September 2021

Action Video Cameras: Aggregated Ranking Report

This report contains an aggregate consensus of Action Camera rankings posted by key online experts, as of September 2021.

At a glance - September 2021 Ranking

Scroll horizontally to browse this ranking table
Rank Change Price Action Camera
Digital Camera World
CNET
PCMag
WIRED
Camera Jabber
Wirecutter
Pocket-lint
Tom's Guide
T3
TechRadar
1
- $400
GoPro Hero 9 Black
1
1
4
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
- $300
GoPro Hero8
2
3
1
3
2
-
-
2
2
3
3
- $299
Dji OSMO Action
4
4
3
6
3
-
-
5
5
6
4
- $250
GoPro Hero7 Black
3
-
2
-
7
2
-
4
3
5
5
- $479
Insta360 One R
5
2
-
2
-
-
-
3
7
7
6
- $698
Sony RX0 Mark II
7
-
-
-
6
-
-
-
9
11
7
- $140
Akaso Brave 7 LE
8
5
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
8
8
- Check price
SJCam SJ8 Pro
9
-
-
-
9
-
-
-
8
-
9
- $484
GoPro Max
-
-
5
-
-
-
-
-
6
9
10
- $299
Insta360 Go 2
-
-
-
-
4
-
-
6
-
10
11
- $549
Insta360 One R 1-inch edition
-
-
-
-
-
3
-
-
-
2
12
- $70
Akaso EK7000
-
-
-
-
-
-
3
-
-
12
13
- Check price
Oclu Action Camera
-
-
-
5
-
-
-
-
4
-
14
- Check price
YI 4K Plus
-
-
-
-
8
-
-
-
10
-
15
- Check price
Olympus Tough TG-Tracker
-
-
-
-
12
-
-
7
-
-

We ranked GoPro Hero 9 Black #1 in September 2021 because:

  • 10 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
  • Out of those, 9 experts ranked GoPro Hero 9 Black as #1.
Critic endorsements:
Digital Camera World

Editor's Choice

Pros
Front-facing screen
20MP photos
14.7 MP grabs from video

Cons
Larger physical size than other GoPros
5K video takes up a lot of memory

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CNET

Best action camera for hardcore users

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PCMag

Best for 5K Capture

Pros
Up to 5K quality at 30fps
Front-facing color LCD
Exceptional video stabilization
Up to 240fps HD slow motion
Time-lapse, buffering, and HDR imaging
USB-C charging
Strong app support
Compact and waterproof

Cons
You'll likely want to carry extra batteries
Subscription service adds recurring costs
Discounted pricing not available from all retailers

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WIRED

Best Overall

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Camera Jabber

Pros
No need for waterproof housing
Dual Screen
8X Slow-motion

Cons
Mods are expensive
Not great in low light

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Wirecutter

The best action camera

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Pocket-lint

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Tom's Guide

The best action camera overall

Pros
Front-facing screen
Removable lens
Media “Mods” add functionality

Cons
Heavy

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T3

The latest and greatest GoPro from the action cam kings

Pros
Integrated front-facing screen
Improved specs all round
Native horizon levelling
Still very easy to use

Cons
Most expensive option

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TechRadar

The most versatile action camera ever

Pros
5K video captures lots of detail
Front display for vlogging
Improved battery life
New software skills

Cons
Rear screen currently unresponsive
Little improvement to 4K video

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We ranked GoPro Hero8 #2 in September 2021 because:

  • 8 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
  • Out of those, 1 expert ranked GoPro Hero8 as #1.
Critic endorsements:
Digital Camera World

A great value and smaller,lighter alternative to GoPro’s new flagship

Pros
Super image stabilization
Crisp, smooth 4K video
Built-in acccessory mounts

Cons
Screen is smaller than DJI

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CNET

Best action camera for casual users

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PCMag

Best for Sports and Adventure / Editor's Choice

Pros
Stabilized 4K at up to 60fps.
Rugged, waterproof design.
Crisp touch LCD.
Integrated mount.
Improved user interface.
USB-C charging.
Companion app with automated editing.
Promising Mod expansion system.

Cons
Wi-Fi video transfer can take some time.
Cramped memory card slot.

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WIRED

Best Value

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Camera Jabber

Pros
No need for waterproof housing
Incredible stabilisation
Stunning video quality

Cons
Premium price for the brand
Mount can be tricky
Mods not available at launch

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Tom's Guide

The next best action camera

Pros
Much-improved audio quality
Sleeker accessory mounting system
Media “Mods” add functionality

Cons
Battery door is awkward to close
Lens is not removable

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T3

T3 Awards 2020 Winner

Pros
HyperSmooth 2.0
TimeWarp 2.0
Frameless design
Folding mounting fingers

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TechRadar

A fine all-rounder that's ideal if you don't need a front-facing screen

Pros
Best-in-class digital stabilization
Time-saving Capture Presets
Built-in mounting arms
Improved mic

Cons
Poor low-light performance
No front display

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Methodology: combine opinions of key experts

Identify Experts

We identify key publishers and experts that consistently review and recommend Action Video Cameras.

