If you’re in the market for an action camera, a GoPro may seem like the obvious choice. But what if I told you that GoPros aren’t the only action cameras out there?
While they definitely dominate the realm, GoPros are quite an expensive piece of equipment, all things considered. Nowadays, there are so many alternatives that won’t set you back as much as a GoPro and still offer you the same quality and features that make action cameras so special.
Here, we take a closer look at the best GoPro alternatives that’ll give you that awesome action shots without busting your budget.
- 1 Our Picks for Best GoPro Alternatives 2021
- 2 GoPro Alternatives: Comparison Table
- 3 Are GoPros the Best Action Camera?
- 4 Why Choose a GoPro Alternative
- 5 What to Look for in an Action Camera
- 6 Best GoPro Alternatives 2021
- 7 The Final Word: GoPro or GoPro Alternative?
Our Picks for Best GoPro Alternatives 2021
- Best Budget GoPro Alternative: Campark X20
- Best GoPro Alternative for Sports: Garmin VIRB Ultra 30
- Best GoPro Alternative Splurge: Sony FDR X3000R
- Most Similar to GoPro: YI 4K+ Action and Sports Camera
GoPro Alternatives: Comparison Table
|AKASO V50 Elite||$$||2.4 oz||4K/60fps|
|Campark X20||$||2.2 oz||4K/24fps|
|Garmin VIRB Ultra 30||$$$||3.2 oz||4K/30fps|
|Sony FDR X3000R||$$$$||4.1 oz||4K|
|YI 4K+ Action and Sports Camera||$$||3.2 oz||4K/60fps|
|YI Lite||$||2.8 oz||4K/20fps|
|FITFORT 4K||$$||2.3 oz||4K/30fps|
|Polaroid Cube Act II||$||3.52 oz||1080p/30fps|
|SJCAM SJ7 Star||$$||2.56 oz||4k/30fps|
Are GoPros the Best Action Camera?
When we think of action cameras, GoPros tend to spring to mind. These small cameras pack a punch when it comes to capturing action. We’ve all seen those cool GoPro videos of people taking part in adventure activities like skateboarding, skiing, or diving.
While GoPros dominate the market, this doesn’t necessarily make them the best action camera. Sure, on top of being able to take great action videos and photos, they’re nice to look at and have a sleek feeling in your hands. But on the flipside, they can be slow to respond, the color quality is quite low, and the wide angle lens has no zoom.
Similar to iPhones, there’s always a new GoPro model coming out with minor upgrades that have you digging around in your wallet for some extra change to purchase it.
This is by no means a bad thing (to be fair, the latest GoPro Hero 7 has garnered some pretty solid reviews), but instead of springing for that newest model that’s going to set you back a few hundred dollars, why not check out one of the more budget-friendly GoPro alternatives instead?
Why Choose a GoPro Alternative
The first and probably most obvious reason to choose a GoPro alternative is that they’re more budget-friendly.
Sure, you get the occasional super expensive action camera but all in all, GoPro alternatives tend to be much less expensive than the real deal. While these options may be less expensive, they don’t sacrifice on quality. In fact, many GoPro alternatives are made by reputable electronics companies who are known for their high-end designs and cutting-edge technology.
What this means is that you can get the GoPro-level quality and features for a fraction of the price. Why wouldn’t you choose that if it’s an option?
What to Look for in an Action Camera
When seeking out a GoPro alternative, it’s important to know what to look for in an action camera.
Here are some key features to keep in mind while on your hunt for the alternative that’s right for you and your adventures.
Good video quality is a must for action cameras so that you can properly record your adventures in the best way possible. When considering video quality, you have to keep a few things in mind.
Resolution – Resolution is the number of pixels your camera will display. You’re going to want something with a high resolution. The higher the resolution, the clearer your video will be.
The standard resolution is 1080p but these days, most action cameras come with 4K video, which is the best option available. 4K video is unbelievably clear but takes quite a lot of power to process on your computer.
