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Not too long ago, GoPros stormed the market with something we never knew we needed. But oh, how we need this awesome piece of tech gear. An action camera that can be strapped, attached, or hooked onto pretty much whatever, and can travel with us anywhere we go. A new way to view snowboarding, skydiving, snorkeling, sailing… whatever our imaginations can come up with. GoPros are compact, rugged, versatile, and armed with an arsenal of optional accessories. Oh, and they don’t come cheap. Luckily, nowadays there are some really great GoPro alternatives out there, many of which come with included accessories and gear for an all-in-one package that can rival the best.
What should you look for in a GoPro alternative? First, an action cam should have wi-fi connectivity, so it can be controlled through a smart phone or tablet. All of the cameras on our list include this necessary feature. We also looked at the quality of video and audio recording, whether external mics are supported, ruggedness and durability, waterproofing, recording speed, still shot megapixels, and—of course—price. Here are nine of our top picks.
There’s so much to love about the SooCoo C30 action camera. An Amazon #1 Best Seller, the C30 shoots in 4k at 24fps and offers exceptional vibration reduction and stabilization. For an action camera (especially in this price range), we’re really impressed by the smoothness and quality of the picture. Speaking of pictures, still photos come in at 20 megapixels. And with such amazing image quality, it’s also rugged as hell-o. Waterproof up to 98 feet and with built-in wireless connection, it can go literally anywhere with you. Document your extreme adventures in stunning 170° wide-angle 4k. The package comes with everything you need to connect, protect, and set up your next high-adventure documentary. Be aware, some reviewers have complained that the picture quality isn’t as good as advertised—but SooCoo recommends using a Class 10 microSD card to get the best picture, and that seems to solve any quality issues.
This is not a drill, Kodak is back. They’re bigger and better than ever before with the PixPro SP1 Action Cam. And they mean action—this baby is waterproof, freeze-proof, dust-proof, and shock-proof. We like that this camera shoots in 10080p HD quality and boasts great speeds. Burst shooting speed is 10fps, but High Speed Movie mode clocks in at an amazing 120fps. Think of the slow-mos! We also dig the long battery life and high durability (though we could do without that nostalgic Kodak yellow….). But here’s something we do love—dual cameras make for stereo sound recording, and the audio quality is pretty impressive. This camera also connects wirelessly and shoots still images of up to 14MP. Automatic image stabilization keeps those shots nice and crisp. So if you’re looking for high quality and durability, along with awesome audio—and you can stomach the yellow—the Kodak PixPro SP1 is a stellar choice.
Made by Spy Tec, this is a secret agent cam if we’ve ever seen one. It supports external mics and comes with a high quality onboard microphone as well—perfect for catching those hushed convos in dark alleys. Image stabilization works really well (especially given the price range), which we find especially handy for strapping this little guy to a drone and grabbing footage of that drug heist, all with a silky-smooth image. Built-in Wi-Fi makes for ultimate surreptitiousness. And time lapse recording mode is great for those all-night stakeouts. Oh, but we’re not done! The pro edition includes all the accessories you need for versatile applications (including a waterproof case), and it’s compatible with GoPro accessories too. This GoPro alternative shoots 2160P HD videos. Still photos are shot at an impressive 16MP, and it weighs in at a measly 2 ounces. And it even comes in red!
Ability to shoot in stunning 4k resolution is only the beginning of what we love about this action camera. Shots are captured at 30 frames per second (60mbps), and the wide-angle lens spans 155° and features 7 layers of glass and a large 2.8 aperture, making it perform much better than other action cams in lower light settings. Picture quality is pretty unreal, with vivid colors and smooth stabilization, and still frames can be shot at 12MP. The LCD touchscreen features scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, and the camera body is tough and durable. We’re also loving the built-in Bluetooth and wireless connectivity. The sound quality isn’t the best we’ve seen, but the Yi 4K does feature dual mics for stereo audio recording, and the sound is still serviceable as long as you aren’t going for a professional level. Let’s be honest, though—GoPro alternatives are sought after for the action, not the sound. And for action, this is the best high-res camera at an incredibly budget-friendly price.
