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Home / Features / Best action camera 2024: GoPro, DJI and more reviewed

Best action camera 2024: GoPro, DJI and more reviewed

Record your epic adventures with the best action cameras around


Stunts are the easy bit: fall out of the plane, free fall for a bit, then pull your parachute cord. The hard part is capturing cinematic footage of your daredevil antics. Want video to impress your mates and win you legions of internet fans? That’s where the best action camera models come in.

Want the top action camera for recording your adventurous exploits? Whether you’re a skydiver, a freediver or likely to dive over the handlebars if you try mountain biking, the best action cams can shoot sharp, stable video in the trickiest conditions.

From the latest GoPro flagship to 360 cameras that can capture everything around you, we’ve rounded up our pick of the top models below. We’ve tested each camera to its limits, to check it has the durability to go the distance and the smarts to shoot excellent footage on the journey. Chocks away.

What is the best action camera?

We think the GoPro Hero 12 Black (buy now) is the best action camera you can buy. It’s largely packing the same guts as the excellent Hero 11 Black, only now with added HDR video support and Bluetooth wireless mic recording in the mix, amongst other updates to make it the most capable GoPro ever.

Other action camera recommendations

Best small action camera

The Insta360 Go 3 (buy now) is the best small action camera out there. It crams good image quality and performance into an incredibly compact, lightweight and versatile device.

Best cheap action camera

The GoPro Hero 9 Black (buy now) is ideal if you’re looking to save money. It’s several generations old now, but still an excellent action camera.

Best 360-degree action camera

The GoPro Hero Max (buy now) gives you ultimate editing flexibility in familiar packaging. Quite simply, it is an excellent tool for capturing 360 content.

The best action cameras you can buy today:

GoPro hero12 Black review ultrawide lens

1. GoPro Hero 12 Black

Stuff Verdict

An iteration rather than a revelation, the 12 Black is nevertheless a seriously powerful and intuitive action camera


  • Crisp footage in bright scenes
  • Useful new features for pros


  • Noisy low light video
  • Battery life isn’t great
GoPro Hero 12 Black specs
Video5.3K at 60fps 

GoPro has long been the de facto action camera for anyone wanting to record their epic stunts and the GoPro Hero 12 Black builds on that reputation by adding quality-of-life improvements. It’s largely packing the same guts as the excellent Hero 11 Black (below), but adds HDR video support and Bluetooth wireless mic recording in the mix, amongst other updates.

That means it can pick up what you say through your wireless earbuds, even if you’re tearing through a ravine or skiing down a mountainside. Thermals have been tamed to allow for longer clip lengths, and the UI has been given a visual touch-up too.

Ultimately, the Hero 12 Black is a fantastic action camera and a solid upgrade for anyone with a 9 Black or earlier.

The new features refine a complete system, and while GoPro hasn’t made a lowlight video champ like DJI’s Action 4, its class-leading stabilization, resolution, stellar software, upgraded audio and pro features make the 12 Black the most accessible action camera around.

DJI Osmo Action 4 shelf

2. DJI Osmo Action 4

Stuff Verdict

The best low light action cam around, but not the best overall


  • Strong low light image performance
  • Beats GoPro on dive depth


  • Front screen disabled at times
  • 9:16 recording requires physical rotation
DJI Osmo Action 4 specs
Video4K at 60fps
Battery1770 mAh

Hear DJI and drones instantly come to mind, but the brand also makes action cameras, and, with the new Osmo Action 4, it’s gunning for GoPro in a big way.

This compact action cam packs a new CMOS image sensor that’s 1/1.3in in size, making it significantly larger than the sensors on both last year’s Osmo Action 3 and the current GoPro flagship. That, next to improved image stabilisation, 10-bit colour depth and a slightly higher asking price than previous Osmo action cameras, shows that the Osmo Action 4 is built to compete directly with the Hero line rather than sit in its shadow as a cut-price alternative.

The Osmo Action 4 is a very solid all-round performer with excellent build quality and ‘mountability’ and solid battery life, video performance and image stabilisation. 

Despite the Action 4’s strong all-round performance, we’d say the GoPro Hero 12 Black remains the overall best action camera on the market – just about. Those interested in recording better low-light footage, however, should definitely consider DJI’s new model.

GoPro Hero 11 Black review lead

3. GoPro Hero 11 Black

Stuff Verdict

It’s not cheap, but innovative features and an intuitive interface make this versatile action cam a win for creative adventurers


  • Impressive 360º horizon locking
  • 8:7 is sensor supremely versatile


  • Battery life isn’t great
  • Struggles in low-light scenes
GoPro Hero 11 Black specs
Video5.3K at 60fps 

Another year, another GoPro. But the Hero 11 Black does much more than bump the specs of its predecessor: its sensor now uses an 8:7 aspect ratio. This almost-square approach lets creators losslessly crop footage to fit different frames – whether for widescreen YouTube content or vertical TikTok videos.

