Whether it’s for its outright image quality or value, each adventure camera on our list has been rigorously tested by us to make sure it deserves its place.
Whether you have a big budget or a small budget, this guide has an action camera for you. We ranked the top rugged 4K cameras based on our rigorous real-world testing, so you can choose the best one for your situation.
There are a number of action cams that are portable, tough, and, depending on the shooting mode, have good video quality. Check out our list to find the best camera for your needs.
|GoPro HERO10 Black|
|Insta360 ONE R 1-Inch Edition|
|AKASO Brave 7 LE 4K30FPS|
|GoPro HERO9 Black|
|DJI Osmo Action 4K Cam|
1. GoPro HERO10 Black
Although the Hero10 Black was launched without fanfare and is virtually identical to the Hero9 Black, it is still a significant upgrade over its predecessor. This is all thanks to its use of the all-new GP2 processor, which not only boosts frame rates but also enables the best image stabilization yet.
There is a 5.3K video at 60 frames per second, but don’t overlook HyperSmooth 4.0 – both in the video and photo modes – along with 23MP photos and best-ever low-light performance.
The Hero10 Black was worth the wait thanks to a nifty cable for super-quick content transfer from the camera to an app and photo uploads to the cloud while it recharges.
GoPro produces tough, reliable, and very effective action cameras, and you get what you pay for. This is definitely not the cheapest action camera you’ll find, but GoPro produces rugged, reliable, and very effective action cameras.
2. Insta360 ONE R 1-Inch Edition
Insta360 One R takes versatility to a new level, going beyond what GoPro has long claimed as its most versatile camera. Changing the camera modules in the One R gives you a variety of features and shooting options.
There are currently 3 module options: a 4K video wide-angle camera for traditional 4K action camera footage; a 360-degree camera with dual-lens; and a 1-inch sensor camera with Leica engineering for picture quality in low light.
It is easy to express your creativity with each camera’s unique capabilities. You can also get inspiration from the company’s mobile app and its Insta360 community if you get stuck. It has powerful editing features that enable it to create easy-to-share clips on the mobile app. You can also use its FlowState stabilizer to make all your footage look incredibly smooth.
Insta360 One R’s best feature is that the company never stops adding new functions and features to it. As an example, it just updated the device so you can use it as a webcam, plus the WiFi in the camera lets you live stream with the 360 camera.
The 360 camera also comes with a variety of accessories, including a dive housing and a selfie stick you can use with it that disappears from view when attached to the 360 camera.
3. AKASO Brave 7 LE 4K30FPS
Brave 7 LE comes with a lot of features for its price. If you are more concerned with the front-facing screen and weather-sealing than the video quality, then you should put it high on the list. It has a fantastic touchscreen interface and better audio quality than any other non-GoPro we’ve reviewed (in quieter environments, anyway).
Despite a decent video quality at 4K resolution, the video quality of the Brave 7 LE doesn’t quite match the rest of its features.
Despite its decent image stabilization, it relies heavily on noise reduction in low light, resulting in soft footage. It’s undoubtedly one of the best action cams out there for the money – and has more features than any other camera for the price.
4. GoPro HERO9 Black
Although the Hero 9 Black has now been succeeded by the Hero 10 Black, it is still worthy of consideration if you don’t need the absolute latest features, such as 4K/120p video or an improved front screen.
Due to the relatively small price difference between the two models, we think the Hero 10 is worth the additional cost for its improved usability. However, this model has the same sensor, design, and most of the same features.
The 23.MP sensor debuted on this model, as well as the ability to shoot 5K video with excellent detail. Furthermore, you get a convenient color display (albeit a little laggy compared to the one on the Hero 10) as well as HyperSmooth Boost (GoPro’s strongest stabilization) in every mode.
In addition to its super versatility, the Hero 9 has ‘Power Tools’ that include scheduled captures (setting a time for it to start recording) and HindSight (to capture action that happened 15-30 seconds before you hit the shutter). Its new processor and shooting modes, however, make the Hero 10 more polished and versatile.
5. DJI Osmo Action 4K Cam
In addition to drones, DJI produces a line of portable gimbal stabilizers and, to a lesser extent, handheld camera stabilizers – but the Osmo Action was its first action camera.
There is no doubt that the GoPro Hero8 Black competitor has been designed with this device in mind – and it gives the GoPro a serious run for its money.
A full-color LCD front display makes it one of the best action cameras for selfies and vlogging and makes it an affordable competitor to the GoPro Hero9 and Hero10.
When the camera lens is facing you on a selfie stick, Osmo Action is a perfect addition to ensure you’re the center of the shot. Additionally, the camera can respond to voice commands – switching views can be done with a voice command.
As well as being waterproof and rugged with removable lens covers, this camera also features electronic image stabilization, HDR video shooting, and customizable presets so you can choose the shooting modes you want to use without diving into menus.
If you want better control over the shots and videos you take, then this is the waterproof camera for you.
How to Choose a Best Action Camera?
Although the right action camera for you will depend on what and how you like to shoot, a good action camera will have some key characteristics.
In addition to being rugged and waterproof to at least a few meters, it should also be able to withstand rough handling.
In addition, it should also be simple to use, even in extreme environments. Touchscreens can make action cams easier to use, but if you plan to wear gloves while shooting, selecting a model with physical buttons may make more sense.
The image stabilization feature of an action camera is important to consider if you plan to use it on the move. The camera shake (from hands or handlebars) should be reduced, resulting in better-looking footage.
Depending on the quality of image stabilization, your video may or may not be smooth (or you might be able to live with a few wobbles). Digital image stabilization frequently crops the frame to eliminate movement when it has a higher resolution sensor. Using 4K footage instead of a 1080p video will give you better results.
Several of the best action cameras feature smartphone connectivity so that you can quickly edit and share your latest videos. Live streaming to platforms such as YouTube is also available in some models. The battery can be demanding on this, but it will come in handy if you intend to post straight to social media.
Slow-motion footage can be captured by most action cameras at 120 frames per second, and some models offer creative modes such as hyper-lapse.
If you want to create videos with minimal effort and with a variety of effects, you might consider a camera with creative presets.
Mounting options are available on the majority of models. When using one for a specialized task, make sure you find a suitable attachment that suits your needs.
There are a few action cams that go even further, offering modular setups so that you can add additional accessories, like microphones, lights, or even 360-degree lenses, to your video.