Previously viewed as gimmicky and the preserve of surfers, action cameras have truly come of age, offering videographers high-quality resolution, incredible stabilisation and vast amounts of creative options – all in a protective body that’ll take plenty of punishment. Now they’ve been around for some time, there’s no surprise potential buyers are spoilt for choice with prices to suit every budget. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve put together a roundup that will shine a light on the pros and cons of each camera…
GoPro Hero10 Black
GoPro is still arguably the leading brand for action cameras and the Hero10 Black is the brand’s flagship model that sees a number of advancements over the previous Hero9 Black. Newly added is a GP2 processor that apparently delivers twice the performance over the GP1 engine found in older models and allows the HeroBlack 10 to capture ultra high-resolution 5.3K video at 60p – double the frame rate of its predecessor.
Those choosing to shoot video at 4K can do so at 120p or 2.7K at 240p, enabling videographers to use this high resolution footage to create slow motion sequences. Stills shooters will be pleased to hear the GoPro Hero 10 can shoot 23-megapixels stills in JPEG or RAW formats and the Wi-Fi feature is claimed to be 30% faster than previous models, which should allow for a quick transfer of content from the camera to a smart device.
Other features of the GoPro Hero10 Black include a new lens cover that’s more scratch resistant and reduces ghosting, a webcam mode that will broadcast Full HD video with a 132-degree field of view and the ability to Live Stream footage while operating with that new HyperSmooth 4.0 technology. The Hero10 Black is also compatible with GoPro’s modular accessories such as the Max Lens mode, which will give a 155-degree field of view and the Media mod, which features a built-in directional mic and HDMI out port.
DJI Action 2
Many people were expecting an incremental upgrade to DJI’s popular Osmo Action, but the Action 2 is a whole new reinvention of the action camera and is built around a clever modular design. Weighing just 56 grams – yes, just 56g – the Action 2 retains the expected rugged build and is dustproof, waterproof and drop proof, but brings something genuinely fresh to the action camera market thanks to a magnetic coupling system that can pair the main camera with a battery modular or a front facing LCD modular.
At the heart of the Action 2 is a 1/1.7-inch sensor and this enables the Action 2 to film high quality 4K footage at up to 120p. On the rear of the main unit is a 1.76-inch OLED touchscreen and Action 2 pairs up with DJI’s free Mimo companion app to unlock a raft of features including remote capture and the ability to adjust settings to exposure and aperture from afar.
The Action 2’s lens enables video to be captured at a super-wide 155° field of view and includes DJI’s excellent RockSteady 2.0 Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) technology to keep footage steady, along with a and the HorizonSteady feature will maintain a level frame throughout your filming. Packing a battery that will allow for 70 minutes recording, this can then be extended up to 160 minutes when connected with the Front Touchscreen Module or an whopping 180 minutes when paired with the power module. Along with impressive video features, the DJI Action 2 can also shoot 12-megapixel JPEGs or RAW photos and the Photo mode will allow for a 4x zoom for stills.
AKASO Brave 7 LE
There’s more to the action camera market than GoPro and DJI and the Brave 7 from AKASO could be the best value action camera on the market. For just over £100, this plucky device offers 4K video at 30p that takes advantage of Electronic Image Stabilisation to keep footage steady.
Featuring a IPX7 weather resistance rating, the camera is waterproof and when the camera is in its protective case it can be used down to 40 metres before the water’s surface – a massive benefit to those looking for an action camera to either take on holiday or use as a dedicated diving camera. Unusually for an action in this low price bracket, the Brave 7 not only featured a rear touch-sensitive LCD, but also offers a front LCD too, making it easy to frame your scene properly when Vlogging your adventures. On top of capturing 20-megapixel stills imagery, the Brave 7 LE also offers users the ability to show time lapse creation and record slow motion sequences, too.
Go Pro Max
Although it’s been around for a couple of years now, the Max makes our list because the price has dropped in recent months, bringing it onto the radar of potential buyers who would have previously ignored it. In essence, the Max offers three cameras in one. First up is the ability to shoot regular video like other action cameras, followed by the ability to capture stills imagery too. The third option is what makes the Max stand out from the crowd as it can capture 360-degree video in incredibly 6K resolution. Perfect for those who want their video content to end up on social channels, the ability to create a more immersive video experience will be very tempting and will be perfect for those capturing action sports. Despite the advanced tech inside the camera, the Max is still robust enough to be considered alongside the Hero10 or DJI Action 2 because it is waterproof to 16ft and features a rugged construction so users won’t fear putting the Max in harm’s way.
Video is stabilised via GoPRo’s MAX Hypersmooth technology and when you are filming in 360, you can take advantage of the six mics to capture immersive audio, too. The Max is packed with creative video features including Timewar and a 270-degree panoramic mode, along with the ability to operate the Max using voice commands for a truly hands-free set-up. Videographers can even live stream in 1080p using the Max and, when the time comes, they can edit footage with GoPro’s free companion Quik app, bypassing the need to import footage into the computer and edit with traditional such as Adobe Premiere.
Sony DSC-RX0 II
The most expensive device in our round-up certainly blurs the lines between action camera and mirrorless camera that packs in a Exmor RS 1.0-type sensor that is backed up by Sony’s powerful BIONZ X processor. Featuring a ZEISS Tessar T* 24mm3 F4 lens that can focus on subjects as close as 20cm away and, as you’d expect from Sony, the autofocus system is advanced and features Eye-detection AF to pick up on the subject’s eye when they are in the frame.
The RX0 II shoots 4K with full pixel readout and no pixel binning – in fact, it uses 1.7x oversampling to deliver a clearer, sharper picture and there’s a 2x zoom option should you need to get closer to a subject. While there’s no front LCD, the rear LCD tilt’s 180-degrees, which will appeal to Vloggers who want to present to the camera.
Despite the advanced tech, this is a robust action camera that is waterproof down to 10 metres, and can survive falls from two metres, along with being crushproof up to 200kgf/440lbf/2000N. Other features include a Soft Skin mode that reduces small facial wrinkles and skin dullness while preserving the clarity of the subject’s eyes and mouth, timelapse recording and a super slow motion mode that can shoot at 1000fps. Measuring 59x40mm, the RX0 II tips the scales at just 132g.