still the ideal entry-level model in today’s market.
6. My 4K from Xiaomi
It has high-end features at a mid-range price which makes it an option to take into account.
The Mi 4K Action Camera takes photos with high resolution 3840 × 2160 or records 4K videos at 30fps (the equivalent of movie quality); integrates wide-angle lenses up to 145º of vision with f / 2.8 aperture, to create photos with great depth and wider view; and the EIS 6-axis electronic image stabilization system for stable and clear shots.
Another of the strengths of its hardware is the 1450 mAh battery that allows a recording of up to 120 minutes in 4K at 30 fps.
Pros: Light and easy to carry: it is one of the most compact and weighs 99 grams, much less than its competitors. 2.4-inch rear touch screen.
Cons: Does not include accessories. It is fundamentally a camera for video. The resolution of the photos is 8 Mp, lower than other models.
7. APEMAN 4K Sports Camera
The Apeman A77 is a powerful and easy-to-use camera with 4K video, 16MP photo, Wi-Fi control, remote control operation, and waterproof design. The high resolution of 1600 pixels per inch offers clear, professional-quality photos. 4K / 25fps video speeds provide smooth slow-motion playback.
It also has a 170 ° ultra-wide-angle lens but, without a doubt, one of its strengths is that it allows hands-free operation thanks to the remote control that we can place on the wrist.
It also includes a complete set of 24 accessories (remote control, submersible housing, USB cable, 2 batteries, bike adapters, backpack, helmet …) and all of them compatible with GoPro.
Pros: It has a comfortable wristband with remote control (up to 10 meters) to make the camera easier to use Wi-Fi and HDMI connection.
Cons: * It has no motion detection and can not connect an external microphone.
8. Victure 4k WiFi Sports Camera
With the new generation of nt96660 chips, this action cam can record in Full HD 4k and take photos of 20mp resolution, with a wide viewing angle adjustable up to 170 degrees to not lose any detail of what is happening around.
It offers various shooting and recording modes: time-lapses, continuous shooting, timer shooting, ISO sensitivity, x4 zoom, immersion mode, night mode.
It comes with 15 accessories for the bike, backpack, helmet … and an aquatic housing that allows you to submerge it up to 40 meters, to take it to the pool or to the beach and record yourself surfing or doing any other water sport.
It incorporates a 2-inch LCD screen to view recorded photos or videos.
Pros: * Its two 1050mAh batteries allow up to 180 minutes of operation. Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to instantly share photos and videos via mobile on social networks.
Cons: * Does not include memory and its proper functioning requires a lot of space (it is recommended that the card be 64 GB).
9. Crosstour Sports Camera 4K 16MP
Its 170 ° wide-angle lens allows you to photograph larger scenes and capture the most amazing moments in the environment. All this in quality 4k and 16 Mp.
In addition, it incorporates electronic image stabilization (EIS), to record stable and fluid videos with a resolution of up to 4k / 30fps. This guarantees excellent experience in capturing images of moving objects.
The waterproof housing of this camera is made of IP68 material that allows it to be submerged up to 30 meters and protects it against rocks, dust, and scratches. It has Wifi connectivity.
Pros: It incorporates an external microphone of 2.5 mm (included) that amplifies the recorded sound and reduces noise. Professional shooting technology: it makes the best possible photo, correcting the effects of light or weather automatically.
Cons: SD card and charger are not included. The SD card must be Class 10 (maximum 32 GB supported) and formatted in FAT32 before use. The autonomy is less than in other cameras: with a full load, it can support a 90-minute recording.
SJCAM SJ8 Pro: equipped with an Ambarella H22 processor and a reactive touch screen, it allows recording in 4K 60 IPS thanks to its good stabilization. Its other strengths lie in its lightness, its excellent autonomy as well as its quality sound system. Nevertheless, its application requires an update. As a result, the ergonomics are penalized since this prevents effective adjustments.
