Capture the action in any environment with our pick of the best action cameras available in the UK
The best action cameras are the ideal gadget for documenting the interesting, exciting or downright extreme. Whether you’re going skiing, skydiving, mountain biking, or simply looking to vlog your daily life, there’s a quality action camera for that.
While most of us have a smartphone at the ready to capture the day to day, there are certain situations where, unless you’re feeling particularly courageous, you’ll want a camera made of tougher stuff. Action cameras like GoPro’s eponymous Hero have built a reputation on being versatile and reliable, go-anywhere devices.
If you’re in the market for a Full HD, 4K, 5K or 360-degree action camera capable of going the extra mile then you’re in luck. Here you’ll find our tried and tested roundup of the best action cameras on the market, along with a comprehensive action camera buying guide.
The Hero 10 Black is GoPro’s most capable camera yet, packing an all-new processor, 5.3K60 recording and HyperSmooth 4.0 stabilisation. While the Hero 10 Black usually retails for £480, right now you can pick it up bundled with a 32GB microSD card and a 12 month GoPro subscription for just £330.GoPronow £330Buy Now
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The best action cameras at a glance
- The best action camera yet: GoPro Hero 10 Black
- The best 360 action camera: GoPro Max
- The best modular action cam: Insta360 One RS
- The best budget GoPro: GoPro Hero 8 Black
- The best gimbal-stabilised cam: DJI Pocket 2
- The best micro action camera: Insta360 Go 2
How to choose the best action camera for you
Who are action cameras for?
Action cameras are designed to go where other cameras can’t. If you’re keen on skiing, white water rafting, mountain biking or skydiving, then an action cam is an obvious purchase. Tough and reliable, you can toss them into just about any situation you’re likely to encounter and trust they’ll get the shot.
Fortunately, for days that aren’t quite so action-packed, action cams are incredibly versatile too. Small and lightweight, action cams are easy to pack and carry, making them ideal for travellers, vloggers and hikers.
The adaptability of their attachments and mounts makes them great for cycling commuters, motorcyclists too, and they can even be employed as dashcams. Their durability and user-friendliness also means they’re safe in the hands of kids.
Do I need a 4K action camera?
In a world where most people watch videos on their phones, tablets and laptops, Full HD video continues to be high enough quality for most applications. The price of 4K action cameras has, however, come down markedly in recent years and so, unless you’re on a super strict budget, we’d recommend a 4K-ready model.
4K recording provides you with crisper, more detailed footage, gives you more flexibility in editing, and adds a little more future-proofing. 4K cameras are also fully capable of shooting Full HD when that’s all that’s required.
If you do plan on investing in a 4K action camera then it’s worth noting that not all devices are created equal. Some cheap models available online may advertise 4K video recording, but may actually just upscale lower resolution footage. These cameras should be avoided – if in doubt check whether the sensor resolution is specified and avoid if not.
When it comes to true 4K action cameras you’ll still want to check the specific recording options available while shooting at that resolution and whether there are any limitations. Top-end cameras like the GoPro Hero 10 support 4K recording at up to 120fps with full image stabilization enabled. You may, however, find that some of the more affordable options limit your frame rate to 30fps while shooting in 4K and/or disable image stabilisation. Decide which features and frame rates you need and narrow your search accordingly.
How important is image stabilisation important?
Quality image stabilisation is the killer feature that will truly transform the look of your footage, transforming jerky clips into smooth, cinematic-looking videos. It’s an essential feature if you’re filming activities that are particularly action-packed.
Not all image stabilisers work or perform in quite the same way. Some rely entirely on digital stabilisation, while others also employ some degree of lens or sensor stabilisation. Most stabilisation involves some degree of cropping into the overall field of view of your footage, though, so it’s worth checking the details for each particular camera.
GoPro’s Hero 10 Black and Max cameras also have a feature called Horizon Leveling, which not only stabilises movement but also keeps your footage level, which is a really nifty trick.
What about slow motion?
Slow motion recording can be an incredibly useful creative tool, allowing you to turn fast action into smooth, flowing shots. It can also make for some pretty impressive B-roll footage for when you want to get a little creative with your editing.
While most action cameras do have a slow motion mode you’ll want to check exactly what frame rates are on offer and in which resolutions. Top-end action cameras can provide up to 240fps in Full HD, allowing for 8x slow-mo footage when played back at 30fps. You may find that some other cameras require you drop the resolution to 720p to access the highest frame rate options.
Are 360 action cameras worth buying?
Once a little clumsy and complex, 360 action cams have recently matured into polished, accessible creative tools.
Equipped with a pair of wide-angle lenses, 360 action cameras can either be used to record full 360 degree footage for immersive playback. Or, once your 360 video has been recorded, you can pan around and crop your footage in editing, producing “reframed” clips with complex camera movements.
