action camera, gopro
Action cameras differ from regular cameras in that they are sturdier, waterproof and more compact - perfect for everyday adventures. Image Credit: Unsplash/Jakob Owens

Are you all set for your next adventure? Whether exploring at home or flying out this summer, one thing's for certain - it's an opportunity to create new, high-definition memories. But, don't whip out your smartphone camera or the family DSLR. What you need is a lightweight, compact gadget that is as audacious and resilient against the outdoor elements as you.

Action cameras are no bigger than the palm of a hand, yet they pack a punch when it comes to HD picture and 4K video quality. They're built to film any adventure - from pool and beach days to rugged sports activities, like hiking and mountain biking - with high frame rates per second (FPS). The more frames a camera captures, the smoother your footage will be, letting you create slow-motion edits of your favourite moments. And, when you're ready to share your adventure with family and friends, these cameras transfer files to your phone or computer in minutes.

What should I look for when buying an action camera?

We spoke with Mathew Abraham, service in-charge at MK Trading Co. LLC, a Dubai-based company that has been distributing and supplying photographic equipment in UAE since 1973. The group also runs CameraRepair.ae, a repair and service centre for all kinds of cameras. According to Abraham, you should look for three simple things when buying an action camera: “It should be strong and designed for any condition, have a long battery life, and high-speed performance.”

One of the main issues that action cameras face, over time, is water damage. Abraham said: “Repairing a camera that has undergone water damage, especially from sea water, will be very expensive. So, take special care of the camera when using it underwater.”

He shared some tips to do so: “Before using it underwater, make sure that all external covers, like the battery and USB cover, are properly closed. Although most action cameras are designed for underwater usage, we advise getting a separate waterproof case for the camera before using it in the sea or the pool.”

A few brands stand out from the rest when it comes to performance and durability. Abraham said: “GoPro is the best option - it’s the most popular brand and has a lot of accessories available, when compared to others. Insta 360 and DJI are also good.”

We've listed a handful of action cameras below that thrill-seekers on Amazon won't stop raving about. You can be all set for your next adventure as soon as tomorrow if you order with Prime.

1. Best Overall: GoPro HERO 10 Black + GoPro Shorty Mini Extension Pole Tripod

Pros

  • Stabilises shaky action footage
  • 23 megapixel camera with up to 5.3K60 video resolution
  • 19.6 megapixel frame grabs
  • Waterproof in up to 33 feet of depth
  • Includes GoPro Shorty tripod

Cons

  • Overheats fairly quickly
  • Battery lasts for anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes per charge

The latest GoPro HERO10 is ideal for adventure filmmakers, vloggers, and outdoor travel enthusiasts. This flagship action camera takes 23 megapixel (MP) photos and shoots video in up to 5.3K resolution at 60fps, along with an option for 4K, but at double the frame rate at 120fps. GoPro fans in the reviews are also hugely impressed by the new model's HyperSmooth 4.0 video stabilisation, touting it as the most noticeable upgrade from its predecessors. Besides no shaky footage, this GoPro will take the dive with you in waters up to 33 feet (10 metres) deep. For all its snappy capibilities and multiple features, from 8X Slo-Mo to Live Burst shots, the Hero10 Black does overheat quite often. Reviewers also note that filming in 5.3K drains the charge faster.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh97 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh160.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh138.92 for 12 months with select banks. 

2. Best 360 Action Camera: Insta360 One X2 360 Degree Action Camera, Black

Pros

  • 360-degree, wide-angle shots
  • Artificial intelligence-aided editing tools
  • Rear and front-facing cameras
  • Split-screen filming
  • Preview shots on the round touchscreen display

Cons

  • Not resistant to water, according to reviews
  • Shoots with 50fps or below
  • Overheats

The Insta360 One X2 resembles a mini remote controller with a digital screen. It's a pocket-sized beast that films 360-degree shots of your most daring moments through an 18MP sensor. Show the world what it feels like to skateboard, skydive or bike in stable 5.7K footage. And if you're worried about being out of the frame whilst in action, you can always tap the object of focus when editing, and the AI (artificial intelligence) will make sure you're the centre of attention. Thanks to its rear and front-facing cameras, the Insta360 One X2 also films split-screen in real-time, which works brilliantly for work conference calls as well. Despite the brand's promise of a 10-metre waterproof build, reviewers warn against even the slightest of splashes. Also, be prepared to sacrifice some video quality to the wide-angle lens.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh86 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh121.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh118.53 for 12 months with select banks. 

3. Best Underwater Camera: ​Olympus Tough TG-6 Action Camera

Pros

  • Tough gadget - waterproof, dustproof, survives falls and extreme temperatures
  • Take crisp pictures and videos underwater
  • Special modes for underwater filming
  • Easy file transfer to phone
  • Colour-corrects underwater images

Cons

  • Doesn't look as sleek as its counterparts
  • Only 12MP

The Olympus Tough TG-6 might look like your traditional digital camera, but it's extremely durable against natural elements. Built to withstand harsh weather conditions, 2.1-metre-high falls and 100 kilograms force (kgf) of pressure, this action camera shines even brighter for its underwater filming capabilities. Let it be your companion on your next snorkeling adventure or a day at the waterpark with friends. It's waterproof in up to 15 metres of depth and has five underwater modes, from wide angle to snapshot. It even corrects the red and blue tones at different depth levels underwater for the clearest video and photo results. Your Tough TG-6 shoots with a 12-megapixel camera and a 4x optical zoom lens. As for the frame rates, you can get up to 120fps in the 1080p resolution.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh149.17 for 12 months with select banks. 

4. Best for Travel Vlogging: DJI Pocket 2 3-Axis Camera

Pros

  • 64MP gimbal camera
  • 4K video resolution with 60fps
  • Camera tracks moving objects
  • 180-degree HD panoramic shots
  • Weighs 117 grams

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • Overheats

If you're staying out of the water and rough landscapes, try DJI Pocket 2 to document your travels. As a tourist on foot, you will need a filming gadget as compact as the wallet in your bag. Weighing only 117 grams, this pocket-sized digital camera is always ready for those special fleeting moments during the day or night. Pocket 2 has a whopping 64MP camera that films in 4K60fps and zooms in eight times to capture details privy to your artistic eye. To keep the camera on you, double-tap the screen and the gimbal lens will swivel to wherever you are. Happy reviewers find its gimbal movement to deliver smooth and steady footage, so tour the city carefree with Pocket 2 in your hand.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh108.25 for 12 months with select banks. 

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh74 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh105.

5. Best Budget: AKASO EK7000 4K Sports Action Camera

Pros

  • Value for money
  • Films underwater in up to 30 metres of depth
  • Includes essential accessories like wrist remote, mounting gear and a spare battery
  • 170-degree wide-angle lens
  • Export files over Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Interpolated 4K resolution
  • Only 25fps for its price point
  • No touchscreen

The AKASO EK7000 weighs only about 50 grams, which is lighter than a GoPro. It takes steady 4K ultra high-definition (UHD) videos and high-quality 12MP still images. You can prop the camera on a mount or attach it to your body and control it through a 2.4G wrist remote, allowing your hands to be free to enjoy climbing, swimming or other sports. The camera's built-in Wi-Fi helps you edit and share videos easily once you download the camera app. The waterproof camera comes with two rechargeable 1050mAh batteries, and each battery can record up to 90 minutes of action! And here's the best for last: the package includes over 10 mounting kits, along with a sturdy bicycle stand and other handy accessories, so you don't have to buy anything else once you've purchased the AKASO EK7000.

Bonus: Get 10 per cent off on your first app order when you use the code APP10 at checkout.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh29 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh41.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.