The Best Action Cameras Are Not GoPros
Thinking about getting a GoPro for your next ski trip or summer long traveling expedition, whatever the reason for your first, second or third action camera, think about the alternatives, of which there are over 100+ and we'll go through some of them below. It's time you had a look at the alternatives as Chinese manufacturers are producing cheaper and better action cameras than GoPro and we detail how they are below.
One of the reasons we made this site is to show alternatives to the GoPro action camera range. Doesn't matter how much or little you have to spend, or if you are after a specific feature or even a bunch of features, we're confident that you can find the right action camera for you, that may or may not be a GoPro, we made the look-up table and others tools to help you find other options.
Another reason we have written this post is that no matter our search queries, when it comes to action cameras, often more than not, we end up on a 'Best Action Cameras...' list. And more often, than not, they contain GoPros, The only times they don't appear, are when the lists use 'Chinese' or 'Budget' keywords. So here we are, writing about why GoPros aren't the best action cameras available.
We actually have the best action cameras available list right here, if you just want to jump to that.
The Current GoPro Action Cameras Available
There are quite a few to choose from, new and refurbished, we'll take a look at their specs and how much they cost and what extras you get with them.
- GoPro Fusion GoPro's new 5.2k recording 360 dual lens action camera
- GoPro Hero 6 Their latest waterproof, 4K recording action camera
- GoPro Hero 5 A very popular camera still, which was the first to go waterproof without needing an extra case
- GoPro Hero 5 Session is their small form cube action camera with 4K too
- GoPro Hero 4 Silver & Black their last in the line of action cameras pre 4K and need the extra waterproof case to go diving with
This is their current line-up, most are bought brand new still whilst the Hero 4 can be bough refurbished. What do we know about these cameras? We'll try and keep it simple and bring up usability points, price, hardware, video features and other important action camera features they have.
The newly released 360 dual lens action camera, GoPro Fusion looks fantastic at first glance. Here are a quick look at some of it's impressive specs:
- 5.2k video recording at 30fps
- Waterproof without an extra case to 5m deep, so perfect for snorkeling or on the water activities like wind surfing and surfing
- Has in-built image stabilization
- 18mp photos at 30fps photo bursts which is unheard of with most other action cameras
- Voice control to enable hands free usability
- Extra features with it's app
- It is priced at $699
In Comparison To Other 360 Action Cameras
On our 360degree action camera range it comes in at 7th (March 2018) out of 19 360degree/VR type action cameras. That isn't bad, but considering it's features, maybe it should be top 5 if it's one of the newer cameras to be released out of all the 360 options.
There are other 360 cameras that have a recording resolution of 5.2k or better, The Yi 360 VR and Garmin Virb 360 both produce high definition, large resolution recordings, the Yi goes one better and can record at 5.7K video resolution when combining both of it's sensors. There are then 12 other cameras that can record at 4K, a couple of these aren't native but the resolution is still high on the majority of the available 360 action cameras.
So you can get the better, if not the same high detail from other cameras, the Yi 360 VR is also only $400, nearly half the price of the GoPro Fusion. If that is what you are after, you have a great option in the Yi 360 camera.
The GoPro is waterproof out of the box, not just splashproof, but waterproof to 5m/15feet deep. The downside to this is that when it is stitching videos together from underwater footage, it doesn't come out seamless, a problem with using it underwater. This camera is aimed more at those who aren't underwater but their activities are around water sources, like surfers, mountain bikers, etc.
