The best action camera 2017

Whether you're canoeing, mountain biking, skiing or snowboarding, these action cams go anywhere and capture it in extreme detail

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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 Hero6 Black, but that might not be the best action cam for you, so we’ve got 11 other excellent alternatives.

The latest Hero6 Black is awesome, not least because it's waterproof to 10-metres without the casing. It's also impressively durable, which means it will survive in even the harshest of conditions. There's GPS, a 2-inch touchscreen, and the even voice control, for even easier operation.

How to choose the best action camera for you

There's a lot of choice when it comes to buying an action camera in 2017, 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.

 Last year, we saw a rise in extra features being added to action cameras. Some of them, like image stabilisation continue to impress in certain models, while others, such as voice control and GPS are more “nice to haves” than “necessities.”

The best action cameras you can buy today

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

1. GoPro Hero6 Black

GoPro’s flagship model just got even better

Specifications
Weight: 118g
Waterproof: 10m
4K video: 60fps
1080: 240fps
720: up to 240fps
Stills resolution: 12MP
Battery life: 1-3hrs
Reasons to buy
+Great image quality and stabilisation+ Water proof without housing
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-No stabilisation for 4K@60fps

Continuing to reign supreme in the action camera market, the Hero6 brings a range of updates to the already superb Hero5. In fact, both are still in the line-up, to suit different budgets.

Waterproof down to 10 metres without the need for a casing, you can expand that functionality to 30 metres with an optional housing, plus there’s a slew of compatible mounts and extras that work with a GoPro.

A new feature is the ability to record video at frame rates all the way up to 60fps, while image stabilisation (at 30p and below) has been improved to make the need for a gimbal almost non-existent.

There’s a touchscreen on the rear of the camera, which has also been improved for smoother gestures - but you can also use your voice to set it off if you can’t get close enough. Connecting to a smartphone app, the new QuikStories app condenses all your videos and shots into one shareable nugget, ready to delight all your social media fans.

2. Sony RX0

A one-inch sensor in an action camera - who’d have thought it?

Specifications
Weight: 110g
Waterproof: 10m
4K video: Yes
1080: 1000fps
720: 1000fps
Stills resolution: 15MP
Battery life: 35mins-1hr
Reasons to buy
+Huge sensor+Zeiss lens
Reasons to avoid
-Very high price-Needs external recorder for 4K

Sony’s RX range of high-quality cameras have long been impressing. They introduced one-inch sensors into the compact camera market, which hasn’t looked back since. 

Keen to have a finger in pretty much every pie, the brand is also bringing the one-inch idea to action cameras, with the RX0. It’s got a much larger sensor than other action cameras, in a little body that’s barely bigger than a GoPro Hero 6 - impressive stuff indeed.

Waterproof down to 10 metres without a housing, if you want to go further, you can boost that to 100m with a case. A Zeiss lens ensures high image quality, while other fantastic features include super slow video recording and the ability to capture stills.

So far, so good? Well, the downside is that if you want to capture 4K, you’ll have to use an external recorder to do that. Oh, and it also costs £800, too.

3. GoPro Hero5 Black

More affordable than the Hero6, and still a good choice

Specifications
Weight: 118g
Waterproof: 10m
4K video: 30fps
1080: 120fps
720: 240fps
Stills resolution: 12MP
Battery life: 1-3hrs est
Reasons to buy
+4K video with stabilisation+Water resistant without housing
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Few included accessories
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While the GoPro Hero6 is the current star in GoPro's line up, the Hero5 Black, which is now more affordable, shouldn't be ignored. It's 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

4. TomTom Bandit

Bullet shaped action cam makes edition easy

Specifications
Weight: 190g
Waterproof: Splashproof, with lens swap
4K video: 15fps
1080: 60fps
720: 120fps
Stills resolution: 16MP
Battery life: 3hrs
Reasons to buy
+Auto-editing and app+Robust design
Reasons to avoid
-4K only 15 fps-Heavy
Today's best deals

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.

5. YI 4K+

A well-rounded action camera available a good price

Specifications
Weight: 94g
Waterproof: Optional case available
4K video: 30fps
1080: 120fps
720: 240fps
Stills resolution: 12MP
Battery life: 2hrs
Reasons to buy
+4K at 60fps+USB-C
Reasons to avoid
-Not waterproof without housing-Temperamental voice commands

If you like the look and feel of a GoPro, but don’t have the cash to splash, there are quite a few lookalikes on the market.

