The Best Action Cameras (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022
Don’t just tell the unbelievable story; show it with an action camera
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
BY Andra DelMonico / LAST UPDATED ON January 26, 2021
Whether you want to record your epic motorcycle vacation adventure or are just looking for extra security while driving, an action camera is what you need. These small cameras pack a big punch in video quality. What makes these cameras stand out is how compact and versatile they are. They also come with plenty of accessories to give you countless methods for mounting.
While all action cameras may be small, some are better than others. You want to purchase a high-quality camera that’s also durable. That way, it won’t let you down when you depend on it the most. This guide will help you understand the difference between a quality camera and one that’s not worth your time by explaining the variances in picture quality and features.
Record in 4K Ultra HD with this waterproof camera. Your footage will look clear thanks to the built-in smart gyroscope. You can record in depths up to 131 feet or 40 meters.
- Included remote
- Two batteries included
- Incompatible file formats
- Short battery life
Take this 12MP camera and enjoy the wide-angle lens and 1080p quality. It’s safe for use in water up to 98 feet.
- A lot of included accessories
- 2-inch LCD
- Long battery life
- Grainy picture
- Inadequate zoom feature
This sleek black camera records in 4K Ultra HD video and 12MP pictures. It can also broadcast in 1080p quality for live video.
- Extra battery included
- Included 64GB memory card
- Outside feels slippery
- Audio drop-out issues
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Action Cameras
- Proof. You get back from an epic adventure with some fantastic stories to tell. Then no one believes it happened. An action camera provides the proof you need. You could also use your action camera on your vehicle, which creates proof should an accident occur.
- Compact size. These cameras are small, which makes it easy to bring with you. Traditional cameras and video cameras can’t compete and would be bulky in these adventure activities. The small size makes it easier to hook the camera into compact places.
- Quality. The video and picture quality of these cameras is impressive. Some have a wide-angle lens for capturing more of the scenery. The crisp quality makes the video enjoyable and clear to watch.
Types of Action Cameras
This is the style that most action cameras fall under. This gives you a lot of options if this is the type you want. They are versatile for a wide variety of activities and situations. This makes them ideal for a beginner who wants a simple-to-use camera and doesn’t have any specific needs or uses in mind.
This type of action camera is the most portable and compact. They work best if you have limited space for mounting your camera. They typically have limited button functionality because of the lack of physical space on the cube. This type of camera works best for those with limited space or who need a low profile camera that won’t get in the way of your activity.
This type of camera is long and sleek, resembling the shape of a bullet. You won’t find any well-known brands using this style for their cameras. This can make the quality questionable for the cameras you do find. These cameras work well for mounting on an RC or quadcopter because they have even weight distribution and a slim design.
Founded in 2002, the GoPro cameras have become the standard that all action cameras get compared to. The brand is known for producing innovative products that are well worth the expense for their dependability and quality. The GoPro Hero7 both looks stylish and performs well.
Electronics and technology enthusiasts have turned to Dragon Touch products since its founding in 2011. What’s so appealing about its products is the quality achieved for the budget price point. The Dragon Touch 1080P Action Camera creates quality footage at an affordable price.
Since its founding in 2017, the VanTop brand has grown from being an electronics startup in China to a worldwide known developer of smart home devices, tablets, dash cameras, and projectors. The VanTop 4K Action Camera comes with everything you need to get started filming.
Action Camera Pricing
- Under $50: You can get a decent action camera in this price range. They may not have the best picture or video quality or fancy features. However, they’re durable and dependable.
- $50 to $150: Cameras in this price range are durable, dependable, and have several nice features. They’ll range in technology and video quality.
- $150 and up: These are the best cameras you can buy and are loaded with features with the best video and image quality. They may have more than what you need or will ever use.
Your action camera should be waterproof. You never know what type of conditions you’ll encounter, so having it be waterproof gives you more versatility. Instead of panicking about your camera getting wet, you can dive right in. Compare what level of waterproofing the camera has. Some are only safe in a splash or light rain. Others can easily continue to record in deep water depths.
There’s no point in bringing a camera along to record if the resulting footage is pixelated and blurry. Most action cameras are 4K technology, which gives you clear and crisp footage. This is the highest resolution that you can buy today. It’s also the most expensive. You also need to consider the frame rate. A higher frame rate gives you better video quality and more editing control.
What does your camera come with? Some do not come with anything, so you’re buying just the camera. Now you have to buy all the additional accessories separately. Other cameras come with a few accessories or a complete kit. Look for one that comes with a stand, mounting equipment, and straps to give you the accessories you need for various situations.
- Durability. The whole point of an action camera is that it can record all of your action-filled adventures. This means your camera needs to be durable enough to withstand bumps, drops, and water. Look for a camera that has a strong and durable shell that’s strong enough to protect the sensitive electronics inside.
- Battery. How long does it take the battery to charge, and how long does it last once fully charged? These are important and will control the functionality and usability of your camera. A short battery time will have you continually recharging and switching batteries. Some cameras let you adjust the settings to extend the battery time, so consider this when comparing cameras.
- Size and Shape. Consider the size, shape, and weight of the camera you buy. It needs to be small enough to fit into the places where you want to put it. The same applies to the shape. The weight is crucial if you plan to mount your camera in sensitive places, like on top of your helmet.
Best Action Cameras Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Test out your action camera before you get out there and want to use it. That way, you don’t get bogged down figuring out how to work it when it matters the most.
- Buy an extra battery and memory card for your action camera. That way, when your battery dies, you can easily switch them out. When your memory card gets full, you can switch that out too.
- Consider buying an accessory kit for your camera. These come with various mounts and stands to give you more functionality and versatility for your camera.
Q: Is there a better action camera than GoPro?
It can be hard to find another action camera that combines the same level of technology, size, and quality. That’s what makes GoPro so popular. Although, if you’re willing to compromise on those qualities, then you can find a better camera for a lower price.
Q: Is an action camera worth it?
If you don’t need motion sensors or GPS technology, then an action camera is worth it. Their small size and video quality make them perfect for taking on any adventure. The image quality alone makes them perfect for capturing even the less exciting moments in life.
Q: Can you use an action camera as a normal camera?
Of course! All you need to do is point it at your subject and turn it on. Many action cameras come with a stand or mount to make using it even easier than a traditional camera.
The Campark X20 Action Camera is a smart choice with its 4K ultra HD video capabilities, easy-to-use touchscreen, and included accessories. The more affordable Piwoka Action Camera is the ideal budget camera with a 12 MP camera and large LCD.