Nearly every other 360 action camera is waterproof to some degree, although most need an extra waterproof case. If you do require something that can go a bit deeper, for freediving, snorkeling and scuba, there are options there for you:
- The Matecam X2 can go over 20m deep
- The Garmin Virb 360 can go over 10m deep
- Nikon KeyMission 360 can go over 20m deep
- 360fly 4k can go over 10m deep
- Kodak Pixpro SP360 can do 20m+
- Magicsee P3 360 can do 20m+
- Elecam 360 can also do 20m+
And if you don't want to get it wet but would like a little bit of protection the following are splash proof which is more than enough for rain, hiking, traveling and using it outdoors;
- Vuze Plus+
- Xiaomi Mijia 360 Sphere
- Samsung Gear 360 (2017)
- Ricoh Theta S
- Orbi Prime
- Linkflow Fitt 360
As you can see on the GoPro Fusion page, the stabilization is very good and works all the way up to its full resolution of 5.2k. The thing is, it's not the only one that does image stabilization, 12 of the 19 360 action cameras also do it. This is very handy for almost all recording scenarios when the camera isn't held still on a flat surface. Even if you put it on the dash of your car, even with the help of your cars suspension, you will see some jumping, jitter and sudden movements that your footage would best be without.
When we first heard of the photo capabilities of the GoPro Fusion, we were thoroughly impressed, 18mp photos and with a burst rate of 30fps as well, phenomenal. Then we had a look at the other offerings out there in terms of still imagery on a 360 action camera.
We have two 360 cameras that beat the GoPro and have larger resolution photo capabilities, the Rylo 360 and the Insta 360 Nano S. The Rylo has some fantastic app features, which we highly recommend you check out and the Insta 360 Nano S is an add-on to your iPhone or Android phone (depending on which version 360 camera you choose). They are both smaller than the GoPro Fusion and both cheaper. The Rylo is $500 and the Insta 360 Nano S is only $240, that is a third of the price of the GoPro Fusion.
Now here is something that should leave the other cameras in it's dust, voice control. That amazing (when it works) little feature that really does make an action camera, an action camera. Wait a minute though, the Garmin Virb 360, which was released over a year ago has voice control as well, so the GoPro Fusion isn't alone in this respect.
Extra Features and It's App
It does have some cool looking tech and media output from the camera itself, you can shoot spherical photos and videos (super ultra wide) that sit in the frame of a normal shot but just include the rest of what the camera see's, so that everyone can see it. Overcapture which turns these spherical shots in to videos and photos so everyone can enjoy the full view of what you and the camera see but on a normal device. The camera is ready to capture footage for VR (virtual reality) and you can control the camera from the GoPro Fusion app as well.
There is not really anything new here either, if we compared it to the Rylo 360 action camera, we can show you just one feature that actually blew us away. Look Here and Follow This which are simple application editing tools which you can use once you move the footage from the camera to your smart phone app. Here is a sneak peak of that in action which makes for great looking footage and which importantly, keeps the thing you want in focus, in focus.
Watch how the camera moves from the person holding the cam, to the horizon, then to the car, then tracks the person as they walk away from the camera and then it proceeds to look forward as the car accelerates. This was all done in post, on the phone and in a matter of seconds.
The GoPro Fusion Costs $699
That makes it the 3rd most expensive 360 action camera we have on the site, there are a lot more available to buy online, but right now, out of 19 options, it's the 16th most affordable.
Only the Garmin Virb 360 and the Vuze+ Plus are more expensive, and we can see why the Vuze+ Plus is, but are astounded as to why the Garmin is still over $700.
Is it the 2nd or 3rd best out of all the options, we'd argue it isn't, the Rylo 360 is $200 cheaper and the Yi 360 VR is another $100 cheaper than that and these are two fantastic cameras that are both waterproof (Rylo with a case) and splash proof (Yi 360 VR). The Yi company also make other fantastic action cameras so you know you are in good hands.
What Other 360 Action Cameras Should You Check Out
Compare all 360 cameras listed on our site here. As well as what we have mentioned above, we would also recommend the following action cameras to look at for varying reasons.
