Action cameras are a different breed of digital camera: Ultra-compact, waterproof and extremely durable. The best action cameras can capture compelling high-resolution video and still images during any adventure. Because of their small size and light weight, these cameras can capture unique and visually interesting content, going where larger cameras cannot.
Action cameras, like the GoPro Hero 11 Black can be mounted on your body to capture stunning … [+]
Many action cameras have built-in electronic image stabilization to record ultra-smooth video at up to 6K resolution at 60 frames per second. Plus, you can take vibrant still images. These versatile cameras have a wide range of specialty mounts to secure the camera to your body or your equipment. Many of these cameras have an LCD at back to frame images, as well as a second one on the front so you can position yourself in-frame while vlogging.
Even if you’re not an outdoor adventurer or extreme sports enthusiast, these pocket-sized action cameras are ideal for capturing memories wherever you go. We’ve done the research and testing to compile the very best action cameras you can buy today.
Best Action Camera Overall
Endless Versatility And Creativity
Video resolution: Up to 5.3K at 60 fps | Still image resolution: 27 megapixels | Waterproof rating: Up to 33 feet | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB Type-C | Display size: 2.3-inch (rear touchscreen), 1.4-inch (front)
Best for: Vloggers who occasionally battle the elements.
The new GoPro Hero11 Black solidifies GoPro’s place atop the action camera heap, with meaningful upgrades to both video and battery life. It now uses an 8:7 aspect ratio sensor and supports 10-bit color, up from the 8-bit color on the Hero10 Black. The larger sensor enables better imaging quality and shooting flexibility. For example, you can now shoot 5.3K video at up to 60fps, 4K video at up to 120fps and 2K video at up 240fps—all options which provide greater cinematic and creative potential. It also has a range of specialty shooting modes for capturing slow-motion, time-lapse and low-light videos. And the improved HyperSmooth 5.0 image stabilization effectively mitigates camera shake and now includes horizon leveling.
The advantage of the Hero11’s small, rugged design is you can use it almost anywhere—on the icy slopes or in water up to 33 feet deep (and more with an optional housing). It comes with an Enduro battery, which is optimized to last long even in cold weather. When you buy the camera directly from GoPro, you get the best price and a free accessories bundle (worth $250) which currently includes a spare Enduro battery, a handheld grip, a head mount, a 32GB microSD card and a 1-year GoPro subscription (with unlimited cloud storage, access to GoPro’s Quik editing app and a camera replacement warranty).
- Variety of video shooting modes
- Captures 5.3K resolution video at 60 fps
- Front- and rear-facing displays
Best Interchangeable Lens Action Camera
Tiny, With Multiple Lens Options
Video resolution: Up to 5.7K at 30 fps | Still image resolution: 48 megapixels | Waterproof rating: Up to 16 feet | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB Type-C | Display size: 1.3-inch LCD
Best for: Capturing action videos and 360-degree perspectives with the same camera.
The Insta360 ONE RS Twin Edition is more expensive than other action cameras, but it’s really two cameras in one since it comes with two different lenses. It has a unique, snap-together modular design made of three pieces—a battery base, an interchangeable lens and the touchscreen display for framing your shots. The Twin Edition comes with both the 4K Boost lens (without lens cover) found in the $300 Insta360 ONE RS and a 5.7K 360-degree lens. With the 4K Boost lens, the camera captures still images at up to 48 megapixels.
You can position the touchscreen display to face forwards or backwards, depending on what and how you’re shooting. The camera comes with a mounting bracket so you can easily attach the camera to a selection of optional accessories—including the Insta360 selfie stick, which the camera can automatically remove from your images and video footage. Another convenience: The camera can wirelessly transfer content to a mobile device or computer to edit and share. The rechargeable battery lasts between 60 and 80 minutes, depending on the shooting mode.
- Unique modular design
- Includes 360-degree lens
- Capture still images at up to 48 megapixels
- Protective rubber lens cover (recommended) sold separately
- Few specialty mounts available
Best 360-Degree Action Camera
Captures Video At Up To 6K Resolution
Video resolution: Up to 6K at 30fps | Still image resolution: 21MP | Waterproof rating: IPX3 | Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C | Display size: One-inch touchscreen (rear)
Best for: Shooting with a new perspective.
