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Growing up the child of a hobbyist photographer and winter outdoorsman, there wouldn’t be a winter where I wasn’t snowboarding the back country of New England and Colorado. On some days, my dad would take a camera with him, but it was always a point and shoot — not his more professional rig. The pictures captured the moment well enough, but my friends and I always wanted to make snowboard movies like the ones we watched. Long way of saying, had we had an action camera, maybe I’d be carving powder runs around the world set to a killer soundtrack. Just saying.
Action cameras boomed a little less than a decade ago during the advent of highly capable portable electronics. Though phones have been able to capture video for quite a while, the specialization of a compact and rugged device seems better than risking an uber expensive smartphone.
The action cameras of the moment have the ability to capture HD and 4K video, as well as stunning resolution stills. The operative word of these cameras is “action.” The uses for these devices is nearly endless. My friends use them for their fishing trips and desert adventures. My musician nephew has his studio camera ready in order to capture practice routines for his students. And I just recently equipped my home renovation site with a few of these for time lapse purposes.
While GoPro has cornered the “action camera” market, there are a lot of competing brands making decent dupes too. Whether shredding the slopes, catching a wave, reeling in the big one, cruising the track, or just simply capturing nature’s beauty, an action camera is a versatile tool to add to any visual junky’s collection. Here are some of the best ones to get.
1. Akaso EK7000
The EK7000 is the top model from Akaso in the action camera space and it is no wonder why. The rugged design mixed with 90 minutes of recording time per charge means this unit will be with you every step of the adventure.
Whether in the snow, sleet, rain, or shine, the EK7000 stands up to the most extreme conditions and is there to make sure you capture all the action. With capture capabilities of 4K at 30 frames per second, the EK7000’s image quality is top-notch. Footage is clear, focused and true to life.
PROS: The EK7000 comes with TWO rechargeable batteries — Akaso knows that you won’t want to (nor can) stop the action to recharge.
CONS: On the lower end of the megapixel rating for the category, yet still produces sharp imaging.
2. Apeman A80
Apeman’s A80 action camera packs a helluva punch into a small package. The 20 megapixel camera takes vivid visuals while the electronic image stabilization and gyroscope work against shaky hands due to terrain difficulties.
The A80’s 40 meter depth threshold means that you’ll be able to scuba to your heart’s content and capture the mysteries of your oceanic excursions.
PROS: Electronic image stabilization and gyroscope is a superior feature in comparison to other models in this category.
CONS: 4K imaging rate is lower than competitors at 24 frames per second.
3. CamPark ACT74
CamPark’s ACT74 provides excellent image quality at 30 frames per second for 4K. Included in the ACT74’s package is everything you need to flex the camera to capture diving, skiing, biking, golfing, fishing and nearly any outdoor action you can imagine.
This set is as great for beginners as it is for pros looking to add a casual camera to their arsenal.
PROS: Plentiful accessories package included.
CONS: Could have better still image resolution, but in reality, these are motion picture cameras and this one is well-suited for motion capture.