9 Best Action Cameras (2022): Underwater, 360, Compact, and More

9 Best Action Cameras (2022): Underwater, 360, Compact, and More
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Best for Those Who Want It All

Insta360 One RS

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Choosing the right action camera used to be simple: Go with GoPro. That’s still good advice, in that the GoPro ranks high on our list and is our top pick for most people, but we’ve finally found a few worthy competitors.

To figure out which cameras are the best, we dove with them, climbed with them, surfed with them, and handed them to reckless 10-year-olds on bikes. We found a number of great options that will record, and survive, your future adventures.

If an action cam isn’t your speed, be sure to check out our other guides, including the Best Compact Cameras, Best Mirrorless Cameras, and Best Instant Cameras.

Updated November 2022: We’ve added the GoPro Hero 11, Insta360 X3, and DJI Osmo Action cameras, and removed the GoPro Hero 9, which is no longer widely available.

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  • Photograph: GoPro

    Best Overall

    GoPro Hero 11 Black

    The Hero 11 Black (9/10, WIRED Recommends) builds on the foundation of its predecessors with a new sensor that’s nearly square. That means you can shoot and then quickly edit to horizontal-format video (sane, as it used to be called) or vertical formats. That alone will be a huge selling point for many, but there’s more to love, like the ability to pull higher-resolution still images from video, an “easy” mode that means less fiddling with settings, and an option to shoot RAW images in burst mode. 

    The Hero series has always stood above its competitors when it comes to image stabilization, often the most important feature in an action camera. The Hero 11 Black brings HyperSmooth 5 (GoPro’s name for its image stabilization software), which offers better stabilization with less cropping. 

    Another thing worth noting is that GoPro has a new GoPro Mini ($300), which offers just about everything the Hero 11 does, but without the screens. If all you ever do is strap your GoPro to yourself or your gear and push record, this might be a good way to go. We’ll update this guide with more details after we’ve had a chance to test the new Mini.

    The price is lower if you buy directly from GoPro, and you also get a free 1-year subscription—although it renews at $100 a year so if you don’t want that, be sure to set yourself a reminder to cancel.

  • Photograph: Insta360

    Best for Those Who Want It All

    Insta360 One RS

    Do you want an action cam? How about a 360-degree cam? The answer is, you want both, and now you can get both in one package. Insta360’s One RS (8/10, WIRED Recommends) eliminates the debate by bringing interchangeable lenses to the action camera. 

    There are three lenses, or “mods”: a 4K mod that mirrors what you’ll get from the other cameras on this page, a dual-lens 360-degree camera, and a wide-angle Leica lens paired with a 1-inch sensor that’s capable of capturing 5K video. The best value lies in pairing the 4K mod with the 360 mod, but if you can afford it, the Leica 1-inch mod delivers some of the best video quality I’ve seen from an action camera.

    The updated Insta360 One RS differs from its predecessor in both the 4K mod, which can now shoot 5.2K video, and the processor, which brings the company’s motion-smoothing algorithm to the camera, rather than requiring the app. I also like that Insta360 regularly adds new features and improvements via firmware updates, rather than releasing a whole new camera body every year.

  • Photograph: DJI

    Best Budget Camera

    DJI Osmo Action 3

    DJI’s third stab at an action camera returns to the form factor of its original but also uses the magnetic clip system from its second. The result is the Osmo Action 3 (8/10, WIRED Recommends), which features a GoPro-like design that offers a few things you won’t find in a GoPro—like an awesome magnetic quick-clip system and dual touch screens. Throw in the amazing battery life, very good video stabilization, and the fact that it’s cheaper than a GoPro and you have a compelling alternative.

    Where the GoPro Hero 10 and 11 still win is video resolution. The Osmo Action 3 tops out at 4K video resolution and only shoots 12-megapixel still images. That’s disappointing next to the Hero 11’s 5.3K stabilized video and 26-megapixel stills. But the Osmo Action 3 is only $300, making it a great value for the money.

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