For occasional use, a cheap action camera is all one needs to capture their short break, outing or action sports. These budget action cameras are fully capable cameras for everyone at less than half the price of premium cameras. But, are they worthy of your money and time.
Cheap Action Cameras with Full HD to 4K Resolution Sensors
As with all things technology, advancements have allowed older tech to become cheaper. Action cameras capable of capturing 4K footage at super high 60 frame rates are the latest, offering the most detail. However, this is not to say that Full HD cameras aren’t any good. For most standard applications, Full HD cameras captures sufficient information for the big screen given that today’s TV also supports upscaling. Your footage won’t look out of place or blocky.
Over the years, even 4K capable action cameras have come down in price. Using state of the art sensors, these budget cameras are capable of capturing 4K at up to 30fps (and sometimes 60fps). Paired with the right lens, it will rival some of the premium action cameras on offer.
Why Cheap Action Cameras
There are many reasons why one would choose a cheaper camera over an expensive one, here are some of them:
- infrequent or occasional use
- would rather have smaller video files
- less demand on storage and memory card
- faster and easier to manipulate and edit compared to 4K footage
- less demand on processor and memory during editing
- has all the features need to create YouTube ready footage
- works even in low light with the right lens configuration
- waterproof models are great for water parks and watersports
- from straps, mounts and stands to waterproof housing, there are plenty of accessories to choose from
- can also capture stills with different shooting modes
- various capture modes and resolution to choose from
- and finally, cost less than half compared to premium action cameras
Top 9 Best Budget Action Cameras for Everyone
Let’s cut to the chase, here are the best budget action cameras that are both capable and affordable for everyone.
- GoPro Hero7 White FHD 12MP
- SJCAM SJ8 PRO 12MP
- Yi 4K+ 12MP
- AKASO V50 Pro 4K 20MP
- Sony HDR-AS50 FHD 11.1MP
- APEMAN 4K 20MP
- AKASO EK7000 Pro 4K 16MP
- APEMAN A79 4K 16MP
- AKASO EK7000 4K 12MP
This budget alternative to the GoPro Hero 7 Black doesn’t do 4K but has all the premium features you would want from a small action camera. Even at a lower price point, it still comes with onboard touch screen, waterproof housing and voice control. You just have to be content with only being able to shoot Full HD video footage. For stills, it captures 10MP photos.
- Rugged and Waterproof design
- Intuitive Touch Screen with streamlined capture modes
- Records Full HD video or capture time lapse videos to turn longer events into short, shareable moments
- Takes 12MP photos in standard or Burst mode for 15 photos in one second
- Video Stabilisation lets you records smooth, steady video
- Shoot Vertically – Capture photos and videos in portrait orientation for Snapchat and Instagram Stories
- Photo Timer to grab a GoPro selfie or group shot
- Supports voice commands
This 4K capable action camera, the SJCAM SJ8 PRO is no slouch. It can capture 4K footage at full 60fps. That’s equivalent to the likes of GoPro Hero7 Black and DJI OSMO Action. It does all that at less than half the price of its competition. Underneath the hood, you get a Sony IMX377 sensor with support for Electronic Image Stabilisation.
That proven sensor is paired with f/2.8 lens made from seven layers of glass. The lens has a huge 170 degree field of view. To control the camera, you get a huge 2.33-inch touchscreen colour display. For power, the onboard 1200 mAh battery lets you record 4K video at 60fps for up to 70 minutes. The front facing 0.96-inch monochrome LCD display gives you quick access to information such as recording time, battery level, storage and capture resolution.
This is truly a viable alternative at a price that everyone can agree.
