Today, cameras capable of filming action at sporting events, music festivals, or family gatherings can be bought cheaply if you know where to look.
Looking for the best action camera to buy in 2020 requires analyzing the features available in your lower price range and finding a model that suits your specific needs.
For example, do you need a camera that’s shockproof for filming heavy movement on the go or waterproof for underwater action?
Is mounting the camera for a steady feed more important to you than mobility? You need to know if you’re looking for something that can take water, harsh movements, or that can simply take a beating.
|Professional 4K 30Fps & 2.7K 30Fps video
16MP photos at up to 30 frames per second
|Has been upgraded to 4K 60FPS
Plus 20MP image resolution
|Professional 4K/30fps EIS, 2.7K/60fps
High-tech sensor to capture exciting moment
With the convenience features available today in terms of wireless connectivity, resolution, and mobility, even at a budget price, you need to know exactly which features you need.
This review breakdown of the 6 best cheap action cameras, as well as the in-depth buying guide that follows, will help you compare the aptitudes of the best models available with your needs as a sports photographer, athlete, or parent.
For a summarising check below, for full reviews, keep on reading:
No matter the action you need to film, one of these budget models has you covered.
Best Cheap Action Cameras
This is a review guide for the 6 best cheap action cameras available in 2020. Comparing the features available to the technical requirements of the action you want to film will put you on the right track to finding the model that works best for you.
1. Akaso EK7000
This action camera by Akaso films in 4K Ultra HD. It has the photography and video specs of a GoPro while costing a fraction of the price. This action camera is our best pick overall because of its versatility, its resolution, and its sturdiness.
No matter what kind of photos you want to take, the Akaso EK7000 can handle it. It has options for Timelapse, burst, and still photos, as well as options for high-resolution video (4K video at 25 frames per second and 2.7K video at 30 frames per second).
With photos of 12MP resolution, the Akaso EK7000 takes even still pictures at 4 times the resolution of a conventional high-definition camera. Though this isn’t the highest resolution on the market, it’s of competitively professional quality.
With its wireless remote control that fits your wrist, you can easily frame and videotape your perfect action shots remotely. In addition to its adept action photography technology on land, the Akaso is also waterproof up to a depth of 100 feet. Its outer shell is durable, allowing you to keep this camera close to the action and not worry about it if it takes a beating.
Its rechargeable batteries last up to 90 minutes each; thankfully, the Akaso comes with two in the package. Its built-in Wi-Fi and HDMI support allows you to control your Akaso action camera from your smartphone or tablet by downloading a free app. You can remotely record, download, and edit your videos from a maximum distance of 10 meters.
For its durability, multi-functionality, and competitive water utility, the Akaso EK7000 is our overall pick for the best action camera on a budget.
- 4K Ultra HD video capabilities
- Still photos of 12MP resolution
- Options for burst and time-lapse photos
- Waterproof, durable casing
- Includes 2 batteries
- Wi-Fi compatibility
- Battery life could be longer
- Downloadable app is a little finicky
This sports camera by Campark can capture action sports footage at 4K resolution and 30 frames per second. It can also take still pictures up to 16M, which is competitive in this price range.
An optional lens gives you a 170-degree perspective that you can view on the 2-inch HD screen. The Campark ACT74 is waterproof up to 100 feet, allowing you to capture surfing, diving, and swimming stunts in full high definition.
The Campark also has a unique light sensor to help you capture footage more precisely. They’ve also gone above and beyond with the number of accessories included in the package. The Campark ACT74 comes with a waterproof case, several mounting kits and adapters (including one for tripods), and an extra battery so you can always have a full charge ready to go.
The camera is also Wi-Fi compatible, meaning you can control the angle in real-time with your smartphone and edit or share the results instantly on social media, on both Android and iOS.
Like many of the cheap action cameras available on the market, the Campark does not record videos at a native resolution of true 4K/30 fps. Instead, it upscales the native 1080p to an interpolated 4K resolution. Despite this fact, the budget price makes the Campark an easy sell for those looking for functionality in a cheaper package, which is why it’s our budget pick.
