Best action cameras
It doesn't matter whether you're flying down a ski slope, kick flipping at a skate park, or just doing the gardening, action cameras are incredibly versatile devices capable of documenting your life.
There are an awful lot of action cameras out there, though, so it can be tricky to find the one that's right for you. Are you more focussed on the quality of the video? How well it'll survive in extreme conditions? Or are you just looking for something basic that you can use to keep a nice visual record of your holiday? Luckily for you, we've got the best action camera to suit any situation.
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There's something for everyone, with big names like Sony and GoPro, as well as lesser known companies like Polaroid, SJCAM, and Rollei. Our selection of cams ranges from £38 up to £320.
So, let's crack on...
GoPro Hero4 Black
If you’re looking for a powerful, fully comprehensive action cam, then look no further than GoPro’s Hero4 Black. It’s completely waterproof and durable, which means it will survive in even the harshest of conditions. Video can be recorded all the way up to 4K, and it can also take photos up to 12MP. Battery life varies depending on what settings you’re using, but GoPro estimates you’ll get one-three hours of use.
More experienced photographers can also go into the photo settings to alter settings like white balance, image sharpness, and the ISO. As with all GoPro cameras, the Hero4 Black connects to a smartphone app for remote control, image previews, and video playback. There’s also micro USB, micro HDMI, and a microUSB port for cards up to 64GB in size.
Garmin VIRB Elite
This action cam can record video at varying resolutions up to Full HD (1080p), and has a battery life that lasts a good three hours of use. What sets it apart is that it has a built-in low powered viewfinder making it easy to find the perfect shot and playing back your video when you’re done recording.
It also has advanced GPS built-in, which can be used for location stamping and various smart-recording modes that records your movement when you’re going downhill, but stops when you’re doing something less interesting. To top it off the VIRB Elite has an ‘instant record slider’ which makes it easier to know you’re recording, even if you’re wearing thick gloves.
It’s also waterproof and rugged, takes 16MP photos, and connects to your smartphone for various remote functions.
Sony FDR-X1000V 4K Action Camera
Another 4K offering, this time from Sony. The 4K Action Camera promises to be three times more stable than previous Sony action cams thanks to advanced Steady Shot systems, and the ZEISS lens will ensure that your video is sharp and free from glare.
One big advantage is that it has built-in measure that reduce wind noise, so the audio on your videos should be nice and clear when the time comes to play them back. It also has a waterproof case, micro HMDI output, micro USB, and a microSD card slot.
GoPro Hero4 Session
This is GoPro’s smallest and lightest action camera to date, with the tiny cube measuring 1.5-inches each way. It’s waterproof up to 10 metres, has a simple one button system, captures video up to 1440p resolution, takes 8MP photos, an adjustable mount for multi-angle filming, and a two-hour battery life.
The small size isn’t without its drawbacks, and you’ll have to connect the Session to your smartphone if you want to change any settings.
If you thought TomTom only made sat navs you're wrong. Just. Plain. Wrong. They also make this rather brilliant action camera named the Bandit. It's the perfect, low-profile, shape to be strapped to the side of your helmet.
GoPro's software makes a stab at automatically editing the footage (using GPS and a motion sensor). It's quite heavy, but it's easy to use and captures great footage, and is even compatible with GoPro mounts.
£380 | TomTom action cameras
Garmin Virb XE
Another action cam from Garmin, this time the more expensive XE. The original Virb introduced GPS and motion sensors to the action camera pie, and the XE builds on that with an improved exterior design and build quality (waterproof to 50m).
Video quality is good with 1080p at 60 fps, and the Wi-Fi connection and compatiable app is well designed.
£280 | Garmin action cameras
This isn't a camera for extreme sports, but the cute little Cube+ is a great little action cam. It takes 8MP stills, and 1440p HD video. It takes a microSD and connects to smart devices with Wi-Fi.
HTC Re Camera
The HTC Re might not have the most compact design compared to other action cameras, but it does offer some handy features for a very reasonable price. It’s designed to work one-handed, leaving you with an extra hand to get things done, and automatically turns on when you pick it up thanks to a grip sensor.
16MP photography is controlled by a single tap of the button, and 1080p video can be recorded with a long press. To top it all off the camera is waterproof, has smartphone synchronisation, and a bunch of cool effects like slow-motion filming.
Looks familiar, no? This is a nice budget option for those of you unwilling or unable to spend hundreds of pounds on an action cam. The SJ4000 records 1080p video, takes 12MP photos, and a 170-degree wide angle lens.
Battery life is around 100 minutes if you turn Wi-Fi off, but one of the great things about the SJ4000 is that the battery is removable – so you can carry spares to extend the amount of use you get out of it. It also comes in a waterproof case, and holds SD cards up to 32GB in size.
£38 | Amazon
Replay XD Prime X
One the key features of the Prime X is the rather large battery inside, and the 1,700 mAh is estimated to get you three and a half hours of use. It also records 1080p video, takes 16MP photos with over 20 shooting settings to choose from, and records audio with a built-in wind suppressing omni-directional microphone.
On top of that it’s waterproof, has multiple video output options, smartphone synchronisation, and is housed in a high-impact aluminium housing.
£238 | Amazon
Mobius HD ActionCam
This may look like the a worst designed piece of tech ever made, but it is cheap, so quit complaining.
Another budget model, the Mobius HD ActionCam is a lightweight camera capable of capturing full HD video. Aside from the price, what sets the Mobius apart is how small it is at 2-inches long. That makes it a fairly versatile camera that can be used for a variety of purposes, including attaching it to a drone for mid-air filming.
The battery will last around two hours, and videos are saved to a microSD card.
£58 | Amazon
Rollei Actioncam 400
Most action cameras can be controlled remotely from a smartphone, and while that’s true of the Rollei Actioncam 400 it also comes with a wrist-mounted remote control that means you don’t need to put your phone in the middle of the action.
The photography resolution is far from great at 3MP, but it’s still capable of recording 1080p video like the best of them. Battery life is around 75 minutes, and the camera is waterproof up to 40 metres.
£76 | Amazon
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