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We compare 18 HD and 4K action cameras in the CHOICE labs, including models from GoPro, Sony, Garmin and more.
One thing we know about action cameras is that they end up taking a bit of a beating, so it's important to make sure you get one that can keep up with you. Action cameras continue to improve in video quality and support for wireless connectivity. Add in the help of smartphones and they're now a user-friendly proposition.
You'll no doubt want something that shoots high-quality footage of your thrills (and spills). That's why we've tested 18 models to answer the burning question: is it still all about GoPro? Find out more about what to look for in our HD action cameras buying guide, and get the nitty gritty on the testing process in how we test action cameras.
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Our test report compares products across these 40 criteria.
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The overall score is made up of video quality (daylight 40%, low light 30%, artificial light 20%) and still photo (10%).
A three-person panel evaluates the sharpness, resolution, colour, exposure and contrast of footage shot under daylight conditions.
A three-person panel evaluates the sharpness, resolution, colour, exposure and contrast of footage shot under low-light conditions.
Using the camcorder at the highest resolution possible, we measure how long the camera records before the battery loses its charge.
ns Not stated.
This rating is used to specify the environmental protection (electrical enclosure) of electrical equipment.
ns Not stated
Recommended retail, as of November 2015
A three-person panel evaluates the sharpness, resolution, colour, exposure and contrast of footage shot under artificial lighting conditions.
We score the still shots on technical aspects like sharpness, dynamic range and colour accuracy.
The GoPro Hero 4 Black and Silver editions can record at 4K resolution, as can the Panasonic HX-A1 and Sony FDR-X1000V. While the TomTom Bandit and AEE S71 technically captures 4K video it will only do so at 15 frames per second.
The storage options with the models we tested are either removable Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC), Secure Digital eXtended Capacity (SDXC) cards or MicroSD cards that can be bought separately in sizes up to 128GB (most top out at 64GB). You can expect about one hour of HD video to take up 4GB of storage. However if you want to record in 4K video, expect to chew up the SD cards.
np Not possible.
Allows you to take a high-resolution still image up to the quality of the effective resolution of the camera.
Capture those unforgettable family moments or become a budding filmmaker with our guide to buying a camcorder.
Our experts help you find the best video camera, whether you're filming family functions or catching the action on your weekend surfing trip.
Our tech experts help you find the best video camera, whether you're filming family functions or catching the action on your weekend surfing trip.