We’ve all been there: you pull off an amazing dunk, and there was no one there to see it. Ergo, it didn’t happen. Never again—action cameras have become a hot market these days, with new entries seeming to enter the fray every day. They can be mounted to help you capture adrenaline-pumping moments from your point of view, and even survive hostile environments you may experience ocean- or sky-diving. Here are five of the best action cams on the market, designed to record your memories no matter what.
For the hotshot: Contour+2
The Contour+2 camera with waterproof case shoots at a crisp 1080p, and can record film at speeds up to 120 frames per second (which makes slow-motion shots its bread and butter), all onto a 4GB onboard microSD card. It can also stream live video via a mini-HDMI port. However, the design is the real draw, with a rail-mounted design to make sure your investment stays safe, and gives you more options for where you can place it. Though the rotating lens has a 270-degree field of view, you’ll capture more than just footage with the onboard GPS, which tracks your elevation, location, speed and route—a premium feature that comes with a premium price tag ($449.99, Contour).
The Swiss army knife of cameras: Garmin VIRB Elite
It puts a 1.4-inch touch screen on your wrist (or head, or chest), with the option to add on a heart rate monitor, connect to Garmin’s Fenix smartwatch or smartphone, log your GPS coordinates and collect other statistical data via other Garmin devices. Oh, and it also records video at the same time for up to three hours. The water-resistant Garmin BIRB shoots 1080p at 30 frames per second and takes 16-megapixel photos to boot, all of which can be previewed via its LCD display. With no built-in memory, it streams directly to a companion app. Another cool feature is that it can start recording even when it’s not already on by sliding a recording button, or otherwise controlled by a remote control ($399.99, Garmin).
Top of the line from the original: GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
There’s something that can be said about the market leader, and that is there’s a good reason for it. GoPro’s latest offering, the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition, is its most sophisticated device yet, offering video up to 4K resolution (ultra high definition) at 12 frames per second. Lower resolutions such as 1080p come at 60 frames per second, 720p at 120 frames per second, or VGA at a whopping 240 frames per second, giving you the option between ultra-detailed recording or ultra-slow motion recording. Among its accessories—which include the requisite go-anwhere waterproof housing and mounts—is a remote control, capable of controlling up to 50 of these cameras at once ($399.99, GoPro).
Best slow-mos for just over a hundred bucks: Pyle HD Sports Camera
Pyle is relatively new to the action cam game, but its new entry into the market is also extremely accessible for just over a Benjamin. The mountable, 12-megapixel camera shoots fast 720p footage, but also includes a 120 frames per second mode at VGA resolutions, which is still a good enough size for YouTube. The low price tag somehow also includes built-in WiFi and a remote, an LCD touchscreen and a 4x zoom—features that some pricier models don’t even have ($153.99, Pyle Audio).
Cheap and mobile: Looxcie 3
Weighing in at an admirable 1.3 ounces—around one twentieth of a basketball— the square-shaped device is not technically a video camera. It’s a video streamer. Impressively, the recently-released device can stream 480p videos live to Facebook over WiFi, or, using a companion app, broadcast 720p videos to either your iOS or Android smartphones, where footage and still shots can be saved. If you’re dead set on keeping your memories on-board, it even supports a 64GB microSD expansion. It can be affixed to the front of a shirt or backpack for a first-person point of view that reaches 100 degrees. If you weren’t prepared for something, you can hit the InstaClip button which records the past few minutes ($99, Looxcie).