Just a few years ago, the concept of an action camera for mainstream use was completely unheard of. With the introduction of the original GoPro action camera, having one has become a necessity. This goes double for adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts. The original action camera made it very popular to have one during travels, adventures and sporting events. Quite a number of companies have taken advantage of this trend and have released their own versions.
The increased competition has resulted in a drastic drop in price for some of the more unknown products. Although, these products aren’t necessarily inferior when it comes to their capabilities. Similar to Apple, GoPro has stuck to their premium prices and are continually offering high-end and good quality products. However, the $400 price tag for their more desirable models may be a hurdle for some. This is especially true for those who are just getting into action photography and videography.
Having a reliable action camera is the best way to capture those once in a lifetime moments. These types of cameras are relatively easy to set up, with little to further input needed during recording. This ensures that users get the most out of their activities without having to worry about the camera itself. Adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts with deep pockets will likely want to get the best product available. However, those who don’t want to jump right into buying a high-end device such as the GoPro Hero 7 may want to look at cheaper alternatives.
The biggest factors to consider before purchasing an action camera will be its price, features, accessories, and design. In the past, sub-$100 action cameras were merely nothing more than glorified webcams. However, things have drastically changed over the past few years. This is partly thanks to the improvements in camera technology and the miniaturization of components. Some cameras price way below the cheapest GoPro even now offer 4K resolution video recording. There are currently a lot of products under $100 that offer quite a lot in terms of features and value. In this article, we look at some of the best action cameras you can buy that are under $100 in 2018.
Here is a quick look at the best 4K-resolution action cameras we are reviewing:
Akaso EK7000 4K Action Camera
- 4K UHD Video Recording at 25fps
- 12-megapixel Photos at 30fps
- Wrist-mounted Remote Control
- 2x 1050mAh Batteries
- 4G Wi-Fi Connectivity and HDMI Port
- Waterproof up to 30M (100ft)
- 170-degree Wide Angle Lens
Why We Like It:Priced at just $59.99, the Akaso EK7000 4K is a great beater cam that you can take on any excursion. The camera’s video and photo output are actually quite impressive for a cheap action cam.
Users who are looking for a budget-friendly action camera that just simply works may want to take a look at the AKASO EK7000. This particular product is perfect for those who just occasionally go out for outdoor activities. Investing in a unit that costs hundreds of dollars may not be practical as the device may end up in storage for the better part of the year. At an unbelievable price of below $100, the EK7000 definitely delivers.
In terms of its design, the EK7000 sports the typical rectangular design that popularized by GoPro. The unit doesn’t sport any expensive materials, but it’s still built quite well. The plain plastic is rigid and the textured sides help improve grip. There are a lens and a power button up front and a 2-inch LCD screen at the back. The screen itself is quite large and definitely larger than other products in its price range.
The AKASO EK7000 features a microSD, a MiniUSB and a Micro HMDI port at the sides. This allows users easy access to their photos and videos through different inputs. The bottom part houses the unit’s battery and there is, unfortunately, no threaded tripod hole.
When it comes to accessories, AKASO has provided quite a lot of options when it comes to mounting the unit itself. There are adapters included for all types of mounting situations. The unit even includes a wrist-mounted remote control, which can perform various actions at a touch of a button.
The AKASO E7000 also offers quite a lot for its price in terms of its hardware. The unit is capable of recording full UHD 4K videos at a maximum of 25fps. There is, however, some processing involved in producing 4K resolution video. The camera uses an interpolation technique, which uses video recording at 2.7K. The lower resolution video is then processed and then sprinkled with fake pixels to produce a 4K resolution output. While it isn’t really “true” 4K, the output is still quite impressive given the unit’s price. Those who don’t really care about recording 4K video will definitely love the camera’s ability to record true Full HD 1080p footage. The unit is able to record at Full HD at a smooth 60fps. 720p video is also available up to 120fps.
The AKASO EK7000 is a great little beater camera for taking outdoor and underwater photos and videos. It’s low price and recording capabilities are definitely its best selling points. Those who are looking for a cheap action cam that they won’t mind losing or destroying may want to check this one out.
