Best Action Cameras
One of the best ways to remember adventures or show your friends is to record them, a lot of times it can be hard or uncomfortable to carry a DLSR camera or a phone, action cameras seem to be the perfect solution, resistant, waterproof, and very light you can take action cameras everywhere.
And being able to record videos of your trips, sports or adventures, with a small camera is really a very useful gadget to have, although it is necessary to compare the different ranges and brands such as GoPro, DJI, Insta360, Xiaomi Yi or SJCAM.
When searching online you can find hundreds of different sports cameras with different specifications, different brands, etc. It can be easy to get confused or get tricked into getting a camera that isn’t as good as you thought it was.
In this blog I’ve put together the 5 best action cameras you can find in 2021, each camera is similar but has some different specifications, features, prices, and more. This guide will help you choose which is the best for you.
Excellent video quality with up to 4K resolution, the DJI comes with “RockSteady” stabilization and 12MP pictures
Super 5.7K 360° action camera makes the One R a special camera. In addition, it is water-resistant up to 5 meters without the need for housing
Some of the best high-quality product companies are GoPro, DJI, and Insta360 but Chinese companies are the ones who produce most of the action cameras you see on the market. Most action cameras are very similar and low-quality.
If you plan on not using your action camera a lot during the year consider getting a cheaper one such as the SJCAM SJ8 Pro or GoPro’s older model the GoPro Hero 7. Sometimes investing a little more in a higher quality camera can help you in the long run with problems.
If you are interested in making the most out of your action camera consider checking out our Tips page (Click Here). There you will find useful tips that can help you on different types of topics about sports cams.
GoPro has released the Hero 9, a new action camera capable of 5K resolution with 30fps, more battery time, and a lot of new better specs! GoPro is one of the biggest producers in the action camera market with some of the most successful models especially on sites such as Amazon.
The Hero 9 also comes with dual screens, the classic one in the back, and a new screen in the front perfect for self-recording.
One of the main features of the Hero 8 was the Hypersmooth 2.0, this year the Hero 9 has improved the EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) from Hero 8 and came out with Hypersmooth 3.0, Hypersmooth keeps the video very smooth and produces results as good as using a gimbal.
It uses a GP1 chipset that allows it to record 5K 30fps and 20MP photos using a 170° super wide-angle lens with an opening of F1.8. The HyperSmooth 3.0 Video Stabilization + Boost can support up to 5K resolution.
As for the photography, the GoPro Hero 9 can take pictures up to 23.6MP (4096 x 2160) a lot more than its predecessors used to be at 12MP, thanks to the higher resolution we get a lot more detail in the pictures. The battery can last up to 180 minutes recording 1080p Full HD video, with the WiFi and screen turned off. In the case of capturing 5K video, battery life will drop dramatically.
The Hero 9 also comes with a Wi-Fi connection with the GoPro smartphone app to control the camera through your phone or enjoy hands-free control of your camera via simple voice commands. The GoPro App can also automatically back up footage to GoPro’s cloud subscription service (over Wi-Fi).
The DJI Osmo is the best GoPro alternative you can find, recording up to 4K 60fps with great video quality. DJI is one of the top producers in the action camera and drone market.
The DJI Osmo uses a sensor Sony IMX377 capable of taking pictures of 12MP and producing good looking pictures and videos with natural colors.
The 1300 mAh battery on the Osmo can last about 90min in 1080p and decreases a bit shooting in 4K.
For stabilization, the DJI Osmo uses “RockSteady” stabilization up to 4K, it’s not as good as GoPro’s Hypersmooth but it produces great results and keeps the video pretty stable. For more stabilization, you can always get a gimbal which will keep the video perfectly smooth.
DJI Osmo has a dark design with a screen in the front and pretty big lens, it is well-built resistant with good quality plastics. The Osmo does come with waterproof housing but it can go underwater up to 11m without it, with the case the camera will be more protected and be able to go deeper underwater.
The Osmo comes with WiFi connectivity through the app, but it isn’t as good as GoPro’s app, it needs some improvements and we hope will be solved soon with updates.
The DJI Osmo Action is a big competitor of GoPro but it doesn’t quite catch them yet. The Osmo Action has very good image quality and stabilization, although the starting price seems a bit above the current market and the touchscreen might be a bit glitchy, but overall it’s a great option for those looking for the best action camera that isn’t a GoPro.
The Insta360 One R is a pretty special action camera, capable of shooting up to 5.7K resolution shooting 360-degree videos. The Insta360 One R is a modular sports cam, with 3 types of lenses.
FOV 170º 4K action camera module, two lens modules to capture 360-degree video, and a 1 inch Leica sensor module to capture the best quality possible.
All modules of the One R are waterproof up to 5m without a waterproof case.
The red part in the base of the camera is the battery of the One R. We find here a capacity of 1630 mAh that gives us a recording time of about 60 minutes, recording both 4K video at 60fps with the 4K Wide Angle module, as well as 60 min of autonomy for the One R with the 360-degree module.
