Why would anyone be looking for the best action camera under $100? Well I never really saw the need for action cameras, I didn’t know why regular people would need a GoPro to stick on their head but since getting into drone racing and motorcycle riding I see the value of action cameras. With improvements in camera technology (thanks to smartphones) I wanted to find out how good a budget action camera can be so I have decided to spend some money and review a range of budget action cameras.
It’s easy to find action cameras like the GoPro HERO8 BLACK which is capable of recording for TV and film, but you’re going to be paying out serious amounts of money for this. If you’re an occasional user or your action camera will be in situations where it may get damaged or lost (like kayak fishing) it may be wise to look at something more affordable. While GoPro did make action cameras more popular and mainstream they are not the only options and many manufacturers (particularly from Asia) are producing some excellent alternatives.
Best Action Camera Under $100
- UPGRADE SERIES OF AKASO V50: Featuring 4K/30fps, 2.7K 30fps and 2K 60fps video resolution, AKASO V50X action camera enables you to take incredible ultra HD videos, clearly recording the beauty and wonders in life.
- INTUITIVE TOUCH SCREEN: With a touch screen and simple, streamlined capture modes, it's easy to jump right in and get great shots. Just swipe and tap.
- ELECTRONIC IMAGE STABILIZATION: AKASO V50X action camera records smooth, steady video whether you’re skiing, snorkeling or chasing your dog around the yard.
- LONG BATTERY LIFE: AKASO V50X action camera comes with 2 rechargeable 1350mAh batteries which support video recording up to 180 minutes. And 17 accessories kit fits most action cameras even Gopro.
- ADJUSTABLE VIEW ANGLE: You can set the view angle of this action camera according to your needs between 170°, 140°, 110° and 70°. Turn on Distortion Calibration, it can correct the image distortion.
- UPGRADE SERIES OF AKASO EK7000: AKASO EK7000 Pro action camera delivers 4K/25fps, 2.7K/30fps, 1080P/60fps videos and 16 MP photos that capture every moment in crisp detail and unparalleled clarity.
- INTUITIVE UI DESIGN: Ultra 2 inch IPS touch screen shows everything crystal clearly and brightly, easy to change settings, switch shooting modes, preview and playback footage.
- ELECTRONIC IMAGE STABILIZATION: Built-in Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) delivers steady and smooth videos. AKASO EK7000 Pro sports camera ensures excellent experience in shooting fast-moving objects.
- WATERPROOF CAMERA UP TO 131FT: Equipped with the upgraded waterproof case, this underwater camera can deep dive up to 131 feet, ready to capture all details of your adventures. Ideal for water sports such as swimming, surfing, diving, snorkeling, etc.
- ADJUSTABLE VIEW ANGLE: You can set the view angle of this action camera depending on your needs between super wide, wide, medium and narrow. It's easier to hit someone with low angle. With high angle you can see more.
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- Upgrade Series of Campark ACT74: This ACT74-Upgrade action camera records video in 4K/30fps and takes photo at 20MP, capture and share your world in a fantastic resolution.
- EIS Anti-shaking Function: Equipped with built-in Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) , this sports camera delivers stable and clear video even in fast speed movements.
- Remote Control and WIFI: This action cam comes with a wireless 2.4G remote, making it easy to start/stop recording while doing sports. The Wifi and APP connection help download and share your videos or photos on social media instantly.
- External Microphone: This upgrade helmet camera supports external microphone (included), which can capture sound from all directions, giving you excellent sound experience. (The external mic and waterproof case can't be used together, because the case is totally sealed.)
- Waterproof Camera with Accessories Kits: With the improved waterproof case, this underwater camera can dive below 40 meters (131ft). It also comes with 2 batteries, remote control, external microphone and other multifunctional accessories (most are compatible with gopro cameras).
- UPGRADE SERIES OF AKASO EK7000: Featuring 4K/24fps, 2K/30fps and 1080P/60FPS video resolution and 20MP photos, AKASO Brave 4 action camera enables you to take incredible photos and ultra HD videos, clearly recording the beauty and wonders in life!
