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Published Jan. 19, 2021

Have you ever tried to take a picture while driving with a subpar camera? Unless blur was your goal, chances are it didn’t come out the way you wanted it to. That’s why action cameras have quickly become so popular. These compact digital cameras are designed to take high-quality images, recordings, and still shots while in motion. Unlike a standard camera, these devices are designed to work in all conditions. You can use them rain or shine thanks to the waterproof design and ability to withstand a whole lot of wear and tear. Compact and strong, these cameras can mount on all types of equipment from motorcycles to off-road vehicles. They offer a record of your trip, letting you relive the glory of your adventures endlessly. Of course, that is assuming you find a high-quality camera. To help you in your pursuits, we’ve curated a list of the best action cameras on the market along with a handy breakdown to assist you in making the right pick. 

The Best Action Cameras

If you’re looking for a camera that can keep up with your demanding lifestyle, then the Akaso Pro Action Camera is a fantastic way to go. It features a prominent display that extends two inches across for a crisp visual. Receiving wireless internet from as far as 33 feet, it is easy to record using the remote control. Because the camera is waterproof, you can use it for all types of activities, including water sports. It mounts easily to just about any piece of equipment, holding steady thanks to the included hardware. Relying on rechargeable 1050 mAh batteries for power, the camera can take all types of pictures. From time lapse to slow motion to standard recording, this camera is a powerful choice that’s a good way to go overall.

Key Features
  • Captures video in 4k
  • 16 MP sensor
  • Display screen is 2 inches
  • Uses battery power and wi-fi
Specification
  • Brand Akaso
  • Model EK7000-Pro-Bundle
  • Weight 5.3 ounces
PROS

Waterproof and durable camera

Easy to mount on your ride

Large range of Wi-Fi access

CONS

Remote is not waterproof

Screen can be scratched

Not compatible with Mac products

Want something that is cost effective but doesn’t skimp on the features? Consider the Dragon Touch Action Camera for its quality design and overall affordability. It comes with two rechargeable batteries and a wristband among other accessories to help you track the action. Since it uses anti-shaking tech, you don’t have to worry about getting a blurry image. With a resolution of 20 MP, it takes crisp images in all different settings. The waterproof features let you capture underwater images. Plus, since you can adjust the angle over four different settings, it offers versatile performance that is ideal for intense sports. Considering the low price point and strong utility value, this action camera is a great value pick.

Key Features
  • Powerful Wi-Fi signal
  • Compatible with an HDMI cable
  • Waterproof design
  • 2-inch screen
Specification
  • Brand Dragon Touch
  • Model Vision 3
  • Weight 5.6 ounces
PROS

High-resolution images

Comes with a waterproof case

Batteries recharge quickly

CONS

Can be tricky to mount

Screen can get scratched

Controls are fairly nuanced

Those who prefer intense sports that lean towards underwater activities can get a lot of benefits from the GoPro Hero7 Action Camera. It features a streamlined design and a crisp display that makes for life-like images. Waterproof and sturdy, this camera can be submerged in water and still take high-grade pictures. The camera lets you take time-warp videos that stabilize the images and give you a clear result. Compact and lightweight by design, it includes gyroscopic technology that helps the camera stay steady. Since it has so many frames per second, you can slow down time and immerse yourself in adventures long after the fact. Excellent for taking high-quality recordings of outdoor excursions, this camera is a premium selection.

Key Features
  • Captures videos in 4K
  • Offers time-lapse and portrait
  • Waterproof abilities
  • Contains substantial memory
Specification
  • Brand GoPro
  • Model CHDNH-B18
  • Weight 4.2 ounces
PROS

Durable and long-lasting camera

Connects to wireless internet easily

Takes life-like high-res images

CONS

Comes at a fairly high price point

Controls are somewhat complex

Relatively small screen

Are you looking for a high-end camera that lets you take pictures in any setting? If that’s the case, then the Apeman A77 Action Camera is a solid choice. It features Wi-Fi compatibility that lets you connect to the internet from wide ranges. Paired with HDMI compatibility for picture upload, this camera makes it easy to take and preserve pictures. The waterproof abilities let you use it underwater, while the rugged case helps you keep it intact when used above ground. Taking video in 4K and pictures with 20 MP resolution, you get clear, realistic images. Coming with a whole host of accessories, you can easily mount this camera to many types of sporting gear.

