For years, action cameras were seen as a novelty in the professional video world. Yes, they offered unique perspectives, but there were trade-offs, especially in resolution and image quality. But times have changed.
Now, we’re witnessing a new wave of action cams. Not only do they retain their trademark versatility, but they’ve also matured in terms of features and image quality.
So, which one’s right for you? It all boils down to what you need. Whether you’re looking for a primary camera, a reliable crash cam, or a secondary camera for specialized shots, there’s a diverse range of options. What’s more, many of them come at a reasonable price point.
To give you a head start, we’ve curated an overview of standout action cams on the market. Notably, GoPro, DJI, and Insta360 seem to be leading the pack. As always, it’s about finding the right fit for your needs and budget.
For those well-acquainted with the GoPro family, the Hero 11 Black's exterior might feel like déjà vu. But don't be fooled by its familiar look, distinguished only by the bold "11" on its side. Your previous GoPro attachments, from lens filters to tweaks, will seamlessly fit this newbie. Beneath this recognizable shell, the Hero 11 Black is a beast, boasting a unique 8:7 aspect ratio sensor tailor-made for vertical videos, ideal for social media aficionados. This dynamo can roll out 5.3K videos at 60 fps, harnesses the power of 10-bit color shooting, and introduces the Hyper View mode, letting you indulge in wide-angle 16:9 shots with a crisp 5K resolution.
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The Insta360 ONE R 1-inch Edition offers a fresh take in the saturated action camera market with its modular design. Its standout feature, the 1-inch sensor, significantly enhances image quality and video detail. This camera excels in delivering smooth footage, clear audio, and impressive stills, making it a top choice for travel and activity content creators.
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The Action 3 stands out not just for its intuitive design, but also its magnetic clip system, making on-the-go captures a breeze. Although its battery life is impressive, the Adventure Combo takes it up a notch, gifting users with two additional batteries and a convenient charging case for simultaneous power-ups. But DJI’s commitment shines brightest with their new firmware update. It ushers in features like 10 Bit video recording with D-Cinelike, HDR recording (limited to 4K30), and the RockSteady+ for enhanced stability, albeit with a bit more crop. Video quality has seen a significant boost, especially outside the D-Cinelike mode, and there's improved clarity when livestreaming or using it as a webcam. They've also polished the UI for smoother navigation and fixed minor glitches. In essence, if you're eyeing a constantly evolving action camera, the Action 3 seems to be a front-runner.
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Insta360 recently introduced the X3, a dual-lens 360° camera. It comes with a larger 1/2″ sensor and a 2.29″ touchscreen on the front. Users can capture in 5.7K for 360° videos, 8K for 360° time lapses, and take 72MP photos. A notable addition is the Active HDR mode which enhances video quality by stabilizing footage and reducing ghosting.
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