Capture Rankings

For each publisher we find a currently recommended "top 10" list of Action Video Cameras, it must be updated in the last 9 months.

Aggregate Rankings

We put all those lists together and aggregate them. The more frequently a product is recommended, the higher it is in our ranking

Experts chosen for September 2021 ranking

We ranked Dji OSMO Action #3 in September 2021 because:

  • 8 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Digital Camera World

DJI's entry in the action cam market brings a front-facing selfie screen

Pros
Front color LCD monitor is great for vlogging
Excellent image stabilization

Cons
Doesn't have all the accessory options of the GoPro range
The app needs some work

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CNET

Best action camera for simple selfies

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PCMag

Best for Vloggers

Pros
Rugged, waterproof build.
Stabilized 4K footage at up to 60fps.
1080p slow-motion at up to 240fps.
Easily swappable filters.
Supports HDR and flat profiles.
Front and rear color displays.
Filters included.

Cons
Battery life could be better.
HDR video isn't stabilized.
Stabilization not as good as GoPro.
No tripod socket.

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WIRED

Best for Selfies

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Camera Jabber

Pros
Excellent video quality
Robust build
Excellent Rock Steady stabilisation

Cons
Battery life could be better
No live-streaming capability

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Tom's Guide

The best action camera for selfies

Pros
Good motion stabilization
forward-facing screen
rich colors in video

Cons
Motion stabilization doesn't work with HDR
No livestreaming

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T3

GoPro's fiercest competition yet,and a solid choice for vloggers too

Pros
Impressive image stabilisation
Colour front-facing screen
ease of use

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TechRadar

More than just a GoPro clone

Pros
Forward-facing color monitor
Good motion stabilization
Rich color reproduction

Cons
No motion stabilization for HDR video
No livestreaming

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We ranked GoPro Hero7 Black #4 in September 2021 because:

  • 7 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Digital Camera World

2018’s flagship remains worth investigating for handheld time-lapses

Pros
HyperSmooth feature
Great quality 4K video

Cons
Screen can be unresponsive
Voice commands need work

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PCMag

Best for Budget Shoppers / Editor's Choice

Pros
Compact, rugged design.
Waterproof to 33 feet.
4K 60fps recording with stabilization.
Up to 240fps at 1080p.
Voice control.
Smartphone app with streaming support.

Cons
Battery life could be better.
Wi-Fi file transfer time can be lengthy.

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Camera Jabber

Pros
HyperSmooth Image Stabilisation
Incredible Price
Ultra high-quality video

Cons
Still requires cage for waterproofing
No framerate or resolution boost since the Hero6

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Wirecutter

The best budget-friendly action camera

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Tom's Guide

Still one of the best action cameras

Pros
Shoots impressively smooth video
Improved touch controls on viewfinder
Sharp 4K videos

Cons
Livestreaming could use some tweaks
Still images can be hit-or-miss

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T3

Not new,but still great

Pros
Great image quality and stabilisation
Waterproof without housing

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TechRadar

A former flagship that still offers great value

Pros
Great 4K video and image quality
HyperSmooth is very effective

Cons
Can struggle with voice commands
Screen unresponsive at times

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We ranked Insta360 One R #5 in September 2021 because:

  • 6 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Digital Camera World

A unique proposition of both 4K and 360 action cams

Pros
4K and 360º lens options
RAW photos and 100mbps video
Optional 1-inch action cam mod

Cons
Small-ish touchscreen

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CNET

Best action camera for those who want it all

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WIRED

Best for Those Who Want It All

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Tom's Guide

This 360 camera has a modular design

Pros
Innovative modular design
Multiple lens options including 360 lens
Reversible screen for front facing option
Impressive in-camera stabilization

Cons
Small screen size
Needs frame for mounting

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T3

A modular 360-degree camera to rival the GoPro Max

Pros
Clever modular system
360-degree live previews on device
Flippable screen for vlogging
Easy to upgrade or replace modules

Cons
Stitching errors on 360 content

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TechRadar

An imperfect but impressive modular option with solid quality

Pros
Modular design offers unrivaled versatility
Solid 4K and 360-degree image quality

Cons
Very small screen
Significant bugs at launch

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We ranked Sony RX0 Mark II #6 in September 2021 because:

  • 4 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Digital Camera World

The RX0 Mark II gets much needed internal 4K recording

Pros
Large Exmor 1-inch sensor
Super-slow motion available
Front-facing selfie/vlogging screen

