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?
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.
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Most GoPro cameras can film in 4K (3840 x 2160), but older models are limited to standard HD (1920 x 1080). Premium models can film in 4K at higher frame rates like 60 frames per second (fps), which results in smoother, more realistic video. If you need superior 4K video quality, you’ll need to look at the more expensive GoPro cameras, but if you need great but not amazing video, you can save a decent amount of money by getting a prior-generation model that records in HD.
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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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.
What is the best action camera for the money?
Nearly as good as the GoPro Hero 7 Black in features and video quality, but it's just $220 with a waterproof dive housing included. Its electronic image stabilization isn't quite as good as GoPro's HyperSmooth, but it's definitely better than nothing. You also get shooting options like 4K video at 60 fps (with image stabilization at 30 fps), slow-motion video at 1080p at 120 fps or 720p at 240 fps, time-lapse photos and videos, live streaming and raw photo capture. You don't get anything more than the camera, a battery, the housing and charging and external mic cables, but if your main concern is getting good photos and video for less than a GoPro, this is a safe bet. Read more about the Yi 4K Plus.
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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.
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GoPro cameras are known for their premium shooting capabilities, but not all of them hold up underwater. Some options are a bit blurry, while others lack great depth. Always ensure the GoPro you take diving is able to shoot as well underwater as it can on land. A bit of quality difference is not the end of the world, but you want your videos to be as clear as possible.
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Image quality, while good for a small action camera, is another area where a camcorder or interchangeable lens camera will come out ahead. Mirrorless cameras and DSLRs use significantly larger imaging sensors, which capture more light and thus lead to superior image quality, particularly when you have to shoot in low light conditions. But even small-sensor camcorders benefit from built-in zoom lenses, which offer a variety of perspectives without cropping the image, as a GoPro does when selecting narrower fields of view.
Though the Hero 8 Black has all the latest and greatest features, in the end it's not a huge leap forward from what you'll get with the less expensive Hero 7 Black. It's last year's model and has almost all the same features -- including HyperSmooth image stabilization, the killer feature for this model. There are a handful of other differences like a better user interface, more shooting options such as 1080p at 240 frames per second, vertical video and livestreaming straight from the camera. That said, the differences between the Hero 7 Black and discontinued Hero 6 Black aren't that great either, so you might want to keep an eye out for deals on that as the holidays approach. Read our GoPro Hero7 Black preview.
How do I protect my GoPro?
A. It depends on how big of a memory card you use with your GoPro. GoPro cameras work with standard SD cards, which are affordable and come in all different quantities. In most cases, it pays to get a memory card with plenty of storage. GoPro videos, especially those shot in 4K, can produce especially large files that can eat up storage faster than you think. We recommend getting an SD card with at least 128GB of available storage.