Yi Lite Action Camera
- 4K UHD Video at 20fps, 1080p at 60fps
- Sony IMX206 Image Sensor
- 2-inch LCD Touchscreen
- 130-minute Battery Life
- Best in Class 2.4G/5G Wi-Fi Connectivity
- Bluetooth 4.1 Connectivity
- 150-degree Wide Angle Lens
Most of the hype in the action camera market is currently focused on increased resolutions. 4K has recently become the buzzword in this particular space. The Yi Lite action camera is aiming to compete in this market. Its success hasn’t been because of its 4K capabilities, but actually due to its overall functionalities that covers all of the basics.
The Yi Lite is by no means a replacement for its more expensive counterparts. Instead, this particular product aims to be the go-to base model for occasional adventurers. It is also suitable for those who are looking for a product that can do all of the basics and then some. The unit itself doesn’t have GPS or voice control, but what it lacks in added features it makes up for with its superb recording functions. At a price of just below $100, the Yi Lite offers quite a lot when it comes to its recording capabilities.
Firstly, it can record at 4K resolutions, but only at 20fps. This is mainly only good for getting 16-megapixel still images. The camera’s basic image stabilization system also doesn’t work at this resolution. Where the camera excels is with its 1080p Full HD and 720p video recording capabilities. At these resolutions, users can take advantage of the unit’s image stabilization system and its creative features. Users can choose between different shooting modes. This includes loop records, slow-motion, time-lapse, and photo-in-video. To achieve all of this, the Yi Lite utilizes a Sony Exmor R IMX206 Sensor paired with a 150-degree wide-angle lens.
Users have a number of ways to access their photos and videos on the camera. However, the best way is through the unit’s own WiFi network. The Yi Lite produces its own signals through the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz band. This allows for quick transfers of video and photo from the microSD card to any smartphone. The app used with the camera is also rich in features. It can even directly upload footage to social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube.
This cheap pocket-sized action camera excels at its core functions. The camera takes great 1080p Full HD footage and sports a plethora of creative modes. Its sub $100 price tag, easy to use interface, and essential functions make it worth taking a look at.
Dragon Touch 4K
- 16-megapixel Sony Sensor
- 4K UHD Video Recording at 30fps
- 0x to 4.0x Zoom Range
- Wireless Wrist Remote Control
- 2-inch LCD display
- Waterproof up to 30M (100ft)
- 90-Minute Battery Life
There are currently multiple GoPro knockoffs that are available in the market today. While some of them might be complete trash, there are actually others that are worth taking a look at. The Dragon Touch 4K Action Camera is one of those products that offer so much for its price tag. At just a fraction of the cost of a brand new GoPro Action Camera, the Dragon Touch offers users a plethora of useful features.
The camera itself sports a Sony-built sensor that is capable of recording up to 4K UHD resolution. It can record 4K video at 30fps and full HD 1080p video at 60fps. The lens itself also features a 4x Zoom feature that will surely be useful for users who want to get closer to the action. The unit also includes a wireless wrist remote control. The remote is especially useful when the camera itself is hard to reach, such as when it is on your helmet. Users will have to be careful in using the remote as it is not waterproof. The remote can control the camera up to 10 meters.
Similar to the GoPro, the Dragon Touch 4K sports an LCD screen at the back. Users can preview their photos and videos on the display, but it might be better to review them on a smartphone or tablet. The downloadable app that works with the camera is easy enough to navigate. The camera also puts out a strong Wi-Fi signal that can reach up to 10 meters.
Another great thing about the Dragon Touch 4K is its included accessories. Most of the accessories will work with existing GoPro gear. However, users will have to use the included Waterproof case for the camera itself. Dragon Touch has also included 2 rechargeable batteries with the package, each lasting up to 90-minutes on a full charge. For creative adventurers, the camera offers a number of very useful video features. This includes time-lapse, slow motion, drama shot, exposure, and white balance adjustments. The camera features an HDMI port and a USB port for charging and syncing.
The Dragon Touch 4K offers quite a lot considering how much it’s worth. The camera takes great photos and videos and is relatively easy to operate. With its plethora of accessories included, first-time action camera users will have no problems using it out of the box.
ThiEYE T5 Edge 4K
- 14-megapixel Panasonic MN34112 CMOS Sensor
- 4K UHD Video Recording at 30fps
- 170-degree Super Wide View 7G Lens
- 2-inch LCD HD IPS screen
- Wireless Remote with Voice Control
- EIS Gyro Image Stabilizer
- Waterproof up to 60m (200ft)
The ThiEye T5 Edge 4K is currently one of the most popular products in the budget action camera space. There is, of course, a very good reason why it is so successful. The camera offers quite a lot of very useful features that were previously only reserved for high-end models. While it is very similar to the GoPro in terms of its design, it is simply not just another cheap knockoff.
