If you're planning on shooting action videos, a dedicated action camera can be an invaluable piece of equipment. These tiny, rugged, and often water-resistant cameras are designed to mount to a wide variety of equipment, from chest and helmet rigs to sports cars and watercraft. A high-quality action camera should have good digital image stabilization, a wide range of frame rates for smooth action and slow motion, and be rugged enough to keep up with all of your adventures, wherever they may take you.
We've bought and tested over 90 cameras in our lab, and below, you'll find our recommendations for which action camera to buy, depending on your needs and budget. We've stuck to dedicated action cameras here, but if you're looking for a camera to shoot sports or action from the sidelines, you can look at our recommendations for the best video cameras for sports. For more action cam options, you can also check out our favorite GoPro alternatives. Or, if you want a camera more suited to vlogging and content creation, try our best cameras for YouTube.
While replaced by the GoPro HERO11 Black, which has a new 8:7 sensor that gives you more flexibility with cropping, the GoPro HERO10 Black is now an even better deal, especially if you want a more traditional action cam. It's a notable step up from its predecessor, with a new processor that boosts the camera's low-light performance, stabilization, and frame rate options. With 5.3k at up to 60 fps, 4k at up to 120 fps, and 2.7k/1080p at up to 240 fps, you can capture everything from smooth action video to super slow-motion in high quality.
You're also getting GoPro's reliably sturdy build quality, with waterproofing down to 33 feet (10 meters). HyperSmooth video stabilization works like a dream to ensure your footage is buttery smooth, and the camera's selfie screen makes it a solid vlogging camera too. If you're looking for something cheaper, going back another generation and getting the GoPro HERO9 Black is a great way to save some money. While its video quality isn't quite as good in low light and has fewer frame rate options in 4k and 5k, it still holds up really well.
If you're on a tight budget, the AKASO Brave 7 LE is a solid action camera for the money. Despite its lower price point, the camera feels well-built and has an IPX7 rating, so it can withstand light submersion in water. If you want to use it for more extensive underwater recording, there's also a protective case included in the box that renders it waterproof down to 131 ft.
Like the GoPro HERO10 Black and GoPro HERO9 Black, the Brave 7 LE has a secondary front screen that's helpful for vlogging. Its stabilization feature works well overall, though it imposes a severe 1.6x crop and isn't as effective as pricier action cams. The other trade-off is in frame rate selection. The camera maxes out at 30 fps in 4k, although you can still record 120 fps slow-motion footage in 1080p. If those aren't dealbreakers, this is a great budget action camera.
You'll find plenty of cheap GoPro alternatives on the market, but the best cheap action camera we've tested is the AKASO V50X. It's a solid camera that won't break the bank, and though it doesn't feel as premium as a GoPro, it comes with a protective case, just like the AKASO Brave 7 LE. Unlike that model, however, the camera itself isn't IPX-rated, so you'll need the case for any underwater recording.
On the upside, this thing comes with plenty of mounting accessories in the box and has a simple user interface that's easy to use, so you can get out and start shooting immediately. Frame rates are more limited, especially compared to a top-tier camera like the GoPro HERO10 Black, but you still get 4k at 30 fps and 1080p at 30 or 60 fps. Bottom line: if you're looking for a straightforward camera for action video that won't cost you a fortune, this is a solid option for the price.
If you need something portable, the Insta360 GO 2 is the way to go (excuse the pun). Marketed by the manufacturer as the world's smallest action camera, this tiny camera will appeal more to vloggers and content creators than rugged adventure-seekers. However, it's a unique camera that can fit into the tightest spaces. It also comes with a magnetic pendant necklace that makes it easy to shoot hands-free video.
On top of that, it has some neat features you can access through the Insta360 companion app, including a built-in editing suite and video stabilization that you can apply after the fact. That said, unlike the GoPro HERO9 Black, which falls around the same price point, the GO 2 can't record 4k video; it has a max resolution of 1440p and fewer frame rate options. Overheating can also be an issue during longer recording sessions. Still, if you're looking for an extremely portable, minimalist solution for on-the-go video, this is a nifty little camera with many extra features.
Calling the DJI Pocket 2 an 'action camera' might be a stretch, but it stands out for its built-in gimbal, which lets you shoot buttery smooth handheld footage without additional accessories. The gimbal works incredibly well and can stabilize the camera across three axes, which you can configure in different ways. For instance, you can lock the horizon or prevent the camera from tilting and rolling.
On top of its stabilization, the camera has an active tracking mode that can lock onto a specific subject and automatically follow them. You don't get as many frame rate options as you do with the GoPro HERO10 Black, but the camera's 1/1.7-inch sensor gives it a leg up on most action cameras for video quality and low-light performance. It's a great option for those who want to shoot stabilized handheld video without carrying extra gear like gimbals or tripods.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best action cameras for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our action camera reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.