These days having an action camera is a must if you’re into any extreme sports. Further, if you love taking vacation videos, having a quality water, resistant action camera can make your vacation much better and enjoyable since you’ll spend most of your time underwater capturing stunning pictures and videos of your underwater adventures. Aside from being used for capturing your latest bike ride down the mountain or recording what happens when you dive below the surface, action cameras can be utilized for many more situations. Urban sailing on a skateboard, recording your favorite artists on music festivals, taking videos of cities you explore while on vacation, or just using them to record funny can videos, action cameras can be used for every kind of video recording because many of them offer solid video quality, easy to use interface, and extreme portability.
But when you need a new one, that can be a problem. There are hundreds of models out there, some more expensive than others, and a lot of them offer excellent quality along with many interesting features and accessories for the price. But, which models are the best of the best? Which one to pick if you’re on an unlimited budget? Stay with us and find out which action cameras are better than the rest.
And if, on the other hand, you are on a tight budget and don’t really want (or just can’t) spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on the latest GoPro model, or some other camera from Sony, Kodak, or Garmin, we researched lots of models and picketed a couple of the best ones that give most bang for your buck. In this list, you’ll find the best action cameras available at this moment along with some excellent GoPro alternatives that rarely sport a price over $100.
GoPro Hero5 Black
You really couldn’t expect to start this list with some other model, right? The GoPro Hero5 Black is the best action camera available on the market right now and if you want the best the Hero5 Black is the best choice right now.
The camera looks different than its predecessor, and we welcome the changes in design. Now GoPro’s flagship model looks more sturdy, and it comes with a few never seen before features. For starters, the camera is water resistant on its own; you don’t have to get a special casing to snag some underwater photos and videos. Aside from being water resistant out-of-the-box, the GoPro Hero5 Black also is pretty durable and rugged and features shock resistance. It should stay alive when dropped from up to one and a half meters, so you can rest assured it will survive all falls sans the extreme ones.
When talking about specs, the new model is the first one from GoPro to feature a 2-inch touchscreen for easy setup of video and camera options. The screen is large enough for you to preview pictures taken and too easy navigate through menus. Video recording supports the 4K resolution at 30 frames per second along with 16 MP pictures. Image quality is excellent, and the camera features video stabilization, great for those shots of bumpy rides through the wilderness.
When you can’t reach the screen, the GoPro Hero5 can be controlled with voice commands, and it can be connected to your smartphone to expand its functionalities. The camera’s battery can provide about three hours of video recording, and the camera is equipped with micro USB, micro HDMI, and a microUSB port for charging, connecting it to a PC or a TV for watching videos and pictures taken.
- 4K Video Recording
- Water Resistance
- Steep Price
Garmin Virb Ultra 30
If you want an action camera cramped with features, the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 is the one to look for. It is one of the richest action cameras out there, feature-wise and it offers excellent video quality.
Garmin was best-known for its GPS devices, and while the company still makes them (and makes them pretty good), it started venturing to other markets. Their GPS watches and smart wearables are high-quality devices, and now Garmin showed they could make a top of the line action camera.
The Garmin Virb Ultra 30 features a touchscreen, 4K at 30 fps video recording along with slow motion videos capability (720p at 240fps). Videos taken are excellent because of the 3-axis image stabilization, that makes videos sharp and crystal clear.
The camera features a GPS along with motion sensors so it can start recording once it senses you are on the move. Also, it can be connected with different fitness devices, allowing additional data (like altitude, average speed, or GPS route) to be embedded into videos. The Garmin Virb Ultra 30 comes with a voice control functions, and it can stream videos via Wi-Fi. The camera connects to the smartphone app for better control, and it also comes with excellent quality microphones for superb audio capturing.
- Excellent Video Quality
- Tons of Features
- Needs a Case If You Plan On Going Underwater
- Steep Price
- 4K Videos Doesn’t Feature Image Stabilization
Sony FDR-X3000 4K
The best action cameras list has to have one Sony camera, and the model we are showing today is the Sony FDR-X3000 4K camera, capable of capturing 4K videos. The camera isn’t shaped like a GoPro; Sony took a different road and designed their camera to look like a tiny camcorder. This is great for situations where you hold the camera while recording but isn’t the best choice when it comes to cramping camera into tiny places, or when you need to mount it.
ZEISS lens offers superb video quality, and the optical stabilization makes videos sharp and without artifacts. On the other hand, still, images aren’t the best when compared to other top models, and the camera features a plain monochrome LCD used for navigating menus. To see what you are recording and to unlock all of its features, you have to connect the camera with the smartphone app. The Sony FDR-X3000 4K is compatible with the RM-LVR3, a remote control featuring an LCD screen that can be worn as a wristwatch allowing you to use the camera without a phone, but for that, you’ll have to pay extra for the camera plus remote control bundle.