That said, why 4K? 4K resolution saturates your videos and creates a next level clarity. This is fantastic not only for taking videos but for grabbing stills as well. Because each frame is of the best quality, you’re able to capture photos from your video with the same clarity.
Finally, you’ll also come across 720p which is best for shooting videos in slow motion because you’re able to shoot with the most frames per second.
Frames Per Second – Another indicator of video quality is the frames per second. This is essentially how smooth your video is. The higher fps, the smoother the video.
Most action cameras shoot with 30 and 60 frames per second (fps).
Videos with a slow motion effect or those capturing serious action require rates of 120 or even 240 to create a continuous flow from one frame to the next. Many action cameras have a slow motion feature that you’re able to set to create this effect.
Just keep in mind that the higher the frames per second, the more storage space your video will take up.
Field of View
Besides quality, you’ll want to consider how much you want to capture.
Most action cameras, including GoPros, have a wide angle lens that creates a large field of view (fov) and a fisheye effect on your photo or video. Cameras with this kind of lens are often capturing 140 or 170 degrees of your surroundings, which is more than you can see through your own eyes.
Some action cameras allow you to change the field of view so you’re capturing either more or less, but many GoPro alternatives just come with a set field of view.
Another factor that will determine how your videos look is if there’s an image stabilization mechanism in the camera.
Image stabilization does exactly what it sounds like: it stabilizes an image.
This feature keeps your video from looking like it was taken with a shaky hand and eliminates blur. This is especially important with action cameras because you can’t help but move around a bit while shooting since the camera is so tiny.
Let’s face it — if you’re out surfing, the last thing you’re going to want to focus on is holding your hand still for the perfect video.
Many action cameras have electronic image stabilization, but this capability means a higher price. If you’re looking for image stabilization without paying for it as a feature in your device, you can always purchase a tripod that’s used specifically for keeping your camera still.
Waterproofing & Ruggedness
What makes action cameras so special is you can use them when pulling out your big DSLR or even standard smartphone camera or point-and-shoot isn’t practical.
Good action cameras should be rugged enough to withstand a variety of climates, conditions and activities so that you never miss a moment of your adventure.
When considering GoPro alternatives, it’s best to choose one that’s dirt and dust-proof, can withstand some impact (if you drop it or the camera falls), and is weather-resistant. If you cover these three things, you’ll be able to shoot in a wide variety of situations without fear of doing damage to the camera.
The best GoPro alternatives will be completely waterproof so you can shoot some fun videos while underwater or partaking in water sports. However, due to their low cost, most alternatives will come with a separate waterproof housing for the camera.
If you’re looking specifically for a waterproof action camera, it’s important to consider the given depth your camera can be submerged without issues. You can find cameras (or waterproof casing) that can go from 30 feet all the way to 150 feet deep!
While shooting action videos or taking some killer shots, you’re going to want to see what you’re doing and have full control so you can start and stop at a moment’s notice. This is why choosing a camera with a sturdy display and easy to use controls is super important.
Many action cameras these days have a touchscreen display that lets you not only see what you’re shooting, but control the camera as well. Touchscreen displays are convenient because they’re straightforward and intuitive, and often feature a screen that’s big enough to review footage quickly.
When choosing a GoPro alternative or action camera in general, battery life is crucial to keep in mind. If you were set to film an awesome course or scenic bike ride, you don’t want your camera dying halfway through.
With a single charge, most action cameras only last between one and three hours when used continuously. If your camera is connected to WiFi or you’re shooting high resolution videos, your battery will last even less.
If this is something you’re worried about, you can purchase a camera with an interchangeable battery so you can charge the spare beforehand and swap it out as needed.
A great quality in a GoPro and one that’s present in many of the alternatives is the ability to connect the camera to WiFi. Doing this allows you to transfer your footage or photos directly to your smartphone or computer, typically through an associated app or program.
Many apps will even allow you to control your camera from your phone when it’s connected to WiFi which gives you the option to use it remote-style. Note that not all WiFi works the same and some cameras have a much better ability to do this than others.
