Wearable action cams and head-mounted cameras are big business, and with 4K video, underwater recording and some of the best frame-rates on the market, you can see why.
Whether you're snowboarding down Mount Fuji, swimming with
dolphins in the Caribbean or just spending quality time with the kids on your holiday in the Med, the first person videos
created by wearable cameras capture the most natural memories when they matter
Their diminutive proportions, robust design, simple mechanics, ultra-wide fields of view and ability to be worn on the body and used from almost any vantage point help give video footage and stills a real sense of drama.
Here's our pick of the top wearable action cameras on the market...
Nikon KeyMission 360
Just released at CES 2016 and destined to land in March, Nikon is one of the few camera giants to try its hand at action cameras. The reason we've chosen to highlight the Nikon here, before its release, is that the KeyMission is capable of 360 degree video capture, which means it has one (fish)eye on the upcoming VR revolution.
It boasts 4K resolution even during 360 capture, is waterproof to 30m and will withstand drops of up to 2m. If the idea of playing back your adventures on a Google Cardboard or Oculus Rift appeals, it could be worth waiting for the Nikon.
$TBC, nikon.com | March 2016
GoPro Hero4 Black
GoPro is still the manufacturer to beat in the action camera market, and its Hero4 Black is the most advanced model yet: a maximum resolution of 4K at a rate of 30fps is the headline feature, but you get all of the GoPro build quality and a wide range of accessories to pick from as usual.
Read this: GoPro Hero4 Black review
The Hero4 Silver is worth a look as well — it doesn't offer quite the same level of video quality (1080p at 60fps is as good as it gets), but it is the first GoPro to offer an integrated LCD screen, and it's $100 cheaper as well. Whatever model you pick, you won't be disappointed.
Garmin VIRB XE
Garmin took the covers off of two new action cameras in April. The Garmin VIRB X and VIRB XE both feature full HD recording, slow-mo modes and built in sensors, which add extra data from your extreme sports to the footage. The duo work with Garmin wearables – such as the Garmin Fenix 3 – to pick up data such as changes in altitude or speed from Garmin's Vector data.
First look: Garmin VIRB XE review
The VIRB XE is designed for professionals, and provides a small boost in quality with 1440p recording at 30fps and Full HD 1080p at 60fps.
The Bandit's 16MP sensor shoots 4K videos as well as 1080p footage at up to 60fps and 720p at up to 120fps. It rocks slow mo (1080p/720p), timelapse (4K/1080p) and burst modes, as well as Bluetooth Smart and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Essential reading: TomTom Bandit review
What sets it apart is a built-in media server, processing and auto-editing on the camera itself. That means the footage stays on the camera and you can review your mini movie on a smartphone companion app before shaking it to get an edited highlights reel.
The HX-A1 weighs just 45g, coming in a tiny cylindrical form factor to maximise shooting situations. It's a rugged little machine, too - waterproof to 1.5m without the need for extra housing, shockproof, dustproof and even freezeproof down to 10 degrees below.
It captures footage up to Full HD and has a slo-mo mode that shoots 60fps at 720p or 120fps at 480p. It also has a Lux Night Mode and includes an IR filter, which can be used with an infrared light source.
A GoPro on a budget, these scaled back action camera doesn't offer quite the same power as its big brother but can be yours at a bargain basement price. You still get full 1080p video at 30fps and 720p at 60fps, and all the same timelapse and burst modes, plus it's waterproof to 40m.
Drift Stealth 2
The latest model from British outfit Drift has a lot to recommend it and offers a less expensive alternative to the GoPro range. The design is solid and rugged, so it should survive all of the weather conditions you can throw at it, and the simple integrated display lets you know what mode you're in.
Check out: Our full Drift Stealth review
High-definition video, photos, time lapses — the Stealth 2 can handle it all. There's even a dedicated car dashcam mode that you can make use of, where new footage is recorded over old as you motor down the road. There's an app for controlling the camera via your smartphone as well. The price has recently been slashed too.
Sony's line of action cameras have slowly but surely been growing in quality, and the X1000VR is its best effort yet. It can cope with 4K video recording at 30 frames-per-second, comes in a compact bullet-shaped case, and offers extras such as GPS, NFC and Wi-Fi (for remote control).
The camera includes shot-steadying technology for your video and wind reduction for your audio, and Sony is a company that knows its camera optics. As with its rivals, there's a free mobile app available, and GoPro executives will be looking over their shoulders with concern.
4GEE Action Cam
The UK's biggest mobile network is taking a slightly different tactic to TomTom, Panasonic and Garmin by making its 4GEE Action Cam cellular connected and, if you pay monthly, seriously affordable.
It shoots 1080p (30fps)/720p (30/60fps) footage and 13MP stills, and is connected to the internet via 4G from EE. That means you can livestream footage straight from the camera without the need for a smartphone. Livestreaming is limited to 720p video at 30fps.
From £9.99 with contract, shop.ee.co.uk