- Insta 360 One which has live streaming, a 4k video output and is only $300
- Linkflow Fitt 360 which is yet to be released but is a 4 camera neck mounted 360 POV action camera, looks very interesting, a new radical design and approach
- Kandao QooCam which is a 4k recording 360 or front 180 recording action camera, interesting design and a brand new feature we are excited about, depth mapping which reminded us of the Lytro Illum
- Vuze+ Plus which is an 8 camera lens 3D ready 360 degree action camera and can also record at 4K at 60fps for slow motion 360 degree VR videos and footage
- Orbi Prime a wearable set of 360 degree recording action camera sunglasses
- Pisofttech Pilot Era will be launched in 2018 and records at 8K video footage, serious hardware and video features on the horizon
GoPro Hero 6
The GoPro Hero 6 was released in late 2017, so it's only been on the market a few months. It records in 4K at 60fps, only one of two standard sized action cameras which produce such footage. Here are a few of it's fantastic feautres:
- 4k video recording at 60fps
- Waterproof without an extra case to 10m deep
- Has in-built image stabilization which is apparently an improvement on previous models
- 12mp photos at 30fps photo bursts and RAW image capture
- Voice control to enable hands free usability
- Extra features with it's app
- It costs $399
One of the biggest gripes with the GoPro Hero 6, of which they seem to have not improved upon from previous models, is that of battery life. It has a battery life of about 100 minutes when recording at 1080p and 30fps. We have heard much shorter battery lives in real world scenarios. We have given the GoPro 6 an uptime score of 45/100, which is below the 50/100 threshold we like to see. This means that you can record for longer than the battery takes to charge and given that it takes about 120 minutes to charge, it is a longer time than that of actually using the camera.
From a quick glance, you can see that the majority of action cameras have better battery life than the GoPro Hero 6 Black.
- The Veho Muvi K-2 has a 240 minute battery life, more than double
- The Paralenz Dive camera can record for more than 210 minutes at 1080p and 30fps
- Xiaomi Mijia 4K has a 180minutes in it to record with. This is also a newly released action camera, so what is going on with the GoPros?
Obviously these are all claimed, but the 100 minutes is all that is claimed by GoPro, which is over an hour shorter than the Xiaomi and even less in comparison to the other two.
In Comparison To Other Similar Action Cameras
The GoPro Hero 6 Black currently sits at 90th out of 143 cameras on our best action camera list (as of March 2018). Thats not even close to being good, never mind the best. Why is it so low? Comparing it to the other GoPros it also comes bottom of the pile.
Looking at it's first feature, there is only one other camera that comes close, the Yi 4K+ Plus, which also records at 4K native and at 60fps too. The main problem here is the price of $399, you an get cameras with 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 120fps with image stabilization for less, much less. Starting at just $95 you can get these specs, it will come with a waterproof housing which can connect to all your gopro mounts. This price goes from $95 through to $200 for over 10 action cameras and then jumps up to $300-$400 for a number of others, like the Yi's, Garmin and Sony cameras.
Compared to most, it's more than double and in some cases quadruple that of cameras with similar video capabilities.
This is a simpe feature, covered by most, although the GoPro Hero 6 Black is waterproof to 10m without a case, it is larger because of it. All other action cameras are waterproof with a simple waterproof housing, which most come with when you purchase and all are good for at least 30m/90feet, if not more.
You can get waterproof, straight out of the box tough and action cameras. We have over 30+ waterproof ready cameras listed with this feature too. Some, like the Paralenz were made specifically for underwater, freediving, spearfishing and scuba diving are a few activities that can take advantage of its 200m waterproofness, auto white balance and data overlays such as temperature and depth are also built-in. The GoPro can't do any of those things, unless you bought a third party camera waterproof housing for it, even then, it will only take it down deep enough but won't show you any overlays.
The Paralenz might be a bit too waterproof for you, what about the Panasonic FT30 or the Olympus TG-4/5 which are both capable of going 10m+ deep without a separate waterproof case and even take better pictures and stills than the GoPro as they are focused on photography over video.
GoPro say they have the best image stabilization ever on their new camera. That may be for their range, but it definitely isn't for the entirety of action cameras. There is one company that rules this roost, of which you have probably heard, but at the same time, may not have realised it's tech potential.
That company is Sony and that tech is called Steadyshot, which is optical image stabilization. A stabilization setup which isn't digital but is in fact the sensor moving on an internal gimbal within the camera itself.