That setup is complemented by 360-degree horizon locking, which keeps the landscape level even when inverted. Paired with HyperSmooth stabilisation, it delivers best-in-class steadiness. You also get support for 10-bit video, 5.3K at 60fps and 4K slow-mo at 120fps.

Physically, there’s nothing to distinguish it from the Hero 10 Black. It’s robust, familiar and perfectly functional, even if the DJI Osmo Action 3 has it beat in deep water. Its streamlined interface divides settings by skill level, letting you shoot easily or get granular. Shipped with GoPro’s beefier Enduro battery, it also benefits from better-staying power – although you’ll still need spare cells for full-day shoots.

The new sensor is smaller than the 1-inch option for the Insta360 One RS, and low-light performance still leaves a lot to be desired. But with reliable image quality and impressive versatility, the Hero 11 Black is our pick for the best action camera right now.

insta360 go 3 lamp post

4. Insta360 Go 3

Stuff Verdict

The best little action cam on the planet. Fantastically small but still fully featured


  • Tiny and lightweight
  • Action Pod remote control


  • No 4K video capture
  • Battery life of camera is short
Insta360 Go 3 specs
Video2.7K/30p, 1440/50p

If you’re looking for something small and lightweight, look no further than the Insta360 Go 3. There have been action cams of similar size and weight before (the original Go and Go 2 for instance) but the Go 3’s image quality, versatility and clever Action Pod remote control/docking station put it clear ahead of everything else we’ve seen.

We’d recommend this to anybody looking for a diminutive device to capture their outdoor adventures. It crams good image quality and performance into an incredibly compact, lightweight and versatile product that will almost certainly transform the way you capture video content – simply by virtue of being able to go almost anywhere.

5. GoPro Hero 10 Black

Stuff Verdict

A powerful and polished action camera, bettered only by its successor


  • Lag-free interface
  • Fantastic slow-motion capture


  • Mediocre battery life
  • Low-light performance still not great
GoPro Hero 10 Black specs
Video5.3K at 30fps

Disguised as a re-hash of the Hero 9 Black, the GoPro Hero 10 Black is a very different action camera. While it shares the same dimensions, sensor and display, a powerful GP2 chip means it can capture better results in all conditions.

Updated across the board, its feature sheet includes a boosted slow-mo frame. It also offers better live streaming and faster wireless video transfer. As we found in our five-star review, the Hero 10 Black is more polished and responsive than previous GoPro models, with a lag-free interface that encourages creativity.

It’s not perfect. Battery life is mediocre, low-light performance is average, and dynamic range could be better. But the Hero 10 Black is still a fantastic action camera, capable of producing gorgeous 5.3K video at 30fps. Magic horizon-levelling contributes to rock-steady shots, too. Shell out for a GoPro Subscription and you’ll find it’s close to the complete action cam package.

6. Insta360 One RS

Stuff Verdict

Boosted shooting skills and meaningful performance upgrades make this adaptable action cam a credible modular alternative to a GoPro


  • Excellent FlowState image stabilisation
  • Adaptable modular design


  • Middling image quality
  • Minuscule touchscreen
Insta360 One RS specs
Video6K at 25fps (4K Boost Lens)
Stills48MP (4K Boost Lens)
Weight163g (1-Inch Wide Angle Lens)

Retaining the modular design and immersive shooting skills of the One R before it, the Insta360 One RS supports swappable camera modules which clip to its Core unit and battery base. These include 360° and 4K Boost lenses, as well as a 1-inch Wide Angle option co-engineered with Leica.

Improvements over the One R are limited but meaningful. There’s an extra microphone, a bigger battery and a beefier processor for enhanced FlowState image stabilisation. The 4K Boost lens also represents a notable upgrade from the previous version, with a larger 48MP sensor capturing detailed, dynamic footage at 60fps.

Stills broadly disappoint, while stitching at the seams of 360 footage is occasionally dodgy. The camera’s processing also tends to boost colours unnaturally, something that’s best solved by shooting in a flat log profile for later colour correction. But despite the niggles, the One RS is a lightweight, adaptable and accessible action camera with useful software tricks in the partner app.

