Looking for the best inexpensive action camera you can buy? Fear not, we've done all the hard work and testing to bring you this in-depth guide to the biggest deals south of the premium GoPro Hero line. And there are plenty of suitors to choose from.
A few years ago, GoPros were the default choice for almost anyone looking for an action camera to capture everything from extreme sports to on the go. But that has all changed now, and thanks to Akaso, DJI, Apeman, and Kaiser Baas, there is now a fairly compelling range of options available at almost any price point.
The downside to this explosion of choice is that it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. With a lot of reviews on Amazon and YouTube looking suspiciously like a paid promotion, you might assume that all cheap action cameras are pretty terrible. Happyent, as our tests revealed, this is far from the case.
We've rounded up a bunch of the most popular budget action cameras and tested them side-by-side to bring you this definitive guide to the best deals right now. How did we test them? We took a look at their image quality during the day and at night, pushed their image stabilization to the limit, faked a few vlogs to see what their microphones looked like, and played to see if each would perform as a Zoom-compatible webcam.
Our conclusions? A few of these budget action cameras deliver truly stunning 4K picture quality during the day. And all of them except the GoPro Hero 7 White include a big stack of accessories, such as waterproof cases, wrist remotes, mounts suitable for bikes, helmets and more. We would not trust these accessories to withstand many abuse, but theGoPro equivalents would cost more than these entire sets in some cases.
Our overall pick for the best budget action camera right now is the Apeman A100. It p produces extremely sharp 4K video, even impressive in low light, and also doubles as a webcam. if you're willing to spend a bit more, then the GoPro Hero 7 White - which is officially discontinued, but still widely available - is a great option too, thanks to its excellent stabilization and picture quality.
There are still some advantages to buying a more expensive GoPro or an alternative like the DJI Osmo Action - for example, all of these cameras have Wi-Fi, but the apps they connect to are big. mediocre party. But if you're happy to endure some minor inconvenience like this, it's time to find the best cheap action camera for you.
The best cheap action cameras in 2021: Image 1 of 2 (Image credit: Future) Image 2 of 2
(Im age credit: Future)
1. Apeman A100
Looks like cheap, shoot a heavenly 4K video
Specifications Weight: 74g Waterproof: 40 m (with an enclosure) 4K video : up to 50 fps Video 1080: up to 60 fps 720 video: up to 120 fps Resolution of still images: 20MP Batt ery life: 120 minutes
Reasons to buy + Very detailed video + Large value + Nice buttons
Reasons to avoid - Poor audio quality - Unadorned body quality - Stabilization could be better
The Apeman A100 doesn 't instantly impress on the first try eye or touch. It's a lightweight plastic brick with no particularly smooth corners or a GoPro-style soft touch finish. But it's the best action camera under $ 100 you can buy.
This Apeman A100 came out on top in several of our image quality tests. It produces the sharpest 4K images,alongside the Kaiser Baas V50 (see below). At its best, the A100 renders video in not-so-far detail from a GoPro Hero 8 Black, albeit without that lovely GoPro color profile.
The camera holds up better than almost all of its rivals at night. It was one of only two cheap GoPro rivals capable of pulling a reasonable helping hand on a road lit only by street light. No action camera will perform well here, but the Apeman holds up better than any other cheap action camera we've seen.
The Apeman A100 is all about the details. In indoor lighting, the camera will produce a noisier image than some competitors. But after reviewing dozens of clips, we prefer it to an overly toned down look. Panning movement is smoother than other non-GoPros, and it's the only inexpensive action camera tested with any mode beyond 4K / 30p. It can shoot up to 4K / 50p. Not at all bad for the price.
His photos are solid too, especially if we take the time to change the color balance a bit in Photoshop. The Apeman A100's image stabilization is not as good as that of the GoPro's HyperSmooth, which leaves footsteps, but does the job well enough for walking movements.
The Apeman A100 can also be used as a webcam with Macs and PCs, but the poor lighting in most of our home offices makes the level of detail approach more obvious higher and higher noise.
We're also fans of the buttons on the Apeman A100. They have a smoother “click” than other basic models, which seems less inexpensive. It also has coverage for its ports, a rarity at this price. It is not rubber sealed - you only need to use the included case if you want water resistance, but it gives you a little more confidence.After taking the picture without a case, it starts to rain.
We recommend that you use the non-water resistant mounting box (included) unless you get really wet, as the waterproof housing greatly decreases the picture quality .
Bad pieces? The Apeman A100 does not have a tripod thread on its body, so you will need to inflate it with an attachment for any form of mounting. And, the real disappointment, the audio quality is poor. The recorded voices are blocked, the output level is low and far from clean - so you should plan to record audio with another source. He's a heart breaker, because we love this little thing differently.
