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!
Best Action Cameras 2019
|Model||Summary||Price (Hover To Check)|
|Yi 4K+||Cheaper Hero 6 Black Without The Additional Features|
|SJCAM SJ8 Pro||SJCAM's Flagship Action Cam with Newest Tech|
|GoPro Hero 6 Black||Best Action Camera You Can Buy For The Money|
|Sony FDR X3000||Best Stabilization|
|GoPro Hero 5 Session||Compact For Easy Mounting|
|Mijia 4K||Extremely User-friendly|
|Yi 4K||Best Cheap Action Cam|
|GoPro Hero 5 Black||Slightly Inferior Than The Hero 6 Black But Much More Affordable|
|Garmin VIRB Ultra 30||Allows Motion Data Overlay|
|GoPro Hero (2018)||Beginner Friendly GoPro|
|Olympus TG-5||Extremely Durable|
1. Yi 4K+ – Best Cheap Alternative To The GoPro Hero 6
The Yi 4K+ had always been a extraodinary 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 buck because, for half of the price of the Hero 6 Black, you get an almost identical footage and build quality between the 2.
|Great 4K 60fps Quality||Comes With Very Few Accessories|
|Tremendous Value For Money||Requires External Waterproof Housing to be Waterproof|
|Awesome Hero 6 Alternative||No Sensors To Capture Motion Data|
|Perfect For Beginners and Experts|
| Best Places To Buy: |
2. SJCAM SJ8 Pro – Cheapest Flagship Action Cam That Shoots 4K 60fps
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.
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+
|Features||SJ8 Pro||Yi 4K+|
|Video Resolution|| 4K - 60, 50, 30, 25 fps |
1440p - 60, 50, 30, 25f ps
| 4K - 60, 50, 48, 30, 25, 24 fps |
2.7K - 60, 50, 48, 30, 25, 24 fps
|Waterproof Index||30M With A Waterproof Housing||40M With A Waterproof Housing|
|Display||2.33” IPS Touchscreen + 0.96” OLED Front Screen||2.19” LCD Touchscreen|
|Raw Photo||(Currently Has Error)|
|Video Format||H264, H265||H264|
|Battery life||90 mins||88 mins|
|Price||$300 (Camera Only Set)|
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!
|Great Value For Money||Not Very Stable Firmware (yet)|
|Good Quality Accessories||Not Fantastic Audio Quality|
|Ultra Sharp Retina Touchscreen|
|Fast 5GHz Wifi Transfer Speed|
| Best Places To Buy: |
3. GoPro Hero 6 Black – Best Action Camera Money Can Buy
If you’ve been properly doing your work and looking for the best action camera, it’s almost impossible not to already have known the Hero 6 Black.
The Hero 6 black really features everything that you want and need, from the built-in 10m waterproof body, to the excellent image stabilization, all the way to its new voice activation.
It’s also able to take 4K 60fps, which is known for its awesome high dynamic range (HDR) and low light performance.
In addition, it also has a built-in waterproofing body, meaning you can submerge it in water up to a depth of 10m, without even needing an extra waterproof case, something only a few action cams are capable of.
QuikStories – Awesome Way To Edit & Share Your Shots
If you’re wondering about how to go about editing and sharing your videos, QuikStories automatically does that for you, leaving you more time to have fun and share your best moments. And if it’s not to your liking, you can
Also, despite its vast array of features, it surprisingly isn’t hard to use at all, thanks to its user-friendly interface together with its useful 2” touchscreen display and voice command feature.
Although no action cams, as of now, come close to the features and quality that the Hero 6 Black is offering, it does not come with any accessories and is pretty pricey too.
|Excellent Image Quality (Potentially Best)||Pretty Expensive|
|Native 10m Waterproof||Doesn't Come With Any Accessories|
|Great High Dynamic Range (HDR) & Low Light Performance|
|Tons of Customisations Options|
|Lightning Fast 5GHz WiFi Transfer Speed|
| Best Places To Buy: |
4. Sony FDR X3000 – Best Image Stabilization
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.
