If you’re an adventurous soul who wants to share your excursions with others, a traditional DSLR or mirrorless camera simply isn’t going to be up to the task. What’s the point of investing in a thousand dollar camera if it’s just going to become inoperable the first time you hit a bump in the road or get splashed by a big wave? Whether you’re an extreme athlete looking for an in helmet camera, a drone pilot operating in a professional capacity, or a YouTube personality, an action camera is the best choice for your needs, and you don’t need to spend a fortune.
We’ve created a list to help you find the best action camera under 100 dollars in 2020. We’ve also put together a detailed guide to improve your shopping experience and better navigate the market.
TD;LR - Best Action Cameras Under $100:
- AKASO EK7000 4K WiFi Sports Action Camera
- YI 4K Action and Sports Camera
- DBPOWER 4K Action Camera
- AKASO Brave 4 4K 20MP WiFi Action Camera
- Campark X20 4K 20MP Action Camera
- GoPro HERO3+Black Edition 4K Adventure Camera
- APEMAN Action Camera 4K
- Dragon Touch 4K Action Camera
- Crosstour Action Camera
- EKEN H9R Action Camera 4K
1. AKASO EK7000 4K WiFi Sports Action Camera
With a $60 price tag and the ability to shoot in 4K, the Akaso EK7000 would be an incredible steal all on its own, but the fact that it comes with a full range of accessories makes it far and away one of the best budget action cameras you'll find. Most prominently is the presence of a mount that you can count on to hold your camera steady even in the wildest situations.
The DNA of the GoPro is strong in this one. It sports both a nearly identical size and a very similar design, and it's surprisingly rich with features as well. That includes still photos at a surprisingly high resolution and a waterproof housing that can withstand just about anything. It also sports a great burst mode and lapse photography as well as the ability to connect directly to a Wi-Fi network.
2. YI 4K Action and Sports Camera
The YI Sports and Action Camera straddles our designated price point of $100, but it's such a good action camera that it's worth waiting out for a sale, particularly if you're in need of a camera that supports live streaming. This camera looks good, but it's also a very sturdy model built with the needs of outdoor adventurers in mind. Not only does it offer respectable 4K performance at 30 fps, but it can deliver FHD at buttery smooth 120 fps.
And the interface here is exceptionally as well. The mobile app is intuitive and easy to navigate, but the touchscreen built in is actually bigger than that on the GoPro, and it's nice and bright too. If you want to take it off the mounting, you'll love its lightweight design. It also sports an extra wide viewing range of a full 155 degrees for capturing full panoramas.
3. DBPOWER 4K Action Camera
The DBPOWER may clock in at just $30, but its feature set is jaw droppingly rich. That requires sacrificing the frame rate of the 4K videos somewhat, but it's a versatile choice that's one of the best cameras for photographers who want the freedom to capture videos the way they want it captured. And the fact that you can take this camera underwater without the need of an additional case only builds upon its utility.
This may be a compact camera, but the traditional standards like burst and time lapse photography are built upon with rarer features like continuous lapse and looping video. And the Wi-Fi connectivity makes it easy to get your videos out to the world with little effort. The audio here is solid if not class leading, and there's also a gyroscope and motion detection for creating footage that's more reactive to your environment.
4. AKASO Brave 4 4K 20MP WiFi Action Camera
If you like what Akaso offers but you find the EK7000 isn't quite up to the standards for what you need, their Brave 4 could be the best action camera for your demands. And it notably clears up one of the biggest complaints that users have with the EK7000: the lack of anti-shake tech. The Brave 4 will continue to capture high-quality videos even when under duress, a feat accomplished through a combination of image stabilization and a built in gyroscope.
And more hands on photographers will love the fact that this action camera offers some of the best adjustable angles around. You can choose between 70, 110, 140, and 170 degree wide angle fields of view to get the perfect shot for your environment. Add in the fact that it can shoot images at a photo resolution of 20 megapixels, and you're left with one of the best action still cameras around.
5. Campark X20 4K 20MP Action Camera
Whether you're looking for cycling cameras or drone cameras, the simple fact is that you're going to need a quality mount. Fortunately, the Campark X20 comes with one packed right in. And this camera is best suited for rugged use in a number of other ways too. The anti shake capabilities allow you to get clear and clean photos and videos even in the most extreme circumstances, and the phenomenal sensor from Sony produces vibrant pictures in practically any lighting situation.
