Best Action Camera Under 100
Today we’re reviewing the best action cameras you can buy for under a hundred dollars.
If you’re desire to explore and embark on adventures in distant landscapes has you doubting the ability of your DSLR camera to keep up, then it might be time to invest in an action camera.
You needn’t break the bank in order to buy a camera that will stay by your side in all terrain though, as there are many great affordable options available.
It’s possible to buy a camera which can capture every moment of your outdoor adventures while still saving as much money as possible for other travel-related expenses.
Here’s what to expect in this article:
- Reviews of the best action camera under $100
- A detailed buyer’s guide
- Your burning questions answered in a FAQ
Without further ado, here are our top picks…
👑 Our Pick for Best Overall
⭐ Our Other Top Picks for Budget Action Cams
- Best of the Best: AKASO EK7000 Pro
- Runner Up: Campark X25
- Best Underwater: Piwoka Action Camera 1080p
Best Action Camera Reviews
AKASO EK7000 Pro (👑 Best of the Best)
We believe that the best action camera under $100 is the AKASO EK7000 Pro.
This cheap action camera has everything you need and more to capture the most exhilarating moments of any trip. Whether you’re going skiing in the Alps, or swimming in the Atlantic, the AKASO EK7000 is the action camera you’ll want to have by your side. This budget-friendly action camera is good enough to rival the GoPro, and does so with its crisp video shooting resolution, quality image stabilisation, and stunning photos.
Let’s get straight into the specifications which make this action camera stand out above other reasonably-priced alternatives. The first thing worthy of mention with this action camera is the shooting resolution options. This 4k action camera is capable of capturing video in stunning 4k, as well as slightly lower resolutions of 2.7k, and 1080p. The best part about having these 3 quality options is that it gives you full control over the kind of video you’re looking to capture. If you want every last detail of your experience to make it into the video, then you can shoot in 4k at a speed of 25fps. But if the scene you’re trying to capture is more broad and doesn’t require as much detail, you can opt for the lower resolutions of either 2.7k or 1080p which offer the smooth frame rates of 30fps and 60fps respectively. This makes the camera just as good for high-octane sports as it does for capturing an emerging scene like a sunset over the horizon.
On top of the excellent resolutions offered by the EK7000 Pro, there’s also a 16MP camera sensor, which offers up high quality photos for those moments where there’s a lull in the action. The ability to take great photos isn’t essential for an action camera, but it adds further functionality and utility to an already great model. It might even mean you can ditch the heavy DSLR camera for the next trip you take, which will save you a lot of space and lower the weight of your bag.
As for features, this action camera from AKASO has plenty. The intuitive UI design, accessible through the 2 inch IPS touch screen, shows you everything you could want to see in a glimpse. It can also be used to easily change the settings of the camera, switch between shooting modes, as well as preview and playback footage. Then there’s the built-in electronic image stabilization, which ensures that you don’t end up with a bunch of shaky cam action videos at the end of your trip. As an action camera that’s suitable for sports, the image stabilization helps keep the footage steady at all times. An adjustable view angle will also help you to capture the perfect shot every time, whether you need a wide frame or a narrow one. Finally, this camera is waterproof up to 131ft, which makes it suitable for a range of aquatic activities.
- Video resolutions of 4k/25fps, 2.7k/30fps, and 1080p/60fps
- Waterproof up to 131ft
- 2 inch IPS touch screen
- 16 MP camera sensor
- Adjustable view angle
- Electronic image stabilization
WHY WE CHOSE IT AS OUR TOP PICK
1. This is a wonderfully compact tripod that folds away to a size suitable for most backpacks.
2. The 3-way head and 2 control levers make both recording video and taking photos a breeze.
3. It reaches a height of 65 inches when extended, which betrays its compact size and provides you with plenty of scope for getting the best angle.
Campark X25 (🥈 Runner Up)
The Campark X25 is our runner up pick for the best action camera for less than $100, with plenty to offer adrenaline-seekers and adventurers alike.
By far the best feature of this camera is its native 4K ultra HD video recording resolution. This promises professional level footage on a beginner-friendly budget. While the 4K resolution offers a framerate of 30fps, the other resolutions provide a smoother framerate if you need a different kind of footage. The inclusion of a 720p video recording resolution is noteworthy, since although the quality is significantly lower than 4K, it offers an ultra smooth framerate of 240fps which opens up the possibility of slowing down the footage and capturing emerging scenes.
There are a lot of features which back up the stellar resolution options of this camera too, which range from built-in WiFi to waterproof casing. The most important feature though, is probably the 170 degree wide angle and distortion correction. The wide angle allows you to capture a whole scene, which can make for some incredible results. This is ideal if you enjoy shooting scenes with a lot of action like skiers barreling down the slopes, or surfers tackling high waves. The waterproof casing which allows you to go down to a depth of 100ft helps you to this end too, and allows for some unique underwater videography.