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(Image credit: Future)
2. GoPro Hero 7 White
The least loved GoPro in years still has its charms
Specifications Weight: 92g Waterproof: 10m (no case required), 40m (with case, not included) 4K video: No 4K mode 1080 video: up to 60 fps 720 video: No 720p mode Resolution of still images: 10MP battery: 120 minutes
Reasons to buy + Good 1080p picture quality + Excellent stabilization + Solid sound quality
Reasons to avoid - No 4K mode - No field of view choice - Non-removable battery
The Hero 7 White has been discontinued by GoPro, but you can still buy it. So should you? It's still a good option if you can find it, although cameras like the Kaiser Baas X450 can actually record more detailed footage in many scenarios.
Still, there are several good reasons to choose the Hero 7 White. First of all, build the quality. Hero 7 White has a water resistance of 10m without a case. In most situations this means that no case will ever be necessary. Buy one for snorkeling or any other real underwater activity, but if not, yous are golden. Keep in mind that this is not included, unlike the other cameras in this test.
It also feels a lot nicer than anything else on this list, with the exception of the Akaso Brave 7 LE, which is also quite well made. The curves and soft touch finish of the GoPro make the Hero 7 White look a lot like one of its Black Series cameras.
The second advantage of GoPro is the big one: stabilization. This camera has better electronic stabilization than anything else in this guide. This is due to two factors. The Hero 7 White likely has a lens with a larger native field of view than any of GoPro's "clones", which means it has more frame to crop. Additionally, GoPro has invested a lot of money to blackmail its stabilization.
The Hero 7 White also has the best audio among cheap action cameras. It uses two microphones (compared to the usual) and their raw audio capture quality is much better than image quality favorites such as the Apeman A100 and Kaiser Baas X450.
Of course, the Hero 7 Wh ite is more expensive than these two rivals and is also relatively limited. It can only shoot wide screen up to 1080p. There is a 1440p mode, but this is actually the 4: 3 version of Full HD, not the "real" 1440p. You also don't have a choice of field of view, just the standard wide view.
Other minor complaints are slightly sluggish operation (GoPro likes its phone-like animations) and the lack of a removable battery. Many of the rivals in this guide come with a spare in the box for longer shoots. Unlike Hero 7 Black and Hero 9 Black, the glass lens coating is not removable / replaceable. But aside from these issues, the Hero 7 White is one of the best cameras around.cheap stock that you can buy.
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(Image credit: Future)
3. Kaiser Baas X450
The boss of the image quality budget en 4K daylight
Specifications Weight: 73g Waterproof: 40 m (with case, included) 4K video: 30fps Video 1080: up to 60 fps Video 720: Up to 120 fps Resolution of still images: 14MP Battery life: 90 minutes
Reasons to buy + Beautiful detailed 4K video + Nice color management + Above average EIS
Reasons to avoid - Basic version, with exposed ports - Poor audio quality and no microphone input - No webcam mode
If ready-to-roll 4K footage is the main thing you're looking for, then the Kaiser Baas X450 is a great option. It records beautiful 4K footage, with its 14MP sensor capturing even a bit more detail than 'a GoPro Hero 9 Black at its `` wide ' 'setting, under certain lighting conditions (based on an image analysis at sunset).
Of course, this is not an entirely fair comparison as GoPro Black cameras have much wider lenses thane the Kaiser Baas X450, but we remain impressed. Details are similar to the Apeman A100, but the Kaiser Baas has superior color processing, generally making clips warmer and more charming. Noise handling in low light conditions is also slightly better, as you would expect given its price tag.
The X450 also has the best non-GoPro stabilization in this guide. To achieve this effect, an action camera has to make good use of a gyroscope, which can tell when a natural handshake causes a small tilting motion. It can't offer anything close to the gimbal-like stabilization of an Insta360 or GoPro, but for a cheap action camera we're in awe.
There is no water resistance unless you are using the diving case, and the ports are exposed like those on a real action camera. economic. The Kaiser Baas X450 doesn 't haveNo mic input either, nor a tripod thread on the cam itself. However, you get the necessary accessories in the box.
Kaiser Baas is less generous than most of the other companies in this guide. You don't have two batteries, for example, only one. And its capacity is 1,050mAh. Other cameras over $ 80 use 1350mAh batteries. Camera sound is also pretty poor, with much lower output than the Akaso Brave 7 LE and the same style of missing treble and gated we heard on the Apeman A100.
The Kaiser Baas X450 also cannot be used as a webcam, which is a shame as it would do the job just fine (as long as you were using a different mic). There are dozens of ways to improve the X450, but this is one of the best inexpensive action cameras out there for image quality and outright stabilization.
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