Choosing the best action camera for 2021 can be quite frustrating when you consider the many options available online. In this blog, we break down the top five (5) best action cameras on the market this year based on price vs. performance and situations they will be used.
We will be taking a look at the products in every budget range. So regardless of whether you’ve got a few bucks to spare and want the best value or are looking for the best of the best. We will have an option for you.
So if you are interested in finding out which action camera will be the best for you, check out the list below!
GoPro Hero 5 Session
Great Budget Action Camera – For action shooting on a budget, the GoPro Hero 5 is more than capable of filling the need. It has durable design waterproof up to 33 feet or 10 meters without any housing. It offers voice control so you can perform a variety of tasks like stopping and start recording without using your hands.
This action camera gives you the ability to record breathtaking 4k video and even take 10-megapixel photos in single burst time-lapse modes. You also have the option of recording Full HD 1080p video at 60 frames per second but only about an hour and a half’s worth before it needs a recharge. The main problem here is the lack of a swappable battery. Meaning you will have to recharge the Hero 5 session each time before you can record again. It does sport advanced video stabilization for smooth video without any motion blur or distortion. We really like the one-button recording function of the Hero 5 session simple straightforward and direct.
The built-in wifi this device offers lets you automatically upload your photos and videos directly to the cloud for easy viewing, editing and sharing. It also include built-in GPS capabilities to geo-tag your photos for a little extra file info. Release in September of 2016, the Hero 5 Session is priced at around $200 but it has more to offer than a lot of basic newer models this is a great choice for recording all your adrenalin pumping adventures without breaking the bank.
DJI OSMO Action
One of the better GoPro Competitors, offering excellent video quality at a modest price point with a host of available options for any shooting condition. The camera features a dual screen design that lets you capture all of the action with just the press of a button which is perfect for shooting intended scenes or turning it around for a selfie video.
The back screen offers a clear and sharp picture with excellent stabilization technology even at high levels of movement, thanks to complex software algorithms. The DJI Osmo Action shoots sixteen to nine 4k videos at 60 frames per second or 720p and 1080p at up to 240 FPS for excellent slow-motion playback. It also take 12 megapixel photos quite respectable for an action camera of this caliber.
We really like the durable design of this camera, as well. It is waterproof up to a hundred meters and resistant to temperatures as low as negative 10 degrees Celsius. It may not be enough to capture a day at the ski hill but its enough for mild or winter conditions.
The voice control feature allows you to perform a variety of actions when you are unable to use your hands it also offers a custom mode that allows you to choose your exposure settings as well as store list and select frequently used shooting modes.
The DJI Osmo Action holds an advantage over the GoPro Hero 5 Session with its swappable battery packs. We recommend disabling Wi-Fi for extra battery life if you’re out shooting but the 1300 mAh battery is sufficient enough to last a decent amount of time before requiring a recharge even if it isn’t meant for long recording stretches.
We recommend the DJI Osmo Action for anyone looking for an action camera with excellent video quality and the ability to shoot longer thanks to a swappable battery system.
GoPro Hero 7 Black
The GoPro Hero 7 Black is now a slightly outdated model but it’s still a remarkably powerful contender in the action camera competitions. One must take a second look due to its reduced price tag.
Go Pro Hero 7 Black uses hyper smooth video stabilization technology to predict and correct camera movement unfortunately it isn’t available in 4k mode or 1080p at higher frame rates like 120 to 240. Disappointing but not altogether surprising for normal shooting hyper smooth is absolutely phenomenal.
The camera also takes excellent 12 megapixel photos thanks to the inclusion of the super photo feature, which determines the best HDR settings depending on your environment. The quality of super photo shots is surprisingly well balanced and tempered compared to some HDR cameras which tend to go overboard on color saturation and contrast.
The time-warp video capture features allows you to record super stabilized time-lapse videos. You also have the option to speed up the videos 30 times for longer events and activities but it does so in a truly unique way by increasing the level of smoothness as you ramp up the speed setting we are really impressed with the very rugged design of this particular action camera.