Last but not least, you should look for a camera that’s compatible with accessories.
A huge part of the novelty of GoPros is the ability to attach them to your head or chest with a strap or throw them in the water attached to a buoy to prevent them from sinking.
Most GoPro alternatives are compatible with their own set of accessories, but they’re almost always sold separately from the camera.
Many cameras will require you to purchase a specific accessory if you want to use it underwater. This waterproof case is a must if you want to take your camera diving, surfing, paddleboarding and more (and is totally worth the purchase, if you ask me!).
Other notable accessories are a handheld stick to shoot steadier videos than you would just holding the camera in your hand and a mount to stick onto your bike helmet or surfboard.
Best GoPro Alternatives 2021
Now, without further ado, here are the best GoPro alternatives in 2021.
Each camera has its own unique set of features that make it suitable for action, but they aren’t without their drawbacks as well. Hopefully these full reviews and spec details will lead you to your next action camera!
- Remote and voice control
- 8x zoom with adjustable field of vision
- Comes with extra battery and accessories (including waterproof case)
- No image stabilization with 4K 60fps
- Camera and app freeze sometimes
One of the best GoPro alternatives in the market is the AKASO V50 Elite model, a step up from the previous AKASO V50 Pro. This camera looks almost exactly like a GoPro with its small and compact body, wide angle lens and touchscreen.
The AKASO V50 Elite is small but impressive, and offers some great features that aren’t even found in GoPros.
For less than half the price of a GoPro, you get 4K video at 60 fps, waterproofing for up to 131 feet, electronic image stabilization, a touchscreen, and an adjustable field of view. If you’re looking to shoot sports or videos in slow-mo, you can shoot 720p at 240fps so you’ll always capture the action happening around you.
One of the most notable features of this camera is that it has the ability to zoom up to 8x! Never miss a far-away moment with this little guy. You also get a remote with this camera that is able to control the camera, and even be controlled with your voice. Voice control is a cutting-edge integration for action cameras and allows you to use this gadget hands-free.
We also love that you’re able to adjust the field of view to be wide, medium or narrow to get your shot looking exactly the way you want it.
This camera comes with an extra battery, a waterproof case, and a variety of mounts. So if you’re looking to get everything in one go, this is a great value purchase.
The only downside is some users have reported that the camera has the tendency to freeze sometimes, especially when shooting 4k video at 60fps.
Check out our in-depth review of the Akaso V50 Elite here!
- Great for scuba diving and underwater use
- Digital zoom
- Excellent image stabilization
- Comes with many accessories and extra battery
- 1080p at 60fps is lacking in quality
- Battery life lasts only about an hour
An even more budget-friendly but equally fierce GoPro alternative is the Campark X20.
Let’s get started with some of the basics of this camera.
The X20 allows users to shoot 4K video at 24 frames per second, using the 170 degree wide angle lens. You also have the option to switch the settings to 2k, 1080p at 30 or 60fps, and 720p at 120fps. This gives you a wide range of options when it comes to shooting high quality videos on this camera.
Plus, with 20 megapixels and a sensor made by SONY, all of your videos and stills will come out as clear as they were in person.
If you don’t like the ultra wide 170° angle, you can change the lens setting to middle or narrow to get the exact shot you want.
This camera comes with different effects to add to your footage like timelapse, loop recording, slow motion, and burst photos, all which retain the highest quality to give your videos a lifelike feel. The camera also comes with a remote to control the camera when your hands are occupied with something else.
While the X20 itself isn’t a waterproof model, the package comes with a waterproof case that’s good for up to 30 meters (98 feet) . You also get two batteries and a variety of mounts to attach to your favorite adventure equipment.
The best part about this action camera is the built-in image stabilization. What’s used in this camera is superior to other models and works as well underwater as it does on land. This is a great camera for all of your action videos because they won’t look blurry or shaky.