- OPTIONAL VIEW ANGLE AND ANTI-SHAKING: Adjust the view angle of this action camera according to your needs between 170°, 140°, 110°, and 70°. Built in smart gyroscope for anti-shaking and image stabilization to make your video much more smooth.
- SPORTS CAMERA WITH WIFI AND HDMI: Sharing & editing videos from an action camera is easier with the free app. Just download the App on your phone or tablet and connect with this action camera. Wi-Fi signal ranges up to 10 meters. With HDMI Port allows you to connect it with television.
- 100FT WATERPROOF CAMERA AND 2'' IPS SCREEN: Place your action camera into the waterproof case and securely fasten it, then you can dive below 30 meters. This underwater camera is ideal for water sports such as swimming, surfing, diving, etc. 2'' IPS screen allows you to preview the video in action camera.
- FREE VALUABLE ACCESSORIES: This underwater camera comes with 2 rechargeable 1050mAh batteries, remote control wristband and 19 accessories kit, the kits are available for most kinds of camera even Gopro. Each battery can record up to 90 minutes. The remote wristband is not waterproof.
- 4K waterproof camera with 4x zoom: professional 4K/30Fps, 2.7K/30Fps, 1080P/60Fps video and 16MP photo resolution enables you to capture exciting moment for you. This Action camera also features zoom range from 1.0x to 4.0x.
- Built-in Wi-Fi & HDMI output underwater camera: CamKing is downloadable in app Store, with which you can transfer your work to mobile in minutes, and share your wonderful moments instantly. With HDMI port allows you to connect it with television.
- 100ft waterproof camera and 2'' Ips screen: place your camera into the waterproof case and securely fasten it, you can dive below 30 meters. This underwater camera is ideal for water sports such as swimming, surfing, diving, etc.
- Multi-function: this Action camera features multiple functions including video, photo, motion detection, Car mode, video lapse, slow motion, burst mode, etc.
- Free valuable accessories: This underwater camera comes with 2 rechargeable batteries and 19 accessories kit, The kits are available for most kinds of camera even GoPro.
- 【Native 4K Ultra HD Recording】 Campark X25 action cam records incredible HD video at professional 4K(3840x2160)/30fps, 2.7K/30fps, 1080P/120fps and 720P/240fps, presenting you a crystal clear video of your wonderful life and adventures.
- 【Waterproof Camera up to 30M】With the included waterproof case, this underwater camera allows you to dive up to 30M (100ft) in depth, displaying an amazing underwater world. Ideal for outdoor water sports like swimming, diving, surfing etc.
- 【Built-in WiFi】Connect this sports camera to your smartphone or tablet through APP "DV King 4K" (compatible with iOS and Android System), share pictures and videos on social media in real time.
- 【170° Wide Angle & Distortion Correction】Featuring 170° wide angle and distortion correction, the Campark camera delivers you normal pictures just as a digital camera does, but with a wider perspective.
- 【Various Modes to Meet your needs】Awesome modes like video recording, slow motion, loop recording, time lapse, photo mode, burst photo, together with 2 rechargeable 1050mAh batteries and many valuable accessories will meet all your needs for outdoor shootings. Most of accessories are compatible with gopro.
- 【Ultra HD 4K / 60FPS & 8×Zoom Lens】 APEMAN A87 Action Cam had been updated into 4K/ 60FPS, with this faster frame, offer your motion appear less blurred, while at the same time giving more options for slow motion editing. With 8×Zoom Len, which can freely bring you more closer to capture the item you like, allowing greater creativity.
- 【Touch Screen and Preset Scenes】 APEMAN A87 action camera integrates two modes: automatic and professional.For example, record in Continuous Loop, Slow Motion, Time Lapse, etc. 6 professional modes to adapt to different environmental conditions. The excellent sensitivity of the 2-inch touch display allows you to scroll much more easily between the various modes and is perfect for quickly shooting, previewing, and playing footage.
