There are plenty of reasons to get an action camera due to their versatility. You can use it to film on your holiday, go for a swim with it, or even mount it onto your bike to capture some interesting perspectives. The possibilities are endless!
However, at the same time, there are so many choices (not to mention similar too) to choose from, so many that it may be overwhelming and tricky, even for me.
Thus, I decided to make a list of the best action cameras for you and I truly hope this helps to make a better decision and get an action camera suited to your needs and budget!
Without further ado, let’s get to it!
Ps. Overall ratings and summary below!
Best 6 Action Cameras 2019
GoPro has released another flagship action cam that did not fail to impress.
The main upgrade from its still dominant predecessor, the Hero 6 Black, is the ability for stabilization at 4K 60fps and its new gimbal-like stabilization tech, the Hyperlapse Stabilization that will definitely impress you.
New Hypersmooth Stabilization – WOW
Within a few seconds, the differences to its other competitors, such as the Yi 4K+, are pretty obvious.
Hero 7 Black’s amazing new stabilization technology is outright one of the best, if not the best in the market.
Therefore if you’re always moving around, you’ll never have to worry about holding it still ever again.
As a bonus, all your shots will look professional without any editing!
New TimeWarp Feature
As for the supposedly new Timewarp feature, which is just a form of stabilized hyperlapse, it really is nothing new since it simply combines the stabilization and timelapse videos for you.
In fact, it can also be done by any action cam simply by taking a stabilized video and then using your phone to fast forward it afterwards, which will achieve the same effect.
But I guess it’s better by GoPro to simplify all this into 1 step for you!
This feature will definitely come handy especially when you’re travelling and walking around as the perspective that you get can be really unique, entertaining and most importantly look cool!
Should You Get The Hero 6 or Hero 7?
A lot of the features, down to the video and photo quality are very similar.
The main difference for that $80 between the 2 is the Hypersmooth Stabilization and the ability for 4K 60fps stabilization.
However, another thing I liked more on the Hero 6 Black is its user interface as it felt more efficient and user-friendly than the Hero 7.
Well, so which one’s better for you?
For me, I’d say the $80 is well worth the difference since you’re getting a pretty significant upgrade over the Hero 6.
However, we’ll have to remember both of these cams are still the flagships of all action cams so I guarantee you won’t go wrong with either of these action cams.
GoPro Hero 7 Black
- Great Natural Looking Photos
- Ultra Smooth Stabilized Video So You’ll Never Get Shaky Videos Again
- Timewarp Allows For Cool Hyperlapse Videos To Impress Your Loved Ones
- Able To Stabilise 4K 60fps So Your Shots Are Smooth & Sharp At The Same Time
- Stabilization Can Be Buggy At Times
The Yi 4K+ had always been an extraordinary action camera, all the way back to the days that it was initially released.
Being the first 4K 60fps action camera to be on the market, it made a huge hype around the action camera community as no action camera had broken that barrier yet.
The Yi 4K+, flagship action cam by Yi Technology, alongside Yi 4K and Yi Lite captures super clear shots.
Moreover, with its 2.19″ touchscreen display, it just makes navigating around way more convenient and fun to use.
Because the Yi 4K+ is that good, it’s often compared to with GoPro Hero 6, the best action camera you can buy, in my opinion.
Check out this side by side footage comparison between the Hero 6 and the Yi 4K+, to see for yourself how close they come when compared to each other.
From the sample above, I feel that video quality on the Yi 4K+, compared to the hero 6 black, is on par overall.
Overall, in terms of image quality, I felt that the Yi 4K+’s performance surpassed the Hero 6 Black because it had more details and this can be partially explained by the bitrate* on the Yi 4K+ (135 Mb/s) being considerably higher than the GoPro (60Mb/s).
The only aspect where I felt the Yi 4K+ fell short noticeably is in low light conditions.
The colours on the Yi also isn’t that vivid but instead more natural.
As for sound quality, I felt the Yi 4K+ had clearer sound but when it comes to windy scenarios, it doesn’t do as well as the Hero 6 Black at blocking out the wind noise.
Also, although stabilization only works up to 4K 30fps, it still does a great job at smoothening small tremors and if you’re thinking about getting stabilized 4K 60fps shots, really consider getting a gimbal.
*Bitrate: the rate at which data is being transferred – higher bitrate generally means better quality but takes up more space at the same time.
Should You Get The Hero 6 Black or Yi 4K+?