Plus, when full 360 isn’t called for, most 360 cameras allow you to engage one lens only so it can be used as a standard action cam. You will, however, find that most 360 action cameras offer lower resolution and framerate options when compared to comparable single lens cameras.
While they may not be for everybody, 360 action cameras provide access to a world of creative possibilities that you simply won’t find with any other device.
Are all action cameras waterproof?
A key selling point for action cameras is their go-anywhere durability – and underwater is no exception. While it used to be the case that you’d need an external case before you could get your camera wet, it’s becoming increasingly common to find action cams that feature some degree of waterproofing straight out of the box.
While specific waterproof ratings will vary from one model to the next, GoPro’s Hero 10 Black camera is safe to take down to 10m on its own, and should you need to go deeper, a protective housing is available that’s rated to 60m. You will, however, want to refer to the manual before submerging any action camera as additional maintenance precautions are often necessary.
What additional action cam features should I consider?
Depending on how you plan to use your action cam there are several other features outside of the headline video specifications that you may want to take into account.
On the hardware side of things you may want to consider a camera that has a touch screen display for simplified ease of use – or a camera that has a front-facing display if you plan on spending time in front of the lens.
While most action cams share a common two-pronged mount, allowing many attachments to be interchanged, you’ll want to check the compatibility for any specific accessories you plan on using.
On the software side it’s worth looking at what additional shooting modes beyond standard recording and slow motion are on offer. Advanced time lapse, hyper lapse and motion lapse modes are all worth considering, as is whether you can connect the camera to a companion smartphone app for editing and sharing on the go.
The best action cameras to buy in 2022
1. GoPro Hero 10 Black: The best action camera yet
Price: £380 | Buy now from GoPro
The Hero 10 Black is GoPro’s most advanced Hero to date. Powered by an all-new GP2 processor, the Hero 10 Black supports 5.3K video recording at up to 60fps, 4K video at up to 120fps and 2.7K video at up to 240fps. The camera also boots up faster than its predecessor, offers a higher refresh rate front display, a more responsive rear display and offers faster wired and wireless transfer speeds.
The Hero 10 Black packs GoPro’s latest and greatest stabilisation tech. HyperSmooth 4.0 is the most effective action camera stabilisation we’ve encountered to date, producing buttery-smooth footage and calming the jerkiest of clips. Additionally, the Hero 10 offers Horizon Leveling which, with up to 45 degrees of tilt correction, allows you to keep your videos perfectly level too.
For maximum versatility, it offers both front and rear-facing displays, a hydrophobic and scratch-resistant lens and compatibility with GoPro’s ecosystem of accessory Mods – including the ultra-wide-angle GoPro Max Lens Mod.
Read our full GoPro Hero 10 Black review for full details
Specs – Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS; Sensor pixels: 23.6 megapixels; Max recording resolution: 5K (60fps); Size (WDH): 71.0 x 33.6 x 55.0mm; Weight: 153g; Waterproof: 10m (60m with case); Warranty: One-year RTB
2. GoPro Max: The best 360 action camera
Price: £380 | Buy now from GoPro
We’ve tested 360-degree cameras before but never been very impressed with either their quality or ease of use. The GoPro Max changes all that. Not only is the video quality very good but the GoPro Max stitches together footage from its twin-fisheye lenses in-camera, which makes it child’s play to edit and process the resulting 360 footage.
Simply record your footage, transfer it to your phone or tablet and you can either upload to YouTube as an interactive 5.6k, 30fps 360 video that viewers can pan around themselves, or process it using GoPro’s amazingly simple “reframe” editing tool. This lets you take any angle from your 360 video, turn it into regular 1080p video and cut between them; it’s like having multiple cameras in one tiny package.
Alternatively, you can use the GoPro Max as a regular action camera, using either one of its two back-to-back lenses. In this mode, the camera’s amazing Max HyperSmooth stabilisation and in-camera horizon levelling comes into play, keeping footage incredibly smooth, stable and dead-level even if the camera itself is upside down.
With top-quality audio from six onboard microphones and a built-in touch screen, the GoPro Max is an incredibly flexible camera. For outright quality we’d still recommend the GoPro Hero 10 Black, but the Max offers so much more.
Read our full GoPro Max review for full details.
Specs – Sensor pixels: 18 megapixels; Max recording resolution: 5.6K (30fps) 360-degree video; Size (WDH): 64 x 24 x 69mm; Weight: 163g; Waterproof: 5m; Warranty: One-year RTB
3. GoPro Hero 8 Black: The best budget GoPro
Price: £260 | Buy now from GoPro
While it may no longer take pole position within GoPro’s lineup, if you can live without the front-facing screen and 5K recording of the flagship Hero 10 Black, then the Hero 8 Black is an excellent option at a reduced price. It supports up to 4K60 video recording, captures 12-megapixel stills and packs GoPro’s exceptionally steady HyperSmooth 2.0 image stabilisation.
