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26 November 2021

Best action cameras

We tested the latest GoPros alongside rivals such as DJI, Insta360 and cheap action cameras to find how much you need to spend for a durable camera
Joel Bates
GoPro Hero 9 action camera being used underwater

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. 

In November 2021 we tested eight of the UK's bestselling action cameras from GoPro, DJI, Insta360, Akaso and more, to find out which action cameras provide the sharpest footage, the clearest audio, the smoothest image stabilisation and the toughest design.

To make sure we recommend the very best action cameras, we enlisted the help of our in-house video expert, Matthew Harms, to judge the quality of the footage, audio and stills we captured.

Alongside our complete test results, we reveal what you need to know before you buy a new action camera and the key features to look out for. Read on to find out everything you need to know.

Prices and availability last checked: 22 November 2021.


Want to find out about the latest DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and more? Read our digital camera reviews.


The best action cameras

Only logged-in Which? members can view the action cameras test results below.  

If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the action cameras we tested. Join Which? now to get instant access to our test results and Best Buy recommendations below.

Akaso EK7000

Cheapest price: £50.86, available at Akaso, also available at Amazon

Max resolution/frame rate: 4K/25fps, 2.7K/30fps, 1080p/60fps

Sensor size: 2-inch

Size and weight: 4.2 x 6 x 3.1cm (HxWxD); 41g

Stated waterproofing: 30 metres wearing waterproof housing, n/a without

Other key features: Loop recording and time-lapse modes, burst stills mode, 12Mp stills, wi-fi-enabled, scheduled capture

If value for money is what you're looking for in your next action camera, cheap options like the Akaso EK7000 could be a great fit for you.

We tested it alongside premium action cameras to see if there are any compromises you need to make when paying prices as low as this.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Crosstour Action CT9000 action camera

Crosstour Action CT9000

Cheapest price: £49.99, available at Crosstour

Max resolution/frame rate: 4K/30fps, 2.7k/30fps, 1080p/60fps

Sensor size: 2-inch

Size and weight: 4.1 x 5.9 x 2.5cm (HxWxD); 64g

Stated waterproofing: 30 metres wearing waterproof housing, n/a without

Other key features: Slow-motion, loop recording and time-lapse modes, burst stills mode, 20Mp stills, wi-fi-enabled, scheduled capture

Of the cheaper action cameras we tested, the Crosstour Action CT9000 appears to be able to shoot the highest-resolution stills and record at 30fps in 4K.

Our in-house video expert analysed the footage and photos we took with it to see if it competes with the premium action camera brands costing six times as much.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

DJI Osmo Action

Cheapest price: £329, available at Argos, also available at Amazon, DJI (out of stock)

Max resolution/frame rate: 4K/60fps, 2.7k/60fps, 1080p/240fps

Sensor size: 2.3-inch

Size and weight: 4.2 x 6.5 x 3.5cm (HxWxD); 124g

Stated waterproofing: 11 metres

Other key features: Slow-motion and time-lapse modes, built-in image stabilisation and HDR, burst and auto-exposure bracketing stills modes, 12Mp stills, Bluetooth, wi-fi and GPS-enabled, front-facing preview screen, voice control, scheduled capture, Osmo app required

DJI is famous for producing tech with specs to rival the big brands and selling it at lower prices.

The Osmo Action is indeed cheaper than the latest GoPros, but how does it compare in terms of video and audio quality?

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

GoPro Hero 8 action camera

GoPro Hero 8

Cheapest price: £279.99, available at Argos, GoPro, Very, also available at Amazon (out of stock)

Max resolution/frame rate: 4K/60fps, 2.7k/120fps, 1080p/240fps

Sensor size: 2.3-inch

Size and weight: 4.9 x 6.6 x 2.8cm (HxWxD); 126g

Stated waterproofing: 10 metres

Other key features: Slow-motion, loop recording and time-lapse modes, built-in image stabilisation and HDR, burst, night, RAW and HDR stills modes, 12Mp stills, Bluetooth, wi-fi and GPS-enabled, front-facing preview screen, voice control, scheduled capture, 1080p live streaming, GoPro app required

The GoPro Hero 8 is almost half the price of the latest GoPro Hero 10, so if it's up to scratch it could be a cost-effective route into getting an action camera from this leading brand.

