The best action camera for 2020: GoPro, DJI and more compared

GoPro isn’t the only game in town when it comes to high-quality action cameras that live up to the hype, and the name has a financial premium. Companies like Yi and DJI offer other options worth exploring that are cheaper than GoPro’s top products Hero 8 black, but can still keep up.

And sure, these options could include your waterproof and crack-resistant smartphone. However, keep in mind that the best action camera is designed for this type of shot. Just because your phone is tougher doesn’t mean you should risk losing or damaging it to record videos, as it keeps you connected to work, family, and friends. It’s also much easier to attach one of them to your body, car, bike, or anything other than your smartphone – even if this phone has a special case and a gorilla glass screen.

Action camera

With that in mind, here are our top tips for the best action camera we’ve tested. All of these devices are versatile and can record videos, take photos, and record audio. Find out which is the best action camera for your battery life, video quality, and durability needs. If you have achieved good results with a camera not mentioned here, please share it in the comments.

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Though the Hero 8 Black camera has the latest and greatest features, in the end it’s not a big step up from what you get with the cheaper Hero 7 Black. It is a model for 2018 and has almost all functions, including the high-quality HyperSmooth image stabilization, the killer function for this model. There are a handful of other differences, like a better user interface, more shooting options for more control like 1080p at 240 frames per second, vertical video and live streaming straight from the camera – all with a pretty good resolution. Nevertheless, the differences between the Hero 7 Black and the discontinued Hero 6 Black are not that big either. So you might want to keep an eye on offers for it.

Read our GoPro Hero7 Black preview.

Joshua Goldman / CNET

This is currently the best lens action camera you can get from GoPro in terms of features and performance. Compared to Hero 7 Black, there are many feature improvements and updates that generally make it easier to use and provide a better camera for photos and videos, no matter what or where you shoot. For those who regularly use a GoPro, things like the redesigned waterproof case that allows you to attach the camera directly to GoPro mounts, a customizable interface with shooting presets, and improved video stabilization are a worthwhile update in terms of image quality. The lens is now made of Gorilla Glass, which is twice as impact-resistant as the glass of previous Hero models.

GoPro Hero 8 Black is the most powerful …


Sarah Tew / CNET

For a company known for its camera drones, DJI did a lot right with its first action camera. One of the outstanding features is the front color screen. It may be small, but it is enough to make sure that you are centered in the shot when the camera lens on a selfie stick is facing you. Another great feature of the camera is that it responds to voice commands – the view can be switched with voice control. It is also waterproof and sturdy with removable lens covers. It has excellent electronic image stabilization, records HDR video, and has customizable presets so you can control the shooting modes you want without having to dive into menus. This is an excellent device for people who are looking for more control when taking photos and videos.

Read our DJI Osmo Action preview.


Almost as good as the GoPro Hero 7 Black in features and video quality, but it only costs $ 220 with a waterproof dive case. Electronic image stabilization isn’t quite as good as GoPro’s HyperPmooth, but it’s definitely better than nothing. You also get recording 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 recording and a 90 minute battery life. You get nothing more than the camera, a battery, the case and charging, and external microphone cables. However, if you mainly want to take good photos and video for less than a GoPro, this camera is a safe choice.

Read more about the Yi 4K Plus.

Joshua Goldman / CNET

This is a good choice for those who are just looking for an inexpensive action camera for occasional or occasional use. You get a lot for your $ 140, both for camera and accessories. The V50 Elite records good looking 4K video at 30 fps with better electronic image stabilization during video recording than you would expect at this price.

You get many of the same shooting modes as on a GoPro device, e.g. B. Time-lapse photos and videos as well as slow-motion pictures with 1080p and 240 fps. There’s even a drive mode that lets you use it as a dash cam, when connected to your car, it turns on automatically when you start your car and off when you stop it. It’s not waterproof by itself, but a dive case plus multiple mounts, two batteries (with a battery life of 90 minutes), and a charger that powers both packs at the same time (additional batteries are always welcome). 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 to share.

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