WIRED's Absolute Favorite Action Cameras

 wired.com  10/12/2019 12:00:00 

  • The Olympus TG-6 (8/10, WIRED Recommends) isn't a strap-it-to-your-head-and-shred camera, but if you're shooting underwatera common use case for these camerasthis is your best bet. The sensor in the TG-6 is the largest of the bunch and produces correspondingly high quality images and video.

    It's seriously tough: Freeze-proof, crush-proof, dustproof, and shockproof (you can drop it from 7 feet). It also has "real" camera features you won't find elsewhere, like focus stacking for close ups, an extensive set of add-ons, extra lenses, and even an underwater case that extends its depth rating. For now, it's also available at Walmart for $384 ($76 off).

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  • The Insta360 Go is a thumb-sized camera that's meant to be worn. It comes with a magnetic pendant that fits around your neck under your shirt, and secures the Go to the middle of your chest where it sits, ready to record. It's rated IPX4 (splash-proof), which is fine in a light rain, but you won't want to jump in the pool with it on.

    There's only a single button on it. One push takes the tiny Go from off to capturing a 30-second video. A long push, and other button sequences perform different actions. The Insta360 Go app is also notable for its impressive array of video editing features. The Go is a relative newcomer and is currently available for pre-order at B&H Photo.

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  • Much like one notably confused former assassin, Sony's FDRX3000 doesn't really know what it is. It has design similarities with larger video cameras, and relays the image to a monitor on your wrist, but it's also rated IPX4 (splashproof), and feels at home strapped to a helmet or handlebars. An included waterproof case will take you to 60 meters deep, and the optically-stabilized video is very good.

    It can record 4K 30 fps video, and supports time-lapse and livestreaming, but does lack the social sharing features of the GoPro. I also found still images to be on the soft side (not crisp enough), and experienced quite a few connection issues with the live-view monitor. It's also available from B&H Photo.

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  • There's a slew of cheaper action cameras that don't offer all the features and build quality of the GoPros or Osmo Action. They look like action cams, but often they have poorer build quality and cheaper lenses, and lack full waterproof ratings and fully capable chips. Still, depending on what you're going to use it for, these might be good enough.

    • Mokacam Alpha 3: This is the best of these I've used, but it still hasn't shipped to its initial Indiegogo backers. It offers the best image and video quality outside our top picks, and uses an innovative flip-up screen for selfies. Unfortunately, it's not waterproof, and Mokacam has drawn sharp criticism for its lack of customer support in the past.
    • Dragon Touch ($55): This one is even cheaper. The results aren't going to be GoPro-caliber, but at around $50, it's not a bad way to test the action cam waters.
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