One time, toughened action cameras ready for whatever the outdoors or active bodies could throw at them came at a premium cost, despite otherwise modest specifications and feature sets. Nowadays, with the market fairly saturated, a bit of shopping around and research will unearth models that can take the heat… without causing a meltdown of either the camera or your wallet in the process.
OK, so there will be a degree of compromise and level-headedness involved in the purchase decision: you’ll be going for the less publicly recognized or acclaimed brands – as you won’t be bagging the latest and best GoPro camera for under £100.
However, considering you may well be strapping the camera to a surfboard, a bike, or even your dog’s collar, then there will be extra peace of mind to be had from the fact that it hasn’t cost you a fortune in the first place.
However, you’ll naturally still want to make sure any action camera’s specification is sufficient to do what you want it to do. While cheap may be enticing, you don’t want to be actively throwing money away on an action camera that doesn't come up to scratch.
Consider therefore whether features 4K, Wi-Fi connectivity, and/or a back screen via which you can compose and review shots and get instant feedback would be an advantage – or if you’re happy doing without such cost-adding features.
So without further ado let’s cast our eye over seven of the best budget action camera options that won’t break the bank…
This upgrade of the 2016 EX7000 model sticks a ‘Pro’ suffix on the name and shoehorns in 4K shooting. In fact, we appear to get a decent return for our cash as this model also features 16MP photos and a two-inch touch screen.
There’s anti-shake too, albeit of the electronic variety, while waterproof housing enables it to withstand depths of 40 meters/ 131ft and a selectable diving mode allows users to compensate for a lack of red light for underwater scenes. Images are saved to an optional microSD card, which is obviously an extra cost.
Included in the box are a remote controller that can be strapped to your wrist, plus various mounts and tethering cables and the two lithium polymer batteries it requires. As the above suggests, Wi-Fi is included here, as is the ability to achieve time-lapse special effects, so in all this is an option worth further investigation.
Read our full AKASO EK7000 Pro review for more details
Wolfang makes a range of budget action cameras, and this one is in the middle of that range, coming in just under our $100 price mark. It impresses on paper with its wide range of resolutions and frame rates, allowing you to shoot 4K at either 60fps or the standard 30fps; and for slo-mo fans, the option of a 240 frame-per-second option at 720p is highly desirable. The camera is supplied with a whole box of mounts and accessories - with the 40m underwater housing being a particularly useful freebie.
See our full Wolfang GA300 full review for more details
The GA100 is a tempting package with an excellent app, but this is not an impressive camera. With so many mounts, clips, and accessories in the box, it will persuade many into investing, but the results it gets are very basic.
Its 4K 30fps video is too juddery to be unwatchable, which means having to rely on its drop-down resolutions for its higher frame rates and basic image stabilization. With lackluster stills photos too we advise you to stay away from the GA100 if you need 4K and invest in something at least double the price if you want to capture outdoor adventures in anything approaching archive quality.
However, if you’re after an action camera for vlogging and simple pieces to camera – or you like the idea of an action camera that doubles as a dashcam – then the GA100 may do what you need.
Read our full Wolfang GA100 review for more details
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This is another model that gives the advantage of a twin-screen setup to aid composition whether you are in front or behind the camera. You get 4K shooting too from the 20 megapixel sensor. The action camera is supplied with its own underwater housing, which means it can be taken down to depths of 40m - which puts ahead of many of its rivals.
In our review, we noted that although the Akaso Brave 4 Pro is not perfect, it offers an impressive level of flexibility and customizability for an action camera at this price. It’s really impressive how many different features and options have been packed in here, and with subsequent Brave cameras having come out since, the street price of the Brave 4 Pro has come down and made it even more of a bargain.
See our full Akaso Brave 4 Pro review
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.
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 an investment in a microSD card so that you have plenty of room for clips.
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