Navigating this best action camera is a breeze as well. The compatible phone app is well designed and functions as a meaningful remote, but you can also rely on the 2" touch screen of 0.96" vice screen for a more hands on experience. This action camera is fully stacked with features like time lapse photography, an underwater shooting mode, loop recording, and motion detection.
6. GoPro HERO3+Black Edition 4K Adventure Camera
If you're looking for the best action camera, there's GoPro and there's everyone else, or at least that used to be the case now. And while there are some great action cameras on the market, GoPro still sets the bar for what the best action camera should look and feel like. The GoPro Hero3+ is a bit outside our $100 budget, but it's worth waiting for if you have the patience. It includes the great connectivity features that GoPro is known for as well as the ability to shoot 4K videos at a sharp 30 fps.
And you can even do your editing right through the camera interface. Video trimming gives you functional editing capabilities, and the 170 degree wide angle view allows you to create truly cinematic experiences, especially when paired with the best selection of manual modes that the Hero3+ you'll find in an action camera.
7. APEMAN Action Camera 4K
Apeman may not be a brand that's that as well known as GoPro to the general population, but it's quickly becoming synonymous with the best action cameras for those in the loop. This represents their budget camera, and while it's not the cheapest action camera on our list, the Apeman well worth your time and money. This is easily one of the best budget action cameras available today. Not only does is shoot in 4K video, but it also offers best in class 20 megapixel photos capture.
The Apeman is also outfitted with a generous number of shooting modes. Those include situational options like diving and car modes as well as loop recording and the ability to capture time lapse photo. And the decent water resistance and electronic image stabilization allows it to go just about anywhere you'd ever need it to.
8. Dragon Touch 4K Action Camera
The Vision 3 by Dragon Touch wears its GoPro influences on its sleeves, but while imitation is the highest form of flattery, it's also arguably the best way to create a great action camera. Its maximum field of vision is a 170 wide angle, and it also comes with a 4X zoom feature so you can get up close and personal with your subjects. And the inclusion of a wrist mounted remote can actually provide you with a preferable control method to a traditional app when you're in the thick of things.
The range of features here is fully stacked. You'll find traditional shooting options like slow motion and a driving mode, but there's also a deeper well of options to draw from like image rotation and loop recording. That selection of auto and manual options are some of the best you'll find in a budget action camera.
9. Crosstour Action Camera
The Crosstour is built from the ground up with the intention of being an aquatic camera. Whether you're a surfer, diver, or nature photography, it offers a waterproof rating capable of meeting your needs and a lightweight design that makes it an optimal choice for shooting underwater videos. The lens offers a maximum wide angle of 170 degrees for truly capturing the majesty of the underwater world, and the dedicated app for remote shooting and uploading and saving videos is especially strong.
But if you're looking to get more up close and personal, the 2 inch touchscreen is fully capable of meeting your needs. The Crosstour comes with both a mount and an additional battery, but there are over a dozen other multifunctional accessories on the market you can use to fill our your kit.
10. EKEN H9R Action Camera 4K
The Eken H9R captures some of the best 4K videos in this price range, but it also packs in the full range of accessories you'll need to get up and running right out of the box. They really go above and beyond on this front, packing in 14 different accessories that include a tripod, extra battery, and action mount. And in a rare addition, live streaming to social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook are built right into the interface.
And while this is a camera that's primarily designed for shooting videos while mounted to a helmet, it works equally as well with a mount, tripod, or when handheld. That's partially facilitated by the presence of a 2 inch touchscreen. HDMI is also supported so you can edit your videos right on your HD TV screen.
Budget Action Camera Buyer’s Guide
If you’re looking for the best action camera under 100 bucks, you clearly have a ton of options to choose from, but the best action cameras under 100 can vary significantly in terms of features. Below we’ll walk you through the important specs and features you should look for and answer some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from customers shopping for the best action cameras.
Qualities to Look For in an Action Camera
Since these are the best action cameras under $100, they share a lot of the same features, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all exactly the same. Depending on how you intend to use your action camera, the best features will vary somewhat. We’ll break down some of the more important qualities you should look for in an action camera under $100.
