And sure, those options could include your waterproof and crack-resistant smartphone, but keep in mind that the best action camera is designed for this kind of shooting. Plus, just because your phone is tougher, it doesn't mean you should risk losing or damaging the thing that keeps you connected to work, family and friends. It's also way easier to mount one of these to your body, car, bike or anything else than your phone. 

Although obvious, I put this here first because this is one of the most important factors when purchasing your camera. The HERO3 has three editions (white, silver and black), ranging from $199 - $399 (prices continue to drop annually as newer versions are released -- we'll keep you updated on those). The HERO2's are at the bottom of this gap, but aren't as "new" and lack some features the 3's have (they're discontinued at this point but can be found on the net here and there).


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.

GoPro Hero5 Black


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.


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.

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.

gopro underwater camera

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