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The best action cameras of 2024: GoPro Hero 12, DJI, Insta360 and more

Best 8 action cameras of 2024
Insta360, GoPro

If you thought an action camera was just for capturing images and eye-popping video during your extreme adventures -- think skydiving, scuba diving and skiing -- think again. The latest action cameras from GoPro, DJI, Insta360 and Akaso are also perfect for capturing vacation memories and even everyday photos or video. 

These devices are small, versatile and definitely more durable than your average smartphone.

Whatever your photography or videography needs (and budget), check out our picks for the best action cameras right now. 

Our picks for the best action cameras of 2024

With GoPro's flagship camera, the GoPro Hero 12 Black, you can capture incredible photos or stunning high-definition video from a first- or third-person perspective. Our in-house consumer technology experts showcase the best action cameras for outdoor adventurers, vacationers, vloggers and casual camera users.

Best action camera overall: GoPro Hero 12 Black

GoPro Hero 11 Black Amazon

Video Resolution: Up to 5.3K (up to 60fps) | Still Image Resolution: 27MP | Display Size: 1.4-inch LCD (front), 2.27-inch LCD touchscreen (rear) | Size: 2.83 x 2 x 1.32 inches | Weight: 5.43 ounces | Waterproof Rating: 33 feet

Out of all the action cameras out there, the GoPro Hero 12 Black offers the most flexibility in terms of shooting modes. And because GoPro has the largest ecosystem of camera upgrades, accessories and apps, it captures still photos or video from a first- or third-person perspective in almost any type of location. It can also live stream and capture subjects from unique angles.

For the best results with the Hero 12 Black, we strongly recommend pairing it with the right accessories.  There's the Media Mod ($80), which features an upgraded multidirectional mic and foam mic cover, ideal for content creators and live streamers. The Display Mod ($75) features a two-inch, front-facing, flip-up display that's larger than the one built into the camera. The Light Mod ($50) includes a compact, waterproof and powerful LED light that offers up to 200 lumens of brightness. There's also the Max Lens Mod ($70) that fits over the existing lens to offer a wider field of view with better perspective and depth of field. And the Max Lens 2.0 Mod expands the camera's field of view up to 177 degrees at 4K 60fps and gives you the addition of Max Wide, Max SuperView and Max HyperView settings. 

But that's just the beginning. There are dozens of genuine mounts for the Hero 12 Black. Think tabletop tripods, camera handles, boom bars, head straps, bike mounts, chest mounts and even mounts that attach the camera to your dog, surfboard, vehicle dashboard or wrist. 

GoPro also offers a powerful and free mobile app for viewing, editing and sharing still photos or video. With an optional subscription, you get unlimited cloud storage and auto uploads from the camera. 

We love the new, user-friendly controls on the GoPro Hero 12 Black. More advanced users can switch to an advanced controls setting for better control over modes and settings. You can also shoot video using HDR (high dynamic range) to improve color authenticity and detail. HDR mode works with multiple 4K and 5.3K resolution options and aspect ratios (including 5.3K resolution at a 16:9 aspect ratio, at 30fps). Plus, the GoPro Hero 12 captures even smoother video than the Hero 11 when the camera is in motion. 

Be sure to check out our hands-on review of the GoPro Hero 12 Black to see how well the camera performed during our testing.

Best wearable action camera: GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini

GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini Amazon

Video Resolution: Up to 5.3K (60 fps) | Still Image Resolution: 24.7MP (from video only) | Display Size: None | Size: 2.06 x 2.02 x 1.5 inches | Weight: 4.69 ounces | Waterproof Rating: 33 feet

As its name suggests, the GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini is a smaller, scaled down version of the Hero 12 Black camera. This model does not offer either a front or back-facing display. It's designed to be remotely controlled from a mobile device using the GoPro app. More than a dozen voice commands are also supported. 