5. Olympus Tough TG-5 – Action-Cam Point-And-Shoot Hybrid
Upon first look at the TG-5, it certainly looks like a point and shoot camera and nothing like an action camera.
However, after further inspection, we felt that the new TG5 is actually a hybrid between point and shoots and action cams.
Although the TG-5, like other action cames, is able to take up to 4K 30fps and take 12MP raw photos, it has many features up its sleeves intended to crush any other action cams wanting to challenge it.
Firstly, the TG-5 is equipped with a 4x optical zoom lens, which gives it the ability to take any shot, from a wide-angle bird’s-eye view of scenic landscapes all the way to zoomed-in telephoto close-ups of distant subjects, something even the GoPro is no capable of.
- Microscope mode
- Microscope control mode
- Focus stacking mode
- Focus bracketing mode
Another thing that is unique about the TG-5 is its variable macro system, designed for taking shots at extremely close range. This is perfect for taking close-ups such as insects and flowers, which creates a really great perspective.
Action cams, in general, are also pretty bad in low light conditions but the TG-5 is an exception. Because of its unique CMOS image sensor equipped, the ISO settings of the TG-5 can reach up to 12800, twice that the Hero 6 can reach, which allows it to take a brighter and clearer shot in low light conditions like in underwater or simply nighttime shots.
On the other hand, the thing about the TG-5 that makes it an action camera is it’s super tough unbreakable body.
In addition to being dustproof, waterproof up to 15m deep, shockproof up to a 2.1M drop, crushproof up to 100 kgf, and freezeproof down to -10℃, the TG-5 has anti-fog dual pane protective glass. Such tough performance means you never have to worry about it when shooting in punishing environments, allowing you to better focus on the shooting.
Moreover, as it comes with a field sensor system with GPS, Manometer, Compass, and temperature sensors, cool data overlay can be added to add some spice to your videos.
Costing slightly lesser than other flagship action cams like the GoPro and Sony, it’s no doubt that it’s the TG-5 is pricey for a point and shoot. However, it also provides a wide range of advanced features that any enthusiast would appreciate yet at the same time easy-to-use auto modes to help beginners get started. Not to mention the pictures and videos shot by the TG-5 is also really good thanks to its TruePic VIII image processor and high resolution f/2.0 lens. This is why we feel the TG-5 is great all-rounder action camera and possibly the best rugged and waterproof model in the market.
6. Xiaomi Mijia 4K – Large Touchscreen Display Makes It User-friendly
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!
7. Yi 4K – Best Action Camera Under 200
If you’re looking for an action camera, chances are that you’ve heard of the GoPro and this camera, the Yi 4K, popping out everywhere, claiming to be the ‘best action camera’ for the money.
The Yi 4K was one of the few action cams that could hold its ground against the GoPro Hero 5 Black when it was released and since then it has held a worthy reputation because of its price to quality ratio.
Comparison with the Hero 5 Black
The Yi 4K is a strong contender to Hero 5 black as image quality for both cameras are equally good, with the Yi 4K only falling a little short in audio quality and lacking several features that the Hero 5 Black has to offer, a few of which being the waterproof body, built-in GPS and voice control.
Take a look for yourself here:
However, if you remember, it only costs half that of a Hero 5 Black, it’s actually quite easy to forget about those features and go with the Yi 4K.
The Yi 4K also has something that not many action cams have: live streaming. Perfect for starting a live stream on Facebook or Youtube if you’re interested.
As for improvements, I feel they should have made stabilization possible on 4K shooting as it’s not currently doable. Also, they could have made it touchscreen with the waterproof housing, similar to the one in SJ7 Star.
Why It’s So Popular
What makes the Yi 4K really extraordinary and ultimately, popular, is the large community present.