- Chipset: Ambarella H22S85
- Sensor: SONY IMX377
- Sensor Resolution: 12 Mega Pixels
- Screen: 2.33″LCD touch screen + 0.96″LCD front screen
- Lens: 170 degrees 7G(Contains 2 glass aspherical lenses)
- Video Resolutions: 4K:(3840×2160)25/30/50/60fps, 1440P:(1920×1440) 25/30/50/60fps, 1080P:(1920×1080) 24/25/30/50/60/120fps, 720P:(1280×720) 240fps
- Video Format: MP4 (H264/H265)
- Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) with 6-axis gyroscope
A budget entry, the Yi 4K+ Action Camera cost less than the GoPro Hero 7 Black. Still, it is capable of shooting 4K footage at 60fps using the onboard Sony IMX377 image sensor. It can also be used it to capture 12MP stills or Full HD video clips.
For best video result, record your 4K footage in 30fps. This ensures that captured video is super smooth and steady plus the setting is great for shooting fast-moving objects.
Thanks to the Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) system, videos are smooth. The ultra responsive 2.2-inch touchscreen is protected with Gorilla Glass. Use this to change settings, switch shooting modes, preview and playback footage.
Finally, on a full charge, the camera offers 70 minutes usage time, recording 4K video at 60fps. Use the USB-C port for power delivery to charge up the camera and faster data transfer. Other features include voice control, RAW image capture, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity and external Type-C microphone support.
Unfortunately, at this price, the camera is not waterproof nor rugged. You will need a separate housing for that.
- Record 4K/60fps video with Sony IMX377 image sensor
- Captures 12MP pictures and high-quality full HD footages
- Superb Image Stabilisation with Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS)
- Ultra responsive 2.2-inch Gorilla Glass touchscreen and intuitive UI
- 1200mAh capacity battery supports video recording at 4K / 60fps for up to 70 minutes
- USB-C connector offers more efficient power delivery and faster data transfer
AKASO V50 Pro is a 4K action camera with a 20MP sensor that supports EIS (Electronic Image Stabilisation). It also features an intuitive 2-inch colour touch screen for all the controls you need. Standing out from the rest is the ability to hook up an external microphone while the onboard microphone support wind noise reduction.
Other features include distortion calibration, built-in filters and multiple shooting modes for stills and videos. These include burst photo, time lapse photo, time lapse video, slow motion, and fast motion. A handy micro HDMI socket is also available together with a whole host of accessories and mounts. The included waterproof housing lets you dive with the camera down to 30 meter deep.
- 4K/30fps and 20MP image
- Built-in Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) with 6-axis gyroscope detects position and motion changes to produce stable footages
- View angle settings: Super Wide, Wide, Medium and Narrow with distortion calibration
- Use iSmart Pro+ app on the phone or tablet and connect it to the onboard WIFi to access and share content
- Use HDMI Port to connect to TV.
The lowest in Sony’s portfolio of action cameras, the Sony HDR-AS50 is a very capable budget action camera featuring a Zeiss Tessar lens. Paired with a 1/2.3-inch Exmor R sensor, the camera shoots Full HD 1080p resolution video at 60 fps or HD 720p resolution at 120 fps. It also manages to pack Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) function to ensure that your captured footage is silky smooth.
While it doesn’t support 4K video capture, it does 4K Time Lapse. Stitching all those stills together to create a video. The waterproof dive housing lets you take it down to 60 meters. Out of the water the same underwater housing protects the camera from shocks, damp, rust, dust, and sand.
- Full HD with XAVC-S, 11.1MP, Exmor R sensor
- Optical Steady Shot, ZEISS Lens
- Wi-Fi/NFC/Bluetooth, Multi camera control, 60m waterproof housing
- Height: 1.9″ Width: 1″ Length: 3.3″ Weight (Approximate): 2.05 oz
- Minimum focus distance – approximately 30 cm
A white version is also available, supplied with the useful waterproof housing.
Ultra Budget Action Cameras
Now for the ultra budget entries. Surprisingly, these action cameras are capable of capturing video in glorious 4K using pretty high resolution sensors from 12MP to 20MP. We are amazed at how well these camera work and couldn’t help but list them in our best budget action camera line-up.