It may not have the renowned GoPro quality but it is surely a great alternative, especially for the price. Just be aware that the battery life isn’t very long, and it can be tricky to get the battery door open when the camera is in a case.
- Extremely cool tech integration that captures unique data depending on the activity
- 3-axis image stabilization
- Voice control and waterproof case included
- Scratchy sounding audio
- Shorter battery life
If you’re looking for a GoPro alternative that includes tons of extra tech features without sacrificing quality, check out the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30.
Starting with the basics, you get 4K video with 30 frames per second, or 1080p at 120fps. For slow motion videos, you get an advanced 720p with 240 fps so your video will be smooth. You also get a 1.75″ touchscreen for easy visibility, setting selection and footage review, along with a classic wide angle lens.
Turning to the more advanced features, the VIRB Ultra 30 allows you to control the camera with your voice for hands-free shooting. It also comes with a built-in GPS so you’ll always be able to remember where your footage was taken.
The performance data is really what sets this camera apart. Besides recording your GPS location, it also notes down your heart rate, speed, distance traveled, outside temperature, and more. You’re able to set the camera to the exact sport you’re doing and collect custom data depending on the activity. How freaking cool is that?
If that’s not enough for you, when connected to WiFi, you can not only view and control your camera from the application, but you can directly livestream from the camera as well! Super useful when it comes to sharing your adventures and staying connected with your loved ones.
The camera itself isn’t waterproof but it comes with a waterproof case that allows you to not only use the touch screen when it’s attached, but continues to capture high quality audio as well.
One last element that makes this GoPro alternative so special is the 3-axis image stabilization which allows you to take clear footage up to 1080p at 60fps.
This is an incredibly powerful camera packed into a tiny body. If you’re willing to spend a little more, you won’t be disappointed with what you get.
- Outstanding image stabilization
- Splashproof body with underwater housing for up to 197 feet
- Can be used with GoPro accessories
- Adjustable FOV and zoom
- Still photos are low quality
- Connectivity issues between Live View remote and camera
- Larger than other action cameras
Part of what makes GoPro so reputable is their brand name, but what if you had an action camera from an equally (if not more) renowned camera company? That’s where the Sony FDRX3000R comes in.
While you’re certainly in part paying for the brand name with this camera, the features that accompany it don’t disappoint. Select your viewing angle to be either wide, medium, or narrow, and zoom in up to 3x to get a close-up ofwhatever you’re shooting.
This is a camera in typical camcorder fashion that shoots high quality 4K video, both on land and underwater. While you need to fit it into the underwater housing (purchased separately), when taken into the depths of the ocean, you can shoot video as deep as 197 feet.
What makes this camera so special is the image stabilization. Even your highest quality videos shot in 4K will be completely stable due to the advanced technology included in this bullet-shaped camera.
While not as small as traditional action cameras, this Sony number is splashproof without the external case and comes with extra batteries included.
One of the awesome features of this camera is it comes outfitted with a tripod mount which is able to be used in conjunction with other accessories designed for GoPro. Definitely a win in the “extras” department!
A final unique feature of this camera is it comes with a Live View remote that you can attach to your wrist or mount on a piece of equipment. With it, you can see what the camera is shooting while using it hands-free. This is especially useful if you have the camera mounted somewhere but still want to keep track of what’s being recorded.
This camera is worth every penny. That said, it’s important to note that its best qualities are in video shooting and that still photos are not this camera’s strong suit.
- Long battery life
- Responsive and clear touchscreen
- Fast processor
- Shoots in RAW format
- Low quality audio
- No waterproofing and doesn’t come with case
Speaking of brand names, the YI 4K action camera is produced by Chinese powerhouse Xiaomi which is well-known for rolling out innovative tech products for a fraction of the competitor’s price.
This camera gives the GoPro stiff competition as it looks and functions almost identically as the traditional GoPro — with a few added benefits as well. An upgrade from the previous YI 4K model, the 4K+ has some of the kinks smoothed out, as well as features that the original camera was lacking.
