In this buyers guide we shortlist the best action camera available to buy in 2017.
Action cameras are small, lightweight, wearable, mountable, portable, and sometimes waterproof camcorders. They’re useful because you can mount them to pretty much anything—from skateboards, surfboards, bicycles, and drones, to helmets, body parts, and even your pets.
The action camera category has come on a long way in the last few years. GoPro forged a path in to a very profitable industry that many tech companies have been keen to get a piece of.
Here’s our list of the top rated action cameras as of January 2017.
What should you look for when buying the Best Action Camera in 2017?
Obviously there are lots of factors involved in choosing the best action camera. Before you start digging into the reviews, a few notes on choosing a cam that’s right for you.
You’ll definitely want to consider frame rate, expressed as frames per second (fps). Some action cameras offer up to 120fps recording, while others only go to 30fps. For standard playback, 30fps is perfectly fine. It’s when you want to slow footage down in editing to create dramatic scenes that frame rate matters. Footage captured at 120fps can be slowed down and played back smoothly at one quarter speed.
At this point, the best action cams on the market capture footage at 4K, but at just 30fps. That’s fine for most types of footage, although the extreme action folks love the way that 60fps video captures action. Shooting in 4K does have some advantages, notably in the ability to crop footage and maintain 1080p quality at output—it makes the ultra-wide view of a typical action cam lens a bit more versatile. The cameras that support 4K, including the Hero5 Black and Hero4 Black, can be set to record in lower resolutions as well, if you want to keep file sizes down.
You’ll also want to keep your specific needs in mind. Not all cameras are suitable for every sport, and certain form factors lend themselves better to certain activities. On top of that, different shapes allow for different mounting accessories and possibilities. If you want to catch a unique perspective, like an under-skateboard shot, you’ll want to pay close attention to size.
Top 5 Best Action Cameras (Updated January 2017)
1. GoPro HERO5 Action Camera
Current Lowest Price on Amazon UK right now: £266.99
What they say
HERO5 Black is the most powerful and easy-to-use GoPro ever, thanks to its 4K video, voice control, one-button simplicity, touch display and waterproof design.
Smooth stabilized video, crystal-clear audio and pro-quality photo capture combine with GPS to make HERO5 Black simply the best GoPro. And when it’s time to edit and share, HERO5 Black automatically uploads footage to your GoPro Plus cloud account to provide easy access on your phone. Then, you can create amazing videos automatically with Quik, the GoPro editing app.
- 4K Video / 12MP Photo
- Voice Control
- 2-Inch Touch Display
- Rugged + Waterproof
- Simple One-Button Control
- RAW + WDR Photo
- Exposure Control
- Stereo Audio
- GPS Location Tagging
2. DJI Osmo Action Camera
Current Lowest Price on Amazon UK right now: Out of stock
What they say
Motion without blur. Action shots without shake. Perfect video even when you move. Thanks to advanced technologies specifically designed to keep the camera flat no matter how you move it, the DJI Osmo helps you record videos and take photos like never before. It is much more than just a camera. It helps you create with more freedom than ever.
- Fully stabilized 4K, 12MP camera optimized for ground use
- Slow motion and audio recording
- Tripod-free long exposures
- Remote camera control
- Secure grip
- 6-hour standby time
- 1 hour of video shooting
3. GoPro HERO5 Session Action Camera
Current Lowest Price on Amazon UK right now: £179.00
What they say
Capture different with HERO5 Session. With its stunning 4K video, one-button simplicity and voice control, HERO5 Session may be the ultimate combination of performance and small size. Liquid-smooth image stabilization, waterproof design and go-anywhere durability help capture life as you live it. And when it’s time to edit and share, HERO5 Session can automatically upload footage to your GoPro Plus cloud account, providing easy access on your phone. Then you can use Quik, the GoPro editing app, to automatically create videos that wow. HERO5 Session—your life, from a new perspective.
- Photos up to 10MP / 30FPS BURST / TIME LAPSE
- Video up to 4K30 / 1440p60 / 1080p90
- Waterproof 10M (33FT)
- Simple 1-Button Control
- WiFi + Bluetooth
- Advanced Wind Noise Reduction
- Voice Control
- Video Stabilization
4. Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 Action Camera
Current Lowest Price on Amazon UK right now: £359.00
What they say
Can your action camera do this — prove how far, how fast and how high you went? Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 can. This waterproof (40 m in the case) Ultra HD action camera captures stunning footage at 4K/30fps with GPS data overlays. This is complimented by the camera’s ability to capture crisp still 12 MP photos; burst up to 60 fps in wide mode (8 MP); night shots, time lapse, extended time lapse and travel lapse photo capture. It also features voice control so you can tell the camera to start, stop and ‘remember that.’ That means more hands-free selfies when you’re looking fearless and easier editing when the action’s all done. For adventures in wet conditions or snow, you’ll love its intuitive LCD touchscreen display and high-sensitivity microphone that records every breath-taking moment, even in windy conditions or when your VIRB Ultra 30 is secured inside the included waterproof case. Plus, you can live-stream your video adventures with friends online. Simplicity of the VIRB Ultra 30 allows thrill-seekers to focus on their favourite sport or activity without complicated camera operations.
- Ultra HD video at 4K / 30 fps, 1080 p / fps, 720 p / 240 fps
- G-Metrics: high precision sensors and 10 Hz GPS gather data and display it as powerful gauges, graphs and more
- Intuitive LCD colour touchscreen
- Voice control
- 3-Axis image stabilisation for steady footage
- High sensitivity microphone
- Auto-create videos show off your best moments
- One-touch live streaming
- 12 MP still photos, burst up to 60 fps in wide mode (8 MP); night, time lapse, extended time lapse and travel lapse
- Waterproof up to 40 m (case required, included)
- Film up to 2 hours in full HD
5. Sony FDR-X3000R Action Camera
Current Lowest Price on Amazon UK right now: £495.66
What they say
The Sony FDR-X3000R Action Cam allows you to capture exciting 4K POV movies with super-steady images via highly advanced Balanced Optical SteadyShot. Reliable dustproof/splashproof body can be used alone or with supplied Underwater Housing 9 for 60m/197ft waterproof capability. Advanced features offer 4K Time-lapse Capture and more.
- 4K Ultra HD for four times the detail of Full HD
- Reduced shake with Balanced Optical SteadyShot
- Full camera control includes power ON/OFF with supplied Remote control RM-LVR3.
- New user interface provides intuitive camera operation.
- Shoot at desired angle with adjustable FOV and zooming.