One such offering is the YI 4K+, which offers a range of great specifications at a much more affordable price. Not least is the ability to record 4K at 60fps. Video recording is nice and smooth, if perhaps not quite as impressive as what the GoPro gives you at 4K30fps.

You also get voice commands (but they don’t always work), and a very useable screen. Unlike the GoPro Hero 6, the YI 4K+ is not waterproof in itself, instead requiring a casing to let you take it underwater. Not necessarily a deal breaker, but adds an extra layer of faff that you might not be bothered with.

6. Olympus TG Tracker

Get past the odd looks and you’ve got a decent challenger to the establishment

Specifications
Weight: 180g
Waterproof: 30m
4K video: 30fps
1080: 60fps
720: 240fps
Stills resolution: 7.2MP
Battery life: 3hrs
Reasons to buy
+Good price+Waterproof
Reasons to avoid
-Big and heavy (comparitively)-Side-ways screen

Looking a bit like a video camera of old, the Olympus TG-Tracker is a bit an oddball when it comes to the current trend in action cameras.

Still, it’s compact, rugged and waterproof, and the screen flips out to the side to give you a different viewpoint (not including selfies as it doesn’t face forwards). 

It’s got a host of interesting features, including a super-wide angle 204 angle of view lens, and the ability to record at up to 240fps if you drop down to 720p HD recording. 4K is also available at up to 30fps.

Video quality stands up against some of the big action camera names here, but the fact that this is available at a cracking price is a big draw.

7. Sony FDR-X3000 4K

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

Specifications
Weight: 114g
Waterproof: 60m with included case
4K video: Yes
1080: 120fps
720: 240fps
Stills resolution: 8MP
Battery life: 2hrs 5mins
Reasons to buy
+Streamlined design+Zeiss lens and Exmor sensor
Reasons to avoid
-Limited included accessories-No screen to frame shots
Today's best deals

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. Garmin Virb Ultra 30

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

Specifications
Weight: 88g
Waterproof: With included case
4K video: 30fps
1080: 90fps
720: 60fps
Stills resolution: 12MP
Battery life: 2hrs 15mins
Reasons to buy
+Voice control+So many features!
Reasons to avoid
-4K lacks stabilisation-Battery life so-so
Today's best deals

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.

9. Olfi One.Five

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

Specifications
Weight: 55g (110g with housing)
Waterproof: 30m with included case
4K video: up to 24fps
1080: 60fps
720: 120fps
Stills resolution: 16MP
Battery life: 2hrs
Reasons to buy
+Amazing value!+Stabilisation and HDR
Reasons to avoid
-Quality isn't as good as GoPro-Not waterproof without case
Today's best deals

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.

10. Veho Muvi K2 Pro

Excellent action camera with bundled accessories from Veho is a bargain

Specifications
Weight: 84g
Waterproof: With optional case
4K video: 15fps
1080: 60fps
720: 120fps
Stills resolution: 12MP
Battery life: 4hrs
Reasons to buy
+Free accessories+Great image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Not waterproof without case-Fiddly buttons
Today's best deals

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.

11. Nikon KeyMission 360

An action camera that puts you in the centre of the action

Specifications
Weight: 189g
Waterproof: 30m
Recording modes: 2160/24p, 1920/24p, 960/25p, 640/100p, 320/200p
Stills resolution: 30MP
Battery life: 1hr 10mins
Reasons to buy
+360-degree video+Waterproof without casing
Reasons to avoid
-Flaky companion app-Short battery life

Nikon is a key player in the standard camera market, so it’s not that much of a surprise to see them pop up in the action cam genre. It’s got a trio of “KeyMission” cameras available, but it’s the 360 which is listed here for it offers something just a little bit different.

VR content is on the rise, and if you’re interested in creating immersive action videos, then something like the KeyMission 360 is a good choice to enable you to do just that. As the name suggests, it has a completely spherical field of view - so you better make sure you’re not pulling any funny faces when recording your movies.

The KeyMission 360 also boasts waterproofing, as well as 4K video recording. As there’s no space for a screen or a huge array of buttons, you’ll need to make settings changes via an app - which is the KeyMission’s letdown, as it can be on the flaky side.

12. Polaroid Cube+

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

Specifications
Video quality: 1440p HD
Screen: No
Stills: 8MP
GPS: Yes
Waterproof: Yes (with rubber frame)
Memory Card: MicroSD
Reasons to buy
+Small and simple+Fun
Reasons to avoid
-Basic-Not really suited to 'action'
Today's best deals

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.

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