You may be wondering what the built in WiFi is for, and the reason behind it is yet another reason to consider investing. With the WiFi connection this camera has, you can link it up to your smart phone or tablet, so that you can share pictures and videos on social media as you take them. Yes, that’s right, you can share the action almost as its happening with this action camera, so friends and family at home don’t have to miss a thing.
Then there’s a variety of fun shooting options which can create some interesting results. This includes slow motion, loop recording, and time lapse. This ensures the possibilities for using this camera are virtually limitless, and you can capture epic moments in truly unique ways.
- Video resolutions of 4k/30fps, 2.7k/30fps, 1080p/120fps, and 720p/240fps
- Waterproof to a depth of 100ft
- Built-in WiFi
- 170 degree wide angle and distortion correction
- Shooting modes include slow motion, loop recording, and time lapse.
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Piwoka Action Camera 1080p (🤿 Best Underwater)
If you’re serious about creating the best outdoors videos on the go, then you’d struggle to find a better budget tripod than the infamous GorillaPod from Joby.
While there are many variations of the GorillaPod available, fit for all different types of camera, we chose the 5K kit due to its compatibility with the best DSLR cameras and camcorders. It can support a weight of up to 5kg, which is more than the other tripods in the GorillaPod range, and it even supports the use of pico projectors, speakers and other useful gadgets.
As for the tripod itself, what is there to say other than it’s the first choice of many popular Youtubers like Casey Neistat and Roman Atwood?
The reason why many Youtubers and Vloggers favour this tripod is primarily due to its outstanding versatility. You can use it as a vlog camera support, bending the individual links to get the perfect fit for you. Alternatively, you can set it up on anything from a tree to a ledge with its flexible wrap around design if you want to record a professional-looking video outside. While some of the traditional style tripods might struggle to stay upright in windy conditions, the GorillaPod stays firm due to its clamp-like legs which hold on tight to almost any surface.
The head rotates up to 360 degrees, and can also be tilted up to 90 degrees. This gives you the opportunity to find the perfect shot every time, no matter where you are.
The best part about the frame though? It’s size.
This ultra compact tripod folds down to a single stick shape making it incredibly easy to carry around in any bag. If you are the type of person who loves nothing more than spontaneous urban adventures, or last-minute photography trips out into nature, then you’ll love the convenience of this tripod. It’s also a dream for those times you need to travel and would rather not pack away a large or heavy tripod to use with your camera.
- Video resolution of Full HD 1080p/30fps
- 98ft waterproof case
- Rechargeable battery
- 90 minutes continuous recording time
- 2 inches LCD screen
- Includes accessories for mounting the camera
Picking out any camera requires a considerable amount of thinking.
That’s because it isn’t as simple as choosing the camera with the best specifications or the best features, since you need one that can best accommodate your needs.
While one camera might be well-regarded by many people, maybe for you it’s missing a key feature or doesn’t have the fps or video resolution you’re looking to record in.
This rings especially true if you want to be using an action camera for things like underwater shooting, since this will require certain features.
While one person may be satisfied with a camera that offers a range of fun shooting options, another might not settle for one without a wide angle view lens.
However, before we get too technical, let’s zoom out for a moment and consider what exactly an action camera is just to make sure you have a clear idea that it’s what you’re looking for.
What is an Action Camera?
As you may well have already guessed, an action camera is one which is designed to capture action.
This is very much reflected in the design of this type of camera, which more often than not adopts the form of a small cube.
The most popular example of an action camera brand is GoPro, which has soared in popularity in recent years due to its aptitude for recording sporting events and high-octane activities.
The action camera is primarily intended for the aspiring photographer with an insatiable appetite for adventure and the recreational sportsman keen to capture the action for others to share the experience.
It’s a type of camera which foregoes some of the quality of bulkier cameras like DSLRs, in order to be compact and durable, even while skiing or diving under water.
Realistically, if you’re more the type of person who enjoys a leisurely photography session waiting for the perfect shot, then you might not need an action camera.
The investment is best for those wanting to either create epic moments to share, or film others creating them.
Although it can also be nice to have a camera like this for a gentle bike ride or run, given its convenient size and image stabilization.
Hands-down the most important consideration for just about any camera, let alone an action camera, is the video resolution options it offers.
In short, the higher the video resolution is, the better quality the footage will be.
This also means that the file sizes will be larger the higher the resolution is, so that’s also something worth bearing in mind.
But it isn’t just a question of resolution with action cameras.
The frame rate with which you can capture video is also extremely important. The framerate is what determines how smooth the video looks when it’s played back, which can make all the difference for certain situations.
This means you’ll have to make a decision as to what’s important to you.
If you want high quality at a smooth framerate then you’re going to have to pay a premium. Though if you’re looking for flexibility, then several cameras will offer up various resolution and frame rate options to switch between depending on the situation.
To give you an idea of what the most common resolutions and framerates are and which ones are best, we’ve compiled a list which you can use to compare cameras against.
4K is currently the gold standard for video recording, as it offers crisp image quality with a very high number of pixels.