Key Features
  • Includes Wi-Fi and HDMI compatibility
  • Able to work underwater
  • Prominent 2-inch screen
  • Takes videos in 4K
Specification
  • Brand Apeman
  • Model A77
  • Weight 2.24 ounces
PROS

Strong against external damage

Easy to use and control

Includes multiple accessories

CONS

Stabilizer can be tricky to use

Steep learning curve to downloading images

May have trouble connecting to the internet

Need a camera that can work just as well underwater as it can at the top of a mountain? Check out the Crosstour Sports Action Camera for its strong construction and overall durability. It takes crisp video in 4k, letting you effectively capture the moment. Powered by lithium batteries, it doesn’t waste power or drain the source quickly. Instead, it takes clear images with a 20 MP resolution. Connecting to the remote control on your wrist, it’s fairly easy to start and stop a recording. The waterproof design adds a lot of value, enabling you to take pictures from pretty much anywhere. Linking to your devices via wireless internet, the camera makes it easy to keep track of your adventurous history.

Key Features
  • Takes video in 4k quality
  • Image capturing in 20 MP
  • Works underwater and under pressure
  • Includes several mounting parts
Specification
  • Brand Crosstour
  • Model CT9000
  • Weight 0.564 ounces
PROS

Durable and easy to travel with

Heavy-duty mounting accessories

Results in crisp, clear pictures

CONS

Wrist controls aren’t very durable

Can be tricky to manage controls

Cannot go deeper than 131 feet

Are you focused on tracking down a quality camera that balances affordability with functionality? Well, the VanTop 4K Action Camera espouses these values well. It uses cutting-edge technology to effectively capture 4K videos that are meant to look as accurate as in the moment. Taking multiple images every second, the camera enables you to use lots of special features to enhance the videos afterward. Plus, the user-friendly touch screen makes it easy to control the camera at the moment. Working at depths of up to 100 feet, this durable and waterproof camera is a powerful choice for sporting enthusiasts.

Key Features
  • Camera adjusts over several angles
  • Captures images underwater
  • Includes sound management tech
  • Stabilizes images as they’re taken
Specification
  • Brand VanTop
  • Model Moment 4
  • Weight 2.7 ounces
PROS

Comes with multiple accessories

Works in all environments

Responsive touchscreen

CONS

Camera is very small

Can be easy to drop if not mounted

Screen is easy to scratch

Do you like to hit the trails as your preferred mode of outdoor adventure? If that’s the case, then the Cooau Wi-Fi Action Camera is a worthy selection. The camera uses modern technology, including a high-grade lens, to give crisp images that capture efficiently. Working efficiently, the battery-powered device won’t drain energy quickly. Instead, the stabilizing components take pictures without the noise and blur resulting from vibrations. Since you can adjust the angle over different settings without compromising the function of the microphone, this camera is great for side-by-siding activities. Powerful and reliable, this camera is designed to help you preserve the real-life memory of your trail-riding adventure.

Key Features
  • Takes videos in 4K quality
  • Captures images at 20 MP
  • Durable structure for longevity
  • Includes a powerful microphone
Specification
  • Brand Cooau
  • Model SPC06
  • Weight 1.1 pounds
PROS

Connects to smartphone or tablet

Stabilizes the camera for clarity

Can be submerged to a depth of 40 meters

CONS

Limited remote control range

Can be tricky to connect to devices

Somewhat limited device compatibility

Particularly if you are more focused on the firsthand experience and want a camera to preserve all your adventures, the Akaso 4K Elite-X Action Camera is a good pick. Its claim to fame is a powerful memory, fortified by the modern chip that holds onto a lot of data. The camera itself functions well, too. Touting a user-friendly touchscreen, it is always easy to control the camera, regardless of where you are. Waterproof and able to be submerged up to 131 feet, you can use it underwater with ease. For above-ground activities, the stabilizing technology and quality lens give you reliable results that let you preserve the memories of your trips in ideal clarity.

