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Gadget Flow

Ultimate guide to buying a 4K action camera

Originally published at Gadget Flow on September 27, 2019.

As sales of DSLRs and compact cameras tail off, demand for action cameras has never been stronger. This is quite remarkable given that few people owned an action camera ten years ago. In that time, the technology has advanced rapidly. At first, GoPro was the only player. Today, the market is wide open, with dozens of brands offering their unique take. To compete, most now deliver 4K resolution. Choosing between the various options can be tricky as a potential buyer. To help you navigate the bewildering array of brands and features, we decided to put together the ultimate guide to buying a 4K action camera.

Which 4K action camera is best?

As always with such a broad question, there is no definitive answer. While some devices are clearly better than others, choosing between the best comes down to your particular needs.

Taking 4K resolution as a given, the next big considerations are:

  • Battery life
  • Shooting modes
  • Wireless connectivity

Look for something that suits the type of action you are likely to be shooting. To help you get started, here’s a list of our favorite pocket cameras:

YI 4K Action Camera Compact Activity Camera

It might be a few years old, but the YI 4K is still a great budget option. It captures 4K footage and 12MP photos through a 155-degree lens, with a tough Gorilla Glass screen on the rear.

Price: $121.99 USD

DJI Osmo Action Dual Screen Video Camera

With screens on the front and rear, the DJI Osmo Action makes it easy to vlog and take selfies. It also has some great creative features, such as HDR video and up to 8x slow motion.

Price: $349 USD

OCLU 4K Action Camera

Although OCLU isn’t as well known as some other brands, the Arizona startup has produced an impressive camera. The best feature is LiveCut, which lets you chop unwanted footage on the fly.

Price: $299 USD

DJI Osmo Pocket Compact Smart Camera

Although the Osmo isn’t tough enough for extreme sports, this gimbal-mounted camera takes 4K footage at 60 frames per second. It’s great for vlogging and taking tourist videos.

Price: $349 USD

Olympus Stylus TG-Tracker Action Camera

The TG-Tracker looks weird, but it fills a niche. This camera is waterproof to 100 feet beneath the waves, with a 204-degree lens and built-in sensors to capture data.

Price: $349 USD

GoPro Fusion 360° VR Action Camera

Want to capture everything you see? The GoPro Fusion record 5.2K footage for breathtaking virtual reality content. You can even grab traditional videos from the footage.

Price: $299.99 USD

Sony RX0 II Premium Tiny Tough Camera

For outright image quality, the Sony RX0 II looks like the best option right now. It has a 15.3-megapixel CMOS image sensor, a razor-sharp 24mm fixed lens, and a useful flip-out screen.

Price: $698 USD

GoPro HERO7 Black Waterproof Action Camera

Try as we might, no camera we have found surpasses the HERO7 Black right now. Capturing footage at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second, the camera also offers image stabilization, GPS technology and voice control.

Price: $318.99 USD

The ultimate guide

Picking out the perfect 4K action camera isn’t easy, but we hope our “ultimate guide” will have made things clearer. We believe the HERO7 Black is the best camera out there right now, but there are plenty of worthy alternatives to choose from!

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