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If you don’t care about price, the HERO6 Black is the camera to get. It shoots 4K up to 60 frames per second and 1080p at 240 frames per second, which is ultra slow motion footage. You can slow that down 10x and still get smooth footage. Beyond that, the HERO6 features a brand new, custom processor that was built specifically for this camera. That means the onboard softer is quicker to work with, image and video colors are more accurate, and the digital stabilization is a notch above that of the HERO5 cameras.
From left to right. HERO 6, HERO 5, HERO 4 Silver
On top of that, the camera is pretty rugged and water resistant down to 10 meters without needing an external housing unit. It has one-touch recording, an LCD panel on front and back, and is compatible with the Karma Drone and Karma Grip. The HERO6 has even made strides in facial recognition and the audio is noticeably better than that of the HERO5. It’s on another level.
If you don’t want to spend up for the HERO6, the HERO5 Black is definitely the next best alternative. We originally were going to put the HERO4 Silver on the list, but in many cases, the HERO5 is around the same price as the 4, so it made sense to go with the newer camera.
In terms of features, the HERO5 shoots video up to 4K30 and 1080p120, which looks pretty good. It also features digital image stabilization and voice commands. Like, the HERO6, it’s rugged, has one-touch recording, and is compatible with most GoPro accessories and devices.
One of the best parts of the HERO5 is the price. It original retailed for $400, however, they’ve dropped the price to $300, which allows it to be affordable enough that you won’t opt for other brands. Is the HERO5 the best camera out there? No. That award definitely goes to the HERO6, but the HERO5 is the next best bet.
If your budget is $50, the DBPOWER EX5000 is the best action camera in our opinioin, at least of the cameras we’ve been able to test—there are hundreds available on Amazon and Walmart.com. It also happens to be a #1 best seller on Amazon, which is nice.
In terms of features, the EX5000 shoots 1080p30 and has basically the same design as the GoPro HERO4 cameras. It’s boxy and feels brittle, but it works well and comes with a bunch of accessories. Out of the box it is not water resistant so you will need external housing unit. It does, however, work with a number of GoPro accessories, which makes it easy to find attachments, etc.
What I don’t like about this camera is that it’s only 30 frames per second. It would be great for action shots to film at 60 fps. Also, the touchscreen is somewhat slow to react sometimes. And it would be great to get stabilization, but at $50 it’s really hard to complain at all with this camera.
No doubt about it, the VIRB 360 is the best spherical action camera on the market right now. Sure, it’s crazy expensive at ~$700 [check price on Amazon], but if you’re looking for the best, this is it. The VIRB 360 has a lens on the front and back and together they form full spherical video footage. The VIRB 360 shoots up to 5.7K and will allow you to stitch this together later in post production. It also shoots 4K and that will be stitched within the camera so it’s ready to share immediately.
One thing that separates the VIRB 360, beyond video recording, ease of use, and durability, is Hyperframe Director Mode, which I discussed in our full VIRB 360 Review. Here’s a video that also explores the topic.
What’s nice about Director Mode is that it allows you to control what your audience sees, rather than giving them the full spherical footage. Basically, it takes 360 video and brings it onto a flat plane, allowing you to direct viewers to what you want them to see within your footage. This is a game changer. There are other cameras coming out with this feature as well, but so far, Garmin is the best in the space.
If you’re looking for an action camera and you’re worried about size, the HERO5 Session is the one to get. It’s basically the HERO5 Black squeezed into a smaller frame. It really is a fantastic camera. Plus, this is the most durable, rugged GoPro camera yet. This this is a tank. Like the HERO5/6 Black, it’s also water resistant down to 10 meters without an extra housing unit.
It shoots 4K30, has digital stabilization, voice commands, and one-touch recording. It’s also super affordable around $200 [check price on Amazon]. The only downsides that we could find with the HERO5 Session are (1) audio quality isn’t up to the standards of the HERO6, (2) it doesn’t have a display for previewing media, and (3) no GPS. If these don’t mean much to you, then the HERO5 Session is a beast of a camera. You can also check out our GoPro HERO5 Session review for more details.