Best Budget Action Cameras 2020 : Buying Guide & Reviews

If you’ve found yourself asking, “which is the best cheap action camera?” then you’re in the right place. In this piece we’ll provide you with a detailed buying guide to help you work out what it is that you’ll want to look for in a good cheap action camera, then we’ll list 10 of our favorite products with descriptions and a list of pros and cons for each model, followed by answers to the most frequently asked questions by those seeking a cheap yet high-quality action camera.

The top cheap action cameras we’ll walk you through today are as follows:

  1. GoPro HERO7 Silver
  2. GoPro HERO7 Black
  3. AKASO V50 Elite
  4. AKASO V50X Native
  5. YI 4K
  6. VanTop Moment 6S 4K
  7. APEMAN A80
  8. APEMAN A77
  9. Veho Muvi KX-1
  10. Xiaomi Mi 4K

Considerations Choosing a Good Action Camera

There are a number of key considerations to bear in mind when choosing the best cheap action camera for you. The best place to start is to work out exactly what kinds of activities and sports you intend on using it during. This will determine whether you need a waterproof model capable of full submersion, or one built to survive extreme temperatures, or a camera that will record crisp, high definition videos ready for uploading online.

Video Quality

One of the most important factors to take into consideration when choosing the best affordable action camera is the resolution. Most action cams in 2020 have the ability to shoot HD and 4K videos.

If you’re a beginner, a low cost action camera with a slightly lower image quality may be better suited to you as it will allow you to learn how to use the product before you upgrade to a top budget action camera. Although the highest resolution available today is 4K, you can still find a fairly inexpensive action camera which can shoot HD video footage. Ultimately, it depends upon the activities you plan on using your model for, your confidence in shooting videos, and the budget you have allocated towards purchasing your action camera.

The frame rate is also important in determining the quality of your videos; as a general rule, you’ll want the camera to shoot at a minimum of 24 frames per second (fps) so that it can capture fast-paced activity.

Field of View  

Even a budget action cam should feature a wide-angle field of view (FoV). Take a moment to consider the kinds of activities and sports you will be using your cheap action camera to capture as this is important in determining the specifications you want it to have. We would recommend choosing a camera that allows the user to select between a narrow, medium, and wide FoV. Using an action camera requires learning through experience; you’ll discover the best field of view angle by taking your camera out with you.

Waterproof

The majority of the best sports cameras are, obviously, built to go outdoors and to survive outdoors. A best action camera should have a waterproof housing or case so that it can be used in both water and challenging wet weather conditions. If you intend on submerging you camera under water, ensure that you match the waterproof rating of the model to the activities you plan on using it for.

Bluetooth and Wi Fi Connectivity

Having an action cam that has Bluetooth and Wi Fi connectivity is a useful feature to look out for. If you’re able to connect to Wi Fi then you’ll be able to transfer your files from the internal SD card with ease. You’ll also be able to use Bluetooth or Wi Fi connectivity for remote control so that you’re not having to physically touch the camera while it’s in use. On a less functional note, sharing your videos in real time to your social media is only going to be possible if your camera is able to connect to Wi Fi too.

Durability

As with any piece of outdoor equipment, durability is critical. Even a cheap action camera should be built for use in extreme sports so ensure that the model you’re considering purchasing has a durable body that can withstand being dropped, experiencing extreme temperatures, and full submersion in water.

Ease of Operation

No matter what your experience level is, when it comes to operating an action camera you’re going to want one that’s easy to use even when you’re performing death-defying stunts. Some cameras will have buttons to navigate its menu and settings, others will have the additional option to connect to apps that make it easier for the user when the camera is mounted and less accessible.

Mounting

The type of mount your camera attaches to is another feature that will be dependent upon its intended use. Are you looking for a cheap sports camera that is compatible with a helmet, your handlebars, a drone, or even a surfboard? A number of our recommendations below include accessories that come with your purchase, allowing for flexibility over where you can mount your cam.

Battery Life

The battery life of an action camera is an important specification to keep an eye out for. Make sure to pick a cheap action camera which possesses a battery life that will best suit your needs. Generally, most models offer up to three hours of continuous filming before it needs recharging, especially if it’s a 1080p action camera. However, if you’re wishing to shoot full HD, high-resolution videos then it’s worth noting that this will drain your battery fairly quickly and so you’re going to want a camera with an extended battery life.