The YI 4K+ comes complete with 4K video (as the name would suggest) at 60 frames per second shot through a Sony sensor. The photos you capture will be a nice 12 megapixel. The video is known for being high quality and relatively stable due to the built-in electronic image stabilization (up to 4K/30fps).
The touchscreen on this camera is especially notable as it’s a large 2.2 inches and has a particularly responsive and durable retina display made from Gorilla Glass to withstand all of your adventures. The colors on screen are vibrant, allowing you to accurately review footage without sacrificing quality.
Plus, the user interface is intuitive and allows you to easily change settings on the fly.
Some other nice features of this camera is the ability to shoot images in RAW format and control the camera using your voice.The processor is also particularly fast and the camera even comes with a one-year warranty!,
One of the best things about the 4K+ is its battery life. You can shoot video, even in the highest resolution, for much longer on this camera than its competitors, so forget the stress of your camera dying mid-shot.
The drawback of this little device is that it’s not waterproof and your purchase won’t come with any accessories. So if you’d like to take it underwater with you, you’ll have to buy the special case separately. This is kind of a drag, but then again, you’re getting what you pay for — no more, no less.
- Very inexpensive option with built-in stabilization
- Large touchscreen for control
- Ability to adjust image quality settings
- Long battery life
- WiFi can have connectivity issues
- Can be difficult to get the proper exposure
- Not waterproof and doesn’t come with waterproof case
The younger brother (or sister) of the YI 4K+, the YI Lite is perfect for those who want a very basic action camera without all the fancy schmancy components that many of the GoPro alternatives (and the GoPro itself) offer.
While stripped down and more basic, the YI Lite still shoots 4K video at 20 frames per second, as well as 1080p/30fps and 1080p/60fps. The still photos are particularly beautiful as they use 16 megapixels to get your shot clear and just right. You’re even able to adjust the image quality parameters so you get the settings exactly to your liking. This means the camera performs well in low light as well as during day time — how cool?
The images and videos are shot on a 6-layer 150° wide angle lens that captures more than the naked eye does. Meanwhile, the large 2″ touchscreen allows you to preview them before transferring your files to a computer.
While using the 1080p/60fps, you’re able to conserve battery life. Your camera can shoot for up to 130 minutes, which is astounding if you want to focus on your shot instead of how long you have.
Just because this camera is basic doesn’t mean it has to sacrifice effects! With the YI Lite, you can shoot in 9 different modes (4 photo and 5 video), including the basics like burst and time lapse as well as fun ones to really enhance the moment as well.
Connect this little camera to your smartphone for ultimate control using WiFi and Bluetooth settings, and share your videos and photos easily with friends via social media.
If you’re looking for a very high quality, basic action camera, this is the one for you — especially if you’re not looking to spend a ton of money!
- Wide range of settings
- Wireless remote for hands free use
- Camera comes with accessories (waterproof housing) and an extra battery
- Poor stabilization
- Mobile application could use some work
- Not great for low light shooting
Another very popular and very reasonably priced action camera is this one from FITFORT which shoots 4K video and 16MP photos.
At its highest quality, this camera allows you to shoot 4K video with 30 frames per second, or 2.7k/30fps, and finally 1080p/60fps. No matter which resolution you choose, you’ll get clear footage that captures your adventures through a 170° super wide angle lens.
A unique aspect of this camera is the settings that range from standard ones like burst photo and timer, to more advanced settings like driving mode and large aperture. You’ve also got other options such as slow-motion and remote control.
The FITFORT comes with a wireless remote control for ease of use when your camera is mounted somewhere. Easily start and stop your video with the press of a button without having to worry about reaching your camera in a far-off place. Plus, the remote has a range of 33 feet, making it perfect for those unbeatable, wide angle selfies in scenic places!
Besides the wireless remote, this camera also comes with a rugged waterproof case that allows you to take it as deep as 100 feet, making it perfect for water sports ranging from surfing to snorkeling to scuba.
