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The Best Action Cameras for All Situations

The GoPro Hero5 Black is great. But it’s not the only option.


It’s one thing to galvanize people with tales of your gravity- and death-defying expeditions. It’s another to provide visual proof. Thanks to the introduction of action cameras, pretty much anyone with a thing for the outdoors — novice climbers, intermediate cyclists, veteran X-Games athletes and the lot — is utilizing these point-of-view shooters for hi-def footage of mesmerizing scenery and insane stunts.

With demand for first-person adrenaline recaps rising, the market for these action cams has vastly expanded. Fresh faces and reputable imprints have largely followed in the footsteps of industry leader GoPro, but each new entry offers a different experience that caters best to a specific demographic. Fortunately for you, we’ve managed to narrow down the top offerings based on performance, suitability, features and price. Take a break from planning that next base-jumping adventure and get a closer look at the six best action cameras available now.

Additional contribution by AJ Powell and Tucker Bowe.

360fly 4K

Best Action Cam for 360 Video: If you need to see virtually every angle of your next big stunt, and can’t afford something like the 360Heros (plus the cost of 10 GoPro’s), the 360fly 4K is the perfect choice. It’s an upgraded version of 360fly’s rugged HD camera, with 4K video capabilities. Like its predecessor, the 360fly 4K offers immersive 360-degree video and is super rugged; plus, 360fly’s mobile app makes editing and sharing content easy and instant.

Read our full review, here.

Video Quality: 2880 x 2880/30 fps
Photo Quality: N/A
Notable Features: 360 degree video, water resistance up to one meter, shock resistance, dust resistance

Buy Now: $484

GoPro Hero5 Black

Best Overall Action Cam: The name GoPro has long been synonymous with the best in action cameras. And despite financial trouble earlier this year (plus issues with its Karma drone), the Hero5 Black is GoPro’s best action camera to date. Like the Hero4 Black, the Hero5 Black shoots 4K video and has a night mode for low-light conditions. This newest action camera also adds a two-inch touch display, water resistance (sans bulky housing) and voice control. You can toggle recording and take single photos and bursts with commands like “GoPro, take a photo!” Its intuitive user experience and improved image quality make it best in class.

Read our full review, here.

Video Quality: 3840 x 2160 (4K)/ 30 fps
Photo Quality: 12MP
Notable Features: waterproofing up to 30 feet, voice control, video stabilization, wind noise reduction, touch display

Buy Now: $394

Sony HDR-AS50R Action Cam

Editor’s Pick: Though not quite as popular as the GoPro, it’s hard to do better than Sony’s new HDR-AS50R. Sony’s newest action cam comes with a wrist-mountable, LCD screen wireless remote. The remote makes it easy to fine-tune the camera angle without having to take it off to adjust. It also features Sony’s SteadyShot image stabilization, which works well to keep your videos from looking shaky while running or mountain biking through the brush.

Video Quality: 1080p/60 fps
Photo Quality: 11.9MP
Notable Features: Zeiss Tessar lens, wide and narrow lens angles, Exmor R CMOS Sensor

Buy Now: $336

Nikon KeyMission 80

Best Wearable: Of Nikon’s 2017 KeyMission action cameras, the KeyMission 80 is the most practical. It’s much smaller than your mega-screened smartphone, and boasts very similar cameras: a 12.3MP camera for stills and 1080p video, and a 5MP selfie camera. Yet the KeyMission 80 adds a little ruggedness. It’s shockproof, freeze-proof and waterproof up to a meter. Technically, the KeyMission 80 is a wearable, with a clip for you to attach the camera to your shirt, backpack strap or belt. Basically, if you’re the hiking type who doesn’t want to risk pulling out your phone, this little guy is your pick.

Read our full review, here.

Video Quality: 1080p/30 fps
Photo Quality: 12MP
Notable Features: built-in image stabilizer, waterproof, shockproof, freeze-proof

Buy Now: $278

Yi Action Camera

Best Budget Camera: At only $81, the Yi Action Camera is a more affordable alternative to the GoPro Hero. It boasts similar specs — and oftentimes produces more vivid images. It functions much the same way as a GoPro and bears more than a passing resemblance. No, it doesn’t come with a waterproof case, but one can be purchased separately.

Video Quality: 1080p/60 fps
Photo Quality: 16MP
Notable Features: built-in wi-fi

Buy Now: $100

Garmin Virb Ultra 30

Best for the Stat Geek: Garmin’s Virb Ultra 30 has almost everything to go toe-to-toe with the GoPro Hero5 Black. It has voice control, 4K video recording and time-lapse capture. It also comes with an intuitive touchscreen display. It’s not waterproof, but it comes with a waterproof case that can dive up to 50 meters. The true differentiator is its built-in sensors that track everything from speed and pace to altitude and aerial rotations (snowboarders!). The camera also can sync with other Garmin devices, such as avionics equipment, heart rate sensors and sailing equipment.

Video Quality: 4K at 30 fps
Photo Quality: 12MP
Notable Features: wi-fi streaming, GPS, accelerometer, waterproof up to 50 meters with dive case, Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible

Buy Now: $400

TomTom Bandit

Best for the Lazy Video Editor: The main benefit of the TomTom Bandit is that it uses collected statistics and data to make your life easier. Based on GPS, accelerometer and altitude data, the Bandit automatically detects when something interesting is happening and marks it as a highlight. Then, using the app, you can edit a video together in minutes.

Video Quality: 3840 x 2160 (4K)/15 fps
Photo Quality: 16MP
Notable Features: Cordless charging and data transfer, automatic detection of highlights, onboard GPS, accelerometer and altitude sensors

Buy Now: $153

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