Technology Best action cams for 2019
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GoPro is the biggest name in action cams and for good reason: Its cameras live up to the company's marketing hype. But, because of that, you end up paying a bit of a premium for them. Fortunately, you do have other options to explore at better prices than GoPro's top-of-the-line model, the .
And sure, those options could include your and , but keep in mind that action cams are 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.
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With that in mind here are our top picks for action cams that we've tested. If you've had good results from a camera not mentioned here, please share it in the comments.
Best for most people
GoPro Hero 7 BlackSarah Tew/CNET
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 discontinuedaren't that great either, so you might want to keep an eye out for deals on that as the holidays approach.
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Best for hardcore users
GoPro Hero 8 BlackJoshua Goldman/CNET
This is the best single-lens action cam you can get from GoPro at the moment in features and performance. Compared to the Hero 7 Black, there are a lot of feature tweaks and updates that make it just generally easier to use and a better camera regardless of what you're shooting. But for those who use a GoPro regularly, things like the redesigned waterproof body that allows you to attach the camera directly to GoPro mounts, a customizable interface with shooting presets and improved image stabilization all add up to a worthwhile update.
Best for simple selfies
DJI Osmo ActionSarah Tew/CNET
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. 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.
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Best GoPro alternative for less
Yi 4K Plus Action Cam
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.
Best on a budget
Akaso V50 EliteJoshua Goldman/CNET
This is a solid pick for those who just want an inexpensive action cam for casual or occasional use. You do get a lot for your $140, both in camera and accessories. The V50 Elite captures fine-looking 4K video at 30 fps with better electronic image stabilization than you might expect at this price.
You get many of the same shooting modes you'd find on a GoPro, such as time-lapse photos and videos and slow motion at 1080p at 240 fps, and there's even a Drive mode so you can use it as a dash cam when plugged into your car, automatically turning on when you start your car and off if you stop it. It's not waterproof on its own, but a dive housing is included as well as several mounts, two batteries and a charger that simultaneously powers up both packs. It also has built-in Wi-Fi so you can connect to a phone and use an app to control the camera, and transfer your shots for sharing.
Best action cameras of 2019: GoPro, DJI and Yi compared .
These tiny rugged cameras are made for shooting and sharing your adventures -- even if they only happen in your backyard.And sure, those options could include your waterproof and crack-resistant smartphone, but keep in mind that action cams are 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.
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