If you’re planning to bring your action cam underwater, or require any motion sensors to detect how fast, high or where you were, investing in a bit more and getting the Hero 6 Black would be a better option.
Or else, the Yi 4K+, which costs just about half of a Hero 6 Black, is a great consumer-friendly alternative to the Hero 6 Black.
That’s why I feel it has tremendous bang for the buck as for half of the price of the Hero 6 Black, you get almost identical footage and build quality between the 2.
- Excellent 4K 60fps Videos
- Great Value For Money
- Fantastic Alternative To The Hero 6 Black
- Easy To Use Yet Equipped With Advanced Features Thus Ideal For Both Beginners & Professionals
- Doesn’t Come With Many Accessories
- No Built-in Waterproofness Thus It Requires An External Waterproof Casing To Be Waterproof
- No Sensors To Capture Motion Data
SJCAM has over been a well-known action camera company that can be dated back all the way to its first action cam the SJ4000.
However, after this few years, it has never before released an action camera over $200, with the new SJ8 Pro being the first to break this mark.
How Does It Fare Against The Hero 6 Black?
During my testing and reviewing of the new flagship SJ8 Pro, aimed at challenging other top action cams in the market, I found the SJ8 Pro, which has almost identical specs as the Yi 4K+ and Hero 6 Black, to have many pros and cons at the same time.
In terms of image quality, the SJ8 Pro captures 4K 60fps with almost the same sharpness as the Hero 6 Black and the Yi 4k+.
Check it out here.
The SJ8 Pro, which is the newest action cam on this list, comes equipped with the newest technology that no other action cams can challenge.
It is able to switch between 2.4/5 GHz Wifi band for fast data transfer to your phone, H265 video encoding designed to reduce storage without compromising image quality, retina IPS touchscreen for easy navigation, and many more.
That having said, the SJ8 Pro still has room for improvements, especially the stability of the firmware as there are a couple of mini glitches throughout.
SJ8 Pro vs Yi 4K+
For now, because the SJ8 Pro lacks important features such as live streaming and raw photos capability, Yi 4K+ still offers slightly more features, with the ones mentioned before and also some slightly more minute features such as lock ISO and more importantly voice control.
Because of this, I feel that the Yi 4K+ currently still has better value for money despite its biggest limitation which is the lack of accessories and is slightly more expensive.
Therefore even though the SJ8 Pro costs a little cheaper (same price if accessories included) than the Yi 4K+, I can only say what you’re paying for is what you’re getting at the end of the day.
Find out more about the SJ8 Pro in my in-depth review here!
SJCAM SJ8 Pro
- Tremendous Value For Money
- Extremely Well-Built Accessories For Reliable Mounting
- Ultra Clear Display So You’ll Still Be Able To Use It No Matter Where You Are
- User-Friendly Interface Makes It Easy To Navigate Around
- 5GHz WiFi For Rapid Media Transfer
- Audio Quality Isn’t That Clear
- Smartphone App Still Buggy At Times
Despite having a shape of a camcorder, the FDR-X3000 still remains portable and packs a lot of punch in that small body.
Being able to film in 4K 30fps surprises no one but the stabilization, on the other hand, truly impresses.
BOSS Image Stabilization
The stabilization on this action camera is entirely different to other action cams because the FDR-X3000 utilises optical image stabilization technology instead of electronic image stabilization.
This optical stabilization, Sony calls Balanced Optical SteadyShot (BOSS), works by suspending the whole lens barrel unit inside the camera.
Hence, when the camera shakes, the lens and image sensor will counteract the shake, reducing the effect of the shake tremendously, which allows the camera to create really smooth and sharp footages.
Wearable Live View Remote (Only Available With X3000-R )
Because the camera only has an indicator screen, but does not have a display screen, you have the option of purchasing it together with the camera, but not separately.
The live view remote allows you to wirelessly view the footage, using Bluetooth, from a distance.
However, in practical scenarios, when everything is moving rapidly, the remote proved to be unreliable because it wasn’t able to handle the vigour of a normal shooting and disconnected quite easily.
All in all, the FDR X3000 proved to be a great action cam, from its compact sturdy body and built-in GPS feature all the way to its most unique strength, the BOSS image stabilization.
However, if I were you, I’d go for the more affordable X3000, which comes without the remote because your smartphone can do an even better job than the remote.
