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.