For the most daring of mountain climbers, oceanic explorers and cave-divers, capturing the wildest moments of your most perilous journeys is a task best handled by a powerful, portable and tough-as-nails camera. Sure, a traditional camera or a great smartphone can handle some of your adventures, but there’s so much more that an action-style camera can do.
Fortunately, the best sports and action cams are rugged, lightweight and waterproof. You’ll forget they’re there, but they’ll help you preserve your memories. They also have stabilization features, so your footage won’t be too wobbly to watch. And today’s sports and action cams fit in your bag as easily as they fit in the palm of your hand, making them an essential gadget to travel with on your next trip or extreme sports adventure.
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From a top-of-the-line option from GoPro to more affordable budget picks, these are the best sports and action cams to get.
How We Chose the Best Sports and Action Cameras
When it comes to action-oriented cameras, you need a device that’s easy to use, lightning-fast, durable, portable and simple to accessorize. When researching the top sports and action cams, here are several of the key criteria that we took into consideration.
Resolution and motion capabilities: With 4K a current consumer tech staple, we expect every action cam to deliver HD resolution that’s at least over 1080p. Additionally, we made big efforts to only include cameras that delivered motion features that best enhanced whatever resolutions were available. Not only should your photos and videos be filled with color and depth, but the action should be sharp and crystal-clear, with minimal blur and artifacts.
Durability and portability: The best sports and action cams should be armored to the teeth, complete with rugged casings, strong weather resistance and waterproofing metrics that guarantee safety on the high seas. Additionally, we made sure to include cameras that were easy to throw in a bag, clamp to a helmet and throw on a mount. When it comes to action cams, portability is just as essential as durability.
Accessories and other attachments: We looked for action and sports cams that could be accessorized. Some of these cameras are magnetized to allow add-ons like cases, mounts and other quick-snap peripherals. Then there are options like the Insta360 Go 2 that come with a bunch of attachments right out of the box. Variety and customization are the name of the game with accessories, and we did our best to represent both.
1. Insta360 ONE RS Twin Edition
When it comes to arresting, action-heavy video, no action or sports cam captures lightning in a bottle like the Insta360 ONE RS Twin Edition. It’s unique for its modular design, which allows you to swap out its camera lenses. The Twin Edition comes with 4K and 360-degree lenses, so you can choose what suits your needs. The latter is especially noteworthy because it allows users to shoot video and worry about the framing later. And when you factor in the camera’s Auto Exposure Bracketing for snapping multiple pics at once, the excellent Insta360 app for customizing all your best photos and the tough waterproofing, it becomes clear why the Insta360 ONE RS Twin Edition tops our list
Additionally, there’s also the Insta360 One R 1-inch Edition to consider that equips with a powerful Leica one-inch sensor (hence the name) and optics, the Insta360 delivers jaw-dropping color, contrast and frame-by-frame accuracy, thanks in part to its 5.3/30FPS image-capture capabilities.
2. GoPro Hero10 Black
The GoPro Hero10 is a powerhouse of an action cam that will handle any shooting situation you can throw at it. The brains behind the operation is GoPro’s revolutionary GP2 processor, which allows the Hero10 to capture photos quickly and smoothly while allowing for fast and easy controls across the entire camera. In terms of picture and video strengths, the Hero10 delivers 23MP snapshots and 5.3K resolution at 60FPS.
3. DJI Action 2
BEST FOR ACCESSORIES
Tough as nails, the DJI Action 2 can take on drops, dings and dunks of all kinds. Capable of being submerged in up to 10 meters of water, you’ll come for the portability and durability and stay for the near-endless accessorizing. The Action 2’s magnetic body allows you to instantly attach several DJI and third-party peripherals to the cam, from tripods to suction cup mounts. We also love the RockSteady 2.0 Stabilization, an onboard feature that delivers the kind of motion-clarity typically reserved for expensive gimbal attachments.
4. Insta360 Go 2
A BITE-SIZED OPTION
About no bigger than the average index finger, the Insta360 shoots at 1440p/50FPS, which is impressive when you consider how much processing power can be stored in such a small body. But that’s only scratching the surface. Packaged with a series of magnetized accessories, you’ll have an attachment for every cinematic situation, as well as a multi-purpose charging case that also as a remote and tripod for the Go 2.
5. GoPro Hero9 Black
ANOTHER AWESOME GOPRO
If the GoPro Hero10 is a bit out of your price range, the Hero9 is a solid second-best. Delivering 5K resolution video and 20MP photos, you’ll get all of the responsiveness and sharp detail that one expects from the GoPro brand, on top of HyperSmooth 3.0 stabilization for dialing in the action. The Hero9 will save you a few bucks and provide a shooting experience that is nearly identical to what you’ll receive with the Hero10.
6. AKASO EK7000
BEST FOR UNDERWATER VIDEO
The Akaso EK7000 is designed for life under the sea. Capable of being submerged up to 98 feet with its waterproof case attached, you’ll be able to use the EK7000 for all of your scuba, water-skiing and surfing needs. And with its 170-degree field-of-view and the ability to shoot 4K video at 30FPS, you won’t miss a second of whatever aquatic action you plan to capture.
7. DJI Pocket 2
BEST IMAGE STABILIZATION
When it comes to stabilization, the DJI Pocket 2 is the way to go when it comes to the best action cams. With its motorized three-axis gimbal system, the Pocket 2 follows its subjects smoothly and accurately, delivering photos at up to 64MP and videos in 4K resolution, both free of blur and other photographic and video-based inconsistencies. On top of its medley of customizations and app features, the Pocket 2 is lightweight (only 116 grams) and has a powerful 140-minute battery.
8. Dragon Touch 4K Action Camera
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK
On its long list of laurels, the Dragon Touch 4K Action Camera stands out in multiple ways. For starters, you’re getting a sports and action camera that shoots at up to 4K/30FPS, has a lens that captures a wide 170-degree field-of-view, can be submerged up to 100 feet and includes several handy accessories and in-app editing capabilities. But the real win is the Dragon Touch 4K’s price. You can score this amazing action cam for under $70! It may not be the most powerful action cam on the market, but it can certainly go toe-to-toe with the best of the best, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find this competitive price elsewhere.
9. Ricoh Theta SC2
IMMERSIVE 360-DEGREE IMAGERY
Designed to capture breathtaking 4K picture and video, the big calling card here is the SC2’s 360-degree field-of-view. Whether you’re trying to capture all of your family and friends at the biggest birthday party you’ve ever thrown, or you don’t want to miss an inch of the action at whatever sporting event you attend, the Theta SC2 won’t miss a beat.
10. GoPro Max
ANOTHER GREAT 360-DEGREE OPTION
In the world of the best sports and action cams, nothing says “reliability” like the GoPro name. And if you require a solid 360-degree style but don’t want to go with the Ricoh model, the GoPro Max is a stellar alternative. On top of regular photos and video, the Max can shoot 360-degree scenes as well as 270-degree panoramic shots. That’s on top of Max HyperSmooth for ultimate image stabilization and your choice of four digital lenses for the perfect framing of every single shot.
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