This unique 360-degree camera is part of Insta360’s modular ONE RS platform. Co-engineered with Leica, the camera module uses two 1-inch CMOS sensors to shoot detailed 6K, 360-degree video at up to 30fps. Like other 360-degree cameras, this model has the camera mounted vertically, with the base designed as a handle with its own built-in display. The camera uses six-axis image stabilization and has a horizon lock, so video looks extra-smooth whether you’re shooting while walking or while participating in intense activities. The new PureShot HDR mode uses AI to improve exposure and dynamic range, especially for night photos.
While the camera specializes in capturing 360-degree video in virtually any lighting situation, you can reframe your content as a traditional flat video and share it on social media. Similarly, the camera creates still images by automatically stitching the two views together into one 21-megapixel ultrawide image. As with the Insta360 ONE Twin Edition, the camera automatically removes the Insta360 selfie stick from your photos and videos. The camera has IPX3 water resistance, but it isn’t as rugged as other action cameras. When not using the camera to shoot action, it can serve as a webcam for meetings or live streams.
- Easy one-handed operation
- Captures 6K, 360-degree video
- Transfers videos wirelessly
- Limited water-resistance (not waterproof)
- Small touchscreen display
Best Budget Action Camera
Great Features At A Fraction Of The Price
Video resolution: Up to 4K at 30 fps | Still image resolution: 20 megapixels | Waterproof rating: IPX8 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB Type-C | Display size: 2-inch touchscreen LCD (rear), small display (front)
Best for: Budget-conscious sports and adventure vlogging.
The Brave 7 offers an economical way to capture vibrant video and stills in a compact, adventure-ready package. Akaso creates action cameras that look and perform very much like GoPro’s Hero—and they do so at a lower price, without the services you get with the GoPro. The sports-optimized Brave 7 doesn’t match the shooting flexibility of the GoPro Hero11 (the newer, and more expensive, Akaso Brave 8 ($290) comes closer to that GoPro model). However, the slightly older Brave 7 still packs a powerful punch, capturing 4k video at 30 fps using six-axis electronic image stabilization. The shooting modes include time-lapse and slow-motion video, and the camera lets you choose from four shooting perspectives (70, 110, 140 or 170 degrees).
The camera has a 2-inch rear touchscreen and a smaller front-facing display for framing vlogs. Housed in a sturdy, IPX8 waterproof chassis, the Brave 7 can go underwater to 33 feet. The camera’s body is compatible with the ecosystem of third-party GoPro mounts and accessories—an ecosystem that widens how you can place and use it. It even comes bundled with some accessories to get you started, including a 2.4GHz wireless remote control, bicycle stand, helmet mount, additional mount connectors, USB Type-C cable and more. GoPro charges extra for many of these accessories.
- Shoots up to 4K video at 30fps
- Low price
- Includes variety of mounts
- Middling battery life
- Doesn’t perform as well in low-light
Best Action Camera For Vlogging
Record Smooth Video Footage While On-The-Move
Video resolution: Up to 4K at 60 fps | Still image resolution: 64 megapixels | Waterproof rating: N/A | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB Type-C | Display size: Small touchscreen LCD (rear)
Best for: The best video stability for non-hazardous conditions.
The DJI Pocket 2 camera is unlike other action cameras. It has a vertical design, with a tiny touchscreen display in the center and a small camera mounted on a 3-axis gimbal at the top. This physical gimbal counteracts camera motion to produce consistently smooth video. Its design is conducive to hold in one hand; or you can use a mount for hands-free use. The Pocket 2 captures 4K video at up to 60fps, with four-channel audio recorded from its four microphones. Plus, it captures stills at up to 64 megapixels.
The small display is just barely enough to adjust camera settings and frame your recordings. You can tilt and pan the camera with a joystick add-on that’s part of the Creator Combo, which also comes with a wireless microphone transmitter and microphone windscreen among other accessories. The 20mm wide-angle lens provides a 93-degree field-of-view, and the Pocket 2 supports digital zoom from 2X for 4K video up to 4X for 1080p. The camera also has a variety of specialty shooting modes, including panorama, glamour effects, motion-lapse and hyper-lapse for additional creative angles; and it flips around on the gimbal for first-person vlogging. Weighing just 4.1 ounces, this versatile camera is light enough to keep in a pocket and always have on-hand, ready to shoot. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 140 minutes of continuous shooting. It can’t withstand the elements, but it’s an ideal run-and-gun option for any other situation.
- Easy, one-handed operation for vlogging and filming
- Built-in gimbal
- Shoots up to 4K video at 60fps
- Waterproof case sold separately ($55)
- Not designed to withstand harsh climates