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GoPros are practically synonymous with action cameras, those compact, resilient, feature-rich, and waterproof video recorders that took the market by storm more than a decade ago. Certainly there’s a lot to praise about models from GoPro, and we do still love them. However, as our list of top picks proves, there’s much more to action cameras than just that one brand. Here are five compelling action cam models for filming shorts, recording gallery walkthroughs, shooting instructional videos, vlogging, and more.
1. GoPro Hero7
Although other brands introduce new action cams every year, GoPros are still the most versatile on the market, with compelling feature sets and an easy-to-use interface. However, the newer the GoPro, the more it’ll hollow out your wallet. We love the latest, the Hero9 (see below), but its price tag keeps it from being our top pick. Instead, we offer the Hero7, which was released in 2018 but is still an excellent choice, since it has all the bells and whistles of a next-gen GoPro. That means luxe features like live streaming and voice control for hands-free operation, plus all the “basics” GoPro adherents can’t live without, like crisp 4K HD-resolution video, 10-megapixel photos, impressive in-camera stabilization, and slo-motion and time-lapse video features. What’s more, this trusty model can be yours for a lot less than the Hero9. Need we say more?
2. DJI Osmo Action Camera
Another action cam brand getting a lot of attention, especially among some sports vloggers, is DJI, with its very affordable, versatile Osmo Action. This 2019 model is priced lower than our top pick but performs comparatively, thanks to its Wi-Fi-connectivity features, slo-mo and time-lapse capabilities, and five-command voice control. It has some extra tricks up its sleeve, too, like its dual display. The Osmo Action captures 12-megapixel images, is waterproof to a depth of 36 feet, and shoots with a 145-degree wide-angle lens. Oh, and did we mention that camera comes with two adhesive mounts, a quick-release base, a battery and battery case, locking screw, and USB-C cable? If DJI ever releases another Osmo, GoPro had better watch its back.
3. Dragon Touch 4K Action Camera
There’s a host of inexpensive action cams out there that have followed in GoPro’s footsteps. Our favorite is this model, by Dragon Touch, which can capture very good 16-megapixel photos with its remarkable 170-degree wide-angle lens. It has a number of other video and still-photo modes to boot: slo-mo, time lapse, driving mode, drama shot, and more. Believe it or not, the price tag—less than one-third of the Osmo—includes two batteries, a remote control, and a kit of mounting accessories. Do take its advertising with a grain of salt, however: Contrary to its claims, the Dragon Touch’s in-body image stabilization is not as robust as that of the three action cameras mentioned above.
4. Akaso EK7000 Action Camera
We recommend this camera for everyone, but especially for those who love scuba diving. This Akaso has impressive image quality and features for a very nice price, though, as with the similarly priced Dragon Touch, you’ll be sacrificing the stellar in-body stabilization offered by mid- and high-range cameras. However, this action cam stands out in two ways. First, it can go farther underwater than almost any other model—its durable waterproof case lets you take it to a depth of 98 feet. Second, it has a great close-up shooting mode, which makes it a smart investment in this price range. It’s neck and neck with the Dragon Touch in all other regards, also boasting a 170-degree lens and two rechargeable batteries. The accompanying accessory kit is GoPro-compatible, so you can hang on to it if and when you graduate to a tonier cam.
5. GoPro Hero9
For some vloggers, a non-GoPro camera is a nonstarter, and this model pretty much explains why. Even GoPro cynics might find themselves yearning for the latest Hero model, which shoots in ultra-crisp 5K-resolution video and takes 20-megapixel photos. Unveiled in late 2020, the Hero9’s new front-facing screen and 1080p live-streaming capabilities became its major calling cards. This is the most powerful GoPro yet, and worth every dollar (if you’ve got it).