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The 6 Best Action Cameras - Winter 2023 Reviews

Best Action Cameras

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 models 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 offers superior stabilization performance, a wide range of frame rates to record everything from simple slice-of-life videos to smooth slow-motion clips, and is rugged enough to keep up with your adventures, wherever they may take you.

We've bought and tested over 75 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for which action camera to buy depending on your needs and budget. Here, you'll mostly find portable action cameras that are designed specifically for POV footage from within the action. But if you're looking for a camera to shoot sports and fast action from afar, take a look at our recommendations for the best sport video cameras. You can also check out our picks for the best GoPro alternatives for more action cam options or the best cameras for YouTube if you want options suited for vlogging or content creation.

  1. Best Action Camera

    The GoPro HERO10 Black is one of the best action cams you can buy, and with the GoPro HERO11 Black out now, you can get the HERO10 at an even better price. The HERO10 is a significant upgrade from its predecessor, with a brand-new processor that gives the action cam mainstay a boost in low-light performance, stabilization, and frame rate options. With 5.3k video at up to 60 fps and 4k up to 120 fps, this is still one of the most capable action cams on the market.

    You're also getting GoPro's reliably sturdy build quality, waterproofing down to 33 feet (10 meters), and a front-facing screen that makes it super easy to see yourself while shooting in selfie mode. If the price is still a little too steep, older GoPro models like the GoPro HERO9 Black and even the GoPro HERO8 Black are still available, providing a great cheaper alternative to newer models. You won't get as many frame rate options or a front screen with the HERO8, but they're both reliable and highly effective action cams.

    See our review

  2. Best Mid-Range Action Camera

    DJI is one of the few manufacturers giving GoPro a run for their money and innovating the action camera market in the process. While they've since released the DJI Osmo Action 2, with a unique modular design, the original DJI Osmo Action has a more traditional form factor and makes for an excellent mid-range model. Before even the GoPro HERO9 Black, the Osmo Action was the first action cam to introduce a front-facing live-view screen, opening up the action camera to vloggers as well as extreme sports enthusiasts.

    Build quality also rivals the GoPro, with a sleek silver design complete with vents and a built-in heat sink to help prevent overheating. Frame rate options are, of course, more limited compared to the much newer GoPro HERO10 Black—you won't get 5k video here, and 4k maxes out at 60 fps—but this is still a very capable action camera at a very attractive price point.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Action Camera

    If you're on a tighter budget, the AKASO Brave 7 LE is a solid GoPro alternative that won't break the bank. Despite its relatively affordable price point, this camera feels well-built and has an IPX7 rating, meaning it can withstand submersion in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes. However, you'll need to put it in the included protective case to get more extensive waterproofing for scuba diving and underwater adventures.

    Like the GoPro HERO10 Black and the DJI Osmo Action, the Brave 7 LE has a secondary front screen that's helpful for vlogging. While its stabilization feature works well, it isn't as effective as pricier cameras and imposes a severe 1.6x crop. The other trade-off is in frame rates, which max out at 30 fps in 4k. Don't worry, though—you can still record 120 fps slow-mo footage in 1080p. If you can live with those compromises, this is a great action cam for the price.

    See our review

  4. Best Cheap Action Camera

    There are plenty of cheap GoPro knockoffs, but the best cheap action cam we've tested is the AKASO V50X. It's a solid camera if you want something highly portable and affordable. It feels cheap compared to the sturdy build of GoPro cameras or even the DJI Osmo Action, and it's only waterproof when you put it in the included protective case.

    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, making it incredibly easy to get out and start shooting. Frame rates are limited, especially compared to the extensive options offered by a top-of-the-line 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.

    See our review

  5. Most Portable Action Camera

    If you need something especially portable, the Insta360 GO 2 is the way to (excuse the pun) go. Marketed 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 option that can fit into the tightest of spaces. It also comes with a magnetic pendant necklace that lets you discreetly shoot chest-level footage.

    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 DJI Osmo Action or the GoPro HERO9 Black, which both fall around the same price point, the GO 2 can't record 4k video; it's limited to a max resolution of 1440p, and it has fewer frame rate options. Still, if you're looking for an extremely portable, minimalist solution for on-the-go video, this is a nifty little camera with tons of extra features.

    See our review

  6. Best Handheld Action Camera

    Calling the DJI Pocket 2 an 'action camera' might be debatable, but this pocket camera stands out for its built-in gimbal, which lets you shoot buttery smooth handheld footage of action or sports. The gimbal works incredibly well and can stabilize the camera across three axes, which you can configure a few different ways, meaning you can lock the horizon, for instance, 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, for one, 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. Overall, this is a great portable camera for those who want to shoot stabilized handheld video without carrying a lot of extra gear.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • GoPro HERO8 Black: The GoPro HERO8 Black is an older version of the GoPro HERO10 Black that offers a lot of value. It has the same fantastic stabilization performance found on the latest GoPros, but you can't use its front screen for Live View, and it doesn't have 5k video capability. See our review
  • Sony RX0 II: The Sony RX0 II is a unique rugged ultra-compact camera, but it comes at a premium price, even compared to newer GoPros like the GoPro HERO10 Black. It stands out for its larger one-inch sensor, providing better video quality, but it isn't necessarily worth the price for action video. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Dec 08, 2022: Minor touch-ups to text for clarity; no change to recommendations.

  2. Oct 12, 2022: Restructured article and updated picks to re-align with user expectations and market developments.

  3. Mar 02, 2022: Ensured picks are still accurate and available.

  4. Jan 31, 2022: Verified that picks still represent the best choice for their given categories.

  5. Jan 10, 2022: Reviewed picks for accuracy and availability with no change to recommendations.

All Reviews

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.