- 【Gyro Stabilization and Distortion Correction】 APEMAN A87 features both electronic stabilization and gyro stabilization which allows for extremely stable shooting. In fact, the two technologies allow to detect and neutralize involuntary movements. In addition, Lens Distortion Correction (LDC) allows you to automatically correct the fisheye effect, keeping your recordings more faithful to reality.
- 【Integrated Wifi and HDMI Output】 By installing the "Apeman" application on your smartphone or tablet, you can have full control of the camera in real time. The integrated Wifi allows you to easily download and share videos or photos on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. Also available are HDMI, USB and AV video outputs for connection to computers, TVs and projectors.
- 【40m Waterproof and Accessory Bag】 APEMAN A87 comes with an improved set of accessories and the waterproof case protects the camera, in water, up to 40 meters deep. The remote control makes it more convenient to use during outdoor activities, such as motorcycling. The uniquely designed carrying bag keep all the accessories, like two 1050mAh batteries and bike and helmet mounting kits, lightweight and portable for any outdoor sport.
- 【High Resolution 4K 20MP Action Camera】4K 20mp Ultra HD digital camera with high resolution, offers professional 4K/30fps and1080P/60fps recording and 20MP photos, allowing you to get excellent videos and clear pictures.
- 【Anti-Shake & 98ft Waterproof Camera】This smart action camera has a new function electronic image stabilizer(EIS), can stabilize the picture when your hand is slightly shake, help you to take more fluent videos. Upgrade waterproof function, with upgraded waterproof case the camera can work deep into water 30m/98ft. Suitable for diving and all kinds of sports on/under water.
- 【Sport Camera with Built-in Wi-Fi & HDMI Output】This underwater camera do have built-in Wi-Fi function, allows you to share and edit the photos/videos directly on the free app (Live DV). Easy to charge with USB. HDMI port helps to connect with a TV, projector, computer etc. Convenient for viewing and sharing photos.
- 【Dual-Microphone & Wide View Angle & Remote Control】The Action Camera with an external microphone, increase sensitivity and the collection of sound information, make your photograph more professional. 2” LCD screen with 170° wide view angle allows you to grasp more than your expectation. Come with a remote controller which works fluently within 50 ft.
- 【Multiple Modes and Valuable Accessories】(1) Snow Mode: Reduce the exposure caused by snow to the picture. (2) Night Mode: Provide more light at night. (3) Diving Mode: Make the shooting environment more suitable for underwater environment. (4) Car Mode: Automatic recording after power-on, easy to record your trip. With 2 rechargeable batteries and a lot of portable accessories kit to meet your different needs. The kits are available for most kinds of camera even Gopro.No Micro SD card included.
Should I just buy a GoPro?
GoPro are the go to brand and it’s understandable why… They are widely available and very good choices. They are excellent quality and I can’t really fault them, I use a GoPro HERO3 on my motorcycle most weekends and it’s never let me down but as this camera got older and I wanted to replace it with something capable of 4K recording and some extra features I realised the premium they are asking in comparison with other action cameras.
You’re not just buying a good quality camera when you get a GoPro, you’re buying into an entire ecosystem that uses their design for accessories and mounting options. They have set the standard and others are copying them, they are the iPhone of cameras. If you want a camera that is excellent and you can go to any electrical store and pick up extras like spare batteries or mounting options then hell yeah, go GoPro. If you’re going to be a long term and frequent user (or professional) then GoPro are a great choice for this alone.
However, if you’re a regular person who may only use their camera at the weekend or wants something they are not scared of throwing around then I would encourage you to look at other options. If the thought of your battery dying doesn’t fill you with horror or the idea that you may have to order your helmet mount from Amazon instead of walking to the store isn’t all that bad then there is no need to go with a GoPro.
We are going to be looking at the best action camera under $100, this is about half the cost of the cheapest GoPro. Our cameras are going to be good quality (many are 4K native), have a range of accessories and have all the features you need.
Native 4K versus Non-native 4K
We are a couple of years into 4K Ultra HD being available through TV’s, streaming services, phones and now cameras. This is still relatively new technology but 4K resolution is starting to trickle down into budget cameras like the ones we will be reviewing today. However we need to be aware that not all 4K is created equal.