Another unique feature is that this camera has two built-in mounting fingers that pop out from the camera body (one on the back and one on the bottom of the camera). This gives you additional options when connecting the camera to a mount and then setting the camera to an optimal angle.

The Mini has fewer shooting modes than the Hero 12 Black and can only capture still images from video footage that's already been shot. That said, it can shoot video at up to 5.3K (60fps) resolution. It's also just as durable as the Hero 12 Black and is compatible with more than 40 genuine GoPro mods, mods, and accessories, in addition to hundreds of third-party accessories.

The Mini offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. It comes bundled with a curved adhesive mount, mounting buckle, USB Type-C cable, thumb screw and case. A required microSD memory card is sold separately. This camera is best suited to someone who will be wearing the camera, or mounting it on a moving object, and controlling it remotely.

Best GoPro for shooting 360-degree video: GoPro Max

GoPro Max Amazon

Video Resolution: Up to 5.6K (360-degree video), 1080p (video) | Still Image Resolution: 18MP | Display Size: 2-inch LCD touchscreen (back) | Size: 2.54 x 2.72 x 0.98 inches | Weight: 5.43 ounces | Waterproof Rating: 16 feet

The GoPro Max is a tad larger than the flagship GoPro Hero 12 Black camera, but it can also do one major thing that the other GoPro camera models can't -- and that's shoot 360-degree video at up to 5.6K resolution. Using six built-in microphones, the Max captures immersive stereo audio to accompany the stunningly detailed video. You also get a camera with a waterproof and extremely durable design that's compatible with more than 30 genuine GoPro mounts and accessories.

As with all other GoPro cameras, this one stores recorded content on a microSD memory card (sold separately), but can also auto-upload content to the GoPro cloud service. Adjust settings and preview content using the two-inch, full-color touchscreen. 

On the Max, you'll discover lenses on both the front and back of the camera. They're used simultaneously to capture 360-degree footage. Once transferred to a smartphone, tablet, or computer, your content can easily be edited using GoPro's free app.

Shooting 360-degree video isn't Max's only specialty. Using just one of the camera's lenses, you can easily shoot narrow, linear, wide, and 270-degree panoramic video or still images. Using the 360-degree horizontal lock, you can capture stable and level shots, even if the camera is moving. No matter how you plan to use the Max, you'll quickly discover it's loaded with powerful features and shooting modes that give you maximum versatility and control in any shooting situation.

Best GoPro alternative with excellent features: DJI Osmo Action 4

DJI OSMO Action 4 Amazon

Video Resolution: Up to 4K (120 fps) | Still Image Resolution: 10MP | Display Size: 1.4-inch LCD touchscreen (front), 2.25-inch LCD touchscreen (rear) | Size: 2.78 x 1.74 x 1.29 inches | Weight: 5.11 ounces | Waterproof Rating: IP68 / 196 feet (with waterproof case), 59 feet (without waterproof case)

Featuring a design similar to the GoPro Hero 12 Black, the DJI OSMO Action 4 is able to capture video at up to 4K (120fps) resolution with an impressively wide 155-degree field of view. Both the front and back of the camera have touchscreen displays used to adjust camera settings, or preview content.

OSMO Action 4 is waterproof and extremely durable. When you're shooting high-action activities with the camera in motion, its built-in, 360-degree "HorizonSteady" and "RockSteady 3.0" image stabilization features ensure your content will remain in focus and ultra-smooth. One unique feature of this camera is its proprietary Magnetic Quick Release mounting system, which works great with accessories.

The camera boasts an advanced color temperature sensor, so colors appear vibrant and true-to-life, even in low light or underwater. This camera is loaded with impressive features, but one caveat: When it comes to optional mounts and accessories, the selection is more limited to what's offered by GoPro. However, a chest mount, helmet mount, camera handle, extension rod and a handful of other mounts and accessories are sold separately.