Run, Forrest, Run! Just imagine the time lapses if you strapped this baby to your head during the Paris Marathon. But don’t worry, this GoPro alternative is not just for runners. Adventurers of different strokes will love the wide dynamic range with excellent image detail and clarity. This 1080p action camera shoots at a whopping 60 frames per second with 155°, six-layer glass lens. And we are loving the built-in dual microphones. We don’t usually see GoPro alternatives with independent audio chips and such highly sensitive microphones. The RunCam 3 is the one to beat for audio quality at a price point of under $100! The camera comes with wireless connectivity and a convenient app, and it’s super portable at only 2.3 ounces. Video is amazing on this little beauty, but it’s worth mentioning that stills are only shot at 2MP. Fair warning: the RunCam does NOT include all the usual accessories we see with GoPro alternatives, but of course it’s compatible with them and they can be purchased on the side. In fact, we kind of like that the price is lower and you only have to buy the accessories that you’ll actually use.
Remember that little camera logo that Instagram used to use with the rainbow on the side? Here it is. In the flesh. And we think it’s SO. CUTE. Er, very manly, too. Okay but let’s get down to brass tacks. This is the social media camera of the century. It streams live in 124° wide-angle 1440p HD; it includes a free app for viewing, printing, sharing, etc.; and it’s a freaking one-inch cube. Polaroid hit it out of the park here. It’s also splashproof, shockproof, weatherproof, and has a nifty built-in magnet on the bottom surface. So, if you’re not in the mood for all the straps and accessories, you can just plop it onto any metal surface and it’ll stick like glue. And even though the thing is absolutely tiny, it accepts microSD cards as large as 128GB and shoots up to 110 minutes of video on a single charge. Unsurprisingly, Polaroid wasn’t able to pack a super impressive microphone into such a tiny package, but the onboard mic works fine for most needs.
We’re not surprised that the AKASO EK7000 4K action camera ranks as the Amazon #1 Best Seller among underwater cameras. That’s because the incredibly wallet-friendly price point gets you a camera that is not only waterproof up to 100 feet, but that also comes with a wide variety of accessories and ultra HD resolution, 12MP still shots, and 30fps camera speed. Built to exactly match the size of the GoPro, this camera works with any of the GoPro accessories as well. While the actual resolution doesn’t quite reach the advertised 4K, this GoPro alternative still records excellent, vibrant images. We like that it includes two rechargeable batteries, each with a 90-minute recording time, as well as a wireless remote and built-in Wi-Fi. And while the sound quality isn’t going to win any awards, the built-in mic still records good audio. It’s durable, it’s cheap, and you can take it anywhere. Like, seriously, anywhere.
About the cheapest GoPro alternative out there, the Lightdow LD4000 features a six-piece, 170° wide-angle lens, 1080p HD resolution, and anti-shock construction. It only records in common form—no time-laps or slow-motion—but it does come with a large variety of accessories and mounts for any kind of adventuring your creative mind can come up with! For a camera on the cheap, it takes awesome photos and videos, catching all kinds of details, shadows, and contrasts. We highly recommend this camera for anyone interested in entering the world of action cams. While it’s not professional quality, it’s an excellent intro to GoPro alternatives that can suit even the smallest budget.
The RunCam 2 combines awesome hi-res recording with speeds of up to 120 frames per second and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. The durable construction makes it a perfect camera for high adventurers, and the HD video really does live up to the advertised resolution of 1920 x 1440. We like the removable lens hood for extra protection and beautiful picture quality, as well as the color options of either silver or orange. For how great the picture quality and price are, we can live with the less-than-stellar microphone. Attach it to a drone and enjoy incredible views, vivid detail, and rich colors.