The 360-degree module will allow us to capture 360-degree video at 5.7K resolution and preview what we capture in real-time, being able to move through the video at the same time as we capture it, the action camera 170º FOV wide-angle module allows us to capture stabilized video up to 4K at 60fps.
The Leica sensor module is a high-quality module that will allow you to capture 5.3K video and 19MP pictures with more brightness and sharpness, although you will need a lens protector.
The Insta360 One R comes with different modes and features which will help you record better and give more unique looks. Some of the modes the One R has; video HDR, invisible stick, deep track, point to track, auto frame, and more.
As for the stabilization, the One R uses an improved FlowState stabilization algorithm to achieve a similar gimbal-equivalent level while recording in 360-degree or standard wide-angle, not as good as GoPro’s Hpyersmooth but still pretty good results.
The SJCAM SJ8 PRO is another successful sports cam by SJCAM after the SJCAM SJ8. SJCAM is one of the top producers in the action camera market and now they have released another high-end action.
The SJCAM SJ8 PRO lets you take photos up to 12MP with 4K and up to 60fps recording, and allows you to use other cool features as well as record underwater with the case.
It has a wide-angle lens of up to 170° which gives you the classic GoPro look. The SJCAM SJ8 PRO has (EIS) Electronic Image Stabilization and Gyro stabilization (Inner Six-Axis Gyroscope) for anti-shaking and image stabilization to make your video much more smooth.
The SJCAM SJ8 PRO Sports Camera 4K uses an Ambarella H22 S85 chipset with a Sony IMX377 sensor and uses an F 2.8 aperture that is able to shoot in 4K/ 60fps, 2.7K/ 60fps, and 1080P/ 120/ 60fps video resolution, this action camera supports Class 10 micro SD of up to a maximum of 128GB.
SJCAM SJ8 Pro has an elegant modern design, it is well built with good quality plastics and it has a black color. The SJ8 Pro comes with waterproof housing, it can go underwater up to 30m (100 feet), the SJ8 Pro is compatible with all GoPro accessories.
The SJCAM SJ8 PRO is a really good action camera quality-budget, but it falls a bit short in front of big brands such as GoPro. You will get good videos and pictures, crisp stable even shooting underwater. The camera also has several recording modes which gives amplitude to all the effects and quality levels you can get when using this camera and can record up to 60fps.
Yi was the first sports cam to be able to record in 4K in 60fps, it’s EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) can support up to 4K resolution and keep it stable.
The Yi 4K+ pictures are great, thanks to its new sensor the Ambarella H2 SOC it can produce good quality pictures up to 12MP. As for the battery, it uses a 1400 mAh which can last about 100 minutes shooting in 1080p, a bit less shooting in 4K.
Voice command, The incredible voice command technology offers you the freedom to enjoy your adventures. Thanks to improved outdoor audio quality, you now have hands-free control of your YI 4K +. Some voice commands include: “YI Action Camera Take Photo”, “YI Action Camera Start Recording” and “YI Action Camera Stop Recording”.
Some sellers might offer the Yi 4k+ without the waterproof case which can be a problem if you want to use it in situations where it will get wet. The waterproof YI housing is rated at depths of 40m (132ft) and at temperatures as low as -22 ° F. The ultra-white B270 glass provides 98.5% of light transmittance underwater.
The Yi 4K+ comes with a powerful interface for its touchscreen, the ultra-sensitive 4.2 “Gorillera touchscreen from YI 4K + offers you a quick and easy-to-use interface for accessing image settings.
The Yi 4K+ is an excellent action camera and one of the best in the market today. It was the first action camera to go up to 4K 60fps even before GoPro. This model has improved its predecessor in many aspects, although it isn’t better than the GoPro Hero 7, it’s still a great option.
In this blog, we also offer you all the information you need on where to buy a 4k sports camera, what specifications are exactly, the best camera accessories, more about GoPro’s action cams, and more.
Down below you can see a comparative chart with these 5 action cameras comparing different specifications so you can easily see some differences and similarities between them, keep in mind there are a lot more aspects to keep in mind besides these specifications.
5K, 4K, 2.7K
5.7K, 4K, 2.7K
19 MP & 12 MP
55 x 71 x 33,6 mm
65 x 42 x 35 mm
72 x 48 x 32.4 mm
90 x 60 x 30 mm
65 x 42 x 30 mm
GoPro Action Cameras
GoPro is a company that develops, produces the best action cameras in the market. Some sports cams come pretty close to catching up to GoPro but the best 3 action cameras you can find are the Hero 9, Hero 8, and Hero 7.