Best 360-degree action camera: Insta360 Ace Pro

Insta360 Ace Pro Camera

Video Resolution: Up to 8K (up to 24fps)  | Still Image Resolution: 48MP | Display Size: 2.4-inch flip up touchscreen | Size: 2.83 x 2.05 x 1.52 inches | Weight: 6.34 ounces | Waterproof Rating: 10 meter depth (60 meters with optional dive case)

Ideal for vacationers, vloggers and outdoor adventurers, the Insta360 Ace Pro offers a ton of features packed into a compact camera that's durable and waterproof. The 2.4-inch, full-color touchscreen flips upward, so you can see what you're shooting regardless of which direction the camera is facing.

We also like the camera's convenient magnetic mounting system, and that you can remotely control the camera using a mobile app, voice commands or hand gestures -- or use the controls on the camera itself. Plus, the 1/1.3-inch sensor is able to capture stunning still images and video content in almost any situation.

The camera offers shooting modes for low light, a fast-moving camera or a just a fast-moving subject. And once you've captured your content, the Insta360 mobile app uses artificial intelligence to enhance it, and then edit it for you in seconds. Ultimately, you can shoot, preview, edit and then share your creations from virtually anywhere using your smartphone. This Insta360 camera also has an impressive collection of optional accessories.

Out of all the action cameras we've tested, this is one of the very few that allows you to shoot video at up to 8K (24fps) resolution using a 16:9 aspect ratio. However, a variety of other resolutions, from 1080p (up to 240fps) to 4K (up to 60fps) are available. The camera is easy to use and extremely versatile. And battery life is up to 100 minutes of continuous shooting.

Best value action camera: Akaso Brave 4 Elite

Akaso Brave 4 Elite Amazon

Video Resolution: Up to 4K (60 fps) | Still Image Resolution: 20MP | Display Size: 1.5-inch LCD (front), 2-inch LCD touchscreen (back) | Size: 2.32 x 1.57 x 0.91 inches | Weight: 5.6 ounces | Waterproof Rating: IPX8 (33 feet)

The Akaso Brave 4 Elite might look a lot like the GoPro Hero 12 Black, but there's one major difference: Price. The Brave 4 Elite comes bundled with a handful of mounts, accessories, lens filters and cables, but it's priced two-thirds less than the basic GoPro Hero 12 Black camera. This camera's maximum video resolution is 4K (60fps), which is more than high enough for most videographers. It can also shoot still images at 20MP.

Like the GoPro cameras, the Brave 4 Elite offers image stabilization and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. It can be remotely controlled by a smartphone, but a stand-alone remote control with a wrist strap is also included. Plus, the camera accepts voice commands. Another feature of this camera is that it has 64GB of internal storage, along with a microSD memory card slot, so you can shoot video or still images. In all, the camera's operating system supports a dozen shooting modes.

While you don't get the same robust ecosystem of apps, cloud storage or genuine mounts and accessories as you get with a GoPro, the Akaso Brave 4 comes with plenty of the equipment for shooting in all kinds of conditions.

For the price -- and without making any significant compromises -- the Akaso Brave 4 Elite offers an excellent alternative to the GoPro Hero 12 Black. It's able to capture up to 4K (60fps) video, plus still images at 20MP. You also get multiple shooting modes, including time-lapse, slow motion and long exposure.

Best action camera for vacationers and vloggers: DJI Osmo Pocket 3 Creator Edition


Video Resolution: Up to 4K (120 fps) | Still Image Resolution: 9.4MP | Display Size: 2-inch rotatable touchscreen | Size: 5.5 x 1.66 x 1.32 inches | Weight: 6.31 ounces | Waterproof Rating: Not waterproof

While you can purchase the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 on its own, we recommend the Creator Edition. It comes with a collection of extremely useful accessories for capturing vacation memories or vlogging. In addition to the camera itself, the Creator Edition includes a DJI Mic 2 Transmitter microphone with a windscreen and clip magnet; a wide-angle lens; a battery handle; a mini Y tripod; a wrist strap; protective lens cover; USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable; and a carrying bag.