It is waterproof up to 33 feet or 10 meters making it great for everything from kayaking or whitewater rafting still it isn’t advisable to expose the GoPro Hero 7 black to saltwater. Voice control functionality of the Hero 7 Black will let you start and stop recording with a simple voice command. Which is excellent depending on the placement of your camera or its connection to a selfie stick. Live-streaming on Facebook and other social media platforms is an option as well stream videos can be saved to your SD card in high resolution.
The Hero 7 Black sports some incredible battery life for an action camera lasting more than a few hours when shooting in Time Warp. The batteries are swappable as well which is perfect for extended shooting sessions. Vloggers and cinematographers will appreciate the GoPro Hero 7 Black incredible resiliency functionality and video quality. It’s quite an affordable action camera to boot making it an attractive option that we definitely recommend.
YI 4K Action Camera
For budget-conscious action shooters, we present the YI 4K Great Budget Action Camera. It offers excellent video quality and some fantastic functions that offset a few missing key features found in other cameras on this list.
The YI 4K can record 4k video at up to 60 frames per second, 2.7k video at 60 frames per second 1080p at 120 frames per second, or 720p video at 240 frames per second. It also shoots 12-megapixel stills but unfortunately no raw mode is available for discerning photographers. Best Action Camera 2021
One of the biggest advantages of the YI 4K is the 155 degree wide angle lens, even if it can sometimes create a fisheye distortion effect. There also a number of advanced features that you can play around with including flexible settings for shutter ISO, Meter, EV, and WB. The camera features an intuitive 2.2 inch LCD touchscreen with a responsive design and 640 by 360 resolution.
It also supports voice commands for multiple tasks such as stop and start recording. The touch screen is made of Gorilla Glass making it scratch and impact-resistant. The built-in Bluetooth and high-speed five gigahertz Wi-Fi supports makes it easy to upload and share your photos and videos quickly. Best Action Camera 2021
There is also a YI camera app for smartphone pairing the 1200 mAh battery that the YI 4K uses can be recharged and lasts for up to 120 minutes when recording video in 4K which is surprisingly robust for such a demanding resolution.
Price at around $130.00, the YI 4K is a great budget action camera that features a top-notch image sensor and an easy-to-use design.
GoPro Hero 8 Black
The choice for the Best Overall Action Camera, it has a great looking streamline design that lets you slide it right into your pockets with ease. You can swap mounts fast, due to the folding fingers. This camera unique level of durability is highly impressive, it uses a lens that is twice as impact resistant, so breaking is not a major concern. Best Action Camera 2021
The hyper smooth 2.0 technology the hero 8 black uses provides you with three levels of stabilization. You will be able to choose from on high and boost settings. You will be able to capture time-lapse videos for longer events with image stabilization so there is no shaking to ruin your footage. The time-warp feature automatically adjusts speed based on motion lighting and scene detection. There is also the live burst feature which lets you record moments one-and-a-half seconds before and after your shot you will be able to choose the best single frame to get a great-looking photo or a short video to share with friends.
The GoPro Hero 8 Black records 4K video at 60 frame per second but it’s best suited to outdoor conditions where it can properly utilize its world-class image stabilization to better affect. It also sines thanks to the time warp and hyper smooth functions taken from the Hero 7. Best Action Camera 2021
Photography is another matter with quality that doesn’t really match it’s video capabilities and is most comparable to mid-range smartphones. It’s not a deal-breaker but the GoPro Hero 8 Black is clearly no photographer’s first pick. It does shoot in raw mode however. Battery life is fairly consistent, topping out at 2 hours depending on what mode you are shooting in, and sports a three-hour charge time. They are also swappable which is a definite plus for those looking to shoot for extended periods of time.
It also has updated the interior forward facing microphone for better pickup as well which also handles voice commands. It’s hard to top the GoPro Hero 8 Black in terms of sheer performance and functionality. The Image stabilization alone is worth the price of purchase to say nothing of the secondary features packed into this small action camera. Best Action Camera 2021
If versatility and quality is what you’re after this is the camera we recommend.