Here you can see the difference and this is during a mere amble on the sidewalk. There are a couple of other things to point out about image stabilization, even if the GoPro were to have a better result, you have these following problems:
- Electronic Image Stabilization has to crop the video because it is shaking about. By cropping the video, it can cut out that new footage and balance it out to create a smoother look when recording. Optical Image Stabilization does not have to do this as the sensor is attached to the lens as they move, so you're always recording and seeing the full resolution.
- Secondly, in dark or low light scenarios when image stabilization is vital, it can actually cut out. This is because it relies on seeing and using points of reference, of which it follows, to create the smooth effect. This has been noted quite a lot in the mountain biking world, especially when they are flying downhill through dark and unlit forests.
The GoPro Hero 6 Black comes with 12mp photos and 30fps burst mode, rather impressive and it means in burst mode you are never going to miss that moment. It also has time lapse features and this takes advantage of the high resolution available in the photos.
We have seen some fantastic stills footage from this camera but again, there are other options that offer a higher resolution or better photo features. One feature we absolutely love, which has taken many an insect and flower photographer by storm, is the macro mode on some of the tough action cameras. They are capable of focusing in on subjects just 1cm away.
The GoPro Hero 6 also does RAW image capture, as well as JPG, which means more data in your photos, which means better options when editing, as a photographer this is great news. As usual, GoPro aren't the only cameras producing RAW images, there are 15 others to choose from and more will be released this year http://actioncamerafinder.com/recording-format/raw
The GoPro Hero 6 Black Costs $399
Check out other top of the range action cameras on our look-up table. Simply sort by price to put them in cost order.
That's right, nearly $400 as of the recent (beginning of 2018) price drop. The Xiaomi Mijia 4K which was released at a similar time costs $100 and sometimes less depending on sales wherever you check online. This camera comes with a touch screen, 4K at 30fps, 1080p 120fps which means HD video at super slow motion, an uptime score of 67/100 compared to GoPro's 45, it's lighter and uses both a Sony image sensor and Ambarella chipset, which are both feature packed, high-end pieces of hardware. So too is Xiaomi, a large and now trusted brand who have an ever growing product catalog of electrical and sporting equipment. We can say without hesitation that the GoPro Hero 6 Black is not four times better than this, or even twice as good as any other action camera even at half of it's price.
We are unaware of what image sensor the GoPro 6 uses, but to hazard a guess, because of it's previous Sony image sensor use we could say it is using the same as the Yi 4K+ Plus action camera, the Sony IMX377. It's the only one we have seen which is capable of recording 4K at 60fps. If it is the case, you can purchase the SooCoo S300 and Yi 4K+ Plus for $299, which is $100 cheaper than the GoPro 6.
If you're still interested in getting a GoPro 6 or have that money to spend, take a look at the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 as it does most things the GoPro does but has one of the best HUD (heads up displays) of any action camera on the market. This is great for cycling enthusiasts especially who want to see data overlays of their current locaion, speed, elevation and other sensor readings that come with this camera.
GoPro Hero 5 Black
What do we know about the GoPro Hero 5 Black? For starters, we know it is GoPros most viewed and bought camera, as far as our stats on the site are concerned. It uses the same image sensor that is used by the GoPro Hero 4, the Sony IMX117 and an Ambarella A9 chipset, which too is also used by the GoPro 4 and a few other cameras which are considerably cheaper. The Yi 4K costs just $170, compared to $299 for the GoPro Hero 5 Black. You can also buy the GoPro 4 Silver (refurbished) for $175, which is nearly half the price, yet they share the same hardware.
Is waterproof out of the box, touch screen, RAW photos and voice control really worth the extra $125?
Here are some of it's key specs:
- 4k video recording at 30fps
- Waterproof without an extra case to 10m deep
- Has in-built electronic image stabilization
- 12mp photos at 30fps photo bursts and RAW image capture
- Voice control to enable hands free usability
- Extra features with it's app
- It costs $299
Once again, GoPros battery lets it down, a claimed battery life of 105 minutes at 1080p 30fps but a recharging time of 120minutes, this gives it an uptime score of 47/100. We have already mentioned that the GoPro uses the same hardware that the GoPro 4 uses, this camera was released nearly 3 years ago. They have obviously gone for creating a new look with its waterproof-ready feature and it has obviously worked for them.
