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The 3 Best GoPro Cameras of 2021 Reviews

Updated
Best GoPro Cameras

We've tested three of GoPro's flagship action cameras. GoPro is practically synonymous with action cameras, and the company has continued to refine its offerings each year. That said, we haven't tested certain models like the GoPro Max, the company's latest 360-degree camera, due to limitations with our current test methodology since we don't currently test 360-degree cameras. Still, you can typically rely on GoPro cameras to have excellent build quality, high resolution, and frame rates, and a solid companion app, making GoPros a sure bet if you want a high-quality action camera.

Updates

Best GoPro Cameras


  1. Best GoPro

    5.2
    Travel Photography
    7.3
    Landscape Photography
    5.8
    Sport & Wildlife Photography
    7.4
    Vlogging
    5.8
    Studio Video
    8.7
    Action Video
    Body Type
    Action Cam
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    1/2.3-inch
    Tested Lens
    Built-In Lens

    The best GoPro that we've tested is the GoPro HERO9 Black. It's incredibly portable, and you can easily mount it on a helmet or chest rig. Its dual-screen design is also ideal for vlogging, with a touchscreen on the back to adjust settings and another screen on the front that lets you see a live view of your recording to ensure you're always in frame. It's the first GoPro to shoot video in 5k at up to 30 fps, although we don't currently test 5k video capability. Otherwise, it can shoot in 4k at up to 60 fps to capture smooth fast-action or in FHD at up to 240 fps, which is great for generating up to 8x slow-motion video footage. It uses GoPro's 'HyperSmooth' digital image stabilization, which does a fantastic job of smoothing out camera shake.

    Unfortunately, it has disappointing low light performance. It can take photos that look good relative to other action cameras, but it has bad noise handling capability due to its small sensor. Its video quality is okay overall, particularly in 4k when recording in brighter lighting conditions. However, quality noticeably declines in FHD and when shooting in more dimly-lit conditions. Its battery life is decent, although this can vary greatly with settings and usage habits. All things considered, its compact size, front-facing screen, and impressive image stabilization make it one of the best YouTube cameras we've tested, on top of being the best GoPro we've tested.

    See our review

  2. Best Compact GoPro

    5.0
    Travel Photography
    6.8
    Landscape Photography
    5.7
    Sport & Wildlife Photography
    6.0
    Vlogging
    5.8
    Studio Video
    8.7
    Action Video
    Body Type
    Action Cam
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    1/2.3-inch
    Tested Lens
    Built-In Lens

    If you don't need the latest flagship model with features like 5k video and a front-facing live view screen, then the GoPro HERO8 Black is a solid option. The predecessor to the GoPro HERO9 Black, this model performs very similar overall and features an even smaller and lighter design, though it's only a marginal difference. It feels remarkably well-built, and like other GoPros, it's advertised to be fully waterproof, though we don't currently test this. Its video quality is okay overall, particularly when shooting in 4k in brighter lighting conditions, and it has very good internal recording capability as it can output relatively high-quality 100 Mbps video files. It has the same extensive frame rate options as its predecessor, allowing you to capture smooth video of fast-moving action or generate slow-motion footage.

    However, its image quality is notably lacking compared to the HERO9, so it's not the best option if you want to use it for still captures as well as action video since photos tend to look noisy and lacking in detail, especially at higher ISO levels. Its battery life is also just decent, though this can vary heavily depending on usage habits and settings. All in all, it's still a great option if you're mostly going to be using it for video, and its image stabilization feature does an incredible job of smoothing out camera shake when recording 4k or FHD video, although it does introduce a severe 1.5x crop. If you're looking for a reliable action camera that's remarkably lightweight and portable, this is a great option.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget GoPro

    5.1
    Travel Photography
    7.1
    Landscape Photography
    5.7
    Sport & Wildlife Photography
    6.0
    Vlogging
    5.9
    Studio Video
    8.9
    Action Video
    Body Type
    Action Cam
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    1/2.3-inch
    Tested Lens
    Built-In Lens

    The best GoPro camera to get if you're on a budget is the GoPro HERO7 Black. It's an older model, so it may be a bit harder to find now, but it offers great value for the price. Like its successors, it has a compact, portable design and is rated to be waterproof up to 10m, although we don't currently test this. It lacks a front-facing screen like the GoPro HERO9 Black, but unlike that model or the GoPro HERO8 Black, it includes a micro HDMI port, making it easier to playback video on an external display like a TV or monitor. It also has the same great 'HyperSmooth' image stabilization as its successors but actually scores better in our video stabilization tests because it incurs a less severe crop.

    That said, its battery life is noticeably worse than the other GoPro models, with shorter tested battery life for video at approximately 60 minutes of recording time. However, battery life can vary based on your choice of settings and usage habits. Like other GoPros, it also performs poorly in low light, with noticeable grain and visual noise when shooting in darker conditions. The video quality overall is passable, although that's fairly typical of action cameras. It's still a great choice for capturing fast action and generating smooth slow-motion video thanks to its frame rate options, allowing for FHD recording up to 240 fps and 4k recording up to 60 fps. All things considered, if you want to save some money and don't mind missing out on some of the latest features of newer models, this is a great option.

    See our review

Compared to other brands


  • Well-built, waterproof design. GoPro cameras typically feel well-built and are designed to withstand the elements. They're also advertised to be waterproof up to a certain distance, although we don't currently test this.
  • High-speed recording capability. GoPro cameras support high frame rates at high resolutions for high-speed recording. Most offer up to 240 fps recording in FHD and up to 60 fps in 4k, so you can smoothly capture fast action.
  • Good photo capability. GoPros tend to have better photo capability, with the latest flagship model allowing up to 20MP photos. They also typically have a wider ISO range and faster continuous shooting speed than competitors.
  • Lack of accessories in the box. Most GoPro cameras come with just the basics in the box, meaning you'll have to buy mounting accessories or mods separately.
  • Video quality is unremarkable. GoPro cameras tend to deliver okay video quality, but there's still a lot of room for improvement, especially when it comes to low light performance.

GoPro vs AKASO

GoPro cameras tend to have much better video quality, support higher frame rates, and feel better built than AKASO action cameras. If you're looking for a basic action camera that delivers lots of value for the price, AKASO cameras typically come with a wide array of accessories in the box. This includes various mounts, cables, and even zip ties, so you can get out there and start shooting right away.

GoPro vs DJI

DJI is one of GoPro's biggest competitors, offering a solid alternative that competes with GoPro in build quality and affordability. That said, GoPro cameras tend to deliver higher-quality photos and video and better stabilization.

GoPro cameras deliver when it comes to features and performance, but brand recognition also comes with a premium price to match. While there are alternatives that can save you some money or come with more accessories right off the bat, GoPro cameras stand out due to their typically higher-quality video, greater photo capability, and impressive video stabilization.

Recent Updates

  1. Sep 10, 2021: Minor updates to text for clarity and accuracy; no change to recommendations.

  2. Aug 12, 2021: Reviewed accuracy and availability of picks; no change to recommendations.

  3. Jul 16, 2021: Updated text for accuracy and clarity.

Conclusion

GoPro originated the action camera, and the brand reliably delivers features like impressive video stabilization and fantastic build quality. While the video quality still leaves something to be desired, especially in low light, you can't really go wrong with a GoPro if you're looking for a high-quality action camera.

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