The Hero 8 is fully waterproof down to 10 metres straight out of the box and features built-in mounting prongs, doing away with the need for an additional case or cage. For added versatility, the Hero 8 Black is also compatible with GoPro’s range of Media Mods, allowing you to attach an external light, microphone, or display.
Read our full GoPro Hero 8 Black review for full details
Specs – Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS; Sensor pixels: 12 megapixels; Max recording resolution: 4K (60fps); Size (WDH): 66.3 x 28.4 x 48.6mm; Weight: 122g; Waterproof: 10m (60m with case); Warranty: One-year RTB
4. Insta360 One R: A 4K and 360-degree action cam in one
Price: £505 (Twin Edition) | Buy now from Amazon
A 4K and 360-degree action camera rolled into one, the Insta360 One RS is an incredibly versatile piece of kit. It features a modular design with interchangeable camera modules and battery packs that can be swapped out on the fly.
The camera’s standard “4K Boost” lens supports 4K video recording at up to 60fps as well as a 6K24 widescreen mode that captures video in a cinematic 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The 360 camera module, meanwhile, captures full 360-degree video at 5.7K30 that can be exported in 360-degrees or reframed using Insta360’s desktop or mobile apps. Insta360’s FlowState video stabilisation is on hand to keep your video clips nice and steady and through the Insta360 app you can apply 360 degrees of horizon correction.
There are plenty of smart features on offer too, including active HDR for videos, a TimeShift hyper-lapse mode and subject tracking for your 360 clips.
If you’re purely concerned with straightforward 4K image quality then GoPro’s Hero 10 Black is still top of the heap. If you’re after flexibility, however, the One RS truly is very tough to beat.
Read our full Insta360 One RS review for details
Specs – Sensor: 1/2in (4K build), 2 x 1/2.3in (360 build); Sensor pixels: 48 megapixels; Max recording resolution: 6K (25fps) or (5.7K 30fps in 360 build); AV connections: USB-C; Size (WDH): 70 x 33 x 49mm (4K build) or 70 x 43 x 49mm (360 build); Weight: 126g (4K build) or 136g (360 build); Waterproof: 5m (60m with case); Warranty: One-year RTB
5. DJI Pocket 2: The best stabilised pocket camera
Price: £320 | Buy now from Amazon
The DJI Pocket 2 is a complete stabilised video platform that’s small enough, as the name suggests, to fit in your coat pocket. The camera module sits on top of a dedicated, lightweight 3-axis motorised gimbal. This set-up allows the Pocket 2 to achieve rock steady shots while on the go, superior to those you’d get from digital stabilisation and all without the bulk that’s usually involved in using a motorised stabiliser.
While the Pocket 2 is a standalone camera in its own right, it can also be connected directly to your smartphone. Once paired up you can use your smartphone can take full control of the device, playback your footage and even share directly to social media.
As for the performance, it shoots up to 4K video at 60fps and adapts extraordinary well under low-light conditions; auto exposure works a treat. There’s also a wealth of smart shooting modes allowing you to easily create time lapses, panoramas and hyper lapses. The only downside is that it’s not waterproof unless you pop it in a case. The Pocket 2 is also compatible with a range of accessories including a wireless transmitter, wireless microphone, wide-angle adapter, ND filters and a charging case.
Read our full DJI Pocket 2 review for details
Specs – Sensor: 1/1.7in CMOS; Sensor pixels: 64 megapixels; Max recording resolution: 4K (60fps); AV connections: Apple Lightning output, USB Type-C output; Size (HWD): 125 x 38 x 30mm (total); Weight: 117g; Waterproof: No; Warranty: One-year RTB
6. Insta360 Go 2: The best micro action camera
Price: £294 | Buy now from Amazon
As small as your thumb and weighing in at a mere 27g, the Insta360 Go 2 is a fantastically versatile action camera.
Thanks to its unique form factor the Go 2 can be mounted in places that other action cameras simply can’t, opening up a whole new world of creative possibilities. It’s compatible with a range of different mounts for attaching to windows, helmets and bags, while its magnetic base and medallion allow you to wear it directly on your chest.
As for recording, resolutions of up to 1440p at 50fps are available along with HDR video at 24fps. 120fps is possible at 1080p for slow-motion footage and Insta360’s FlowState technology provides excellent electronic stabilisation and keeps everything level.
There are a few compromises: due to its small size the controls can be a little fiddly, storage is limited to 32GB, and with a maximum resolution of 1440p it’s not the highest specced action camera at this price point. However, if you’re prepared to work around the niggles, no other action camera can offer this level of image quality in a comparable form factor.
Read our full Insta360 Go 2 review for details.
Specs – Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS; Sensor pixels: 9 megapixels; Max recording resolution: 1440p (50fps); AV connections: USB Type-C; Size (HWD): 52.9 x 23.6 x 20.7mm (total); Weight: 26.5g; Warranty: One-year RTB