10 Best Budget action cameras

Choosing the best value action camera will heavily depend upon what you intend on using it for. Familiarize yourself with our top 10 action cameras below and work out what it is that you want from your camera; do you want a waterproof model, one that can record slow motion footage, a cheap action camera with image stabilization, or perhaps one that can be mounted on any piece of equipment?

If you’re looking for different types of cameras and you’re still not sure where to start, you could also have a look at our best budget 360 cameras.

Below, we have hand-picked 10 different cameras to help you find the right camera for you. Each listing has a description of the product and a list of pros and cons so that you make an informed decision before you buy. However, if your in a hurry to know our Top 3 picks here they are;

CHEAPEST PICK: APEMAN A77

BUDGET: VanTop Moment 6S 4K

PREMIUM PICK: GoPro HERO7 Black

 

1. GoPro HERO 7 Silver

Waterproof Digital Action Camera

The HERO 7 Silver from GoPro is a high quality 4K action camera capable of capturing clear full HD video quality. Created as a more advanced and more technical alternative to the HERO 7 White, and a cheaper alternative to the HERO 7 Black, this model has a 2-inch touchscreen as well as voice control so that the user can control the majority of its functions without having to use buttons.

Ideal for those who enjoy extreme outdoor sports, this model was designed to be durable and it’s waterproof for a depth of up to 33 ft. With the assistance of GoPro’s wide dynamic range technology, a 10MP sensor captures images in any lighting and can take bursts of images at up to 14 frames per second.

This camera is capable of recording slow motion footage and reviews note that this action camera is able to maintain a good level of stability while you’re on the move. An all-round great model, particularly if you’re looking to upgrade from the HERO 7 White, this action cam is packed with top quality features while being both reliable and durable.

Pros
  • 4K video quality.
  • Built to be both durable and waterproof straight out of the box.
Cons
  • Recording in 4K for extended periods of time will rapidly drain the battery life.
  • Limited image capture control.

2. GoPro HERO 7 Black

4K Ultra HD Video - 12MP Photos

After recommending the GoPro HERO 7 Silver, we felt it was only fair to mention the GoPro HERO 7 Black. Perhaps the best model in GoPro’s range in terms of value for money, the HERO 7 Black has a 12MP sensor, a wide-angle lens, and shoots 4K video.

One of the most impressive features that this model boasts is HyperSmooth, GoPro’s answer to video stabilization; even when capturing 60fps footage at full resolution, HyperSmooth can be employed for steady image control. Even without using a tripod, this camera can capture time lapse footage.

Another functional aspect of this model is its voice control; the HERO 7 Black recognizes 12 different commands to cover all the main requests you’d otherwise have to enter manually on another action camera.

As with all of GoPro’s cameras, the HERO 7 Black is built to withstand strenuous activity; this camera can travel up to 33ft underwater and can be mounted onto practically any stand. The average rating of 4.3 stars from almost 2000 Amazon users is a testament to the quality of this impressive action camera.

Pros
  • Effective HyperSmooth image stabilization function.
  • Impressive 4K video quality.
Cons
  • On the higher end of the price range for budget cameras.
  • A small number of Amazon users wrote that the voice command feature can falter.

3. AKASO V50 Elite

Adjustable View Angle - 8X Zoom

Next on our list of recommendations is the AKASO V50 Elite. A brilliant action camera under $200, the V50 Elite features 4K at 60fps and voice control, making it a competitor for some of the more expensive action cameras on the market at the moment.

The number of technical features this model comes with considering its low cost is pretty impressive; even in low light conditions, the image quality for both stills and recording is excellent. On top of this, the V50 Elite’s electronic image stabilization means that no matter how rough the terrain, the camera will capture a clear image.

Often praised for its ability to be mounted practically anywhere, this action camera is certainly up there as one of the better GoPro alternatives, just with a far more affordable price tag.