Best action camera: GoPro Hero 9 Black

7. GoPro Hero 9 Black

Stuff Verdict

Not the latest GoPro, polished firmware and 5K footage makes the Hero 9 Black a stellar second-choice if the Hero 10’s too steep for your tastes


  • Sharp and stable 5K video
  • In-device horizon levelling


  • Overheats after 30 minutes of 5K capture
  • Slightly narrower field of view than Hero8 Black
GoPro Hero 9 Black specs
Video5.3K at 30fps

No longer top-of-the-line, GoPro’s former flagship still has serious chops when it comes to recording adventurous action. The Hero 9 Black benefits from the same front display, the same compact form factor and the same capable 23.6MP sensor as the more recent Hero 10 Black – and it has a lot of the same features, too.

HyperSmooth Boost in all modes means you always have the option of supremely smooth footage, while Power Tool settings unlock useful creative versatility. There’s also Horizon Levelling on-board, to keep footage tilt-free.

Frame rates for 5.3K video hit a ceiling at 30fps – versus the 60fps offered by the Hero 11 Black – while 4K tops out at 60fps. Newer models are also faster and more responsive. But pin down a good deal on the GoPro Hero 9 Black and you’re still getting a 5K action cam that can produce sharp, steady results in most shooting scenarios.

Best action camera: Insta360 One R

8. Insta360 One R

Stuff Verdict

A modular action cam that’s stuffed with features but occasionally stutters. Swap in the 1-inch sensor for superior image quality in all conditions


  • Tons of features
  • Powerful mobile app


  • Image processing can’t match GoPro
  • Small screen
Insta360 One R specs
Video5.3K at 30fps

Skydiving one day, scuba the next: a good action cam needs to adapt to every challenge. And if it’s flexibility you’re after, the Insta360 One R should have you covered. Comprised of three swappable modules (a core, a battery base and a camera), it makes upgrading a cinch. Despite the modular build, the One R is lightweight and pocket-friendly, yet also sturdy enough to survive some rough and tumble. The standard battery is good for around an hour, though you can beef this up by switching to the double-size option.

The app can be buggy, but it’s also impressively powerful. From slow-mo to AI shooting modes, there’s plenty to experiment with – even if it’s not quite as polished as GoPro’s software. The reversible touchscreen block means it’s easy to configure the camera itself to suit the shooting scenario.

And if you want to amp up image quality, you can swap in a different sensor: there’s a dual-lens 360 option for full-round footage, a 4K wide-angle for superior quality, or a 1-inch edition that’s good for 5.3K at 30fps – and better low-light performance than any GoPro.

DJI Osmo Action 3 review lead

9. DJI Osmo Action 3

Stuff Verdict

A wide-angle winner with deep waterproofing, the Action 3 fulfils the core action cam requirements at a more accessible price


  • Wider FOV than the competition
  • Dives deeper than GoPro cameras


  • Video quality can’t beat GoPro
  • Fewer photo modes than the competition
DJI Osmo Action 3 specs
Video4K at 60fps

Undercutting the Hero 11 Black by a significant margin, the DJI Osmo Action 3 can’t topple GoPro’s flagship when it comes to video quality or social-friendly features. But it does offer great value, combining the best bits of its predecessors in one practical body.

Marginally lighter than the Hero 11 Black, it adopts a similar screen and lens layout, adding useful touch sensitivity to the front display. Better heat management and superior battery life make it more reliable than the Action 2, while its waterproof chops beat every mainstream action cam: it can dive to 16m unshielded.

Unlike the Hero 11 Black, the Action 3 uses a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, but a bundled Horizontal-Vertical Protective Frame has a side mount for portrait shooting. Despite its larger 1/1.7in sensor, low-light performance is limited and overall video quality is bettered by the GoPro. That said, it remains very good for the price, with 45-degree levelling to keep 4K footage straight in bright conditions. And with a 155º field of view, it’s the top choice for wide-angle coverage.

Best action camera: Insta360 One X2

10. Insta360 One X2

Stuff Verdict

Occasional app frustrations aside, this engaging box of tricks has all angles covered


  • Waterproof, compact build
  • Excellent camera tricks and stabilisation


  • Shonky mobile app
  • Not a huge leap above original One X
Insta360 One X2 specs
Video5.7K at 30fps

The original Insta360 One X was the first 360-degree action cam that felt user-friendly enough to recommend. Its successor delivers an even more appealing blend of accessibility, portability and durability. It’s still styled like a pared-back puck, with a bulbous lens on either side and two buttons on the body. But there are two key enhancements: it’s now waterproof and features a small colour touchscreen. So you no longer need to clad your cam in a bulky case to dip it in the drink. And you can frame up footage without tethering to your phone.

The main appeal remains its dual-cam setup, with each sensor covering a 180-degree field of view. The images are stitched almost seamlessly by the camera, ready to share in full 360 or, better yet, get creative with cropping and editing anywhere within the sphere.