- Magnetic base for easy mounting
- Extremely small size
- Very easy to use (one-button operation)
- Poor audio quality
- Only 6MP for still photos
- No 4K video
- No viewing screen
While Polaroid is best known for their instantly developed photos (shake it, shake shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture!) they have also branched out to create this little action camera.
While it’s not the most high-tech GoPro alternative, it certainly is the most stylish. Coming in three brilliant color options with the classic rainbow Polaroid stripes, this camera is as cute as it is functional.
Shooting HD video in 1080p, you’re sure to capture all of your action in this teeny tiny package. Small enough to fit in any pocket, this camera is the easiest to whip out, power on and start shooting with.
That said, it does have some drawbacks when it comes to quality.
Besides having no 4K video, the stills are only 6 megapixels, while other competitors have more than double this. The image stabilization also leaves something to be desired, but you have to commend Polaroid for fitting it in in the first place, when all they had to work with was this tiny body.
There also isn’t a screen on this camera. Instead, you control everything with a single button. Convenient or confusing? Up to you.
The lens is fixed at 124°, giving you the wide angle shots that are the action camera standard. The rubberized body makes it extra durable against falls and impact.
One of the best parts about this little guy is that it has a magnetic base which allows you to conveniently attach it to metal surfaces. The magnet is quite strong, so you don’t have to worry about the camera sliding around or falling off once attached.
The camera also comes with a few different mounts and accessories to further enhance your shooting experience. However, you’d like to use the camera in the water, you’ll have to purchase the waterproof case separately.
For the extremely low price tag, all I can say is… why not?
- Supports external mic to enhance audio
- Enhanced stabilization technology
- Comes with waterproof case and other mounts
- May not perform well in the cold
- Only 1000mAh battery
Last but not least, we’ve got the SJCAM SJ7 Star, which comes complete with 4K video, 16MP stills and WiFi compatibility.
The basics of this GoPro alternative is high quality 4k video shooting at 30 frames per second, with an IMX117 sensor. The processor in this little piece of equipment is powerful enough to handle your footage and keep the camera running at a quick speed.
Some other basics specs to note are the 170° super wide angle lens that comes complete with three field of vision settings. This means you can customize the shot to be exactly what you’re picturing!
Like many other GoPro alternatives, this camera has an associated app that you can connect to over WiFi to easily download and share your footage.
Now, here’s what makes this camera a special model that’s worth your consideration.
First, you’ve got the Gyro Stabilization which is an advanced method to keep your footage looking shake-free and clear. The stabilization is also supported when using different modes like slow motion or time-lapse.
You’ve also got a wrist remote with this camera to easily control what you’re doing while it’s attached to a piece of equipment. This is especially important for action shooting or taking videos on the go.
The best part about this camera is it’s suitable for professional use. Many GoPro alternatives (and GoPros in general) are seriously lacking when it comes to the audio part of the video. But with this camera, you’ve got external mic combatibility to capture and enhance all the sounds of your adventures.
The SJ7 Star comes with multiple mounts as well as a waterproof case to allow you to take your camera wherever you go.
The Final Word: GoPro or GoPro Alternative?
So what do you think? Is it worth splurging on a GoPro or will these suitable alternatives get the job done just as well?
In my opinion, a GoPro alternative is just fine, especially when you don’t want to spend the money for a brand name.
Many of the GoPro alternatives also come with accessories and mounts, which isn’t common when purchasing a GoPro. This means even more savings for you! Plus, lots of the alternatives allow you to adjust the field of view as well as zoom in and out. Did you pick up on all the cameras with remote controls, too?
Almost all of the GoPro alternatives we’ve listed here have rave reviews claiming that they work just as well, if not better than GoPros. So with all the added benefits, why not give one a go?
GoPro will always be there, but with more and more worthy competitors, the action camera market may soon deviate from the GoPro norm to include some of their adversaries.
We’ll see what happens, but from experience, a less expensive alternative will suit you just fine — or may be even better!
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