Pros
  • Flexible in where it can be mounted.
  • Can withstand up to 131ft underwater thanks to its waterproof casing.
Cons
  • Has a smaller touchscreen than comparable models, being only 4:3.
  • A small number of Amazon users criticize the AKASO mobile companion app interface for being slow.

4. AKASO V50X Native

Action Camera with EIS Touch Screen

Another great model from AKASO is the V50X Native. Cheaper than the previously mentioned V50, the V50X can record in 4K at 30fps and the image stabilization feature works with all resolutions by predicting your every movement and correcting any shaking.

The camera comes fitted into a waterproof case which can go up to 131ft underwater so you’ll be able to take it snorkeling if that’s your sport of choice! As with the V50 Elite, this model is flexible in terms of where it can be mounted as it comes with a range of mounts suited to surfaces from helmets to handlebars.

This model has a 2-inch touchscreen which users report is responsive and very easy to use. The V50X camera comes with an adjustable wide angled lens which has a 170 degree field of view. As with the V50 Elite, this cheap action camera comes with a companion smartphone app so that you can remotely operate the camera and share your content online. Although this model is a little heavier than the V50 Elite, it’s still considerably lighter than GoPro’s most lightweight models.

Pros
  • Great for recording videos at night.
  • Solid build which ensures durability.
Cons
  • Has a limited battery life of 60 minutes.
  • A small number of reviews note that the microphone audio quality is fairly quiet.

5. YI 4K Action and Sports Camera

4K/30fps Video - 12MP Raw Image with EIS

Next up we have the YI 4K Action and Sports Camera. This cheap action camera has the features of a top priced model; the combination of a large 2.19″ user interface, one-button control, WiFi connectivity to YI’s mobile app, and, importantly, the ability to shoot 4K at 30fps is nothing short of impressive.

This model proves that even on a budget, the cheapest 4k action camera isn’t going to leave you without the quality or capabilities of high-end go cameras. The battery life of this camera is enviable; when recording 1080p video at 30fps it can last well over 2 hours and even 4k video recording can continue for up to 1 hour 30 minutes. Overall, this is a well-built camera which performs well, especially when taking its price point into consideration.

Pros
  • Good battery life.
  • Connects with YI’s companion mobile app via WiFi.
Cons
  • This camera isn’t waterproof but has the option of an add-on waterproof case.
  • Does not feature the ability to respond to voice commands.

6. VanTop Moment 6S 4K

 VanTop Moment 6S 4K/60FPS Action Camera with EIS

The VanTop Moment 6S 4K boasts many of the features you would expect to see among high-end go cams, just without the high-end price tag. Functions including time lapse, burst photo, slow motion, and Wi Fi compatibility make this one of the best cheap action cameras.

Unlike many of the action cameras on the market, you won’t have to purchase additional accessories as VanTop include a whole range of extras: a waterproof case with a spare replacement panel, a helmet mount, a bike mount, adapters, two batteries, a microphone, and a wrist remote control which enables the user to control the camera.

This model can go up to 100ft underwater when inside its waterproof case and comes with Moment’s SmoothFlow stabilization feature to prevent shaky footage. Overall, this cheap action camera offers the user a premium experience for an affordable price.

Pros
  • Comes with a range of accessories upon purchase.
  • Impressive price to value ratio.
Cons
  • Doesn’t have a night vision function.
  • Non-adjustable FoV.

7. APEMAN A80

Wi-Fi Sports Cam 4X Zoom

Our next product recommendation is the APEMAN A80. Built using durable, shockproof plastics surrounded by waterproof housing, this camera can withstand up to 131ft underwater, making it ideal for those who enjoy water sports such as diving and surfing. The A80 has a 2″ LCD screen, providing the user with full control over the camera settings.

Coming with 2 batteries, the A80 can record up to 2 hours of 1080p video and 1 hour in 4K. Wi Fi enabled, you’ll be able to share videos and pictures on social media. As with the VanTop Moment 6S, the A80 comes with a range of accessories; a number of different mounts, the waterproof casing, and a rigid carry case. Another contender for the best cheap action camera, the APEMAN A80 is affordable yet provides the user with high quality features.

Pros
  • Comes with a number of different accessories.
  • For such a cheap price point, the A80 has a great battery life.
Cons
  • Not as well-equipped to handle low light in comparison to other models.
  • Must have its waterproof case on to go underwater.