Key Features
  • Digital image stabilization
  • Powerful internal memory
  • Takes video in 4K clarity
  • Captures 16 MP images
Specification
  • Brand Akaso
  • Model EK7000-Pro-Bundle
  • Weight 1.15 pounds
PROS

User-friendly screen and controls

Can be submerged in 131 feet of water

Works at multiple different angles

CONS

Relatively low image resolution

Can get damaged by impact

Screen can be scratched

Best Action Cameras Buying Guide & FAQ

Finding the right action camera is a balance of assessing technology and determining how it translates into utility value. Sure, the vast majority of cameras are waterproof and incorporate stabilizing technology, but how well do they achieve those feats? The key is to look at the specifications of each of the cameras and use these metrics to determine the value of its offerings. 

Ultimately, it’s about figuring out what benefits you plan to reap from the action camera. Those who want the camera for use inside their vehicle will naturally want something different than a scuba enthusiast. Once you’ve determined what you plan to gain from the action camera, it is pretty easy to make the right pick. 

Hand holding small action camera with waterproof case
Unlike most standard cameras, action cameras are meant to work in all conditions.

Benefits of an Action Camera

There is no shortage of benefits when it comes to using an action camera, even in your day to day life. Of course, depending on how you plan to use it, you’ll look for different advantages. For starters, the main virtue of an action camera is the fact that it lets you preserve records. If used in your vehicle or as a motorcycle camera, it can keep a log of everything that happened on your road trip. 

On the other hand, if you plan to use the camera for a more outdoorsy purpose, then the main draw is that it lets you stay in the moment. Instead of stopping your trip to take a picture, you can rely on an action camera to get the job done. Plus, since these cameras use modern technology to stabilize the image, worrying about blur is a thing of the past. All things considered, there are tons of benefits to action cameras. 

  • Works in all environments including at high altitudes and deep underwater. 
  • Retains battery life over a long period so you don’t run out of power while it’s in use. 
  • Reduces the chances of blurry pictures even when you travel quickly. 
  • Most come with multiple mounting accessories to optimize versatility and work with your other riding gadgets.  
  • Connects to other devices so you can efficiently transfer and edit images. 
  • Takes videos and still frames to let you choose how to represent the memory. 

Types of Action Cameras

While action cameras have a lot in common, there are still some different types to keep your eye out for. Depending on how you plan to use the camera, you will want to lean towards a specific kind of technology. The most important thing is to make sure that the type you choose can keep up with the demands to which you’ll expose it.

Waterproof 

Possibly the most popular type of action camera, this type is designed for first-hand exposure to the elements. While these models set themselves apart through the waterproof feature, the virtues of this type extend beyond this. For starters, the camera is designed to be much harder. This means less vulnerability to damage from impact, temperature, pressure; and, of course, moisture. 

Additionally, waterproof cameras, since they are designed for vigorous activities, tend to be more compact. Sure, this means that the screen is likely to be smaller, but it also means that the camera will be lighter weight and easier to mount. If you plan to use the action camera for recording your outdoor excursions, then a waterproof camera is a good way to go. 

Above-Ground

One of many names used to refer to this type of action cameras, this type is more likely to be found inside of a vehicle. Action cameras are a popular way to track your progress while on the road. Many choose to mount it to the top of their dashboard to keep a log of the other vehicles on the road. 

These cameras tend to be larger and offer clearer resolution and a bigger screen. That said, because they aren’t designed to be submerged, the camera may not have heavy-duty waterproof abilities. However, if you are taking a long road trip to a new area, an action camera designed for above-ground use can be the ideal companion. 

How We Tested The Action Cameras

When assessing the action cameras on this list, there are a few key things we considered. For starters, since action cameras are all about user experience, we looked to the reputation of the manufacturer and the track record of the individual camera. By opting for selections with a proven track record of success, we were able to identify our first round of candidates. We aimed to identify top-quality action cameras from reputable brands. 

From there, it is all about the construction and quality of the technology used in the build. We took the top candidates and assessed their specifications. This told us everything from the crispness of the image to the effectiveness of the video-taking abilities. Paired with the cameras’ abilities to withstand the elements, we found the best action cameras. Finally, balancing price with value, we crafted this list of the top selections on the market. 

The Most Important Features of Action Cameras

There are a few standard things that you can expect from your action camera; since, without these features, it won’t be able to perform properly. Some overlap with standard video-taking technology while others are specific to action cameras themselves. To be a reliable camera, regardless of the type, it needs to have all of these features properly represented. 

