The best budget action cameras are a fantastic way to get a GoPro-like experience without paying a hefty price. Action cameras are getting more popular than ever among vloggers and adventurers, and plenty of manufacturers have rushed to come out with inexpensive models to tempt those with smaller budgets. If that's you, then read on, as we've picked out the best ones here.
Going in, it's important to temper your expectations and remember that there will be compromise involved with budget action cameras. You're not going to get the latest and best GoPro camera (opens in new tab) for $100 or less; you just need to make sure you get something with decent stills and video resolution. From there, it's just a matter of figuring out which features are important to you – do you want dual screens for vlogging? Or Wi-Fi for connection to smartphone? Or slow-motion video? Different budget cameras will generally offer some of these, but not all, so it's worth considering your options.
Having a budget action camera can offer peace of mind when you're out on your wild adventures, affixing it to the top of a bike helmet or taking it into the depths of the ocean. After all, it's a bit less stressful if you break a $100 camera than a $500 camera!
The cameras we've included in this list all come in at around $100 – some a bit more, some a bit less. While they have different strengths and weaknesses, one thing they have in common is that they are all worth their price tag, and offer a compelling alternative to a more expensive action camera.
So, without further ado, let’s cast our eye over the best budget action camera options that won’t break the bank…
The best budget action cameras you can buy right now(opens in new tab)
The Akaso Brave 4 Pro may not be the most recent Akaso Brave camera, but it's still widely available, and the release of subsequent models means the price has come down. This is why it gets our pick for the best budget action camera you can buy right now – for a street price around the $100 mark, you get 4K 30p video, decent stabilisation, an extra front-facing screen for vlogging, and a whole lot more.
In our full review of the Brave 4 Pro, we appreciated how feature-packed the camera is. With improved stabilisation compared to cheaper Akaso cameras, you've got a solid platform for run-and-gun vlogging, and the footage looks good across the resolution spectrum. It's also handy to have a selection of stills features, including burst modes and shake reduction. The controls can be oblique sometimes, and there's a lot of menu-hunting, but this is somewhat part and parcel for cameras of this type.
Like most Akaso cameras, the Brave 4 Pro comes with a raft of accessories and mounts in the box, including an underwater housing, as well as helmet mounts, handlebar mounts, a remote control and more.
Read more: Akaso Brave 4 Pro review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
This upgrade of the 2016 EK7000 model sticks a ‘Pro’ suffix on the name and shoehorns in 4K shooting. Still deliriously cheap, possibly one of the cheapest action cameras out there, it's a camera you could be forgiven for approaching with trepidation. Is it possible for a camera to be any good at this price point?
We investigated further in our full review, and the answer is: yes... just about. The Akaso EK7000 is a somewhat compromised experience; the app didn't work for us, and the stabilisation caused some severe noise problems with the footage. However, in terms of the fundamentals, capturing still images and video, it does what you need it to. You have 20MP of stills resolution to work with, and video-wide, the Full HD at 60p probably looks the best, and is more than good enough for social media sharing.
As long as you manage your expectations and are realistic about what you're going to get out of a $70 action camera, the Akaso EK7000 Pro is a credible budget option.
Read more: Akaso EK7000 Pro review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Pitched as a ‘sports’ camera offering 160° shooting, with a claimed unit weight of a mere 80g, this compact device features a 2.33-inch touch screen and a 14MP Panasonic made sensor, along with Wi-Fi and Ultra HD video clips of 1296P at 30fps.The connectivity option is useful, as there is also a downloadable SJCAM app that allows photos and video to be edited on via smartphone and immediately shared via social media. As with others of its ilk, the device boasts waterproofing to depths of 100 feet (30 metres) if using the supplied housing. Power comes courtesy of a 1000 mAh battery, claimed to offer an improved performance over previous models.
You might think that 4K 30p video and good stabilisation is a lot to ask for in a sub-$100 action camera, but Akaso has pulled it off! This is a slick little action camera, with an intuitive UI, and useful slow-motion video options at lower resolution settings. The image stabilisation is buttery-smooth, out-performing other cameras at this price point – okay it's not going to trouble the likes of GoPro's premium cameras, but it does a good job! The built-in mic is a little disappointing – though the option to attach an external mic does help – and the 4K video can be a little soft, but this is still a really solid buy for anyone looking for a dependable little action camera for a budget price.
An Apeman at a cost far, far less than a ‘monkey’, this is a step up from the A79 model in boasting 20 megapixel stills, 4K video and Wi-Fi connectivity, thereby matching the best of what’s on offer here for sub £100/ $100. Given the budget price, it’s incredible that the unit comes with 24 accessories including waterproof case allowing operation down to depths of 130 feet (40m), as well as HDMI output and the choice of four viewing angles: 170°, 140°, 110° and 70°. Factor in motion detection and built-in anti shake, and if you’re on a strict budget, you might well find yourself swinging for this smooth operating simian.
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Available in various body colors, this more conventional looking action camera from Vivitar ticks most of the boxes despite offering a fairly pedestrian level of specification that includes 5.1 megapixel images, video recording at a high definition 720P, plus waterproofing to a so-so depth of 10ft or three metres.
Keeping things simple, this unit comes with a lithium ion battery and charger, as well as a helmet and bike mount for capturing footage while on the move. While this camera may be fairly basic, it does manage to squeeze in a 1.8-inch LCD screen, while, like most in its class, images are written to microSD card.(opens in new tab)
Get the kids into moviemaking young with this fun action cam that is designed for use by kids as young as five years old. The basic camera specification is not much to write home about - shooting 720p video which just about qualifies as HD. And stills are a disappointing one megapixel. But this camera is all about the fun... and it makes getting action footage easy by being supplied with a waterproof housing, a floating handle and a clamp to attach the camera to a bike. The camera has a 128MB internal memory - but benefits from a investment in a microSD card so that you have plenty of room for clips.
How we test cameras
We test cameras in real-world shooting scenarios. We look at photo and video quality, and test out the features listed on the back of the box to get an idea of whether a camera is everything a manufacturer says it is. We look at the accessories bundled with a camera, as well as its additional features like app connectivity. We use our findings to inform our comments in reviews and buying guides.
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