There are two types of 4K cameras, some are “true” 4K we call 4K Native and some simply use a standard HD sensor and increase the size of the image to 4K, this is non-native 4K or upscaled 4K. If 4K is something you want so that you can make 4K videos for YouTube or you have a 4K TV where you will be viewing your videos then try and look for Native 4K.
While Native 4K is better, keep in mind that unless you have a 4K monitor or TV to play these videos on it will not make a difference to you. Most content available through TV and streaming services is standard HD too, your non-native 4K camera will still produce excellent image quality at a standard you’re already used to. I would even suggest going with a non-native 4K camera and just recording in standard 1080p 60fps (standard HD) if your budget is limited, the camera will have a better sensor than a budget 4K native camera and you won’t need as many memory cards as the file sizes will be 4x smaller.
That being said, the differences between all three modes is fairly limited and modern televisions and monitors can handle them all relatively well. Most 4K native action cameras will cost a bit more than $100 so think about if you really need it as at this price point most 4k cameras will be up-scaling footage to 4k with interpolation.
Final Buying Advice
Most action cameras will include:
- Your camera
- Battery (maybe a spare)
- USB cable
- Waterproof case
- Basic mounting hardware
To get going you’re going to also need to buy a SD card to save video files too, make sure you buy one if you don’t already have one.
To get started this will be enough for most people but there are also other accessories that may change the way you use your camera. Head and chest mounting straps are very common for mountain biking and surfing, you may also want a powerbank to charge your batteries while camping, a tripod (mini or large) may be ideal for what you want to record or even a grip gimbal for those who will be using the camera by hand instead of mounting it to something.
There is a world of goodies out there and the vast majority of cameras copy the GoPro mounting system in their design making all of these products compatible with each other!
All cameras on review today use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
With normal recording you can get between 60-150 minutes of use but some modes like 4K or slow motion will reduce this. You can buy spare batteries on Amazon and many of the batteries are the same as those that GoPro use that you can buy (for more money) at general electronic stores that sell the GoPro product range.
Some cameras will let you charge and record at the same time, with some setups you could run a battery bank in your bag and connect a USB cable to your camera from the bag.
All of the cameras on review have the abilities to take photographs and record video. However other recording modes like slow motion and time lapse are also commonly available at this prize point.
Before your purchase make sure your camera has any specific modes that you’re interested in such as:
- Night mode (see more tips below)
- Burst photography
- Codec and file type options
- Electronic stabilisation
- White balance
- Portrait and landscape options
Also remember that many options you may want can be completed with video editing software such as Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro.
WiFi Is Really Useful
A lot of these cameras don’t have screens for you to see and even when in their cases and mounted into position you would not see if they were on, recording or pointed at the right direction…
WiFi is an almost must have feature in my opinion, this gives users the ability to begin recording, see the image being recorded, change settings and turn the camera on and off from your phone. It makes life so much easier.
Shooting Video in Low Light
Due to the physical size of most action cameras their small apertures do not college much light, as a result they are really kind of poor in the dark.
There are some good tips you can use though, try and adjust the ISO of your camera to be higher. This will help in low light and make footage much brighter. Turning off features like image stabilisation is also a good thing to do in low light (but you will get shaky footage if your mount has movement).
You can also adjust brightness and exposure with editing software after you have recorded your video footage.
This wraps up our reviews of the best action cameras under $100!
2020 will be a big year for action cameras, with features like native 4K filtering down to budget cameras. If you’re budget lets you, go and spend it on a 4K action camera as it will be far more future proof and allow you to make better videos for modern TV’s and computer screens.
But if you’re budget is less, that’s fine too. $50 will get you a very good action camera that will have everything it needs to record that ski trip or mountain bike trail. These are perfectly acceptable cameras with nice clear images and good accessories.
Whatever you go with think about what you will be doing with the camera, how much time you will spend using it and what features you need. Pick a camera that works for you and fits your plans.
Thanks for reading this review and I would love to hear your thoughts below in the comments, I will be happy to answer any questions!