- 4K resolution for videos and 16M for still photos
- 170-degree viewing angle
- Light sensor
- Water-resistant up to 100 feet
- Accessory and adaptor kit
- Will not accept 64GB SD cards
- Video quality is interpolated, which can affect the resolution in extreme motion
3. Apeman A79
The Apeman A79 is a bit of an older action camera compared to some of the most readily available models online, but despite being one of the earliest examples of 4K resolution on a handheld action camera, the Apeman still holds up.
The ability to record in full native 4K at 30 frames per second gives the Apeman an edge over many of its newer competitors. It has other video resolutions available as well, with 2.7K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 60 frames per second, and even 720p at a rate of up to 120 frames per second.
This last is ideal for shooting slow-motion videos, which makes the Apeman A79 perfect for sports photography and action play by plays. It also has options for time-lapse, slow motion, timed selfies, loops, and burst photos. Unlike some other handheld action cameras, the Apeman supports memory cards up to 64GB, which is convenient for storing such high-resolution videos.
Electronic Image stabilizers give you the ability to capture clips for sports or stunts smoothly and clearly. Still photos up to a competitive 20MP resolution round out a high-tech package.
Remote controls also allow you to access and manipulate your data output from 10 meters away with a downloadable app. The camera is also waterproof up to 130 feet, earning it the title of the best underwater action camera available on this list.
- 4K native resolution for videos and up to 20MP for still photos
- Diverse photography mode
- Exceptional durability underwater
- Supports multiple resolutions and framerates
- Switching the mic or battery resets the timestamp, which can be frustrating for extended video recording logs
- The app has been reported to crash unexpectedly
4. Vtech Kidizoom Action Cam
Some of the highest quality action footage you could record for posterity may not be your sports footage or action photography or your latest exploits to the reef or cliff, but something from your own backyard. The Vtech Kidizoom Action Cam is exactly what it sounds like: an action camera for kids. It’s the best such camera currently on the market.
The Vtech Kidizoom has a 180-degree rotating lens that gives kids total control over their footage both in slow and fast-motion. It will allow them to film their own stunts and movies both in photo and video. It’s durable for kids that play rough and waterproof up to 6 feet for pool and beach antics. The lithium-ion battery lasts for 2.5 hours so they can get their whole playtime on film.
It also comes with accessories that help them get footage no matter what they’re doing. A mount lets them capture their bike ride or skateboard stunts and the durable case can be dropped or battered without cracking.
The Vtech Kidizoom is our top choice for cheap action cameras for kids due to its durability, marketing, and kid-friendly features. It even comes with two games (one traditional and one VR application) for them to play around with.
- Kid-friendly design
- Durable, wear-resistant shell, waterproof up to 6 feet
- 180-degree viewing lens
- Long battery life
- The pictures are not professional resolution
5. VanTop Moment 4
The VanTop Moment 4 is part of a long line of venerated action cameras. This model features a Sony-made sensor, which is desirable among budget cameras since it’s shared by the most premium action cameras on the market.
With the ability to shoot true 4K resolution video at 24 frames per second, and other options for higher framerates at lower resolutions (2K at 30 fps and 1080p at 60 fps), the VanTop Moment gives you a lot of variety when it comes to professional-grade action footage.
Like many cheap action cameras available on the market, the VanTop shoots GoPro-quality videos at a fraction of the price. What sets the Moment 4 apart, however, is its interface, which features a full touch screen display that allows you to intuitively capture your desired footage without fiddling with menus, in much the same way as a real GoPro.
The VanTop action camera also features electronic image stabilization that prevents your photos from being blurry. For both photo and video stability, the lens on the VanTop is top of its line.
Its viewing angle is adjustable up to 170 degrees and it is waterproof up to 100 feet. A wireless wrist remote allows you to start looping recordings, setting up photo bursts, or recording sound without even touching the camera, adding to its convenience during hectic action.
In addition to the wrist remote, the Moment 4 also comes with several accessories to add to your convenience. These include a buckle for your belt, a tripod mount, a mount for bicycle handlebars or helmets, and other adaptors.