Don’t let the name deceive you, this is not a stone age action camera. Far from it. It is a very capable 4K action camera with a huge 20MP sensor. Design wise, it is your typical rectangular block, a bit too sharp around the edges but it works. The Sony sensor and lens let you capture 4K footage with Electronic Image Stabilisation and shoot sharp 20MP photos.
A waterproof case, mounts, accessories and extra battery are included making this purchase a no-brainer for those looking for a starter action camera. The waterproof case allows you to take the camera for a dive up to 40 meters deep. Shooting modes include diving, car mode, self timer, time lapse, night scene, motion detection and more.
- Apeman 4K 20MP Action Camera
- 170 degrees Field of View
- 2-inch LCD
- on-board WiFi and HDMI output
- Carrying Case, Waterproof Case (40M), Bicycle Mounting Kit, Helmet Mounting Kit
- 2 x 1050 mAh Batteries for up to 180 minutes recording time in total
This 4K action camera only captures Ultra HD video at 25 fps. You can of course increase the frame rate by lowering the resolution. At 2.7K the AKASO EK7000 Pro can capture smooth footage at 30 fps. For ultra smooth 60 fps, set the resolution to capture Full HD video. The onboard 16MP sensor supports Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) to delivery steady shots.
However, the real advantage of choosing AKASO EK7000 Pro is the 2-inch colour IPS display with touch interface. Use it to change the camera settings, switch shooting mode, preview and playback captured footage. The included waterproof case makes it possible to dive with the camera up to to 131 feet deep (40 meters).
- Ultra HD 4K 25fps & 2.7K 30fps video recording and 16MP images
- Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) supported
- 2-inch Touchscreen with IPS display
- Variable viewing angle
- Built-in WiFi, connect with iSmart DV app to control the camera remotely, switch modes at any time, check out your shots and share
- 2.4GHz wireless wrist remote control is included. However, this is not waterproof
- Supports loop recording and inverted to double as dash cam for use in the car
- 90 mins battery life
- Mounting accessories, 40M underwater camera housing included
A second APEMAN on our list, this identical looking APEMAN camera has a smaller 16MP sensor. Still, it is capable of capturing 4K video footage at 30 fps complete with Electronic Image Stabilisation. The camera also captures still and is offered with plenty of accessories such as an external microphone for better sound recording, 40M waterproof case, wrist type remote control and mounts.
With the onboard WiFi, connect and control the camera via a mobile app. A HDMI video output port is also available to connect the camera directly to a big screen TV. Various shooting modes include time lapse, still, slow motion, burst, selfie timer, loop recording and auto.
- APEMAN Action Camera A79
- 16MP Sony sensor to capture 4K video and 16MP stills
- 2-inch non-touch display
- Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS)
- Waterproof underwater housing up to 40M depth
- External microphone
- Bicycle mounting kit, Helmet mounting kit
- Two 1050mAh batteries for 180 minutes recording
The lower resolution AKASO EK7000 may have a 12MP sensor as oppose to 16MP on the EK7000 Pro but it is still capable of capturing 4K video footage at 25 fps. Even at a lower price point, the AKASO offered the action camera with underwater housing up to 100 feet deep, 2.4G wireless wrist remote, plenty of accessories and 2 rechargeable batteries.
Other resolutions and frame rates are also supported. It can capture stunning 4K at 25fps, 2.7K at 30fps, Full HD 1080P at 60fps video. The built-in WiFi lets you access the camera via an app to control the settings, review and share the videos on social media. It doesn’t stop there, the 170° wide angle lens enables you to capture wider aspect for an expansive field of view.
A word of advice, check the preferred or recommended microSD memory card before you get extra storage for the camera. Most manufacturers recommend class 10 or higher flash memory with some even naming the make of the preferred card on their website. Remember also to check the maximum supported storage size to avoid the hassle of buying memory cards which are too big. Typically, cameras support up to 128GB memory but some models may take up to 32GB only.