The best action camera for 2024: top cameras for adventures

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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

From surfing to skydiving, shooting adventurous video requires the best action camera. From affordable models to premium options, we’ve extensively tested all of the top action cameras and ranked our recommendations in the expert guide below. Whatever pursuit you plan to shoot, we've put together this comprehensive list to help you find the right action camera for your needs and budget.

We think the best action camera overall is currently the GoPro Hero 12 Black. It’s the most accomplished GoPro to date, with remarkable image stabilization and an arsenal of features. Bluetooth audio support is also a welcome addition. If you’re looking to spend a lot less on an action camera, the Akaso Brave 7 LE is our top pick for buyers on a budget. With two screens and weather-sealing, it’s the best cheap action camera you can buy.

Our round-up covers the top action cameras for everybuyer. To help you make the right choice, our experienced reviewers put each model through its paces in a range of real-world scenarios. We test factors such as durability and usability, to ensure every camera can perform in the thick of the action. We also assess image quality, particularly how well image stabilization smooths out bumps along the way. We’ve summarized the results below, together with useful buying advice to help you pick exactly the right action camera for you. 

Written by
Tim Coleman
Written by
Timothy Coleman

Tim is TechRadar's Cameras editor, with over 15 years in the photo video industry and most of those in the world of tech journalism, Tim has developed a deeply technical knowledge and practical experience with all things camera related. He’s also worked in video production with clients including Canon, and volunteers his spare time to consult a non-profit, diverse stories team based in Nairobi.

The quick list

If you want a shortcut to the best action cameras, you can use the quick list below for an instant overview of the top options. If you’d like to know more about a specific model, the link beneath each entry will take you to our in-depth summary.

The best action camera in 2024

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Below you'll find full write-ups for each of the best action cameras in our list. We've tested each one extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

The best action camera overall

A photo of the GoPro Hero 12 Black

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
The best action camera for most people

Specifications

Weight: 154g
Waterproof: 10m
5.3K video: up to 60fps
4K video: up to 120fps
2.7K video: up to 240fps
Stills resolution: 27MP
Battery life: 1720mAh

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile mounting options
+
Shoots stable, high-res video

Reasons to avoid

-
Still not great in low lighting
-
Average battery life
Buy it if:

✅ You want to shoot sharp: The Hero 12 Black can shoot  5.3K 10-bit video at 60fps, and 2.7K slow-mo at 120fps.

✅ You shoot for social: Thanks to the 8:7 aspect ratio of its sensor, footage can be easily cropped for different social platforms.

Don't buy it if:

You have a Hero 11 Black: With an identical sensor and dimensions, the upgrades here are useful but modest.

❌ You shoot in low light: Thanks to its relatively small sensor, the Hero 12 Black doesn't handle noise well in low light.

GoPro’s updated flagship isn’t a huge departure from the GoPro Hero 11 Black, our previous top pick. It uses the same 1/1.9in sensor to shoot high-res 5.3K video, with an 8:9 aspect ratio that’s useful for exporting footage to fit different social channels. 

Low light remains an Achilles heel, but the addition of HDR video and GP-Log support gives filmmakers the ability to capture greater dynamic range. Together with the returning 10-bit color mode, we found the Hero 12 Black capable of producing crisp, supremely smooth footage in bright conditions.

Besides a speckled casing, the physical design is pretty much identical. This means the Hero 12 Black works with the same accessories as many previous GoPro models, while gaining a useful 1/4in thread mount for mini tripods.

Battery life from the default Enduro battery proved mediocre in our review, but Bluetooth audio support is a welcome addition, meaning you don’t need to buy the Media Mod to upgrade the built-in audio. While these modest upgrades don’t justify switching from the Hero 11 Black, they do make the Hero 12 Black an even more polished, feature-packed yet user-friendly action camera.

Read our hands-on GoPro Hero 12 Black review

The best budget action camera

Akaso Brave 7 LE best action camera on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

2. Akaso Brave 7 LE

The best cheap action camera you can buy

Specifications

Weight: 127g
Waterproof: IPx7(no case needed), 40M (with case)
4K video: up to 30fps
1080 video: up to 120fps
720 video: up to 240fps
Stills resolution: 20MP
Battery life: 120 mins

Reasons to buy

+
Dual screens
+
Case-free water resistance
+
Class-leading build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor 60fps footage
-
Jumpy electronic stabilization
-
Cheaper options have better 4K
Buy it if:

✅ You're on a tight budget: The Akaso Brave 7 LE is the best value 4K action camera you can get for the price.

✅ You want dual screens: Despite its low cost, the Brave 7 LE features front and rear displays to help with framing.

Don't buy it if:

You need perfect stabilization: Electronic stabilization is OK, but you'll get better performance by spending more.

❌ You want perfect image quality: Cheaper rivals produce crisper 4K video, which can appear soft out of the Brave 7 LE.

The Akaso Brave 7 LE offers an incredible range of features for its price. If a front-facing screen and weather-sealing are more important to you than outright video quality, it should certainly be high on your shortlist. In our tests, this model's audio quality was better than any other non-GoPro we've reviewed (in quieter environments, anyway) and its touchscreen interface proved fantastically intuitive.

The only slight downside is the video quality: while decent at 4K resolution, it doesn't quite match the rest of the Brave 7 LE's features. It leans heavily on noise reduction in lower light, giving your footage a soft quality, while the electronic image stabilization is decent rather than class-leading. Still, for the price, it's undoubtedly one of the best action cams out there – and unrivalled in terms of the amount of features it offers for the price. 