A backpack and accessory kit round out its value package, which is priced slightly above average for budget action cameras. This is why it’s our pick for the most versatile cheap action camera currently available.
- High native resolution and multiple framerate options
- Full touchscreen controls on a vibrant display
- Electronic image stabilization provides clear photos and video even on the move
- Durable waterproof casing
- Wireless control capability
- The VanTop cannot operate while plugged into an external power source, which can be inconvenient
This 4K action camera by Neewer has a 2-inch screen that gives you a smooth, intuitive experience. It’s fully touchscreen compatible so you feel like you’re using a premium model. Indeed, the Neewer is at the top end of the price range of cheap action cameras. However, its power, versatility, and accessories make it our premium pick.
The Neewer can film in 4K at 30 fps at the top and 1080p at 60 fps at the bottom. Both have their uses, whether you want to take high-resolution family photos or slow-motion, high-frame-rate footage of a sporting event. Its maximum picture resolution size is 12MP, which is undoubtedly high-definition but not the most professional-grade on the market.
Its accessories, however, are numerous compared to other cameras in this price range. These include a tripod and mount, buckle kit, waterproof casing, and various straps for your wrist and chest. It boasts 50 accessories in total, more than any other model readily available.
Its multiple modes give you a range of options in terms of the action you want to capture. These include time-lapse for creative photos, image rotation to create refined edits in your videos, driving mode for full footage capture, and continuous shooting for more extreme stunts or sports.
It has a wireless wrist remote with a range of 33 feet as well as a waterproof casing for underwater filming. The sturdy construction and myriad of accessories make it our premium pick for cheap action cameras.
- A range of resolution and framerate options
- A 50-piece accessory kit for use in any situation
- Durable, waterproof casing
- Wireless connectivity
- In keeping with the budget price, the 50 accessories are not made of the most durable plastic
When comparing the features and aptitudes of the best cheap action cameras available on the market in 2020, you need to know what main features to look for so that you can compare them to your needs. This in-depth buying guide will help you sort it out.
The main feature to look for in a cheap action camera is the resolution and lens technology. Since you’re looking for budget alternatives to GoPro and other premium devices, you want to get as close as possible to the technology offered by the bigger brands. The Sony-brand light sensor on the VanTop Moment 4 is one example of bridging the quality gap with explicit research into a camera’s technology.
While many cameras advertise 4K Ultra HD resolution in their video output, not all of them feature true native 4K. Some of them are upscaled to larger sizes from a lower native resolution. It’s important to look at the specs yourself and visit other customer reviews to see how your cheap action camera choices stack up. Chances are that the cheapest available options will not have the tech to give you the resolution you want.
However, many budget action cameras come with adjustable framerates and resolutions to cater to many different needs in terms of sports locations, speeds, and times of the day. The listed specs should tell you what you can expect from your action camera in different situations.
Many action cameras, even cheap ones, come with multiple shooting modes. If you know what type of sporting event or location you want to shoot, you can reference that when choosing between cameras that come with different options. If not, you can look for something that has a little of everything.
Modes like burst photos, time-lapse, and slow-motion are available in addition to normal video and still photo modes. The utility of these modes has in recent years made action cameras the most popular devices for recording music festivals, holidays, and sporting events. The introduction of VR technology into the mix has only them trendier in the last couple of years.
To choose the right camera with the right options, you have to know which modes are essential for your intended events. High framerate, slow-motion photography is essential for sporting events and stunts, for instance. If you plan on filming underwater, you need a camera that can pick up the right lighting information.
No matter where you plan on shooting, research the modes available to match them to the budget action camera you plan on picking up.
Also Read : Best Photo Storage Device
Some of these camera models come with accessory kits to further entice you to turn away from the premium GoPro models towards cheaper alternatives. Some on this list come with more than 50 accessories in their kits to help you get started filming your family, stunts, or games wherever you may be. Which accessories you want to look for, like so many of the qualifiers in this guide, depends on knowing what you want to film.