The Hero 9, Hero 8, and the Hero 7 are pretty similar, they offer very similar video quality, design, and specs. Every year GoPro improves the Hero GoPro camera with new features, better stabilization, better specs…
The best of the 3 is the new Hero 9 from 2020 with a better battery, improved Hypersmooth 3.0, better resolutions (5K 30fps and 20MP pictures), and more. The Hero 8 is the 2n best action camera you can find, improving its stabilization Hypersmooth 1.0 from the Hero 7 to Hypersmooth 2.0, and many more features.
The Hero 9 is the best of the GoPro action cameras, achieving higher resolution and a longer-lasting battery. In terms of video quality the Hero 9, Hero 8, and Hero 7 look very similar.
The GoPro Hero 8 is very similar to the Hero 9 but with a few downgrades. It’s capable of recording up to 4K 60fps and 12MP pictures. Its battery isn’t as good as the Hero 9 but it’s pretty decent.
The Hero 7 was the first GoPro to have this design and the first GoPro with Hyersmooth stabilization. Its video quality is similar to the Hero 8 and 9, and the battery is the same as Hero 8.
What to look for in an Action Camera
If you are not sure what exactly you want on an action camera this part might be useful for you, there is a lot of different action cameras with different features and specifications, from 360-degree action cameras to 12-hour long-lasting sports cams.
Most sports cams are similar but there are a couple of different categories. Most action cameras record with about a 180-degree lens giving a fisheye look and producing similar footage to most typical cameras.
Another popular category is 360-degree cameras, these sports cams can record and take pictures of every angle and produce very cool looking results. Some other sports cams focus on long-lasting batteries and not on good video quality.
You can also find action cameras from a wide variety of prices, from cheaper low-quality sports cams to high-end action cameras. We can also find action cameras with and without touchscreens, with waterproof case or without, and more.
Specifications of action cameras
In this blog, we talk about action cameras specifications a lot, it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you don’t quite understand what camera specifications are. Camera specifications are important to understand what the camera is capable of and helps when comparing to other cameras.
Even though specifications are important you shouldn’t base your opinion on a camera entirely on its specifications, sometimes different cameras can have the same resolution but one of them might produce better-looking footage.
The Resolution is one of the most important specs of an action camera, the resolution tells us how many pixels a video has for example 4K is (3840 x 2160 pixels) and 1080p is (1920 x 1080 pixels), normally the higher the resolution the higher quality the video will be.
Some cheaper action cameras will claim to have 4K video but they actually use an upscaled lower resolution to appear as if they have 4K video, this is called interpolated which works by guessing or “interpolating” values.
The Framerate or frames per second or FPS is the frequency at which we are shotting in a video. Most videos you see are in 30fps or 24 fps for a more cinematic feel, higher framerates such as 60fps or 120fps can be used for slow-motion slowing down the footage.
Mega Pixels are used for pictures, a megapixel is a million pixels, which are the minimum unit of a color that appears in a digital image.
The Battery is another important part of an action camera, the battery allows you to store energy to prolong the use of the camera. Most batteries are Li-ion and measured with mAH. The higher the mAH the more the battery will last, but there are many things that can decrease your battery life such as screen brightness or recording in 4K.
The Aperture defines the amount of light perceived by the sensor of the camera and allows the picture or video to be more or less bright. The lower this figure, the more light all our images and videos will get. For 4K sports cameras, the average they use is f/2.8.
White Balance is a setting used to balance the levels of the basic colors red, green, and blue (RGB) so that the brightest part of the image appears white and more natural.
The ISO is nothing more than the sensitivity of the sensor when it comes to capturing light. The higher the ISO number, the greater the ability to capture light, the lower the value, the less the ability to capture that light. A con to high ISO is that you produce noise or grain which doesn’t look good so it’s better to leave the ISO low.
WiFi allows a wireless connection from your sports cam to your smartphones and tablets through action camera apps, thanks to the app you can use the camera remotely, and some apps such as the GoPro app allows you to directly edit and upload your pictures and videos to social media.
Accessories for action cameras
You can find endless accessories for your action camera, to enjoy the experience from different angles and better footage. If you just bought a GoPro or a different brand action camera or want to, and you want to make the most of it when you go skating or snowboarding with your friends, you may not know many of the possibilities that accessories can give you.
But are they all compatible with each other? Most action camera accessories are compatible with each other including GoPro’s. So how can you tell which ones are and which ones are not? It’s pretty easy, most accessories for action cameras come with the typical three-piece accessory mount to mount your GoPro or another action camera with the thumbscrew.
Some of the most popular accessories are the extensive stick, the chest strap/head strap, the floating handle grip, a tripod mount, a helmet strap mount, and many more which you can learn about here (Click here).
We hope that this blog will help as a reference for the doubts which you might have when getting a sports camera in 2021, with so many action cameras it can be hard to know which are the best you can find. In addition, we also have a guide to what are specifications for sports cams and accessories.
With these action cameras, we show you will be able to produce the best results, from image quality to stabilization to the best modes and features, but if you are looking for cheaper action cameras check out our blog (Click Here).