If your hobbies include surfing, swimming, hiking, or dropping into half-pipes, an action camera is the best way to show your friends and the world all your adventures. For most people, the GoPro Hero9 Black is the best choice. It has excellent video quality, an integrated mount, ridiculously effective image stabilization, and more. Its overall performance is among the best in its class, and it’s very easy to use. While the newer Hero10 Black has even higher frame rates, most people won’t need them—that makes the less-expensive Hero9 a better value.
GoPro Hero9 Black
Offering impressive stabilization paired with vibrant, detailed 5.3K resolution video, the Hero9 delivers the best balance between cost and capability.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $360.
The GoPro Hero9 Black comes from a long line of excellent action cameras—and after 30 hours of initial testing, plus daily use on a 10-week, 10,000-mile road trip, we can confirm it’s the best choice for most people. The 5.3K video (nearly 80% more pixels than the 4K found in most action cameras) is razor-sharp, the 240 frames-per-second slow motion is ultrasmooth, and, most impressive, the stabilization is so effective at removing bounces and shakes that it’s like you’ve got the camera on a gimbal. It’s also easy to make fast-motion time lapses, take high-resolution photos, and edit it all in GoPro’s app for quick posting to social media. The Hero9 Black’s big battery allows for roughly 30% more recording time than you’d get from the older Hero8 Black, which means fewer midday battery swaps, too. Just note that if you have an iPhone older than an XS or an Android older than a Pixel 4, you likely won’t be able to edit 5.3K or 4K video on your phone.
GoPro Hero8 Black
The Hero8 captures video that’s a bit less stabilized than the Hero9 Black, offers less versatile hyperlapses, and lacks a front-facing selfie-screen, but is otherwise the same while costing 30% less.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $325.
If you’re not prepared to spend more than $400 on an action camera, the GoPro Hero8 Black offers much of the Hero9’s performance for less money. It does pretty much everything the Hero9 does, just not quite as well. To most eyes, and when viewed on most devices, the video you get from the Hero8 Black will look just as sharp and colorful as footage from the Hero9 Black. However, technically it isn’t as sharp, and its stabilization isn’t as good, so the video of your ski run will appear a bit bouncier. (That said, it’s still better than what you’d get with most other action cameras.) There’s no front-facing video screen to help you line up selfie shots, which is an extremely handy feature found on both the Hero9 and Hero10. Instead, the Hero8’s monochrome front screen just shows recording times, battery life, and other data. This camera’s battery is also smaller, lasting roughly 70% as long as our top pick’s.
GoPro Hero10 Black
The Hero10 offers even higher frame rates, better stabilization, and a smoother interface than the Hero9, but costs a lot more money.
If you simply want the latest and greatest in action cameras, the GoPro Hero10 Black is the camera to get. But while the GoPro Hero9 was a big leap over the Hero8, the new GoPro Hero10 is more of an incremental improvement. Thanks to a new processor, it can record higher frame rates, like 5.3K 60 Hz instead of the Hero9’s 5.3K 30 Hz, and 4K 120 Hz instead of 4K 60 Hz, and has slightly better stabilization. The new processor also makes the touchscreen interface smoother and easier to use. But the two cameras are otherwise very, very similar, and the Hero10 adds $100 on top of the Hero9’s already premium price. For most people—especially those who routinely post their content to social media—the added frame rates likely aren’t too important, and the Hero9 is a better value. But if you know you’re going to need high-resolution slow-mo footage that requires something like 5.3K 60 Hz or 4K 120 Hz, or you just want the best action camera you can get and don’t mind paying for it, the Hero10 is an excellent choice.
Insta360 One R
With a modular design that allows for different lenses and sensors, including a 360-degree spherical video option, the One R offers more creative choices than our picks from GoPro.
The Insta360 One R has a unique modular design that lets you swap in different lenses and sensors, completely transforming how you use the camera and what footage you can get. The most interesting modules (which you won’t find on a standard action camera) are a 1-inch sensor for impressive low-light performance and a 360-degree lens module that records everything in a sphere around the camera so that you never miss a thing. Insta360’s excellent app lets you edit all this footage in far more ways than GoPro’s, allowing you to create compelling videos that are unlike what you can get with other action cams. Overall, it’s not quite as easy to use as our top pick, and with all the bells and whistles it’s more expensive, but for those in search of something different for their social media content, this is the best option.