Video Comparison To Other Action Cameras
The GoPro Hero 5 Black is 53rd out of 143 action cameras on the best action camera list. Looking back at when the camera was released nearly a year and a half ago it was quite a hit. We believe it had a lot to do with it's new look, which obviously overshadowed it's use of the same hardware in the GoPro 4.
Why do we think it has been ranked at 53rd? Why are people favouring this GoPro over any other? If people are realising that they don't need the bells and whistles of the latest GoPro and also knew of it's internals, they probably would realise they don't need a GoPro either. There are plenty of other action cameras that can do similar things, have similar specs and features and that do more, for less.
If we move up from 53rd, through the ranking list we'll highlight a few similar cameras and their price. These cameras all use the same, if not better inernal hardware as the GoPro Hero 5 Black and cost less than half price in most cases.
- GoXtreme Black Hawk 4K uses the same sensor and chipset as the Hero 5 Black, but comes in at over $100 cheaper. You still get 1080p at 120fps, image stabilization, a waterproof case that can dive to 60m deep, wifi, hdmi out and it's slightly lighter out of the case. You even get a 1/4" thread mounting option on the camera body that you don't get on the Hero 5 Black, so perfect for mounting to a tripod or similar mount indoors or where the weather is dry.
- SJCam SJ7 Star costs just $160, basically half the price and offers very similar video features at 4K, 1080p 120fps and one of the best digital image stabilizations in the action camera market.
- ThiEYE T5e is a well known chinese action camera, costs $130 brand new and again offers similar features to that of a GoPro 5 when it comes to video at less than half price.
- Hawkeye Firefly 8S is another 4K ready action camera, same design as the others at $180
You still get waterproof cases with them, image stabilization (not at 4K), support from the manufacturers, you can mount each to every GoPro available mount you can buy or even DIY, some have touch screens, all have 4K at 30fps native video resolution and slow motion speeds at 1080p. Some even have longer battery lives, better mounting on the camera body, accept external mics and much more.
Here you can see a comparison of the Hero 5, ThiEYE T5, SJ7 Star and Firefly 8s all shot at 1080p.
We have gone through this above with the GoPro Hero 6 Black, it is a great feature, but is it one that you need to pay $100 more for compared to other similar cameras?
Just like the GoPro Hero 6 there are better alternatives when it comes to image stabilization, if you are doing an activity where you move around a lot, stabilization is a must. Again we will take a look at other cameras in a similar price range or cheaper to the GoPro Hero 5 Black.
Out of all our research, we have found that SJCam make one of the best digital image stabilizations on an action camera. If you watch some comparison videos on youtube you will see that comparing a SJ7 Star by SJCam and the GoPro Hero 5 Black you can see a slight difference in stabilization results at 1080p 60fps. They both improve on the quality of the recorded footage and definitely smooth out the original recording, the thing we noticed most is that the GoPro still seems slightly jittery and big movements up and down or left to right make the recording snap quickly, like it is trying to catch up with the movement. The SJ7 Star seems much smoother at these bigger movements but maybe if you are walking in a straight line or not moving the camera much, such as having it on a dash, the GoPro might look better after stabilization is turned on as it has slightly better tones and colors.
There are also other alternatives, if you want to use a stick in your hand, you could look at gimbals which will improve your footage dramatically and that means you don't have to crop your video footage for the on-board stabilization to work and you can record in 4K no matter what camera you have to get smooth results.
If you still want a relatively small package, then check out the other Sony action cameras, like the HDR AS300 which comes with optical image stabilization but only records up to 1080p. You can though record at any frame rate and resolution the camera will record at with this type of stabilization, which is a big plus compared to electronic types.
Like the Hero 6 Black, you can get RAW photos on the camera, which if you are interested in post-processing and getting the most out of your photos, this will be a positive. For others, it's something you may never use. There are other cameras that have this feature, about 15 in total on the site, so if it is something you need and your main feature requirement, you can get a cheaper camera or a more point and shoot, still image focused tough action camera, like the Olympus TG4 and TG5.