8. APEMAN A77

Sports Cam 30M Waterproof Underwater

Another from APEMAN’s range, the APEMAN A77 is a cheap HD action camera coming in at under $50. If you’re looking for a more simplistic, straightforward action cam then the A77 is ideal. This compact product is able to shoot 4K at 25fps and 1080p at 60fps. User reviews often praise the easy-to-use interface of this sports action camera; the clear 2-inch LCD screen is intuitive to use and the front has a large button which allows the user to move between shooting modes and to power on or off.

The waterproof casing protects the A77 for up to 98ft, a depth which is especially impressive considering the low cost. The A77 is well-suited to beginners seeking the best cheap action camera while on a budget; this is a great introduction into the world of action cams.

Pros
  • Affordable without compromising on performance.
  • Designed to be easy to use.
Cons
  • A few reviews describe the materials used as feeling cheap.
  • Objects at a distance won’t appear as clearly on images and recordings.

9. Veho Muvi KX-1

Handsfree Camcorder

The Veho Muvi KX-1 is a straightforward to use model which records 4K ultra HD video. With a waterproof outer casing, this action cam is ideal for fans of water sports and diving as it can withstand depths of 131ft. Videos and photos can be streamed directly to your smartphone through the Muvi app and the built-in 1.8-inch LCD touch screen allows the user to play footage back and edit settings.

The lightweight and compact yet rugged design makes the Muvi KX-1 easy to transport no matter what extreme sports activities you’re participating in. This product also comes with a solid case, a waterproof case, curved and flat mounts, USB cables, and anti-fog inserts. Overall, this is a best cheap action camera suitable for all levels of experience.

Pros
  • Suitable for water sports thanks to its waterproof case.
  • Great value for money.
Cons
  • Has only received a very limited number of reviews on Amazon.
  • A very small number of users report that the Muvi app can sometimes have technical issues.

10. Xiaomi Mi 4K

2.4” Touchscreen WiFi Sports Camera

Our final product recommendation is the Xiaomi Mi 4K. Offering 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 100fps, this is a high performance option for a surprisingly cheap price. Coming with a Sony sensor, the videos and photographs captured are high quality, even in low light.

Supporting both Bluetooth and Wi Fi, the user can connect to the wireless remote control and also share content online with ease. With a 2.4-inch responsive and scratch-resistant gorilla glass LCD touchscreen, setting, previewing, and shooting content is intuitively done. A fairly underappreciated brand among American audiences, Xiaomi have created a superior product for an impressively low price point.

Pros
  • High performance touchscreen.
  • Features a reliable sensor from Sony.
Cons
  • Users will be required to purchase a waterproof case if they need one.
  • A few reviews note that there is minimal customer support from Xiaomi for those living in the USA.

Action Cameras FAQs

Are cheap action cameras any good?

The simple answer to this question is yes. It’s easy to find yourself a really good quality cheap action camera, complete with many of the best features you would expect to see from a model with a high price tag. The best place to start is to consider what you want to use your action cam for, from there you can begin prioritizing the features you need. Our two recommendations from APEMAN, the A80 and the A77, demonstrate that even a cheap action camera performs well.

What is the best action cam for under $100?

Out of the 10 best cheap options we have selected, the APEMAN A80 is the best under $100. Costing less than $100 this is one of the cheaper ones the market and is up there as one of the most impressive, budget-friendly GoPro alternatives. The range of accessories the A80 comes with, paired with technical features such as the 4K video quality, long-lasting battery life, and screen, means that even though this model is set at a lower price point, you won’t be sacrificing any high-end features.

What is a cheaper alternative to a GoPro?

There are plenty of cheap action cameras on the market which double up as excellent GoPro alternatives, however our most highly rated is the VanTop Moment 6S 4K. Numerous Amazon users have written that this model does practically everything they would want from a GoPro, just at a fraction of the price. A number of the reviewers explain that they even replaced their previous GoPro models with the VanTop Moment 6S and found it just as good in terms of performance and quality; it’s waterproof, has excellent video capture technologies, and an impressive electronic image resolution.