9 best action cameras 2016 for extreme photos and epic video

Whether you're tombstoning or gardening, these action cams go anywhere and capture it in extreme detail

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.

We think the best action camera right now is the GoPro Hero5 Black, but that might not be the perfect action cam for you, so we've got eight other excellent alternatives.

The latest Hero5 Black is awesome, not least because it’s now waterproof to 10-metres without the casing. It's also as t’s equally as durable, which means it will survive in even the harshest of conditions. There's GPS as well as a 2-inch touchscreen for changing settings to your heart's content.

How to choose the best action cameras for you

There's a lot of choice when it comes to buying an action camera in 2016, with big brands like GoPro and Sony, as well as lesser known companies such as Veho and Olfi vying for top position in the market. Our selection of cams ranges from affordable-ish, to quite expensive, and it's worth remembering (as with most things) you get what you pay for.

Image quality is one of the most important factors when choosing an action camera, and the GoPro, Veho and Sony really excel in this area. It's always worth checking out frame rates rather than max resolution, because while a lot of cameras shoot in 4K resolution, some cheaper models use a frame rate of 15 fps, which makes the video look jumpy. If you're shooting in 4K you want at least 30 fps, or just shoot in 1080p HD at 60 fps.

Most cameras also come with bundled accessories, if you want to take your action camera deep sea diving you'll need a waterproof housing, or if you want to mount it on a car you'll need a sucker mount. Some cameras come with a load of mounts and cases free with the camera, such as the Veho and Olfi, whereas others a less generous.

Finally, 2016 has seen a rise in extra features added to the action camera spectrum, such as GPS, voice control, gyroscopes, and image stabilisation. These are well worth considering, as they improve the overall experience (but aren't necessary).

The 9 best action cameras you can buy today

So, let's crack on with our list of the best action cameras you can buy.

1. GoPro Hero5 Black

The reigning king, simply the best action camera around

GoPro Hero5 Black

4K video with stabilisation
Water resistant without housing
Few included accessories

There is only one name when it comes to action cameras - GoPro. If you’re looking for a powerful, fully comprehensive action cam, then look no further than GoPro’s newest addition, the Hero5 Black. It’s now waterproof to 10-metres without the casing, and it’s equally as durable, which means it will survive in even the harshest of conditions.

Video can be recorded all the way up to 4K at 30fps, and it’ll also take 12MP RAW photos. Battery life varies depending on what settings you’re using, obviously, but GoPro estimates you’ll get one-three hours of use.

For the first time, GoPro’s flagship model features a 2-inch touchscreen on the rear which makes changing setting easier, GPS to capture your location, and the action cam now features video stabilisation for smoother shots.

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 Hero5 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.

Read the full review: GoPro Hero5 Black and GoPro Karma Drone

2. TomTom Bandit

Bullet shaped action cam makes edition easy

TomTom Bandit

Auto-editing and app
Robust design
4K only 15 fps

If you thought TomTom only made sat navs and running watches, 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.

TomTom'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.

3. Veho Muvi K2 Pro

Excellent action camera with bundled accessories from Veho is a bargain

Veho Muvi K2 Pro

Free accessories
Great image quality
Not waterproof without case
Fiddly buttons

The Muvi K2 Pro is Veho's latest and most advanced action camera, it packs a new XA-9 processor capable of capturing 4K video at 15fps, 2.7k at 30fps, or 1080p at 60fps.

Unlike GoPro, the Muvi ships with a load of accessories, such as a rugged carry case, various mounts, and an LCD touchscreen. There's a G-sensor built in, and the large 1,500 mAh battery lasts for up to 3 hours of recording.

4. Garmin Virb Ultra 30

One of the most fully featured action cameras we've tested

Garmin Virb Ultra 30

Voice control
So many features!
4K lacks stabilisation
Battery life so-so

The original Virb introduced GPS and motion sensors to the action camera pie, and the Ultra 30 builds on that with 3-axis image stabilisation, a 1.75-inch touchscreen, high-quality microphones, and a G-sensor.

The key feature here is voice control, so you can tell you cam to start, stop and pause recording, as well as “remember that” to make finding events easier.

Video quality is good with 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps, and the Wi-Fi connection and the compatible app are well designed.

5. Olfi One.Five

Excellent value for money, a quirky design, and great packaging

Olfi One.Five

Amazing value!
Stabilisation and HDR
Quality isn't as good as GoPro
Not waterproof without case

The Olfi One.Five offers amazing 4K HDR video recording at a very reasonable price of £149.99. That’s not all this impressive little action camera offers - there’s also a rear LCD screen, super slow motion 240fps video mode and gyro stabilisation. That’s awesome value for money.

We’re really fond of the design, and branding as well, and it comes with a great hard case, and selection of mounts. Although this is a budget device, it certainly doesn’t feel cheap.

6. GoPro Hero5 Session

It's the smaller, more unobtrusive brother to the GoPro Hero5 Black

GoPro Hero5 Session

Voice control
Needs phone to adjust settings
No screen to frame shots

This is the second version of GoPro’s smallest and lightest action camera, the Session. The tiny cube measures just 1.5-inches each way. It’s waterproof up to 10 metres, has a simple one button system, captures 4K video, takes 10MP photos, an adjustable mount for multi-angle filming, and a two-hour battery life.

This year’s Session packs voice control, to make operations a bit more simple.

7. Sony FDR-X3000 4K

This bullet shaped action camera packs a lot Sony's of imaging know-how

Sony FDR-X3000 4K

Streamlined design
Zeiss lens and Exmor sensor
Limited included accessories
No screen to frame shots

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 SteadyShot 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 reduces 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.

8. Polaroid Cube+

This little camera may not be for extreme sports, but it's still really fun

Polaroid Cube+

Small and simple
Not really suited to 'action'

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.

9. HTC Re Camera

Always ready, the HTC RE is an innovate action camera

Polaroid Cube+

Fast instant turn on
Really easy to use
Shutter lag
Not amazing image quality

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.

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