GoPro Hero 5 Black Recent Price Drop to $299
As of early 2018, GoPro has had some financial losses, which you may have heard about, since then, the company have dropped the price of most of their camera range, including the GoPro Hero 5 Black, dropping it down $100 to $299 new.
That is a big price drop, but one that still doesn't affect the price in context to other action cameras available. For instance, you can get the current #1 action camera, the Xiaomi Mijia 4K for $100, see what we mean when a $100 price drop doesn't really mean much.
If anything, it's a negative point towards GoPro and shows just how overpriced they originally were. To go from nearly half a grand to $299 is no big step, but compared to its closest rivals, it's still nearly double in price to other cameras that will probably do everything you need of them.
GoPro Hero 5 Session Black
This is where things start to get interesting, the GoPro Hero 5 Session Black is their 2nd attempt at a cube form action camera and packs a punch in regards to specs and features too. It is currently 72nd in our best action camera list and you still get 4K native video recording with it and the waterproof to 10m feature, the only two differences visually are the smaller size and lack of a screen, let's look further in to this and its closest comparisons.
- You get a much smaller sized camera than the other GoPros available
- Still get native 4K video recording at 30fps
- Similar battery life to other GoPros
- Super slow mo at 1080p with 120fps available
- Waterproof to 10m deep without an extra case
- Costs $199 which is $100 less than the GoPro Hero 5 Black
This camera too uses the Sony IMX117 image sensor, just like the GoPro 4 and the larger Hero 5 Black. It has been out a year and 6 months (as of early 2018) so not quite long enough for a replacement, but does it need one and is it worth the $200 that GoPro are asking for it?
Comparing It To Other Cube Shape Action Cameras
Because of it's unique shape, we will compare it to only cube and small form action cameras. There are other's on the market and all are cheaper.
- Foxeer Box 4K cube action camera also records 4K video footage and actually uses the same image sensor and chipset as that of the GoPro Hero 5 Session. It is markedly cheaper at $50, so 25% cheaper than that of the Session. It does not though come waterproof ready, you need to place the camera in to a waterproof case to take it underwater or with you on wet adventures in the sea. This camera can do loop recording, weighs just 73g, has image stabilization up to 1080p but like the session, doesn't have a rear screen and the battery life is only 1 hour at 1080p 30fps.
- Runcam 3, which apparently is now discontinued is just $95, records at just 1080p maximum and focused purely on FPV and remote control enthusiasts.
- SJCam M10 Wifi is probably the closest competitor to that of the Session, but it doesn't record in 4K nor is it waterproof ready. It is a cube formed action camera, but it is slightly bigger than that of the GoPro Session range. What it does though, it does really well, with a Cam Score of 93/100 and sitting just 5th in the best action camera list, it obviously gets a good review from experts and enthusiasts. It is small like the GoPro Session 5 but does things a little bit differently. It still has that cube form but comes with a quarter inch thread adapter in the bottom of the camera body and a GoPro mount on its waterproof case. This means more mounting options in and out of its casing. The stabilization on the SJCam M10 is one of the best out there in terms of electronic image stabilization and better than that of the GoPro counterpart.
- The Polaroid Cube is an interesting little 1080p action camera, smaller than the session and cheaper too at £70.
Other Small and Mini Action Cameras
There are quite a few small form factor action cameras available, tic tac shaped ones, mostly made for FPV and flying remote control planes but are used for more general purposes because their small size means they can be mounted in quite a lot of places.
The Hawkeye Firefly Q6 can record at 2.5k at 30fps and is even smaller in size than the GoPro Session 5 Black. It doesn't have a screen but like others of this shape and size has been made for the FPV market. You can plug in to external batteries on the device you are flying, connect to external monitors and view what the camera views on a headset or monitor infront of you. It still offers image stabilization and other video modes, such as loop/dashcam mode and time lapse features. This camera comes in at $95 so again, another camera that offers some great features but at less than half the price of the GoPro.
