The best action cameras in 2021

What's the best action camera for motorcyclists? MCN answers the question.

The best action cameras in 2021

by Curtis Moldrich |

Action cameras are one of the most powerful gadgets available to bikers. Small, powerful and easily attached to a helmet or handlebars, they’re able to capture crisp footage of your best riding routes – or record your journeys for insurance purposes.

Go back five or six years, and GoPro would be your only real option – but now there are hundreds of action cameras on the market, from brands such as Osmo and Insta360 – and many of them make great companions for those on two wheels. So, which action cameras are best for bikers in 2021? Here’s our list of the best on the market.

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The new Hero 9 is the brand’s latest flagship, and as you’d expect, it’s the most sophisticated thing we’ve seen from GoPro. The upgrades over the previous Hero 8 are slight but they add up; the 9 is bursting with features, including punchy-looking 5K and the latest generation of its class-leading HyperSmooth 3.0 tech. The new stabilization software will even keep the horizon level, and that really changes how your footage looks – particularly if you get your knee down.

Because it’s a GoPro, the Hero 9 is compatible with most mounts out there, from helmet and torso mounts to those that sit on your handlebars. There’s a range of third-party equipment on offer too. Battery life is good, the app is intuitive and there's optional cloud storage.

Best action cameras for motorcyclists

Insta360

Insta360’s modular system is a perfect fit for those on two-wheels. Instead of being just one action camera, Insta360’s part-based system offers a range of options depending on the bits you get.

We tested a Leica-branded 5K lens with a 1-inch sensor as well as a 360-degree attachment that’ll add a new dimension to your recordings. Consisting of two fisheye lenses seamlessly stitched together, it’s possible to mount them on handlebars, to the top of your helmet, or the tail of your bike. After that, you can look around during footage, track objects within it (using the app) and then export all the video for some seriously dynamic content. Simply put, it provides MotoGP-style camera angles for amateurs.

The price of the Insta360 varies depending on the combination of kits you get, but it can be cheaper than a Hero 9.

DJI Osmo Action

Cheap and with an impressive feature set for the price – the Osmo Action is one of the best action cameras to be released in the last two years. The DJI boasts impressive specs, and it’ll work with your gear, as it’s compatible with most GoPro mounts.

The Osmo Action can produce crisp footage, and a front-facing screen means you can frame rear-facing footage. DJI has also developed RockSteady, a stabilisation tech even more powerful than GoPro’s, but it does crop a fair amount – not ideal for capturing the scenery.

DJI’s app isn’t the best, but it’s easy to overlook – especially when you consider the price; at £300-ish when bundled loads of accessories, it’s one of the best value cameras you can get.

GoPro Hero 8

The GoPro Hero 8 still represents a good value buy if you’re happy to forgo some features. The front-facing screen and rear touchscreen are smaller than the 9, but neither of those really matter when you’re on the bike. Battery life is a little worse, too. Although the Hero 8’s resolution is just 20.2MP compared to the 9’s 23.6MP, it still delivers impressive footage. There’s no 5K here either, but it’s not drastically different from the 4K offered by this camera.

The Hero 8’s stabilisation tech isn’t as good as the newer GoPro’s; you lose horizon-locking and the buttery HyperSmooth 3.0, but it’s still better than having nothing at all.

The real drawback? The GoPro Hero 8 doesn’t have a replaceable lens cover: rather than the 9’s removable unit that can be replaced easily, the Hero 8 uses a lens built into the body which means costly repairs if you drop it.

Still, if all the negatives above don’t sound too bad, you can pick up a GoPro Hero 8 for around £320, which is a very competitive price.

Sony RX0 Mark II

We can’t yet vouch for the robustness of the RX0 Mark II, but its heavy-duty casing has all the right specs on paper. It’s waterproof to 33 feet, drop proof to 6.5 and Sony reckons it’s crush-proof - and thus relatively crash-proof, too.

Inside, there’s a 1-inch sensor and 24mm Zeiss lens for super detailed shots, and although Sony can only manage 30fps at 4k (most other cameras on this list double that) it does so at an advanced bit-rate, giving extra detail.

We get the feeling the RX0 II is designed for the more professional user; Sony’s app can handle up to ten of the cameras at once, something we’ve not seen from any other device. If you’re serious about getting riding footage, it’s an advantage, but it’s more than most of us need.

Then there’s the price; the RX0 II hovers around £700, making it the priciest single camera on this list. The Mark I isn’t much cheaper; it goes for £600 at the time of writing.

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