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Best action cameras of 2020

Action cameras aren't just ruggedized and protected against the elements, they offer ultrawide viewing angles to capture the full experience of ski runs, skateboard tricks, snorkeling adventures or just pet antics (several companies make harnesses for your dog).

After testing more than a dozen action cameras under a variety of conditions, including a mountain biking trip and a rafting adventure, we consider the GoPro Hero 8 Black to be the best action camera overall. It offers the best video quality, has excellent image stabilization, is waterproof to a depth of 33 feet without requiring a protective shell, has a built-in touch screen and responds to voice commands. Its new design is sleeker, and no longer requires a case if you want to mount the camera to an accessory.

If you're looking for something a bit less expensive, the Yi Lite is our current favorite budget action cam. For less than $100, you get electronic image stabilization, a responsive touch screen and 4K video at 20 frames per second — though you'll want to stick to 1080p.

Make sure you check out all of our top picks for DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and more on our best cameras page.

Insta360 recently announced its own new action camera, the Insta360 One R. It has a modular design, so you can use it with one of three camera modules: A traditional 1/2.3 camera module, a 360 camera module, and a 1-inch camera module designed by Leica. Here's our hands-on with the Insta360 One R; stay tuned for our full review.

Best action camera

GoPro Hero 8 Black (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. GoPro Hero 8 Black

The best action camera overall

Max Video Resolution: 4K/60 fps | Max Photo Resolution: 12 MP | Touch Screen: Yes | Battery Life: 158 minutes | Water Resistance: 33 feet | Size: 2.6 x 1.9 x 1.1 inches | Weight: 4.2 ounces

Much-improved audio quality
Intuitive user interface
Sleeker accessory mounting system
Media “Mods” add functionality
Battery door is awkward to close
Lens is no longer removable
Camera gets hot when shooting 4K

Surprise, surprise: GoPro's newest device, the Hero 8 Black, is once again at the top of our best action cameras list. GoPro redesigned the camera to make it smaller, and you no longer need to use a case if you want to attach it to accessories, such as a tripod or helmet mount. 

The redesign also allows for new add-on "Mods," which increase the functionality of the camera through external mics, lights, and more. Unfortunately, it also means that existing cases and lens adapters no longer work. 

Inside, GoPro has improved the motion stabilization to make the footage from the Hero 8 the smoothest we've seen from an action camera, and the overall quality remains as great as ever. 

Read our full GoPro Hero 8 Black review.

2. GoPro Hero 7 Black

Still one of the best action cameras

Max Video Resolution: 4K/60 fps | Max Photo Resolution: 12 MP | Touch Screen: Yes | Battery Life: 158 minutes | Water Resistance: 33 feet | Weight: 4.2 ounces

Shoots impressively smooth video
Improved touch controls on viewfinder
TimeWarp feature takes great time-lapse videos
Sharp 4K videos
Great price for a full-featured action camera
Livestreaming could use some tweaks
Fast charging requires you to buy a separate accessory
Still images can be hit-or-miss

GoPro's Hero7 Black was the first of GoPro's action cameras to include 4K video at 60 fps. Like earlier models, it's waterproof to 33 feet, has a rear 2-inch color touch-screen LCD, and voice control. While not as effective as the Hero 8, the Hero 7's image stabilization is still excellent.  Plus, it can livestream to Facebook using the GoPro app. 

Now that the Hero 8 is on the market, GoPro has discounted the Hero7 Black to $329, and you may be able to find even better deals on the camera through online retailers. 

See our full GoPro Hero 7 Black review.

3. Yi Lite

Best action camera under $100

Max Video Resolution: 4K/20 fps | Max Photo Resolution: 16 MP | Touch Screen: Yes | Battery Life: 130 minutes | Water Resistance: None | Weight: 2.8 ounces

Good-quality video
Inexpensive
2-inch Gorilla Glass LCD touch screen
Electronic image stabilization up to 1440p/30 fps
Waterproof case sold separately
Quirky Android app

For less than $100, the Yi Lite is a well-designed camera that can shoot image-stabilized video at up to 1440p; it can also shoot video up to 4K/20 fps, but we found that 1080p mode offered some of the best video. Among budget action cameras, it had the most intuitive interface. Gorilla Glass protects its 2-inch touch screen, though you'll need to spend an extra $40 to get the camera's waterproof housing if you plan to take it diving. 

See the full Yi Lite review.