The Mobius 2 action camera does 1080p at 60fps with image stabilization and is smaller than the session at 41.47 cm3. Even though it has been touted as a FPV or spy camera, it's definitely being used in the action camera scene. This is because it's perfect for attaching in small spots and on to different surfaces. We've seen it used a lot for DJing, within airsoft and paintballing, bow sports and other rifle sports as a POV camera and obviously for FPV and drones too. It cost just $85 and even has loop mode, which means you can charge it on the go and use it as a dash cam if you want.
GoPro Hero 5 Session Costs $199
Which is significantly less than the GoPro Hero 5 Black and if you are willing to drop down $100, why not choose another camera which also costs $200 or less? If you don't need this specific form, you can check out any action camera and get added benefits of a screen, even some have touch screens between the $100-$200 price range. The only reason that would make you want to get this camera is the GoPro name, as other cameras can do more.
The Cycliq's can record for hours on end, if you were thinking of using it whilst cycling, others have better stabilization, like the SJCam action cameras. If there is a specific feature that you want and the GoPro Hero 5 Session has it, why not check out the look-up table and see what other cameras have this feature too.
GoPro Hero 4 Black
As of early 2018 you can still buy this camera new and refurbished on GoPro's website, ebay and Amazon, so we're including it, plus it helps that two of the above cameras use the same hardware as the Hero 4 Black.
To put it simply, if you don't need 4K, although it does record 4K at 15fps, or waterproof ready without a housing, this is the camera you want. It's form and size is marginally larger than the Sessions but it is well versed, well used and produces fantastic footage.
There are so many specific features we could talk about, but we'll highlight a few that we also think are important, we've covered videos, photos, stabilization, price and waterproofness.
Don't forget, if you are after a specific feature, head to the look-up table and go crazy.
If you are after a low light specific action camera, you will see many cameras come with a low light mode, but this does not mean they are naturally good or have the hardware for such shooting.
What you want to be looking for are cameras that have lower megapixel image sensors, there individual pixels are larger than most and thus offer better low light performance because each pixel can see more light.
There are other action cameras that have low light modes on them and we have tagged these cameras as such.
Or there is also the option of getting a camera with a light on it, which should help light subjects closer to the camera, the Olympus TG-Tracker is one such camera with a video light built in.
Recording Audio Internally and Externally
Because most of the cameras come in a protective waterproof case, it doesn't matter how good the internal audio recording is, you'll end up with poor results because of the plastic interference. Luckily there are plenty of cameras that allow for external microphones, either through a 3.5mm jack or by using mini USB.
Here we have listed the best action cameras with external mic input feature, so that you can work out what camera is best for you.
Remember, if you are underwater, the audio is going to be terrible, you are always going to end up with better footage by simply removing this altogether and adding over a backing track in-keeping with the videos footage.
Video Recording Bitrate
If you are looking at seriously editing your videos, you'll want to be looking at a camera with high birate's, this will give you more information to work with when you export the footage to your computer. There are 9 cameras that record higher bitrates than the GoPros 60Mbps and these are:
- Yi 4K+ Plus - 135Mbps
- Xiaomi Mijia Sphere 360 - 128Mbps
- Garmin Virb 360 - 120Mbps
- Ricoh Theta V 360 - 120Mbps
- Ricoh WG M2 -100Mbps
- Sony FDR X3000 - 100Mbps
- Sony FDR X1000V - 100Mbps
- Panasonic HX A500 - 72Mbps
- Andoer C5 - 70Mbps
It's not surprising that once again other cameras do things better than the GoPro's. Your best bet is to head over to Youtube and check out some comparisons of the Yi 4K+ Plus, GoPro 6 Black and the Sony FDR X3000 and their 4K footage and bitrate examples.
Now here is something we haven't mentioned yet, toughness. One thing the GoPros lose out on without the need for a waterproof housing, is that of protection. In a way, it's a step back in this department and is something that is filled rather nicely by other cameras.
There are plenty of options, and if you don't need an extra waterproof case, you can get specific drop proof and tough style action cameras from some big and small manufacturers.
