Skip to main content

Best GoPro alternatives in 2021: action cameras that might be cheaper or better!

Included in this guide:

Best GoPro alternatives: DJI Osmo Action
(Image credit: DJI)

The best GoPro alternatives challenge the notion that GoPro is the only name in action cameras. It sure does feel that way sometimes – “GoPro” has practically become a generic term, like “Hoover” before it – but the fact is that there are loads of good rivals out there, and they’re worth considering if you want an action camera (or something similar) and don’t want to pay GoPro prices.

We’ll get this out of the way though – GoPros are great. There’s a reason that our guide to the best action cameras contains several of them, just as there’s a reason why our guide to the best budget action cameras contains none of them. They are class-leading in terms of image quality, video quality, toughness and extra features like stabilisation, but it all comes at premium.

There are lots of alternatives available, depending on what you plan to do, and we’ve covered the lot in this guide. If you just want a GoPro, but cheaper, we’ve got loads of budget action cameras. If you’re looking for something with good video features and aren’t too bothered about waterproofing, then we’ve included a camcorder and a pocketable vloggers’ camera. If you’re looking for a zoom lens then we’ve also included a capable tough compact, and for those who want to take to the skies, we’ve even found room for a drone. 

So let’s get to the best GoPro alternatives!

The best GoPro alternatives

(Image credit: DJI)

The best GoPro rival, this is a highly capable and affordable action camera

Specifications
Weight: 134g
Waterproof: 11m
4K video: up to 60fps
1080: up to 240fps
720: up to 240fps
Stills resolution: 12MP
Battery life: 1-2.25hrs (est)
Reasons to buy
+Excellent value+High-quality stabilised footage+Useful front-facing screen
Reasons to avoid
-Getting old – where’s the update?!

When DJI got into action cameras, it knew it would have to pull out all the stops to compete with GoPro. It managed it with the Osmo Action, a highly capable little action camera that’s packed with features. The RockSteady stabilisation system provides super-smooth video in all sorts of situations – perfect for bike-riding, white-water rafting and whatever other adventure you fancy taking your action camera on! Images and videos look excellent, with the 4K 60p footage particularly impressing. What’s more, the handy front-facing screen is great for vlogging.

The DJI Osmo Action has only got cheaper since launch, and is definitely worth the money. The only real trouble is that it’s been out a few years and features have moved on – the DJI Osmo Action was made to compete with the GoPro Hero 7, and we’re now up to the Hero 9 with no new Osmo Action in sight. Come on, DJI – let’s see an update!

• Read more: Best action cameras

(Image credit: Akaso)

2. AKASO EK7000 Pro

The best budget GoPro alternative

Specifications
Weight: 61g
Waterproof: 40m (with case)
4K video: 25fps
1080: 60fps
720: No
Stills resolution: 16MP
Battery life: Up to 90 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Good 2-inch touchscreen+Great value for 4K
Reasons to avoid
-SD card sold separately-Struggles in low light

There are a wealth of cheap GoPro alternatives out there, but it’s best to be discerning, as not all are worth your time. The Akaso EK7000 Pro is a good camera across the board, shooting pretty impressive 4K footage and sporting a handy 2-inch touchscreen, though you can’t use the touchscreen when it’s in the waterproof case. The sensor struggles a little in low light, but otherwise does a decent job, and for a price this good it’s hard to complain. Though it doesn’t come with the required SD card, so if you don’t have one already, you’ll need to factor that into your costs.

• Read more: Best budget action cameras

(Image credit: Insta360)

A modular action camera concept that can also be a 360-degree camera

Specifications
Weight: Not specified
Waterproof: 4.87m (housings are available)
5.7K video: 30fps
4K video: 60fps (with optional module)
1080: 200fps
720: No
Stills resolution: 12MP
Battery life: Not specified
Reasons to buy
+Highly customisable+RAW shooting available+AI-powered shooting modes
Reasons to avoid
-Small screen

With GoPro dominating the mainstream of action cameras, it makes sense for rivals to innovate. The Insta360 ONE R Twin Edition is one of the more intriguing releases of recent years – it gets its name by virtue of the fact that it’s two cameras in one, sort of. It has two lens modules that can be swapped at will, one of which is a 360-degree camera, and the other is a straight 4K-shooting action mode. If you want, you can also pick up the Leica-made one-inch sensor mode, for quality to rival the Sony RX0 II! AI-powered shooting modes help pick out the interesting parts of 360-degree footage, and this gives you real flexibility out in the field.

• Read more: Best 360 cameras

(Image credit: Akaso )

Another great GoPro alternative for vlogging on a budget

Specifications
Weight: 555g
Waterproof: 1m (housings available)
4K video: 30fps
1080: 60fps
720: 120fps
Stills resolution: 20MP
Battery life: 2-3 hours (est.)
Reasons to buy
+Handy front-facing screen+Effective 6-axis stabilisation
Reasons to avoid
-Middling frame rates-Minimal waterproofing without housing

Akaso’s budget action cameras continue to impress, with the Akaso Brave 7 LE offering loads of great features for vloggers looking to keep costs down. It shoots 4K video and has a 6-axis stabilization system that’s surprisingly effective for a camera at this price. The front-facing screen makes it good for vlogging, though it really is a tiny model, and will probably take some getting used to. The waterproofing without housing is also pretty minimal, so bear that in mind before plunging it into the ocean! Overall though, the Akaso Brave 7 LE is a great budget option for vloggers who want a GoPro-lite. 