You might not think it’s much but if you’re facing any problems or have any improvements or feedback, you can easily voice out or ask the community about your issue and should be solved in no time.
Furthermore, the manufacturer Yi technology have really good support from the customer service team as they are constantly updating the firmware and adding more features and removing bugs.
All in all, the Yi 4K is a really great camera to get. The intuitive, easy to use interface together with the large 2.19” touchscreen, awesome image quality and reliable & useful smartphone app really makes the Yi 4K my top recommendation if you’re looking for an action camera below $200.
8. GoPro Hero 5 Black – Awesome Alternative to the Hero 6
Although the Hero 6 is released, it does not in anyway make the Hero 5 irrelevant as it’s now more affordable and should definitely not be ignored.
Why Are GoPros So Good?
I personally think it largely boils down to this: user-friendliness.
The vast majority of people don’t require an action camera that shoots the best quality shots or takes the best photos.
Believe it or not, many of the times, we just want something that’s easy to shoot using and convenient to share it with our friends.
That’s what makes GoPro action cams in general so good.
It’s the intuitive overall interface and the excellent software integration (Quik) that makes GoPro cameras the best action camera for most people.
Anyways, without further digression let’s move back to the Hero 5 Black.
The Hero 5 Black essentially has most of the features the Hero 6 Black has, from the GPS, stabilization, voice control and the built-in 10m waterproof body.
Hero 6 Vs Hero 5 – Main Features Comparison
If you’re considering whether or not the Hero 6 is worth or you’re better off with Hero 5 Black, here’s a quick comparison.
|Features||GoPro Hero 5 Black||GoPro Hero 6 Black|
|Video File Format||MP4 (H.264)||MP4 (H.264/AVC), MP4 (H.265/HEVC)|
|Video Resolution||Up to 4K 30fps||Up to 4K 60fps|
|Image Stabilization||Basic - Up to 2.7K 60fps||Advanced - Up to 4K 30fps|
|High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photo|
|Wake On Voice (To Turn On & Start Recording)|
|Wifi Offloading||2.4 GHz||5 GHz (Up to 3x Faster Than 2.4Ghz)|
|Video + Photo (Takes photo while video is shooting)|
However, what sets the Hero 6 apart from the Hero 5 is the improvement in the video stabilization and quality and most importantly, be able to shoot at 4K 60fps.
Take a look for yourself here:
As you can see, although the Hero 6 looks from the outside very similar to the Hero 5 Black, it performs better than the Hero 5 Black in almost all scenarios due to its improved processor chip, which they call the GP-1 chip.
The Hero 6 can shoot stabilized 4K 30fps videos and compared to the Hero 5 Black, have a wider dynamic range (brighter & darker colours), although I felt the audio on the Hero 5 is a tad bit better in no-wind scenarios.
Having said that all, the Hero 5 Black is still a really good action cam to go for. It’s user-friendly which makes it great for beginners and at the same time has tons of customisations, for all you more experienced ones out there.
Hence, because the price has dropped considerably and the Hero 6 also isn’t much of an upgrade over the Hero 5 Black other than improvement in image quality and a couple of extra features, if you were to ask me, I’d actually go for the Hero 5 Black over the Hero 6 and save the $150 for a rainy day.
9. GoPro Hero 2018 – Best Entry Level GoPro Action Cam
The Hero 2018, being the newest GoPro on this list, despite its low price tag, didn’t disappoint.
The new Hero is great for you if you’ve been thinking about getting a GoPro but the only thing stopping you from getting it is the exorbitant price of the Hero 6.
Sure, it doesn’t shoot in 4K or have many customisations options. But do you really need it? Well, unless you’re an experienced or professional videographer, you will probably be more than happy with what the Hero offers.
To start off with, the Hero shoots in really sharp and smooth 1080p Full HD with the option of 30 or 60fps. Also, despite falling the video quality falling little shorter to the Hero 5 Black the Hero still shoots really, really good 1080p videos which honestly is good enough for 99% of the displays that are used today.
