Capture Your Daring Feats With Our Favorite Action Cameras

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Choosing the right action camera used to be simple: Go with GoPro. That’s still good advice, in that the GoPro ranks high on our list and is our top pick for most people, but we’ve finally found a few worthy competitors.

To figure out which cameras are the best, we dove with them, climbed with them, biked with them, and handed them to reckless 9-year-olds on bikes. We found a number of great options that will record, and survive, your future adventures.

If an action cam isn’t your speed, be sure to check out our other guides, including the Best Compact Cameras, Best Mirrorless Cameras, and Best Instant Cameras.

Updated April 2022: We’ve added the Insta360 One RS, noted a firmware update that adds some new features to DJI’s Action 2 camera, and updated pricing throughout.

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  • Photograph: GoPro

    Best Overall

    GoPro Hero 10 Black

    The Hero 10 Black (8/10, WIRED Recommends) builds on the foundation of its predecessors with a new processor that speeds up capture times, ekes more resolution out of the 23.6-megapixel sensor, and adds much-improved image stabilization. You could say the Hero 10 is like a Hero 9, but it goes to 11.

    The Hero series has always stood above its competitors when it comes to image stabilization, often the most important feature in an action camera. The Hero 10 Black improves on this by bringing HyperSmooth 4 (GoPro’s name for its image stabilization software) to 5.3K, 30-fps video. Not only do you get gimbal-like smoothness at 5.3K, but you still have room to crop and export to 4K.

    Also new in this update is video tone mapping for pulling out details in shadows and the ability to pull 19-MP still images from video. The Hero 10 also offers better noise reduction, higher image resolution, and a water-shedding lens cover.

    The price is lower if you buy directly from GoPro, and you also get a free 1-year subscription—though it renews at $100 a year.

  • Photograph: Insta360

    Best for Those Who Want It All

    Insta360 One RS

    Do you want an action cam? How about a 360-degree cam? The answer is, you want both, and now you can get both in one package. Insta360’s One RS (8/10, WIRED Recommends) eliminates the debate by bringing interchangeable lenses to the action camera. 

    There are three lenses, or “mods”: a 4K mod that mirrors what you’ll get from the other cameras on this page, a dual-lens 360-degree camera, and a wide-angle Leica lens paired with a 1-inch sensor that’s capable of capturing 5K video. The best value lies in pairing the 4K mod with the 360 mod, but if you can afford it, the Leica 1-inch mod delivers some of the best video quality I’ve seen from an action camera.

    The updated Insta360 One RS differs from its predecessor in both the 4K mod, which can now actually shoot 5.2K video, and the processor, which brings the company’s motion-smoothing algorithm to the camera, rather than requiring the app. I also like that Insta360 regularly adds new features and improvements via firmware updates, rather than releasing a whole new camera body every year.

  • Photograph: GoPro

    Best Value

    GoPro Hero 9 Black

    Our previous top pick, the Hero 9 (9/10, WIRED Recommends), was a huge update for the Hero camera line. GoPro brought in a new 23.6-megapixel sensor, which is still the sensor in the Hero 10.

    If you don’t need the stabilized 5.3K video, higher-resolution JPG stills, or faster frame rates, the Hero 9 is a better value. It’s still got great stabilization, shoots 5.3K video (without stabilization), captures 20-MP still images, and can extract 14.7-MP images from 5K video.

    The Hero 9 can do 80 percent of what the Hero 10 can do, and it’s usually $100 cheaper. That’s great value for the money. As noted above, the lower price when buying through GoPro means getting free 1-year subscription that will renew at $100 a year.

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