Cons
Very expensive

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Camera Jabber

Pros
1-inch sensor
Very lightweight
Flip-out monitor

Cons
Very expensive
Tricky to handle

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T3

A one-inch sensor in a 'tiny tough' camera? Say hey to incredible imagery

Pros
Huge sensor
Flip-up screen for vlogging
Very rugged build

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TechRadar

The world’s smallest 4K video cam

Pros
Impressive specs
Articulating screen

Cons
Expensive

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We ranked Akaso Brave 7 LE #7 in September 2021 because:

  • 3 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Digital Camera World

A twin-screen action cam for less

Pros
Front LCD screen
4K video capture
6-axis stabilization
Low price

Cons
Needs to be put in case to be fully waterproof

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CNET

Best GoPro alternative for less

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TechRadar

A great budget alternative to the DJI Osmo Action

Pros
Dual screens
Case-free water resistance
Class-leading build quality

Cons
Poor 60fps footage
Jumpy electronic stabilization
Cheaper options have better 4K

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We ranked SJCam SJ8 Pro #8 in September 2021 because:

  • 3 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Digital Camera World

A great-value 4K action camera offering surprisingly high-quality footage

Pros
Stabilised 4K footage
High-quality touchscreen

Cons
Clunky waterproof housing
Basic smartphone app

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Camera Jabber

Pros
Excellent value
Large clear screen
Decent video quality

Cons
Waterproof housing
The app interface can be clunky when used with Gimbal

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T3

Pro video quality on a tighter budget? This is the action cam for you

Pros
Excellent video quality
Large 2.33-inch IPS touchscreen
Includes dashcam ‘car mode’
USB-C charging

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We ranked GoPro Max #9 in September 2021 because:

  • 3 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
PCMag

Best for 360-degree Video

Pros
360-degree capture
Also works as a single-lens camera
Intuitive software tools
Strong stabilization
Good in-camera audio
Waterproof without a case
Integrated mounting clips

Cons
Effective resolution is really 1080p
Single-lens capture tops out at 60fps
Requires more editing time to get the best results from spherical footage

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T3

The best dedicated 360-degree camera on the market

Pros
Stunning 360-degree video
360 degree photos
Sturdy construction

Cons
Conventional video resolution is lower than rival
Image stitching can look glitchy

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TechRadar

The best waterproof,360-degree action camera

Pros
Shoots 5.6K, 360-degree video
In-camera stitching

Cons
Low-resolution 2D footage
Not the best in low light

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We ranked Insta360 Go 2 #10 in September 2021 because:

  • 3 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Camera Jabber

Pros
Miniscule size
Easy to use
Waterproof
Good video quality

Cons
No 4K video
No microSD card slot

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Tom's Guide

The best really small action camera

Pros
Very small
Takes good photos and videos for size
Charging case doubles as remote

Cons
Gets hot in use
Shorter battery life than other action cameras

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TechRadar

A tiny action cam with a very clever case

Pros
Truly tiny form factor
Tripod charging case

Cons
No display for framing
Only waterproof to 4m

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We ranked Insta360 One R 1-inch edition #11 in September 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Wirecutter

The most versatile action camera

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TechRadar

Better than a GoPro in low light

Pros
Large sensor for great image quality
Strong low-light performance

Cons
Processing niggles
Sluggish software

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We ranked Akaso EK7000 #12 in September 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Pocket-lint

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TechRadar

As good as you can get the price

Pros
Surprisingly good results at 1080/60p
Decent interface
Comes with lots of bundled accessories

Cons
4K motion sucks
No stabilisation at all

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We ranked Oclu Action Camera #13 in September 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
WIRED

Best for Tight Spots

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T3

A great value and slightly unconventional action camera

Pros
Easy three-button operation
Fantastic build quality
Delete on the fly

Cons
Image stabilisation at 1080P only
App will drain your battery

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We ranked YI 4K Plus #14 in September 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Camera Jabber

Pros
Market-leading resolution and framerate
Exceptional 4K video quality
Large touch screen

Cons
Requires waterproof housing
Hasn't been updated

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T3

A well-rounded action cam that won't break the bank

Pros
4K at 60fps
USB-C

Cons
Only waterproof with housing
Temperamental voice command control

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We ranked Olympus Tough TG-Tracker #15 in September 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Action Video Cameras” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Camera Jabber

Pros
Waterproof, shockproof, crushproof, freezeproof
4K at 30fps video
Flip-out monitor

Cons
8MP resolution

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Tom's Guide

Camcorder meets action camera

Pros
Good color and definition
Waterproof to 100 feet
Built-in 60-lumen lightFold-out monitor

Cons
Awkward mechanics
Hard to change field of view

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