The best premium 8K action camera

Insta360 Ace Pro

(Image credit: Paul Hatton)
The best premium action camera with 8K recording

Specifications

Weight: 179.8g
Waterproof: 10m
8K video: up to 24fps
4K video: up to 120fps
1080p video: up to 240fps
Stills resolution: 48MP
Battery life: 1650mAh

Reasons to buy

+
8K video resolution
+
Great stabilization
+
Good HDR shooting

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than rivals
-
Heavier than other options
Buy it if:

✅ You want an 8K action camera: Not everyone will need it, but the Ace Pro is the only action camera capable of outputting 8K footage.

✅ You like the idea of a flip screen: The 2.4-inch rear display flips up to face the front, giving you a high-res framing option in both directions.

Don't buy it if:

You’re on a budget: There’s no denying its top-tier specs, but the Insta360 Ace Pro also demands an asking price that’s the highest in this list.

❌ You want the lightest option: 179.8g is hardly heavyweight, but it is more than the Hero 12 Black (154g) and the DJI Osmo Action 4 (145g).

A wide-angle warrior, the Insta360 Ace Pro is the first action cam to offer 8K video output. That resolution will be overkill for many, as will the 48MP stills it can produce, and the high price tag it demands. But if you want rugged 8K recording, the Ace Pro is the way to go.

Physically, our review found the Ace Pro nicely built. It’s heftier than its competitors, hitting the scales at 179.8g, which makes it feel substantial in the hand. We also rate its flip-up display, which hinges at the top to deliver a selfie experience that’s more responsive than GoPro and DJI rivals. Mounting options are plentiful, too, with a magnetic base plate for quick switching.

As you’d expect of a sensor co-engineered with Leica, image quality is superb. Our tests found results across all resolutions to be excellent, with good clarity, punchy colors and solid noise-handling in low light (aided by AI processing). Active HDR does pretty well at balancing high-contrast lighting, while FlowState and Horizon Lock stabilization are proven performers. Professional filmmakers might wish for log capture and higher 8K frame rates, but this is still a mighty impressive action camera.

Read our hands-on Insta360 Ace Pro review

The best low-light action camera

The Insta360 One R 1-inch edition sitting in front of a green background

(Image credit: Future)
The best action camera for low-light recording

Specifications

Weight: 158.2g
Waterproof: 5m
5.3K video: up to 30fps
4K video: up to 60fps
1080p video: up to 120fps
Stills resolution: 19MP
Battery: 1,190mAh

Reasons to buy

+
Large sensor for great image quality
+
Strong low-light performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Processing niggles
-
Sluggish software
Buy it if:

✅ You shoot in low light: Thanks to its large 1-inch sensor, the One R 1-inch edition gather light better than a GoPro.

✅ You plan to shoot stills: RAW image capture give this action cam genuine skills when it comes to shooting stills.

Don't buy it if:

You need a big screen: The 1.3-inch display on the One R 1-inch edition is too small and square for easy composition.

❌ You like quick, slick editing: Insta360's app and desktop software can be a little sluggish when it comes to processing clips.

A proven rival to GoPro’s Hero series, the Insta360 One R can be equipped with a 1-inch sensor module. In our review, we found that this gives it low-light abilities which are brighter, cleaner and more detailed than its GoPro rivals, plus a native dynamic range that's better than any other action camera. Its raw stills are impressive, while videos are sharp and punchy, in both 5.23K/25p and 4K/60p modes. 

That said, we found also found that GoPro’s processing powers are more effective overall, with video from the Insta360 One R suffering from shimmer and fizz in detailed areas. The One R also lacks the point-and-shoot simplicity of a GoPro, with more sluggish software when it comes to exporting. 

All the same, the Insta360 One R produces some of the best stills and video you can get from an action camera. Its 1-inch sensor also handles the crop of image stabilization better than most. A flexible 5K camera with solid low-light skills, the Insta360 One R is one of the best action cams around.

Read our in-depth Insta360 One R 1-Inch Edition review

The best Hero 12 alternative

DJI Osmo Action 4 camera in the hand with swimming pool background

(Image credit: Future)
The best value alternative to the GoPro Hero 12

Specifications

Weight: 145g
Waterproof: 18m (without case), 60m (with case)
4K video: up to 120fps
2.7K video: up to 120fps
1080p video: up to 240fps
Stills resolution: 10MP
Battery life: 1770mAh

Reasons to buy

+
Significantly better image quality
+
Convenient magnetic mounting

Reasons to avoid

-
Average battery life
-
Pricier than predecessor
Buy it if:

✅ You're a watersports fan: The Action 4 has best-in-class waterproofing down to 18m without a case.

✅ You swap mounts a lot: Magnetic quick-release mounts are secure yet make it easy to switch quickly.

Don't buy it if:

You record close-ups: A 0.4m minimum focus distance means objects close to the lens won't be sharp.

❌ You need the best performance: Dated microSD memory limits the Action 4's clip lengths and resolutions.

Like its predecessor, the Action 4 is designed to compete with the latest GoPro. To that end, it addresses the Action 3’s main flaw with a larger 1/1.3-inch sensor. Stills resolution is lower at 10MP, while video res remains the same at up to 4K/120p. The key difference is pixel size: from our tests, the Action 4 is better at gathering light, faring better than the Hero 12 Black in dim conditions.

The Action 4 also benefits from DJI’s D-Log profile with 10-bit color. Based on our review, this dramatically enhances color depth and dynamic range, capturing detailed highlights and cleaner shadows. The downside of the larger sensor and wide 155-degree lens is an increased minimum focus distance, making it harder to shoot up close. Outright performance is also throttled slightly by the microSD memory.

Elsewhere, features remain mostly the same as the Action 3, already one of our favorite action cameras. It retains the same small but rugged build, removable battery and versatile magnetic mounting system that we liked so much the first time. Waterproofing is boosted to an even more impressive 18m without a case, making it a winner for watersports.

Read our in-depth DJI Osmo Action 4 review

The best 360-degree action camera