Video quality doesn’t seem like much of a leap forward, and it’s not the sharpest action cam around. The companion app is also pretty clunky, with crashes not uncommon. But if you want a waterproof camera that can capture immersive video, it gets plenty right.

Best action camera: GoPro Max

11. GoPro Max

Stuff Verdict

If you want the ultimate editing flexibility in familiar GoPro packaging, the Max is an excellent tool for capturing 360 content


  • Easy to edit 360-degree video
  • Decent audio capture


  • 16:9 video caps out at 2.6K
  • Seam lines noticeable
GoPro Max specs
Video5.6K at 30fps

Like the Insta360 above, GoPro’s 360 cam features two lenses facing in opposite directions. It also doubles up as a single-lens 2.7K action cam, while its 1.7in self-facing display gives it solid vlogging chops. If you’ve used a GoPro before, the interface will be familiar. So will the flip-out mounting fingers and the control buttons on the body. The lenses on the Max aren’t quite as scratch-resistant as those on the Hero 8 Black, but it’s still pretty durable, with waterproofing to 5m.

360 footage is shot at 5.6K, which gives scope for decent 720p output when you crop down. Colours are a little richer on the GoPro than the Insta360, though there’s no HDR mode. As with all 360 cameras, detail is captured best at the centre of each lens, with fringing worse in low light.

The partner app is a powerful tool for editing spherical footage, allowing you to pan dynamically across the frame. The process can be clunky at times, but it does unlock new ways to creatively capture and tweak content. Straight out of the camera, the footage is auto-stitched pretty seamlessly.

Best action camera: Insta360 Go 2

12. Insta360 Go 2

Stuff Verdict

The Go 2 isn’t perfect, but with a tiny form factor and waterproof build, it’s our go-to micro action cam


  • Excellent image stabilisation
  • Tiny, lightweight build


  • Too easy to accidentally press on/off button
  • Very low stills resolution
Insta360 Go 2 specs
Video1440p at 50fps

A tiny snapper from the set-it-and-forget-it school of action videography, the Insta360 Go 2 is a camera compact and lightweight enough to go unnoticed. Yet despite its minuscule packaging, it’s fully waterproof to 4m and capable of recording sharp, detailed 1440p footage at 50fps. What’s more, the ultra-portable Go 2 benefits from satin-smooth FlowState stabilisation, which does an immaculate job of eradicating bumps from the footage.

There’s no display on the device itself, but the pocketable charging stand adds a status readout, as well as doubling up as a self-contained selfie stand. It also features two buttons, although it’s much easier to fire up the Insta360 app for wireless control from your smartphone.

Some will bemoan the lack of 4K, while the low stills resolution limits its use as a photography tool. But for such a miniature thing, it gives much bigger action cams a real run for their money.

How to buy the best action camera for you

Steady up

Most action cams come with some kind of image stabilisation. This magically counteracts bumps and wobbles to make the footage more watchable. The smartest software trickery – such as GoPro’s HyperSmooth 4.0 – can eliminate massive amounts of movement, as well as lock onto the horizon to keep the frame level.

Sharpen up

The sharpest action cam sensors can record footage at a resolution of 5.3K. This will be overkill for most people, especially if you’ll be sharing to social media, where 4K is more than enough. Frame rates are just as important: some cams can shoot 4K footage at up to 120fps, allowing you to slow footage down for silky smooth slow-mo.

Switch it up

Some of the best action cams feature support for modular elements or accessories. These allow you to easily upgrade or augment the recording experience, whether you want a sharper camera sensor or the ability to attach an external microphone for better audio. 360 cams offer a different kind of versatility, allowing you to shoot with two lenses for full immersion or one for single-sided clips.

Connect it up

Apps are a key part of the action cam experience. Many of the best models can connect directly to your smartphone for easy tweaking and sharing. However, not all software is created equal. Some favour accessibility over complexity, while others offer a more complex but more powerful experience. Look for streaming support if you need to broadcast live.

How we test the best action cameras

We’ve tested every action camera on this list so you can trust us when it comes to recommending the best action cam to buy.

We usually spend a week or longer reviewing action cameras – testing out all of the software features, image quality and durability. Our reviews are very comprehensive, testing every single aspect of an action camera, including battery life, stills ability, and any compatible accessories.

For more information on Stuff’s rating and review process, read our page on how we test products.

Profile image of Chris Rowlands Chris Rowlands Freelance contributor


Formerly News Editor at this fine institution, Chris now writes about tech from his tropical office. Sidetracked by sustainable stuff, he’s also keen on coffee kit, classic cars and any gear that gets better with age.

Areas of expertise

Cameras, gear and travel tech