The best action cameras capture clear images and crisp sound, are durable whether you're using them while riding a bike or swimming, and are easy to use.
Made popular by the GoPro brand, action cameras are made with outdoor enthusiasts in mind. If you want to take photos or video of anything that would involve too much risk carrying a regular camera, an action camera is a perfect fit.
They're small, portable and rugged devices that can shoot video and still images, and also offer waterproofing, shockproofing and dustproofing, making them ideal for more extreme activities. They don't have zoom lenses and often come without viewfinders or LCD screens.
Action cameras can vary in price and features, so it's important to identify which camera will suit you. Whether you’re after a cheap action camera or a more advanced model that shoots 4K video, our expert advice can help you choose from the available cameras.
It’s worth bearing in mind that, once you choose a camera, you’ll also have to think about other features and may want to buy some additional accessories to get everything that you want out of your new camera. Here are some important ones to look out for and remember.
Even the best action camera with a sizeable battery will only last a few hours, so it’s worth investing in multiple batteries, or a portable charger, to ensure your camera doesn’t run out of juice when you need it most.
Almost all of the action cameras are designed to be mounted or attached to different surfaces or objects, which is essential for shooting videos of your adventures from a first-person perspective. Most cameras come with one or two mounts in the box, but additional mounts cost extra. If you’re looking to attach your camera to a specific area, such as bike handlebars, you’ll need to source a specific bike mount. A good action camera will have a universal mounting system, which means you can clip your camera on to anything without the need to buy additional accessories.
Buying the right type of memory card is essential for making sure that you get the most out of your camera. When filming HD movies, video files occupy a lot of storage space, so it’s worth choosing a large-capacity memory card to ensure you can save as much footage as possible.
Most action cameras use micro-SD cards, and we recommend picking up a Class-10 card to ensure the best video quality. The higher the ‘class’ of card, the faster it can save the video. If you use a slower class of card than recommended, recorded video will be jerky and there will be noticeable camera slowdown.
Some of the high-end action cameras include wi-fi, Bluetooth, near-field communication (NFC) or all three, so you can use your smartphone or tablet as a screen. This means you can easily control the camera via an app or adjust camera settings on the fly.
With a built-in GPS (Global Positioning System), your action camera will automatically geo-tag all your videos and stills. This means that when you get home you can link your photos and videos to an online map, pinpointing the exact locations of your travels.
You can find a basic action camera for around £50, but spend up to £300 or more and you’ll receive high-resolution 4K video, built-in wireless connectivity and a wide-angle lens.
Some of the higher-end models even include built-in waterproofing, top-notch image stabilisation or the ability to live stream.