Take a quick look at some shots taken by the Hero alongside the Hero 5 Black:
As far as image quality goes, I’d have to say I was quite surprised on how close they were to each other.
The main difference would be that the Hero 5 Black is able to take up to 4K at 30fps and has a lot more shooting customisation options available but the Hero 2018 lacks these options and is able to shoot up to 1080p 60fps.
Having said that, the Hero is essentially still a GoPro, therefore, you’ll have all the awesome sharing features (QuikStories), voice control, image stabilization, 2-inch touchscreen and lastly its signature 10m waterproof body that comes with it.
If you don’t require GoPro’s signature durable waterproof body and instead value other things more like image quality, you might be better off with the Yi 4K, which can shoot in great 4K.
All in all, the Hero is the best, simple and most affordable alternative to the Hero 5 and 6 if you want all the features of a GoPro and don’t mind missing some of the advanced settings feature that the Hero 5 & 6 Black offer.
|Extremely User-Friendly - Voice command, Quik, Touchscreen Interface||Not Capable of 4K|
|GoPro's Signature 10m Waterproof Body||Few Accessories Included|
|Great 1080p Video Quality|
|Pretty Affordable For A GoPro|
| Best Places To Buy: |
10. Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 – Great For Interactive Motion Data Overlay
Coming from Garmin, a company not known that much for action cameras but instead smartwatches and GPS, is the Ultra 30.
The VIRB Ultra 30 is able to shoot in 4K, unlike VIRB XE, Garmin’s former flagship action camera.
Also, although it may not sound like a big deal now since a lot of action cams, even those that cost $100+ are capable of shooting 4K, I still felt image performance on the Ultra 30 is very good.
Take a look for yourself.
Motion Data Overlay
Another feature that I feel make the Ultra 30 so unique is the ability to record extra data in addition to the video.
Because the ultra 30 has a built-in GPS tracker, accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, and compass, you can record all these data alongside the video and overlay them together with the frame, directly from the smartphone app!
Talking about the smartphone app, it also allows live Youtube streaming which you’d love if you’re a vlogger or someone who likes streaming to your friends & family!
Moreover, the Ultra 30, similar to GoPro action cams, allows you to shoot handsfree with its built-in voice control feature.
This makes it all the easier to operate, especially if it’s troublesome to physically operate the camera.
All you’d have to do is say ‘Ok Garmin”, followed by “Take a Picture”, ”Start recording”, “Stop recording” or “Remember that” (to highlight a portion of the clip for recalling during editing) and the Ultra 30 will do its thing.
At the end of the day, the Ultra 30 is definitely a unique and solid action cam, mainly from its sensors that even the mighty GoPro is still lacking. However, at the same time, the price at which it comes at may shy some people away, but I still feel it’s very well worth the investment.
|Unique Motion Data Overlay||Not Capable of Stabilizing 4K (Up to 2.7K 60fps)|
|Live Streaming Option Available||Not Natively Waterproof|
|Great 1080p Video Quality||Expensive|
|Great Voice Control|
| Best Places To Buy: |
10. GoPro Hero 5 Session – Compact & Portable
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 makes 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.
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!
|Model||Overall Rating||Features||Image Quality||Price (Hover To Check)|
|SJCAM SJ8 Pro|
|GoPro Hero 6 Black|
|Sony FDR X3000|
|GoPro Hero 5 Session|
|GoPro Hero 5 Black|
|Garmin VIRB Ultra 30|
|GoPro Hero (2018)|
If you’re not sure of what to look out for or even where to start, I’d definitely recommend you to check out my action camera buying guide here!
That’s all I have for now. If you’ve any questions or thoughts, please feel free to comment down below and I’ll reply to you as soon as I can!
Till next time, thanks for dropping by and have a great one! 🙂