The main purpose of an action camera is obviously to capture video, and when you’re looking for the best video capture options, there are two factors you should keep in mind.
The resolution simply tells you how many pixels are packed into the screen. 4K video is the best option you’ll find in an action camera under a hundred bucks, although even when a budget action camera markets themselves as offering 4K, they typically aren’t going to shoot that video natively. Instead, they typically use technology to upscale from 1080p. Long story short, an action camera under $100 that promises 4K videos won’t look as good as the 4K you see on your TV, but it’s still going to be significantly better than the traditional 1080p that many budget models offer, and that’s why we’ve primarily included 4K action cameras to review on our best of list.
The other factor to look for when seeking out the best action camera is the frames per second. Frames per second is just what it says. If you think of video as simply a succession of pictures strung together, fps tells you how many you get per second. 4K 30fps is the best rate you’ll find in an action camera under $100, and we recommend aiming higher if possible. Since an action camera is intended to be used in high intensity situations, stuttering video when making quick cuts is an especially valid concern.
An action camera is first and foremost designed for shooting video, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a great way of capturing stills as well. Whether you’re looking to frame the perfect shot or capture lapse photography over long periods of time, the quality of the photos resolution can be a major deciding factor when shopping for the best action camera.
As with video, resolution simply tells you how crisp and clear the final results of your photos will be. Unfortunately, a cheap action camera often manages to keep the price low by sacrificing image quality. That’s not to say that the 12mp photos that these cameras can take are bad, but you can’t expect them to keep pace with the best still cameras on the market. The larger the field of view for the camera, the more important megapixels are going to be, so if you plan on taking a lot of stills, you may want to upgrade to an action camera that shoots at 20 megapixels. That’s the best you’ll find for an action camera in this price range.
If you’re investing in an action camera, chances are that things will get bumpy out there sooner rather than later. With that in mind, you should make image stabilization one of the highest priorities for your action camera. Keep an eye out for anti shake cameras that come with internal image stabilization systems, since you can’t always count on a mount to keep things steady.
Of course, how wild you get out there is going to have a major impact on how much image stabilization you need. Consider the types of activities you’re going to be doing with your action camera and let that be a guiding factor in how much image stabilization is important to you.
While an action camera is generally designed so that you can just set it down and let it work its magic, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not making the most of the features available. Time lapse photography and burst mode shooting are two of the most popular and prevalent modes that you’ll find in an action camera. The latter takes bursts of photos in quick succession, while the former lets you stitch together images captured over a long period of time.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for features you’ll find in an action camera. Many come with robust manual modes that are designed for certain situations like car mode and diving mode. And if you want to automate things, motion detection is one of the best ways to capture the action without having to wait around and wear down the battery life of your action camera.
A big part of the fun that comes from working with an action camera is the ability to capture the full majesty of nature without a filter, and that’s why you don’t just need to look at video and picture resolution but also aim for an action camera that captures the widest angles possible. Of course, how much you need to make use of wide angles is going to depend on exactly what you’re using it for. It’s obviously going to be slightly more important for drone and nature photography than it will be for extreme sports.
The best wide angle option you’ll find for an action camera in this price range is 170 wide angle degrees. That’s the holy grail since it offers the ability to essentially capture everything in front of the camera in a single shot. But also factor in how often you’ll be using wide shots. An action camera that offers a variety of different shooting angles, like the Akaso Brave 4, provide you with the best versatility around while still giving you a 170 wide angle for capturing stunning panoramas. This is especially useful if you plan on taking your action camera off of its mount and handling it manually.
If you’re looking for the best action camera on a budget, chances are that you don’t have a lot of wiggle room in terms of pricing. That’s why you should definitely factor what accessories you’ll need into your budget. A number of action cameras come with a whole range of accessories packed in, but many come with just the camera itself. We’ll walk you through all the important accessories you need with an action camera below.
- If you’re an action athlete, a mount is going to be an absolute accessory, and if you don’t plan on mounting your action camera, you may actually be better off with a traditional camera. The prevalence of GoPro has ensured that their mount system has become pretty standardized, and most cameras use the same mount system.