DJI Osmo Pocket: Posted at a higher price than Osmo Action, it has similar characteristics. In its advantages, we find its ease of use and its intuitiveness. Thus, like her sister, she integrates a sensor 12 Mpx and shows many qualities in terms of ergonomics. Its small size “pocket” is particularly practical. But the same defects appear. In addition, the loss of image quality when rising in ISO and poor sound capture.
Sony FDR-X3000R: This cam action has a 108 ° angle of view. Its optical stabilization makes corrections to the image and makes good use of 4K. Supplied with its waterproof case and its control watch, it also has good connectivity. However, for its rather high price, it lacks options and is therefore not the most ergonomic. Its autonomy (50 min) is also perfectible.
Buyers Guide – best action cameras for the money
Since 2010, action cams have invaded a number of areas and are increasingly used by both amateurs and video professionals. Nevertheless, it becomes difficult to find truly innovative models.
In order to understand what distinguishes a good action cam, here is a list of criteria to take into account:
- The shape: two types of templates are usually proposed. Rectangular models have the main advantage of being fixed on any surface in a fairly stable manner. The “bullet-shaped” , which looks like a flashlight. Their advantage is their aerodynamics, compared to the action rectangular cams that offer more grip to the wind.
- Video quality: The majority of action cams are stabilized via digital software that does not work in 4K. In reality, what to look at, together with the resolution of the camera, are the IPS (frames per second) / FPS (Frame per second), which ensure the fluidity of movement. So, better a 2K image at 60 IPS than a 4K that does not fulfill its promises and caps at 20 IPS.
- The field of vision: the presence of a peripheral vision can be important, but it is also necessary to have the choice. Beyond 160 °, the deforming effect can be troublesome. Ideally, it is a setting mode 90 (natural), 110 (peripheral), or 160 ° (wide), so you can choose what is best for different situations.
- Settings options: these allow you to calibrate your image as well as possible. According to Nicolas ( Taco’s Travels ) for a boilerplate mode, 2.7K to 60 IPS or 4K is ideal. Underwater, the “wide” mode prevents magnifying effects while the “wide” or “SuperView” modes are suitable for skiing or mountain biking.
- The resistance: at the moment, it is almost unthinkable to see an action cam come out on the market without being equipped with the waterproof function or without being at least compatible with a waterproof case. In addition, if you want to shoot in extreme conditions, always check the minimum and maximum temperatures it can withstand, as well as its impact resistance.
- The autonomy: the maximum autonomy of the action cams generally turns around 3 hours. But some options (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4K, GPS, video return) can drain the battery much faster. The actual autonomy recorded on mid-range and high-end products often runs around 1h30. When you can, opt for a model with a removable battery.
- Connectivity: Almost all action cams come with a USB port to transfer the filmed footage to a computer. Nevertheless, some embark on other options, such as an HDMI port, to view the images on his TV. The Bluetooth connection and Wi-Fi are used to connect to the application available from your smartphone/tablet. In this regard, Tortuga Videos (Travel Influencer) states that one should not neglect the accessories that enhance the cam action, such as adding a small microphone or a mechanical stabilizer.
We carefully examined each of these points to preserve about fifteen models. By referring to specialized sites as well as user comments on blogs, channels, and sales sites, we were able to get a real idea of the quality of each of them.
In conclusion, which action cam to choose?
According to us, the best is the GoPro Hero7 Black. This is not surprising if it is unanimous on the market. It combines picture quality, audio quality, many setting options and above all, increased resistance to water and shock: all that requires action cam!
However, if you want to buy a cheap cam action, to take occasional shots of some of your journeys and a 4K definition is not a requirement, the Yi Discovery is the economical choice of the moment.
The DJI Osmo Action, for a smaller budget to GoPro Hero7, is a very good model that also has the 4K 60 IPS. The plus is that it includes two screens, ideal for self-portraits. However, the picture quality will be slightly higher at GoPro.