The Sony FDR-X3000 4K is splash and shock resistant out of the box, but you’ll need to place it inside the waterproof casing (provided in the package) if you want to record underwater videos. Additional features include a built-in tripod mount, which could be extremely useful for professionals. The camera offers about one hour of 4K recording and comes with a Wi-Fi connection along with a micro USB and HDMI ports to connect it to a TV or a computer. On top of all that you can also find a 3.5mm microphone connector to improve audio capturing.
- Excellent 4K video Quality
- Optical Image Stabilization
- Has To Be Protected With A Casing to Capture Underwater Videos
- Pictures Taken Aren’t of Highest Quality
- Comes With A Simple Monochrome LCD
- Steep Price
The YI 4K is one sleek and extremely compact camera offering 4K video recording for under $200. The camera features and large, 2.19-inch touchscreen for easy control and menu navigation and when it comes to ease of use, the YI 4K is really among the best action cameras around. The touchscreen is protected with Gorilla glass so you can rest assured the touchscreen won’t crack if you accidentally drop it.
As for the video, the YI 4K is capable of recording 4K videos at 30fps, which is excellent for its price. It is also capable of shooting slow-mo videos (240fps) in 720p resolution. The camera features excellent design and humble dimensions, making it one of the best-looking action cameras around, and while it isn’t waterproof out of the box you can purchase a bundle with waterproof case, but you should be ready to pay the higher price (about $45 more than when picking just the camera).
Photos can be taken in 12MP size, and they aren’t the best ones but are pretty solid and of high quality. The camera includes electronic image stabilization that won’t give you the same results as optical one but will make videos sharper and clearer, especially if you record videos while the camera is mounted on your head and you’re driving through the forest while bumping on every single tiny rock available.
Other features include a Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi connection allowing you to connect the YI 4K to a smartphone app, or to view videos on your PC, tablet, or a smartphone.
- Great Video Quality For The Price
- 4K Video Recording
- Big Touchscreen LCD
- Casing Needed For Recording Underwater Videos
- No External Microphone Support
- Average Photo Quality
A Couple Of Affordable GoPro Action Cameras Alternatives
If you don’t have, or don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on most expensive action cameras available, don’t worry. We found a couple of affordable alternatives that offer excellent quality for the price.
APEMAN Action Camera
While not offering 4K video recording the APEMAN Action Camera does come with a solid set of features for an incredible price. First off, the camera is small and extremely portable. It is capable of recording 1080p videos at 60fps, which is great for a sub $100 action camera.
The Apeman action camera isn’t waterproof, but it comes with a waterproof casing that’s part of the selling package. Also, along with the camera, you get a soft nylon shell for keeping it safe while not using it, along with 20 different accessories. Still, images are taken in 12MP quality, and while they aren’t of the highest quality, they are more than usable.
The camera is equipped with a 1.7-inch LCD screen for navigating menus and seeing what you are recording, which is great since Sony’s model comes with a plain monochrome display for much higher price. An HDMI connector is also available, allowing you to connect the camera to a TV to watch videos and pictures taken, and there’s also micro USB connector for charging the battery. BTW, there’s also a 4K version of this model capable of recording 4K videos at 40fps that sells on Amazon for around $150.
- Affordable Price
- Nice Design
- Large LCD Screen
- 1080p at 60fps Video Recording
- Poor Battery Life
- Not Waterproof
- Doesn’t Support microSD Cards With More Than 32GB of Storage
TEC.BEAN 4K Sports Action Camera
The TEC.BEAN 4K Sports Action Camera offers 4K video recording for just a fraction of the price of most other 4K video ready action cameras. If you want a 4K capable action camera but are on a tight budget check out this one. It comes with an electronic image stabilization that will make videos better, but not as sharp and clear compared to optical stabilization.
The camera can record 4K videos at 30fps which is great for $100 action camera. It isn’t waterproof, but you get a waterproof case in the package allowing you to record underwater videos. Another nice feature is a big LCD screen (no touch capabilities though) allowing you to navigate menus and look at images taken, which are captured in 16MP size.
One really interesting feature of the TEC.BEAN 4K Sports Action Camera is the fact you get not one but two rechargeable batteries allowing you to record almost one and a half hour worth of 5K videos. Other features include Wi-Fi connectivity, up to 64Gb microSD card support and a micro USB port for charging. Selling package includes more than a dozen of additional accessories.
- 4K at 40fps Video Recording for $100 Price
- Solid Video Quality For The Price
- Lots of Accessories Included In The Selling Package
- Two Rechargeable Batteries Supplied
- Color LCD Screen
- Picture Quality
- Casing Needed For Making the Camera Waterproof