Smartphones are always handy for capturing vacation snaps, but if you’re in the mood for some real adventure, they just won’t cut it. What you need instead is a camera that can withstand the elements and take a serious hit or two in the process – you need an action camera.
It’s no secret to those familiar with action cameras that GoPro tends to rule the roost with annual updates to its core devices, but there are several alternatives that not only outperform GoPro in some areas, but are simply better for different scenarios. . To let you know exactly which action cameras deserve your attention, we’ve highlighted our favorites here and specified the type of filming they excel at. No matter which one you go with, they are all the best of the best. .
Best Overall: GoPro Hero 10 Black
Honorable Mention: GoPro Hero 9 Black
Best GoPro alternative: Insta360 One X2
Best modular action camera: DJI Action 2
The most portable action camera: Insta360 GO 2
GoPro Hero 10 Black
There’s a reason the name ‘GoPro’ has become synonymous with action cameras in general, and it’s evident in the GoPro Hero 10. This bloated camera is definitely a lot more expensive than the other options on this list. , but the price is worth it in the long run. With the ability to shoot 5.3K footage at up to 60fps, the Hero 10 beats the competition in video quality, but it’s the new HyperSmooth 4.0 stabilization that makes it the perfect companion for any adventure.
Films in 5.3K at 60fps
Large, bright front screen
One of the most expensive action cameras available
Does not shoot 360 degrees
GoPro HERO 9 Black
Although it has since been superseded by the Hero 10, the GoPro Hero 9 is still a fantastic action camera in its own right. With up to 5K resolution and a bright, front-facing screen (like the Hero 10), the Hero 9 is perfect for vloggers. Because the Hero 9 has been out for a while, it offers a huge saving over GoPro’s new camera.
Shoots high-quality 5K footage
Significantly cheaper than the Hero 10
The front screen is ideal for vloggers
The Hero 10 captures better images
Insta360 ONE X2
Best GoPro Alternative
Even though GoPro has been in the market for longer, Insta360 has made a huge impact in the relatively short period of the company’s existence. The company’s recent flagship, the Insta360 ONE X2, not only records stable footage at up to 2560×1440 50fps, it also has the ability to shoot 360-degree video at 5.7K, making it the perfect option for VR filmmakers who need a (relatively) affordable, pocket-sized camera.
Rotates 360 degree images
Maxes out at 5.7K video
Comes with an included memory card
Insta360 app isn’t as polished as GoPro’s
Accessories are needed to get the most out of it
DJI Action 2
Best Modular Action Camera
For the Action 2, DJI decided to move away from the GoPro design of its previous action camera, opting instead for a modular design that makes the experience much more accessible than before. If you want to shoot some quick footage you can get it just from the Action 2 itself, but if you want to do some vlogging just snap the secondary display down and you’re set from.
Inspired modular design
Surprisingly small for what it can do
Battery module makes it easier to shoot for longer
Can be expensive when you factor in all the modules
Insta360 GO 2
The most portable action camera
The portability of the Insta360 GO 2 has to be seen to be believed. About the same size as an average thumb, this tiny camera can easily fit in the palm of your hand, but that doesn’t stop it from having some serious power under the hood. It can handle stabilization well with the company’s own-brand FlowState software and can even shoot up to 2560×1440 at 50 fps.
The charging case doubles as a remote control
Several accessories included
Can heat up quite quickly
Video quality is better elsewhere
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