We put it through the same technical, ease of use and durability tests as the latest GoPros to see how the Hero 8 compares.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

GoPro Hero 9

Cheapest price: £329.99, available at Amazon, Argos, Very, also available at GoPro

Max resolution/frame rate: 5K/30fps, 4K/60fps, 2.7k/120fps

Sensor size: 2.3-inch

Size and weight: 5.5 x 7.1 x 3.36cm (HxWxD); 158g

Stated waterproofing: 10 metres

Other key features: Slow-motion, loop recording, Hindsight and time-lapse modes, built-in image stabilisation and HDR, burst, night, RAW and HDR stills modes, 20Mp stills, Bluetooth, wi-fi and GPS-enabled, front-facing preview screen, voice control, scheduled capture, 1080p live streaming, GoPro app required

Although it isn't the latest 2021 action camera from GoPro, the Hero 9 costs £100 less than the Hero 10 and appears to be very similar in terms of specs.

We compared footage, stills and audio shot with both action cameras to see how much difference there is between them.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

GoPro Hero 10 action camera

GoPro Hero 10

Cheapest price: £429.99, available at Amazon, Argos, also available at GoPro

Max resolution/frame rate: 5.3K/60fps, 4K/120fps, 2.7k/240fps

Sensor size: 2.3-inch

Size and weight: 5.5 x 7.1 x 3.36cm (HxWxD); 153g

Stated waterproofing: 10 metres

Other key features: Slow-motion, loop recording, Hindsight and time-lapse modes, built-in image stabilisation and HDR, burst, night, RAW and HDR stills modes, 23Mp stills, Bluetooth, wi-fi and GPS-enabled, front-facing preview screen, voice control, scheduled capture, 1080p live streaming, GoPro app required

If you're keen to snap up the latest in action camera technology, you'll be sure to look at the GoPro Hero 10.

The max resolution has had an upgrade from the Hero 9, and GoPro says the new GP2 processor makes the user interface faster and smoother to use.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Insta360 One R 4K Edition

Cheapest price: £299.99, available at Insta360, also available at Amazon, Currys (out of stock)

Max resolution/frame rate: 4K/60fps, 3.8K/60fps, 2.7K/100fps, 1080p/200fps

Sensor size: 1-inch

Size and weight: 4.8 x 7.1 x 3.3cm; 121g

Stated waterproofing: 5 metres (wearing camera frame)

Other key features: Slow-motion, loop recording and time-lapse modes, built-in image stabilisation and HDR, burst, night, RAW, interval and HDR stills modes, 12Mp stills, wi-fi-enabled, Bluetooth and GPS-enabled (Apple Watch or Insta360 GPS Smart Remote required), modular build, voice control, scheduled capture, Insta360 app required

The Insta360 is a modular action camera, which means it's made up of several different components which can fit together in different combinations.

There's plenty of extra upgrades and different lenses you can buy to customise it, but we were interested to see how the core One R 4K Edition stands up to the competition.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Kitvision 4K Action Camera KVACTLAP4K

Kitvision 4K Action Camera KVACTLAP4K

Cheapest price: £36.95, available at Kitvision, also available at Amazon, Argos, Currys (out of stock)

Max resolution/frame rate: 4K/30fps, 1080p/60fps, 720p/120fps

Sensor size: 2-inch

Size and weight: 4.6 x 6.1 x 2.8cm (HxWxD); 70g

Stated waterproofing: 30 metres wearing waterproof housing, n/a without

Other key features: Slow-motion, loop recording and time-lapse modes, burst stills mode, 16MP stills, wi-fi enabled, scheduled capture

This Kitvision action camera is the cheapest we tested and is more than 10 times cheaper the price of the GoPro Hero 10.

We tested it to find out if it's 10 times worse, or if it puts the high prices of other action cameras to shame.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

What makes a good action camera?