- Amazing BOSS Image Stabilization So Shaky Videos Are Things of The Past
- Comes Together With Accessories Incl. 60m Waterproof Case So You Can Film Underwater Right Away
- Built-in Motion Sensors To Show Where You Went & How Fast U Were
- Tons of Customisations Can Be Made So You Can Get The Perfect Shot
- Live View Remote Isn’t That Great (For X3000-R)
- A Bit On The Pricey Side
- Lacks An On-Board Display Which Makes Viewing Inconvenient
The Mijia 4K, similar to the Yi 4K was a huge hit when it was released on the market.
That is because when the Mijia 4K was first released, it was one of the first action cameras to be able to film 4K with a touchscreen that costs slightly more than $100.
As a result, many people were sceptical of it as it was a little too good to be true. But turns out it was a really good action camera to this date.
The Mijia 4K has one of the largest if not largest, 2.44″ touchscreen display in the realms of action cameras, which makes navigating and customising all the more easier.
This is complemented by its large 1400mAh battery capacity so, despite that large display, it is still able to last long.
In addition, I found the overall interface to be very neatly categorised and clean. Because of this, I feel that this is extremely user-friendly and easy to use.
Moreover, the quality on the Mijia 4K is superb as well. It’s able to take 4K at 30fps and capture 8MP shots.
Mijia 4K Raw Sample
I also especially liked how it’s able to take raw images, which really shows the true and accurate colours of the image.
The community and support for this action cam are also some of the main reasons it’s doing so well.
They have a large customer support team dedicated to this camera alone and not to mention the community of Mijia 4K users so you’re not alone if you face any problems.
Moreover, if you’ve any queries or questions, their support team is really responsive so you really can’t go wrong getting this camera.
Overall, if your budget is about the $150 mark, I’d highly recommend the Mijia 4K because it is super user-friendly, has a great interface, great bang for the buck, and not to forget the awesome support you have from the community!
Xiaomi Mijia 4K
- Crisp & Vibrant RAW Photos To Capture What Matters In High Quality
- Long Lasting Battery Life To Last The Whole Day
- Responsive 6 Axis Stabilization For Smooth Videos
- Large Touchscreen Display For Easy Control
- No Accessories Provided So You’ll Have To Get Them Separately
Right off the bat, the Hero 5 Session cube-shaped body stands out from the other action cams I’ve recommended.
But don’t be fooled by its size because the Hero 5 Session, despite it’s tiny body still packs a heavy punch.
As a start, the Hero 5 Session is able to capture 4K at 30fps, has image stabilization and is waterproof up to 10m.
As for video quality, it performs really well and is pretty much on par with the Hero 5 Black, which is extremely good for something this tiny (and affordable).
Moreover, like other GoPros, it has all the nifty features that make your life easier such as the QuikStories App, the hands-free voice control feature and many more.
Small & Compact Body – Good or Not?
An obvious advantage of a small and compact action camera over its larger counterparts is its greater versatility when mounting.
In addition, it also makes carrying around way easier because it can fit into really small compartments in your bags which makes it all the better to travel, especially during backpacking trips.
However, as great as it may sound, there are still a few limitations when everything is that small.
Firstly, there aren’t any screen so you can’t easily tell what you’re filming but it’s compensated since it films a large area anyways.
Secondly, the one button interface which operates a simple menu system within the camera can be a little confusing and requires a little time to get used to but you can also opt to handle it through the app, which has all the different modes and options that you can choose from.
I also felt the Hero 5 Session to be very similar to the Hero in terms of the price & quality, with the obvious difference being the form factor.
All in all, I felt the Hero 5 Session is a great portable point and shoot camera.
But if you’re looking for something more ‘complete’ (like something with a screen or physical interface), then you might want to consider getting the GoPro Hero instead, for the same price.
GoPro Hero 5 Session
- Straightforward To Use – Great For Beginners
- Compact & Portable So You Can Mount It Wherever You Want
- State Of The Art GoPro App Allows For Quick & Easy Editing & Sharing
- Easily Reliable Voice Control Makes Using It Cool & Convenient
- Dual Mics For Clear, Non-muffled Sounds
- 10m Waterproof So You Can Snorkel & Swim Without The Hassle
- Non-removable Battery So It’s Dead Till You Charge It Again
- Short Battery Life But Very Common For Compact Cams
- No Screen Thus Needs Getting A Little Use To
That’s all the action cameras that came up to my mind for now. I’ll definitely update this article whenever I come across a ‘potential’ best action cam!