In terms of its capabilities, the Osmo Pocket 3 is so compact it can be operated with one hand. The camera is mounted on a three-axis stabilizer that allows for incredibly smooth video, even without a tripod. And to ensure you can see everything that you're filming, the 2-inch OLED touchscreen rotates.

One feature that vloggers will appreciate is the full-pixel fast focusing, which means that the camera can be focused on a subject's face, but when that person holds up an item, the camera instantly refocuses.

Meanwhile, using the ActiveTrack 6.0 feature, when the camera is mounted on a tripod, face detection and dynamic framing features keep a moving subject on the center of the frame. When 4K video is captured at 3,840 x 2,160 pixel resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio. In panorama mode, the camera's field of view is an impressive (and extra wide) 180-degrees.

One of this camera's biggest perks is it's one-inch CMOS image sensor with built-in 20mm, f/2.0 lens. You also get a two-inch OLED display (with a maximum brightness of 700 nits and 314 x 556 pixel resolution) which makes it easy to see what you're shooting. Battery life is up to 166 minutes of operating time per charge. And to ensure you capture the best possible stereo sound with your video, the camera has three microphones.

Be sure to read our full review of the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 to discover why it's one of our most highly recommended cameras for vacationers and vloggers alike.

Best super-small (but mighty) action camera: Insta360 Go 3 Creator Kit


Video Resolution: Up to 2.7K (30 fps) | Still Image Resolution: Up to 2,936 x 1,088 pixels | Display Size: 2.2-inch touchscreen | Size: 1 x 2.1 x 0.9 inches (camera), 2.5 x 1.9 x 1.2 inches (Action Pod) | Weight: 1.23 ounces (camera only), 3.4 ounces (Action Pod only) | Waterproof Rating: IPX4

The Insta360 Go 3 is modular, incredibly small and so easy to use that it responds to voice commands. It's great for capturing hands-free first- or third-person video, because the camera easily attaches to your body or equipment and is waterproof. For example, the camera comes with a magnetic pendant, so it can be worn around your neck, but several other mounts are also included.

The Go 3's rechargeable battery lasts for up to 45 minutes of continuous shooting, but this gets extended up to 170 minutes using the Action Pod. 

What you need to understand about the Go 3 is that the camera is a standalone unit that can be used on its own to capture video. But it also fits into an included Action Pod, which contains a 2.2-inch, flip-up touchscreen. When you want to hold the camera in your hand or connect it to a tripod, for example, you use the Action Pod. The camera's two integrated microphones capture clear and immersive sound.

As raw video is exported for editing, choose between a 16:9, 9:16 or 1:1 aspect ratio. When the Go 3 camera itself is mounted on someone or something, the Action Pod can be used as a remote viewfinder from up to 33 feet away. A variety of video shooting modes are available, including time lapse. If you're looking for an easy and versatile action camera that's extremely small and lightweight, the Go 3 is your perfect choice.

Beyond just its ultra-company size, one of the things we love about the Go 3 is its smooth video, even when the camera is in motion. It's also convenient that the camera alone (without the Action Pod) can be mounted almost anywhere and at any angle. A variety of mounts are included. 

What to consider when shopping for an action camera

For vacations, you'll want a camera handle or selfie-stick, plus a mount to attach the camera to your body (for first-person perspective shots). To capture yourself engaged in a specific activity, choose the right accessories and mounts that give you the most immersive angle options and that will hold the camera steady. 

All of the cameras in the roundup can shoot video at 1080p resolution or higher and have built-in image stabilization. The still photo resolution of each camera varies, so pick one that meets your needs. And don't forget to bring along extra memory cards and fully charged batteries when you go out shooting. These cameras also have built-in microphones for capturing stereo (or in some cases) surround sound. But, depending on the content you're creating, an optional external microphone could give you even better audio quality.

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