(Image credit: Sony)

5. Sony HDR-CX405

Not fussed about waterproofing? Try an affordable camcorder!

Specifications
Weight: 215g
Waterproof: No
4K video: No
1080: 50p
720: 25p
Stills resolution: 9.2MP
Battery life: 2 hours 35 min
Reasons to buy
+Impressively priced+Good stabilisation
Reasons to avoid
-No external mic port-No automatic lens cover

If you’re looking at a GoPro more as something affordable to shoot quick video on, rather than as an action camera, then a cheap camcorder might be a better choice! The Sony HDR-CX405 is a good place to start – aggressively priced to undercut other similar camcorders, it’s capable of producing good-looking 1080p footage in a lightweight, self-contained package. Easy to use and easy to take everywhere with you, the HDR-CX405 is a good, simple choice for basic video. If you want to do anything more advanced, you might start to chafe against the lack of 4K, or the lack of a port for an external mic. But in terms of basics, this will get the job done for a good price. 

• Read more: Best camcorders

(Image credit: DJI)

Powerful stabilization literally in your pocket – this is vlogger’s dream

Specifications
Weight: 117g
Waterproof: No
4K video: 60fps
2.7K: 60fps
1080: 60fps
720: No
Stills resolution: 16MP
Battery life: About two hours (est.)
Reasons to buy
+Creator Combo great for vloggers+Small size, excellent stabilisation
Reasons to avoid
-Issues in low light-No waterproofing

Another one for those who aren’t fussed about waterproofing – the DJI Pocket 2 fits a similar vloggy niche to GoPro cameras. Indeed, it can be bought as part of an excellent Creator Combo pack, including a Mini Control Stick, a case, tripod mount, wrist strap, wireless microphone, a dead-cat windshield, a wide-angle lens and a Do-It-All Handle with a mic-input jack. This, plus the class-leading stabilisation and pocketable form factor, makes the Pocket 2 one of the most potent little cameras for vloggers. It struggles a little with noise issues in low light, so that’s something to be mindful of, but otherwise it does a really impressive job in most conditions. 

(Image credit: Olympus)

The best GoPro alternative with a zoom lens, tough by name and nature

Specifications
Weight: 253g
Waterproof: 15m
4K video: 30fps
1080: 120fps
720: 240fps
Stills resolution: 12MP
Battery life: 340 shots (CIPA)
Reasons to buy
+Extremely hard-wearing+Optical zoom lens
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey for a tough compact-Bulkier than a GoPro

One of the main restrictions of GoPros is that they have a fixed wide-angle lens, so you are locked into that distinct GoPro perspective. The Olympus Tough TG-6 is a waterproof compact that is equipped with an optical zoom lens, a 25-100mm equivalent with a maximum aperture of f/2 at the wide end. It looks and handles much more like a traditional camera than anything else on this list, making it a noticeably bulkier choice than a standard GoPro. But if this doesn’t bother you, it’s an extremely tough camera that’ll stand up to some punishment and keep right on trucking.

• Read more: Best waterproof cameras

(Image credit: DJI)

Want to shake things up? Try a drone!

Specifications
Weight: 570g
Waterproof: No
4K video: 60fps
2.7K: 60fps
1080: 240fps
720: No
Stills resolution: No
Battery life: Up to 31 mins
Reasons to buy
+Excellent 4K 60fps video+Agile flight
Reasons to avoid
-Pretty pricey-Limited internal storage

If you’re interested in GoPros for the fact that they can get extreme footage, and go where other cameras can’t, then why not consider a drone! The DJI Mavic Air 2 is a class-leading drone, blending smooth flying capabilities with outstanding video capture. Its sensor is a little larger than you normally get in a drone, improving the quality and dynamic range of its footage, and the specialist modes like ActiveTrack and QuickShots basically do the work for you. You do have to get it registered before flying, but once that’s done, you’ll be capturing spectacular footage and crisp stills in no time. 

• Read more: Best drones for beginners

Also read
Best GoPro deals
30 best GoPro accessories in 2021
Best GoPro cameras in 2021: fantastic action cams you can buy right now
GoPro Hero 9 vs 10 Black
GoPro Hero 9 vs 8 Black
GoPro Hero 8 vs Max
GoPro Hero 7 vs 8
GoPro Hero 7 Black vs Silver vs White
GoPro Subscription explained
Best microSD cards 

Jon Stapley

Jon spent years at IPC Media writing features, news, reviews and other photography content for publications such as Amateur Photographer and What Digital Camera in both print and digital form. With his additional experience for outlets like Photomonitor, this makes Jon one of our go-to specialists when it comes to all aspects of photography, from cameras and action cameras to lenses and memory cards, flash diffusers and triggers, batteries and memory cards, selfie sticks and gimbals, and much more besides.  


An NCTJ-qualified journalist, he has also contributed to Shortlist, The Skinny, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, The Guardian, Trusted Reviews, CreativeBLOQ, and probably quite a few others I’ve forgotten.