There are adaptors for tripods for instance for those that want to use their action camera for more traditional photos. There are straps and adaptors for helmets, chests, and bike handlebars for sports and stunts filming.
Knowing you’ll be using this action camera underwater, on cliff faces, on the beach, or in the car will help you choose which accessories you need from the descriptions of the kits available in the more versatile product listings.
Many action cameras on the market today can connect wirelessly to wrist remotes included in the package. With these, you can control the camera’s angle and recording mode within a certain distance (usually a few meters) so that you can keep your hands free while capturing stunts.
This is especially useful at a sporting event when the camera is mounted on a tripod, when you want to take a family photo, or when you’re on your bike and your camera is mounted out of reach on your helmet or handlebars.
Many also come with Wi-Fi connectivity that allows you to access your video controls, edit the output, and even share it with your family and friends through a dedicated app on smartphones and tablets. Most companies have their own versions of these apps and many are notorious for being finicky so if this functionality is important to you, you need to research the viability of your desired camera’s wireless application before committing.
Not all cameras are built equally. Some come with hard plastic casings, others with robust waterproof designs that are resistant to water damage up to 100 feet or more. This is when knowing the sports you want to film and the age of the person who owns the camera is a must.
For instance, the Vtech Kidizoom can take a beating, being designed for kids ages 4 to 9. Some cameras can handle water pressure better than others and some have more durable outer shells. Especially now that action cameras represent a rapidly expanding industry due to improvements in readily available technologies, you have many more opportunities to choose a cheap action camera that has the exact requirements you need.
As mentioned, some action cameras come with wireless wrist remotes that allow you to control your camera’s function from a short distance. The interface on the camera itself varies too, however. with the popularity of GoPro always on the rise, other companies are looking for ways to emulate their technologies, even in cheaper action camera alternatives like the ones on this list.
One of the ways that the upper-end of the cheap models do this is with full touchscreen controls, just like on the premium models. A couple of models on this list (like the VanTop Moment 4, for instance) have touchscreen displays that make it convenient to control your camera on the go or in the car. Without having to fiddle with buttons, you can alter your zoom, viewing angle, and time your photo bursts with intuitive controls on beautiful 2-inch displays.
Why buy an action camera?
Action cameras allow you to film in fast and slow-motion in many different environments. From capturing sports events in high definition to cataloging your vacation to preserving a family memory, the durability and accessibility of cheap action camera models today makes them no longer merely a sports photographer’s luxury.
What is native resolution?
Native resolution refers to the exact pixel count of an image when it is captured. Many cheaper output devices upscale the image through interpolation to achieve a size consistent with higher advertised resolutions without filming the image in the resolution itself.
This means that when buying a cheap action camera, it’s important to look at whether the device blows up the image (thereby reducing its quality) or comes equipped to film it in the genuine advertised resolution.
What accessories do I need?
Many cheap action cameras come with accessories (some as many as 50) to help you film in different locations and using different methods. Which you want to look for will depend on what you plan on using the camera to capture.
There are many adaptors and mounts to look for. The main ones strap to your helmet or bike handlebars for sports capture, to your belt or chest, or to a tripod.
What does “cheap” mean on this list?
“Cheap” means a fraction of the price of the standard 4K Ultra HD action camera by leading brands like GoPro. It could be anywhere from a fifth to a tenth of the price, depending on the offers involved.
A quality action camera can help you preserve your vacation memories or your best stunts. For sporting events, parties, or family photos, the diverse options at your disposal in terms of various modes of high-resolution photo and video shooting will give you quality footage no matter which of these models you choose.
Our overall choice is the Akaso EK7000 because of its durability, many photo modes, budget price, and true native 4K Ultra HD resolution videos. In this price range, it’s the best option for cheap action cameras that also include wireless and remote connectivity, a waterproof casing, a myriad of resolution and framerate options, and high-quality photos.
Using this buying guide, you should be able to find a camera that works for you. That includes whether you want to film underwater, in the car, on a bicycle, or you want to give a camera to your kids and let them make their own memories. Comparing the available specs and features reveals a ton of viable options for the best cheap action camera in 2020, if you know what you’re looking for.