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, our expert advice can help you choose from the available cameras.

  • Resolution This is the number of pixels in each frame captured by the camera, and the amount of detail. 1,080p video format is Full HD (1,920 pixels wide by 1,080 pixels tall), and 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels) is considered as standard HD resolution. 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) is four times as many pixels as Full HD. Even if you haven’t got a 4K TV or monitor, if you’re buying a new action cam, it’s worth looking at 4K and 5K models first for top-quality video and stills.
  • Frames per second The frame rate is measured in frames per second (fps). It’s a measurement for how many consecutive images a camera can handle each second. A typical camcorder shoots in 30fps and most TVs are at 30 or 60fps. Higher-end action cameras can shoot 60fps, which makes motion appear smoother and less blurry. Some cameras can support even higher frames per second, such as 120fps, which can be used to create crisp slow-motion footage.
  • Image stabilisation Even the best action cameras suffer from shaky video footage, so the footage resembles the Blair Witch Project. If you want to ensure steady videos that are easy to watch, look for an action camera with built-in image stabilisation. You can also buy a gimbal, an accessory which stabilises the camera.
  • Field of view A wide field of view is important for action cameras as it allows you to record video or stills in a more immersive perspective than a traditional camera or camcorder. In simple terms, the field of view is a measurement of the total viewable area at any given moment. Measured as an angle (eg 170 degrees), the larger the value, the wider angle of view.
  • Still photos Action cameras specialise in recording video, but they can also capture still photos. They don’t produce high-resolution images as you would expect from a mirrorless or DSLR camera, but generally, cameras with a larger megapixel rating will produce sharper and clearer photos.
  • Water resistant and waterproof It’s important to select a camera that is waterproof if you plan to use the camera underwater. Some models are water resistant, meaning they can only be submerged in water to a limited depth. Other cameras require a special waterproof case, called a housing, to be fully waterproof. Check the camera specifications for details on acceptable water depths.
  • Weather proofing Recording high-quality video in tough weather conditions is no longer limited to extreme sports enthusiasts or adventurers. With an action camera by your side, you can instantly record video and still images without fear of breaking it. Typically offering waterproofing, shockproofing and dustproofing, these cameras are ideal for extreme activities.

What other action camera features should I consider?

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.

Battery life 

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.

Mounting system 

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.

Memory 

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.

Wireless connectivity 

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.

GPS 

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.

How we tested action cameras

We selected eight of the UK's most popular action cameras and used them to shoot a broad selection of videos so our in-house expert could compare the quality of their video, audio, stills, and image stabilisation.

We bought every action camera we tested and don't take freebies, so you can be confident that our reviews are independent and neutral.

Video, audio and stills quality

To ensure a fair comparison on video and audio quality, we recorded a set selection of videos with each camera in using the same video settings and under the same conditions. 

These included being mounted on a runner's head while they jogged during the day and at night, being mounted on a crash helmet while riding an electric scooter, moving between indoor and outdoor settings, self-shooting and talking to the camera using a selfie stick, and recording underwater.

Our expert looked for smooth image stabilisation, sharp images, natural colours, and footage that was free of distortion and that dealt quickly with changes in focus and light. During video analysis, the richness and depth of the audio was also considered.

We also took a photograph of the same wide shot at the same time of day with each camera so the stills could be judged and compared alongside each other by our expert.

Ease of use and durability

A good action camera can still prove frustrating if it's overly complicated to use and tricky to navigate the buttons and menus. While recording our selection of shots and stills, we noted how easy we found it to use and understand each camera and praised those that were easiest to pick up and use.

Action cameras are also built for recording in demanding environments, like subzero temperatures while skiing or during demanding sports such as mountain biking, so we put each camera through a string of tough durability tests to see which ones survived. We froze the cameras in a freezer for four hours, left them underwater for 30 minutes, and dropped each camera on hard concrete five times to see what they could stand up to.

Fancy taking your action camera out for a spin? See our reviews of electric scooters and e-bikes.