We have tested the Olympus TG4 and other tough cameras extensively and it's a huge plus not having to worry with how you handle the camera. As well as being drop proof, you can find cameras that are shock proof, freeze proof and can take extensive weights on them.
If you are worried about mounting, don't be. We have lists of available mounts on the bottom of each and every action camera on the site. We show what mount can be used on the camera body and what mount you can use with the waterproof housing. The majority, you will find now all use the famed and standard GoPro 2 to 3 fin mount fitting.
Here you can find every camera that comes with a GoPro mountable case or body as standard. So if this is your issue, check out your options.
Even the new GoPros are missing a 1/4" mount thread, of which their competitors have on the bottom of their camera body. This alone opens up a whole world of extra mountable options.
A Couple of Reasons Why GoPro Are So Big
There are quite a few reasons why GoPros are seen and used everywhere and why the first brand people will mention when it comes to these funny looking, tiny cameras is GoPro.
In 2016, GoPro had a marketing budget of roughly $400,000, this is a staggering amount, for a company that sells just a handful of cameras.
Another thing, is free marketing, they have all these cameras recording incredible footage and moments and people put two and two together and either guess or get shown that the footage was recorded with a GoPro. This video of a Pelican learning to fly has over 5million views and it shows some incredible footage, that people love to see. When people think about creating or documenting their own footage, they obviously want the best, freshest ideas and cool content and thus think GoPro.
GoPro Are An Industry Standard
This means that every tom dick and harry in the film, videography and moving pictures world should know how to use a GoPro. If something needs to be filmed at close range, a camera has to fit in to a tiny gap or the camera may even get broke during filming, more often than not, they'll use GoPros because they fit this need.
Everyone in this industry is expected to know how to use them. You can watch an episode of Total Wipeout, Robot Wars and other action filled tv shows and they're using GoPros.
Every Dad Wants To Record Their Kids Playing
And so, they walk in to Best Buy, Walmart or wherever and they see a GoPro and because of brand recognition, they just buy it, simple as that. If you want to record your kids playing in the sea, building sand castles, their first steps, you can buy cameras that are quarter of the price, let your kids break them and then buy 3 more of that same camera for the original price of the GoPro.
Why Are The Best Action Cameras Not GoPros?
Is it that you get better accessories and mounting options with the GoPros? No, we've explained that isn't the case.
Do you record the sharpest picture with the most detail? Again, no, there are a handful of cameras that can record a higher bitrate than the GoPros.
Are they the lightest? Definitely not
They are more expensive so they must be, right? Wrong
We believe it is down to it being a house hold name, they are an industry leader, even my mother knows what a GoPro is. This is all it comes down to, GoPro where first to get their name out there in the action camera and extreme sports world and it's stuck.
You have over 150 action camera options on this site alone, GoPro are going to find it hard to have the best camera for every purpose. They do though make fantastic cameras, we won't argue with that, it's just that other cameras can do similar things or sometimes better, for a lot less money and that's all it boils down to.
We Created ActionCameraFinder.com So You Can Find Cameras Based on Specific Features
If you need everything that the latest GoPro offers and we mean everything, then by heck, go for it, but if you don't, then use our table to help you find what you are after.
One of the other reasons (other than showing GoPro alternatives) we made this site was because we had a GoPro 3+ Silver and needed to replace the camera to sit on top of an underwater camera we used for photography. It needed a few specific features and we found it impossible to sift through all the garbage online to find these exact specs, they were:
- Screen on the back, so that we could frame and line up the two cameras together, so that what we saw on our main photo camera, the action camera also recorded.
- 1080p at 120fps as we were recording mostly in 1080p and we had projects lined up that needed slow motion in high definition.
- Waterproof down to at least 30m deep, because we were scuba diving, freediving, spearfishing and even snorkeling, so it had to be underwater ready, in or out of a case.
We spent weeks in 2017 researching cameras that had these features and everything just led to "Best Budget Action Cameras", and "The Best Action Cameras in 2017" lists and they were all mostly lists of GoPro cameras with the odd Chinese cam thrown in to 'even it out'. In the end we didn't really get anywhere so put our time in to creating this site to then help others.