Are you thinking of buying a new action camera from DJI or GoPro? Unless you need one for an imminent trip, we'd hold fire for now, as fresh rumors suggest DJI could be joining GoPro in launching a new model soon.
Regular DJI leaker @DealsDrone has claimed that a new DJI Action 3 "will be released in mid-September". This would be a successor to the modular DJI Action 2, though the leak claims that "its appearance is almost [the] same as [the] Osmo Action".
If so, this means DJI is planning to launch a more traditional action camera that would again compete directly with GoPro's Hero lineup. The original Osmo Action, which launched in 2019, beat its GoPro rivals to the punch with many features, including a front-facing screen for vlogging.
DJI Action 3 will be released in mid-September, and its appearance is almost same as Osmo Action pic.twitter.com/piOJMcg4dFAugust 20, 2022
But that camera could soon be competing against a new GoPro flagship. While we haven't yet seen any leaks for a GoPro Hero 11 Black, all GoPros from 2017 to today have been announced in September (barring the GoPro Hero 8 Black, which landed in mid-October).
That means the chances are high that a Hero 11 Black will launch sometime next month, particularly as GoPro CEO Nick Woodman stated earlier this year that "at the end of 2022, we plan to increase our hardware offering from the two product types we have today, Hero and Max, to four distinct camera products".
So far this year, the action cam king has only launched the GoPro Hero 10 Black Bones, a stripped-down version of its flagship model for FPV (first-person view) drones. This means we're expecting refreshes of its Hero and Max lines, and perhaps one new type of camera, by the end of the year.
But the main one will likely be a Hero 11 Black, which will apparently soon compete against a refreshed DJI Action 3 for the hearts of action adventurers who need a compact, waterproof video camera with powerful stabilization.
Analysis: New flagships, but minor upgrades?
Action cameras have managed to remain relevant by acting as stunt doubles for our smartphones, which are still too important (and awkwardly-shaped) to risk putting in the line of fire during action-packed adventures.
But in the last couple of years, the best action cameras have also been only relatively minor upgrades on their predecessors. More powerful processing has delivered superior slow-mo modes, alongside useful features like horizon-leveling, and the DJI Action 2 did also deliver a unique, modular design. But huge leaps forward haven't really been possible with the tech that's currently available.
This means that if you do need to buy an action camera right now, getting either a Hero 10 Black or DJI Action 2 certainly wouldn't be a bad move. Both are excellent action cams in different ways, and DJI and GoPro's new models are likely to concentrate mostly on software-based improvements.
Based on recent history, we're not expecting a Hero 11 Black to have a new sensor, for example, as GoPro typically uses the same Sony chip for three generations before moving on to a new one. The current Sony IMX677 has, so far, only been in two GoPro models, though it's possible that GoPro could change tack for its next flagship.
Either way, it's wise to hold fire on buying a new action camera for a few weeks, if only because current DJI or GoPro models will likely see discounts as a result of new launches. Come the end of September, it's likely we'll have new DJI and GoPro flagships – and as a result, their cheaper models should offer better value than they do at present.