4. Yi 4K+

A solid GoPro alternative

Max Video Resolution: 4K/60 fps | Max Photo Resolution: 12 MP | Touch Screen: Yes | Battery Life: 70 minutes | Water Resistance: None | Weight: 3.2 ounces

4K/60-fps video
2.2-inch Retina touch screen
Electronic image stabilization up to 4K/30 fps
Voice control
Not waterproof without case
Waterproof case sold separately
Quirky Android app

This camera has nearly all of GoPro's best features: 4K video recording, electronic image stabilization (up to 4K/30 fps), a touch screen and voice control. And, it costs $150 less. And, the quality was almost on a par with the GoPro Hero 6. So, what's missing? You need a case (sold separately for $40) to bring this camera into the water. And, we found its Android app to be a bit quirky. 

See the full Yi 4K+ review.

5. DJI Osmo Action

The best action camera for selfies

Max Video Resolution: 4K/60 fps | Max Photo Resolution: 12 MP | Touch Screen: Yes | Battery Life: 95 minutes | Water Resistance: 33 feet | Weight: 4.2 ounces

Good motion stabilization
forward-facing screen
rich colors in video
Motion stabilization doesn't work with HDR
no livestreaming


The Osmo Action has a color screen on its front, which makes it much easier to frame yourself in photos and video. This durable camera also has very good electronic image stabilization, and it also can shoot HDR video. Unfortunately, you can't use HDR and image stabilization at the same time, and there's no way to livestream video from the camera. Still, for selfie enthusiasts, the front-facing camera alone could be worth the price.

See the full DJI Osmo Action review.

6. GoPro Hero

Great midpriced shooter

Max Video Resolution: 1440/60 fps | Max Photo Resolution: 10MP | Touch Screen: Yes | Battery Life: 2 hours (est) | Water Resistance: 33 feet | Weight: 4.2 ounces

2-inch Gorilla Glass LCD touch screen
Electronic image stabilization up to 1440p/30 fps
Good wind-noise reduction
Functional yet uninspiring design
No 720p resolution
No slow motion
No HDR photo

For those looking to stay under $200 but still get features such as voice control and motion stabilization, the GoPro Hero is a good option. The camera's max resolution is 1440/60 fps (image stabilization only works up to 30 fps), and there's no slow-motion settings, but this Hero is waterproof to a depth of 33 feet without a case and has a touch screen on the back. 

See the full GoPro Hero review.

Credit: GoPro

(Image credit: GoPro)

7. GoPro Hero 6

Older but still good

Max Video Resolution: 4K/30 fps | Max Photo Resolution: 12 MP | Touch Screen: Yes | Battery Life: 1.5-2 hours (est) | Water Resistance: 33 feet | Weight: 4.2 ounces

Impressive image stabilization
Touch Zoom feature
High-resolution images, video (4K/60 fps)
Good images in low light
Superslick slow motion
Occasional charging issues
No improvement to battery life over Hero5

GoPro's older top-end action camera is still an excellent option. The Hero6 has many of the same specs — 4K/30 fps video, image stabilization and voice control — and is about $50 less than the Hero7 Black. While the camera lacks the ability to livestream video like the Hero7, if you don't care for that feature, then the Hero6 can save you some money. 

See the full GoPro Hero 6 review.

Credit: GoPro

(Image credit: GoPro)

8. GoPro Hero 5 Session

Compact action camera

Max Video Resolution: 4K/30 fps | Max Photo Resolution: 10 MP | Touch Screen: No | Battery Life: 120 minutes (est) | Water Resistance: 33 feet | Weight: 2.6 ounces

More compact than other GoPros
Shoots 4K video
Image stabilization
No touch screen
Discontinued by GoPro

The GoPro Hero 5 Session offers image quality comparable to its larger siblings (4K/30 fps), but in a much smaller package. It's waterproof to a depth of 33 feet and includes image stabilization, Bluetooth and voice control. GoPro has phased out its Session cameras, though, so get it while supplies last.

Credit: Olympus

(Image credit: Olympus)

9. Olympus Tough TG-Tracker

Camcorder meets action camera

Max Video Resolution: 4K/30 fps | Max Photo Resolution: 8 MP | Touch Screen: No | Battery Life: 120 minutes (est) | Water Resistance: 100 feet | Weight: 6.35 ounces

Good color and definition
Waterproof to 100 feet
Built-in 60-lumen light
Fold-out monitor
Awkward mechanics
Hard to change field of view
Occasional fog buildup on lens

On the large size for an action camera, the TG-Tracker has a flip-out screen so you can easily view what you're recording. It also has a 60-lumen light that helps illuminate darker scenes, image stabilization and a camera that's waterproof to a depth of 100 feet. This camera also tracks temperature, elevation, depth, latitude/longitude, distance traveled, barometric pressure and speed, so you can capture more than just amazing videos. 

See the full Olympus Tough TG-Tracker review.

Credit: Tom's Guide