- There’s nothing more frustrating than taking your action camera out into the wild only to find your battery died before you could capture that perfect shot. Many action cameras under $100 come with extra batteries right out of the box, and if they don’t, you may want to factor the purchase of addition batteries into your budget.
- Built in online connectivity is a phenomenal addition when you’re looking to share footage, but sometimes you need to store things locally. A micro SD card provides a cheap way to save footage directly to your action camera, and most action cameras under $100 come with a slot for a micro SD card built right in.
- If your camera doesn’t come with waterproof housing and you plan on getting wet, you’re going to need to make sure to factor that in to your purchasing decision. If you want to do some serious diving with your action camera, you may need to pull the trigger and invest in a casing that offers water protection at depths of 100 meters.
If you’re going out into the wild to capture footage and your camera dies before it can get the shot you need, your whole day could be wasted. Fortunately, most of these cameras offer pretty decent recording times. An hour and a half is the standard, although some only offer about an hour of recording and others offer two. The specs we listed are the tested standards for shooting at the highest resolution and frames per second. You can get more juice out of them by shooting at lower resolutions. An action camera with extra batteries packed in is a value that can’t be understated, but you can always purchase more batteries if a single battery isn’t up to the task.
While all of these cameras are built for action, that doesn’t mean that all of them are built to withstand water damage. If you’re planning on shooting footage out in the rain or venturing out into the ocean, waterproofing is an absolute necessity. That said, waterproofing is a standard in most action cameras. Just be sure to check the waterproof rating before you get your camera wet. The standard of 100 feet should be good enough if you plan on taking your camera swimming or snorkeling, but it won’t meet your needs if you want to go scuba diving.
Even if your camera isn’t waterproof, you can usually find a housing to protect it against water. Many cameras even come with their own attachable housing. Just make sure it’s fully strapped in before you go venturing into the waves.
Not every action camera comes with a touch screen, but it’s a pretty common feature even when you’re shopping for a camera under $100. If you’re planning on using the camera in handheld mode and shooting footage manually, a touch screen is an essential addition. A touchscreen lets you handle all of the shooting modes manually and see right through the screen as if it was a viewfinder. But if you’re looking to just strap your camera to your bike and let it go to work, you can do most of your shooting management through a remote control or a compatible phone app.
The simplest way to upload and share videos with friends, followers, and family is online, and most of these cameras fortunately come with built in WiFi. This lets your camera connect directly to the internet and broadcast your footage to social media platforms or the cloud. The biggest thing to look at with connectivity options is how well the app works. A good WiFi enabled app will be your means of both controlling your camera and sharing your footage, so make sure that you’re comfortable with the app before pulling the trigger on a camera. And don’t depend on WiFi as your only storage option. Be sure that you have a memory card on hand to save your videos and pictures locally.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the Best Cheap Action Camera?
It’s hard to go wrong with a GoPro. And while you may have to hunt around to find the best in class Hero3+ for under $100, we really think it’s worth the extra effort. There’s a reason why GoPro has become synonymous with action cameras after all. From built in WiFi and great image stabilization to a strong image sensor and exceptionally clean 4K video, this action camera really hits all the marks.
What is the Best Action Camera For the Money?
The DBPower is the cheapest action camera on our list, but it still packs in an amazing array of functions. The pure value you get for the price is phenomenal, and this camera should meet the needs of any budding action photographer. That makes it the clear winner for the best action camera for under 100 bucks in terms of raw value.
How Do You Use 4K Action Cameras?
One of the best things about an action camera is how easy it is to use. The process of trying to capture photos or videos is intuitive and easy to understand, and you can typically just mount it on your helmet or equipment and just hit play. If you want to shoot in manual mode or understand some of the more high end features, be sure to check the user manual for your specific action camera.
Which GoPro is the Best?
The diverse range of features and high-quality build of the GoPro Hero7 Black makes it the clear winner for the best GoPro action camera, but it’s also significantly more expensive than the limitations of our lists accommodate. If you want a GoPro under $100, your only real option is the Hero3+, but it still packs in some of the best functions you’ll find in an action camera at any price point.
This guide is proof that the GoPro isn’t the only action camera in town, and you don’t need to spend a few hundred bucks to get a model that shoots in 4K video. Check out each review carefully, and be sure to browse our guide so you can improve your shopping experience.If you liked our article on action cameras under $100, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.