The T5 Edge is the successor to the company’s highly successful T5e action camera last year. This time around, the camera now sports a sensor capable of shooting native 4K video at 30fps, 1080p full HD at 60fps, and 720p at 120fps. This is thanks to the use of a Panasonic-built 14-megapixel CMOS sensor. Users will also get a spectacular view of their action sequences through the camera’s ultra-wide 170-degree lens.
There are also a number of technologies built into the camera, which helps in getting clear and smooth footage. This includes a distortion correction system and a built-I EIS gyro image stabilizer. For more creative users, several video modes are available. This includes a Slow Motion capture mode, which captures 720p video at 120fps in great detail.
As for its design and build, the camera feels quite premium. The rubber finish distinguishes it from the other plastic-only knockoffs on the market. The buttons are tight and very responsive. It also features a threaded screw at the bottom, which is compatible with tripods, mounts, and selfie sticks. The ThiEye T5 Edge also has a plethora of input and output ports. This includes a MicroSD slot, a micro-USB slot, and a mini-HDMI port.
The build quality overall is quite solid. However, the camera itself is not IP certified. For underwater use, users will have to place it inside the bundled waterproof casing. Inside the casing, the camera is capable of going into depths of up to 60 meters. Speaking of bundled hardware, the ThiEye T5 Edge comes with a boat-load of accessories. All of which are compatible with GoPro and SJCAM accessories. The 360-degree rotating buckles are especially useful for optimizing angles. The included remote control is also quite handy, as it does feature hands-free voice control functionality.
The ThiEye T5 Edge is no doubt one of the best budget action cameras available today. It has a solid build and sports a lot of advanced features that is quite surprising for its price. The bundled accessories also add quite a lot of value to its already cheap price tag.
SJCAM SJ5000x 4K
- 12-megapixel Sony IMX078 CQK CMOS Sensor
- 170-degree A+ HD Wide Angle Lens
- 2-inch LCD Display
- Distortion Correction and Hardware Gyro Stabilization
- Novatek NTK96660 Processor
- Waterproof up to 30m (100ft)
- 4K UHD Video Recording at 24fps
Among the different GoPro clones that are available in the market, SJCAM has made themselves quite a reputation as being the best. Their previous products were very competitive in terms of pricing. They also normally had a plethora of accessories that were compatible with GoPro gear. The SJCAM SJ5000x is one of the China-based company’s latest offerings. This time around, the camera sports an improved sensor and processor, which elevates it even further from its predecessors.
The SJCAM SJ5000x 4K Action Camera sports a very capable 12-megapixel Sony IMX078 CQK CMOS Sensor. This sensor, coupled with a new Novatek Processor, can record 4K UHD video at 24fps. Full HD 1080p video recording is also available up to 60fps. The camera also has an ultra wide 170-degree lens with up to 4x digital zoom. There are a couple of nifty software and hardware features that ensures great footage every time.
This includes a hardware gyroscope Anti-shake sensor for image stabilization during video recording. This works in conjunction with a software-based Distortion Correction system. This results is smooth and detailed footage. Wide Dynamic Range footage is also available at full HD 1080p recording. SJCAM’s latest product produces better images when compared to the M10+ and the SJ4000+. It is also much smoother and faster to navigate, partly thanks to the improved processor. The built-in WiFi is also much faster. The accompanying app is still compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones.
The package itself comes with a wide array of accessories. This includes several adhesive mounts, a waterproof housing, and buckles for different applications. This camera is suitable for different vehicles and gear. It is even suitable for drones thanks to its fast micro HDMI output for FPV applications.
In terms of build quality, the camera itself is solid. The design remains to be similar to the original GoPro, which means that most people will probably mistake it for one at first glance. At the back, the camera sports a 2-inch display, which is perfect for reviewing videos and photos without the use of a smartphone. Creative users will appreciate the camera’s numerous video modes. This includes slow motion, photo lapse, burst mode, long exposure, underwater, and a dashcam mode.
The SJCAM 5000X Elite is a great multipurpose camera. It is both as a very capable action camera and a feature-rich dashboard camera. It is capable of taking great footage and supports a plethora of accessories. At less than $100, it is definitely a product to consider.