Can’t decide on a gift for your thrill seeking friends this holiday season?
Why not get them an action camera so you can live vicariously through them by watching their dizzying adventures? Whether you’re getting a gift for someone or you’re the adrenaline junkie yourself, action cameras make for a way more practical photo companion for your next snowboarding, scuba diving or skydiving trip than a bulky DSLR setup.
For years, the market for action cameras has mostly been dominated by GoPro and its top-shelf image stabilization. But now, companies like DJI and Insta360 have real, competitive action cameras, and many of them offer some unique benefits over what Hero can do. Whatever choice you go with, these rugged cameras are designed to be out there in the field with you and deliver all that 4K video for your next epic video.
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The GoPro Hero10 Black features a new processor, improved HyperSmooth stabilization and the ability to film 5.3K video in 60 frames per second. GoPros has a bit of a reputation for needing firmware updates to hammer out the glitches. Most recently, GoPro addressed the Hero10’s overheating issues when filming for extended periods. Read our full review of the Hero 10 here.
To save a little money, consider the older Hero8. The two-year-old model can do pretty much everything the Hero10 or Hero9 can with only a few downsides. Alongside lower video resolution and fewer megapixels, one of the main differences is that the Hero8 doesn’t have a screen on the front.
DJI is bucking the trend of traditional action camera design with the Action 2, which offers a modular design where the main camera can be attached to an extra battery module or a front touchscreen module. Instead of chasing 5K video capabilities, Action 2 caps out at 4K video at 120 frames per second. Read our review of the Action 2 here.
The Osmo Action is a direct competitor to GoPro’s Hero7 Black from 2019. DJI’s Osmo Action stands out with its more responsive and consistent touchscreen experience in an intuitive menu design. The reliability comes at a cost though, as the Osmo Action’s image quality isn’t as impressive as GoPro’s Hero lineup.
Insta360 collabed with Leica to design a modular action camera to rival the image and video quality of GoPro. The One R’s 1-inch Edition was built with a 1-inch sensor that can capture up to 5.3k video at 30 frames per second and excels in low-light situations. If you get sick of the Leica lens, you can also swap out the module to the One R’s Twin Edition that offers a 360 camera mod and the traditional wide-angle action camera mod.
For those of us who want to focus on the activity and not where to aim the lens, the One X2 captures the entire scene around you in 360-degree footage. You will have more of an editing process after the fact where you can selectively reframe your footage, but you can also add on an invisible selfie stick that automatically edits out.
At under 27 grams, the Insta360 GO 2 is the lightest action camera on this list. The standalone GO 2 kit comes with several mounting options including a magnetic pendant, a clip and a stand that adheres to any flat surface. The GO 2’s tiny size and discrete style does come at a price, as it can only record up to 1440p video.
If you already have the action camera taken care of, you might need a suitable accessory to truly unlock its potential. That’s where the Ulanzi MT-16 comes in with its ability to function as a basic camera grip, extend out to 44 centimeters, or stand as a tripod. Unlike GoPro’s 3-Way 2.0, this 3-in-1 tool fits any action camera with its ¼” thread attachment and lets you position it however you want with its adjustable ball head.
Instead of screwing and unscrewing your GoPro to switch to a different mount or tripod, SNAP Mounts solve this problem with high-strength magnets. SNAP’s magnetic plates let you convert any mount into a magnetic mount, wear your action camera on a magnetic lanyard or just attach it to any metal surface. This product started as a Kickstarter a couple years ago but has since gained steam with someYouTubers.