For a company known for its camera drones, DJI got a lot right with its first action cam. One of its stand-out features is its front color screen. It might be small, but it's enough to make sure you're centered in the shot when the camera lens is facing you. The view can be switched with a voice control. It's also waterproof and rugged with removable lens covers, it has great electronic image stabilization, shoots HDR video and has customizable presets so you can get to the shooting modes you want without diving into menus. Read our DJI Osmo Action preview.
Inexpensive: Between $200 and $300, you’ll find GoPro cameras that are perfect for most people. There are great 1080p models and some decent 4K models in this price range, and if you’re willing to look at last-generation models, you’ll find a lot to like here. If you absolutely need bleeding-edge features like spherical capture or live streaming, you’ll need to look at more expensive models, but if you just want an action camera that can take gorgeous video and go just about anywhere, you don’t need to spend more than $300.

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Much like Band-Aids or Kleenex, GoPro makes products so good that their brand name is synonymous with the product itself. GoPro’s portable video cameras set the standard for action cameras: they’re durable enough to withstand just about any outdoor activity, they’re easy enough for anyone to use, and they include features typically reserved for far pricier cameras. 

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Also note that their newest line of cameras, the HERO3+ (plus) are only smaller in size and lighter in weight. As of now, the Black Edition for both Hero3 and Hero3+ are only a few dollars different in terms of price, so go for the plus! And now that the HERO4's are out, check the prices of previous versions as they'll be dropping slowly. Unless of course you want the newest of the new, check out their HERO4!

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Some GoPro cameras have user-replaceable batteries, and some don’t. If you need a camera for camping or several days away from home, you’re going to want the former. If you buy a GoPro camera with a swappable battery, you can keep extras with you, so you’ll never miss filming the perfect moment. On the other hand, if you’ll only be using your camera for an hour or two at a time, you can save money by getting a model without a user-replaceable battery.

What kind of SD cards do GoPros use?


GoPro cameras are great for hands-free, point-of-view recording — but that doesn’t mean they can replace a camcorder or larger DSLR or mirrorless camera. For advanced users, a GoPro’s lack of fully manual control may be problematic (you can set exposure compensation using the Protune feature, but you have no direct control over aperture and shutter speed). The lack of buttons and dials also means you’ll have to rely on the touchscreen or your smartphone to make changes, which is fine for set-it-and-forget-it adventure filming, but isn’t great if you need to make adjustments on the fly.

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GoPro cameras are great for hands-free, point-of-view recording — but that doesn’t mean they can replace a camcorder or larger DSLR or mirrorless camera. For advanced users, a GoPro’s lack of fully manual control may be problematic (you can set exposure compensation using the Protune feature, but you have no direct control over aperture and shutter speed). The lack of buttons and dials also means you’ll have to rely on the touchscreen or your smartphone to make changes, which is fine for set-it-and-forget-it adventure filming, but isn’t great if you need to make adjustments on the fly.

Is GoPro good for photography?


GoPro cameras are great for hands-free, point-of-view recording — but that doesn’t mean they can replace a camcorder or larger DSLR or mirrorless camera. For advanced users, a GoPro’s lack of fully manual control may be problematic (you can set exposure compensation using the Protune feature, but you have no direct control over aperture and shutter speed). The lack of buttons and dials also means you’ll have to rely on the touchscreen or your smartphone to make changes, which is fine for set-it-and-forget-it adventure filming, but isn’t great if you need to make adjustments on the fly.

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But it’s not only the lens lending credit to the impressive video GoPros capture. GoPro’s new Hero6 Black captures 4K video at 60 frames per second (fps) and Full HD 1080 at up to 240 fps. This isn’t just impressive for such a small camera — few interchangeable lens models have achieved 4K/60, with the $2,000 Panasonic Lumix GH5 being the first. As for still photography, the Hero6 shoots 12-megapixel images with features such as WDR (wide-dynamic range, GoPro’s lingo for high-dynamic range or HDR) and RAW file capture. And a new image processor — a first for GoPro cameras — helps improve performance and image stabilization. GoPro has managed to put all of this into a camera that’s not much larger than most DSLR batteries.

All GoPro cameras cover the basics of action cameras: they’re portable, waterproof, and rugged enough to tag along on any outdoor adventure, and they also take high-quality video. Beyond that, however, there are some big differences across the product line, including some features that are worth paying extra for. Here are the GoPro camera capabilities to consider keeping on your short list. 

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You get many of the same shooting modes you'd find on a GoPro device, such as time-lapse photos and videos and slow motion footage at 1080p at 240 fps, and there's even a Drive mode so you can use it as a dash cam when plugged into your car, automatically turning on when you start your car and off when you stop it. It's not waterproof on its own, but a dive housing is included as well as several mounts, two batteries and a charger that simultaneously powers up both packs. It also has built-in Wi-Fi so you can connect to a smartphone and use an app to control the camera and transfer your shots for sharing.

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