Image Quality 

This is a fairly broad spectrum feature since it refers to everything from the resolution of the image to the lens itself. However, it is possibly the most important feature of the action camera. When checking the metrics, look for resolution in the range of 20 MP for the images. Opt for something that takes as many pictures in as short a period as you can find. Ideally, the video will be taken in 4k, something that is common on newer models. 

Cameras with good image quality will have a good lens, one that is designed specifically to optimize the picture when the camera is in motion. You will also need to find a camera that has gyroscopic technology. This stabilizes the image, reducing blurriness, and is critical to the camera functioning while in motion. 

Screen and Controls 

Another important feature of action cameras is the screen and controls. Most cameras on the market use a two-inch screen, though this doesn’t necessarily mean the resolution will be clear. It’s important you can see the picture on the screen so you can get an idea of how the final result will turn out. 

The controls are equally as critical. It is where you do everything from establishing the settings to managing the recordings to uploading the images. Many modern options connect both via Wi-Fi and an HDMI cable. It helps the camera to have both abilities. So long as the commands are easy to set, you will get a lot more use out of the camera itself. 

Power Source and Accessories 

All cameras require a power source, with the vast majority relying on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. What’s equally important is the camera not draining the power source too quickly. The good news is that most cameras are fairly energy-efficient, lasting over a long period before running dry. Both the remote and the camera itself need to last for your entire excursion. 

The final feature of action cameras is the accessories, the parts used in mounting the device. A good camera will give you multiple mounting options. This ensures the versatility of the camera since it lets you mount it in multiple places. Opt for something with the maximum amount of accessories to get the most function out of the camera. The mounting parts are especially important when using it as a dashcam, so you can ensure that it doesn’t compromise your visibility. 

Care and Maintenance of Action Cameras

All cameras need a fair amount of care to perform over the long term. The good news is that it is relatively easy to maintain these items, largely due to the durable structure. Most important to their wellbeing is proper storage. Be sure to limit the exposure to extreme cold and heat, especially over long periods. 

Aim to recharge the batteries fully every time to get the longest performance out of the camera. Keep the openings (like the HDMI port) free of dust and debris. You can use a container of pressurized air to achieve this feat. From there, as long as you wipe down the screen and store it in the carrying case, the camera should last over the long term. 

  • Keep the camera indoors in a cool and dry environment to enhance durability. 
  • Always ensure that the batteries are fully charged before setting out for an activity. 
  • Plug in and unplug any cables carefully to prevent issues with the attachment point. 
  • Wipe down the screen using a microfiber cloth to prevent the risk of scratches. 
  • Perform maintenance alongside your other devices since the needs are the same as with thermal imaging cameras and other digital models.
  • Mount the camera carefully to keep it steady and reduce the risk of damage. 
Digital camera installed on a bicycle
Compact and strong, action cameras can mount on all types of equipment from motorcycles to off-road vehicles.

Best Action Cameras FAQ:

When it comes to action cameras, there are so many choices that it is only natural to have a few questions. While each camera is a bit different, some things remain true across the board. The best thing to do is to gather all the information you can so that you can find the right fit for your needs. To lend a hand, we’ve addressed the most commonly asked questions below. 

Q: Which action camera is the best?

The best action camera is one that is steady, user-friendly, and durable. A good pick is the Akaso Pro Action Camera

Q: What is the best alternative to a GoPro?

While GoPros became a popular name, there are lots of other solid brands. Check out Akaso and Crosstours to get a feel for other options. 

Q: What is the best affordable action camera?

If price is your focus, look to options like the Dragon Touch Action Camera for its low price point and high-performance value.

Our Top Pick

After careful consideration and lengthy assessment, we’ve named the Akaso Pro Action Camera as our top choice. It works in all environments, creates crisp images, and is easy to control no matter how much experience you have with this type of camera. The good resolution and durable design make it a quality option for long-term use. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the ins and outs of action cameras, you can make your pick. It could be the Akaso Pro Action Camera or the affordability of the Dragon Touch Action Camera. There’s a camera for every action enthusiast, letting you enjoy the outdoors and preserve your memories forever. 

Sources:

  1. Action Camera – Wikipedia

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