Action cameras are extremely popular these days. They are designed for filming action while being immersed in it. They are typically compact and rugged, and record video without having to interact much with the camera.
The most popular brand is GoPro, which offers a few different models. However, if you're looking for an action cam there are many other products to consider as well.
4K resolution at 30 frames per second is currently the highest video quality available on more expensive cameras, while most offer 1080p (Full HD) If you want the best possible quality, you should go for a 4K action cam. 4K camera is also going to be future-proof, as 4K TV and laptops are getting more and more popular.
If you want to use your action cam for taking photos, you should look at the maximum megapixels the camera can capture.
When evaluating video quality, you should understand that most action cams can record only in a wide angle field of view (FOV). This usually results in fisheye-like distortions. Some cams allow you to pick and record in narrower field of view.
With continuous recording an action cam can drain your battery in less than one hour, especially if you keep wi-fi or bluetooth on. While battery life is important, sometimes it makes more sense to simply get some spare batteries.
Typically you will need to buy a microSD/SDHC/SDXC card separately. They come in different sizes, but the most important thing you should pay attention to is the write speed. At the moment a Class 10 card seems sufficient for most high-end action cameras. If you buy a card of a lower class, for example Class 4, and want to shoot a 4K video this is likely to result in dropped frames and poor video quality.
Depending where and how you want to use your camera, you might soon find out you will be looking for some accessories to take the most of it. The most basic item you most likely heard about is a monopod, also called a selfie stick. If you want to take underwater footage, you will need a waterproof case. There is a whole list of mounts depending on the equipment you're using (bikes, helmets etc.)
Below you will find a list of our picks of what we think are the best cameras available today.
Sony HDR Action Camera can record full HD video as well as slow motion video at 240p. The cam uses an ultra-wide professional lens made by ZEISS, that gives up to 170 degrees angle. The lens has an aperture of f/2.8, which allows for high quality video footage even in low light settings. The built-in image stabilization helps with video quality when you shoot on the move, from a bike, drone etc. The camera can be controlled through your phone or a LiveView remote, which many will find very convenient. The package includes Highlight Movie Maker for edititing your videos.
GoPro HERO4 Silver was the first of all GoPro cameras to feature a touch display. That means you can now control your camera and play back your videos in a very convenient way. HERO4 Silver can record 1080p videos at 60 frames per second, and 720p video at 120 fps, and take still 12 megapixel photos at 30 fps. It also has a Time Lapse mode, which lets you shoot photos automatically at intervals between 0.5 and 60 seconds. What makes this camera stand out is a exposure settings for night photos (including night time lapse), which allows capture of a night sky. HERO4 Silver has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, which lets you connect to the Smart Remote or the GoPro app. The Remote can control the camera from a distance up to 600 feet. (182 meters)
Yi Action Cam is a less expensive alternative to more popular products. Based on a SONY 16 megapixel sensor and Ambarella A7LS processing chipset, it delivers a respectable video footage of 1080p at 60 frames per second. The lens is 155° wide-angle provides image stabilization and motion compensation for a fluid footage. The aperture of F2.8 results in good performance in low light. It has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which let it stream video to Android on iOS app for remote control from up to 300 feet away. A 1100 mAh battery promises 90 minutes of run time.
HERO3 Black from GoPro is the highest spec model of GoPro cameras. The 3rd edition is lighter and smaller than the previous versions. It also has Wi-Fi built in. The highest resolution recording mode are 1440p/30fps and 1080p at 30fps. It can also capture 12 megapixel photos with 30 fps burst. The provided housing is waterproof to around 200 feet. (60m) This camera comes with a Wi-Fi Remote.
The newest model of GoPro Black series is HERO5.