Considering a new Go Pro Hero will set you back $400, then add accessories, a couple of cases, SD cards, and you’re up to $500. Then you need to want an affordable action camera instead of it, but you wonder if the cheap action cameras can take high-quality videos like GoPro and whether they are durable.
So, searched for literal hours on YouTube or Amazon trying to figure out which affordable action cam to buy and out of the frustration it took you about several days because each review of a camera, had a budget action camera with missing features and sub-par reviews.
In fact, instead of the best GoPro, there’s an abundance of quality action cameras from a host of different manufacturers, boasting a huge range of different features and specialties, and they are much cheaper than GoPro.
While your trip to Hawaii and use an action camera catching wonderful and cool moments underwater, in the rain, in the mud and you will say it was fantastic. So if you’re a new user to this world and want a cheap rugged action camera that still offers a ton of ace features, In this action camera buying guide has everything you want to find that affordable action cam for you.
What’s to Consider in the best cheap action camera?
When you’re looking for a budget action camera, there are certain details need to consider if you want to capture action properly. Video quality is the most important feature. The highest resolution currently available is 4K. To really close in on the back spray from your snowboard as you carve across the slopes, you shouldn’t be looking for an action cam that shoots any lower than 1080p/60fps.
Also need to look at whether if water and weatherproofing, because you plan to take it to the outdoors, should have a case to make them safe in torrential downpours or if you’re taking one surfing. This is important for activities like swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
In addition, the life out of the batteries is also important. Some can support up to 3 hours of juice, some models use removable batteries such that you can use one and recharge another for extended use.
The size, shape, and weight of the camera also need to be considered. If you plan to mount it on your helmet or equipment, a compact and portable motion camera is undoubtedly the best choice.
On top of that, consider if your camera can connect via Wi-Fi, so that can share the videos for your friends or family. It would be better if the camera was easy to operate, the easier it is to use the more satisfaction you will get at the end of the day.
Best action cameras under $200
GoPro Hero5 Black –$180.99
The GoPro Hero5 Black is great! the video quality is better than expected when properly configured. All specs, photo and video quality, splash and waterproof features are just some of the benefits of the Hero 5 black.
The batteries last quite a long time, depending on how you configured the camera. Time-lapse is really fun to do, photo plus video is extremely useful. I record mostly at 2.7k 4:3 and 4k, but for projects that require photo and video at the same time, 1080p is plenty good.
The accessories that came with it are extremely sturdy and definitely feel the high quality as compared to the normal third party action camera adapters you find pretty much everywhere.
But being unable to keep the camera fully waterproof while connected might be a minus, but with a little bit of ingenuity, you can get around that problem. You don’t need to do that for the most part, but you need always keep it in mind, especially with long timelapse recordings under unpredictable weather.
Something I don’t like much, probably how much the battery is drained when wirelessly connected devices are enabled, like the controller, mobile device, etc. I pretty much have to make sure that the cameras are all charged up when it’s time for recording, otherwise, I’ll be with a half-dead battery the moment I head out to shoot. Voice commands don’t always work as they should, which is why I use the remote mostly.
I do lose connectivity to the remote sometimes, depending on distance or some other factors. I press record or shutter and sometimes to my surprise, not all the cameras were working as they should. Live and Learn.
The cameras do overheat after extended video recording sessions (2.7k+). If the battery dies, DO NOT charge right away… wait until it cools down to room temperature to extend their life.
YI 4K Action Camera –$199
This camera has been a pleasant surprise. Its image quality is quite good and has some nice features like being able to choose a flat color profile and low sharpening if you would rather add that when you edit.
What surprised me was that once I updated to the latest firmware, suddenly the camera had cool new functionality. First is that it can capture RAW photos, which I prefer. I also noticed that after the update I had more frame rate options – this will shoot 24fps if you want, which I personally like.
Out of the box, mine had an early firmware and lacked some of these features, so you should update right away. It can run while charging off a USB battery pack, so your time-lapses are only limited by your memory card capacity. I love that. The app is nice. It’s easy to use and easy to update the camera. The stabilization works decent enough, but it’s important to note that it does not work while shooting 4K video. It works while shooting 2.7k and below.
It comes without mounts, so you’ll need to add what you want. The camera is not waterproof. So far I have added a silicone case and also a metal housing that adds a filter thread, so I can use a polarizer on occasion. In the future, I hope to gain more manual exposure controls so I can stack some ND filters and do some cool stuff.
Best action cameras under $100
AKASO EK7000 4K Action Camera –$59.99
The camera does what is advertised. The built-in “dive mode” filter does add some contrast to an underwater photo and IMHO, sharpens up the picture. And the battery life is pretty good too. The case and other accessories that come with it feel like good quality as well. My only concern is the battery compartment door since you have to press and bend a thinner piece of plastic to open… but I’m hopeful it will have a long life or inexpensive replacement.
So far I’ve tested it at home and hiking with dogs… though not mounted to one of the dogs’ harnesses, it made it through the torrential rain that caught us (in its case) without any issues. Last thing that I love… using it with the apps… for shooting and easy file transfer.
It with wifi, where you can access and manage your photos. But you have to turn on your phone wifi… set it wifi network to the app driver, which will turn off “internet access” in your phone….but you are now connected to the “camera network”, and gives to direct access to the camera app which includes, taking photos, basic editing and deletion and running video directly from your phone. It could be a little confusing to wifi newbies.
APEMAN Action Camera –$69.99
The APEMAN action camera takes higher-quality 20MP photos and ultra HD video with professional 4K Tech. 2.0 Inch LCD display and professional wide-angle lens provide you with much broader amazing perspective.
Equipped the improved waterproof case, can deep dive below 40 meters, ready to capture all details of your adventures. Built-in smart gyroscope for anti-shaking and image stabilization to make your video much more smooth. Ideal for water sports such as swimming, surfing, diving, etc.
Share & edit videos and images easily. Download the free app (OK Cam or FN Cam) on your smartphone or tablet to take full control of the camera in real-time. HDMI, USB and AV video output are available for connecting computers, TVs and projectors.
Dragon Touch 4K Action Camera –$54.99
I am very surprised to find this tiny camera with this good price produce very good quality photo and video. I tried the video and photo in dim light condition indoor and it turns out in decent quality and the quality is comparable with other cameras that cost 2 or 3 times more. Outdoor video and photo are even better with good lighting. The package comes with a lot of accessories that are more than I normally need but it is still nice to have more.
It also comes with two rechargeable battery that allows you to swap them when one is dying. I have not tested it underwater yet but the first impression is good so far. I will highly recommend for anyone looking for an affordable action camera.
Final Words About The Best Cheap Action Camera
In a word, we should consider many aspects when choosing cheap action cameras. The two things that mattered the most to us were satisfactory price and quality.