This is best for capturing events in all their glory, down to the smallest detail. If you want to capture droplets of water or other microscopic details like beads of sweat then 4K is your best bet.
The main downside to shooting in 4K resolution though is that the files will be very large, which means you’ll need plenty of storage space on your computer if you plan on uploading it.
2.7K is an interesting option which should probably suffice for most action camera users.
It offers a balance of high quality but also allows for smoother framerates, which can be a great thing for capturing moving scenes.
Also, the file sizes will be smaller than those associated with 4K footage.
1080p is an excellent video resolution for an action camera, especially given that many people will only be able to watch videos on video sharing platforms like YouTube in this resolution.
It’s a step below, 4K, yes, but what you sacrifice in quality you make up for in smaller file sizes, and accessible footage.
720p is by no means a bad resolution to shoot in, especially for an action camera.
The advantage of 720p is that it will have very small files and will often allow for a very smooth framerate, so the chances of choppy footage will be slim.
Frame Rate Options
120fps is an incredibly smooth frame rate which is ideal for capturing slow motion footage.
Since there are many more frames to work with, the camera that shoots in 120fps will be able to create a seamless slow motion video.
This is of course a great option for an action camera since everything looks more epic in slow motion.
It is worth mentioning though, particularly on the affordable action cameras, you aren’t likely to get this framerate as well as high quality video.
60fps is a solid framerate which can be used both for fast moving action and for capturing excellent slow motion footage.
What’s great about this framerate is that you won’t have to sacrifice as much quality either.
It’s not uncommon to find an action camera which offers 4K video recording at 60fps, although this isn’t as likely for cameras under $100.
30fps is perhaps the best framerate you can hope for with a budget-friendly action camera, if you’re looking to film in 4K.
It’s a great frame rate for basic movements like walking and faster movements.
Lens range refers to how wide or narrow the frame is as you’re shooting video.
The more you’re able to adjust it, the more options you’ll have available to you.
For example, if you’re looking to capture the scale of an event like a sunset over the sea as you’re surfing, then you’ll want a wide angle.
With a wide angle lens, you can capture more of the scene and your surroundings.
On the other hand, there may be situations where you want to focus on one particular element, like filming someone mid-action, in which case perhaps a narrow lens would be the better choice.
While you don’t need to have a broad lens range, it really does help you adapt your video recording approach for different situations.
Whether or not that’s useful for you is a question only you can answer.
An important factor for any camera, battery life is crucial for action cameras.
After all, what could be more worse than realising your camera is about to die a moment before you’re ready to film yourself descending a mountain on skis?
Think long and hard about how long you expect to be using your action camera for in a single session, since this will tell you what kind of battery life you need.
It’s always best to err on the side of caution, since it can be devastating to get ready for some epic shooting sessions only to find that your camera isn’t up to the task.
Generally-speaking you can expect anywhere in the region of 60-120 minutes of continuous recording with action cameras, so if this doesn’t sound like enough then you’re better off picking a model with replaceable batteries.
That way, if you carry a bag with you on your adventures, you can just store a few extra batteries in the pocket just in case you need some more shooting time.
On the other hand, rechargeable batteries can be more convenient in the long term since you don’t have to keep buying replacements.
Features can make or break a camera, since they can play a significant role in its utility and how well it can adapt to different shooting scenarios.
It’s unrealistic to expect a whole host of premium features, especially for a sub $100 action camera, so it’s important to establish priorities in terms of which features you value most highly.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you need something that you won’t actually use.
While WiFi for example can be useful for some, you might not need to share your videos and photos in real time.
Built-in Wi-Fi, as we’ve already mentioned, certainly isn’t an essential feature.
It won’t affect your photography or videography, and it’s more about who sees your content than it is about how you create it.
If you want to share with friends, family, or a general audience the footage or photos you’re capturing in real time, then this is a feature for you.
It minimises the time you need to spend finding a place to connect the camera up to WiFi, so you can focus on enjoying your time and on what matters most: capturing epic moments of action.
Let’s be honest, whether you’re an amateur or a pro photographer, having various shooting options on your camera is fun.
The ability to shoot in slow motion or set up timelapses for example is very rewarding, and reason enough to invest in one camera over another for some people.
If you feel like you want some options to play around with regarding how you shoot footage and the effects you can create, then find a camera that offers a number of different shooting options.
A good example of an affordable action camera that matches this criteria is our runner up pick, the Campark X25.
The depth to which you can take an action camera underwater is important for some, but not for all.
If you only plan on dipping the camera underwater to capture some fish passing by then you don’t need to concern yourself too much with the depth, just that the camera you’re using is waterproof.
However, if you want to mix up your shots and go underwater to see what you can do, then it might be worth investing in a camera with a greater depth.
You know how comfortable you are diving under water, and you could probably estimate the deepest you’d dare go, so this should tell you everything you need to know concerning what depth will work for you.
Arguably one of the most important questions you’ll need to answer before you start shooting with an action camera is how you’re going to hold it.
Due to the cubical shape and compact size, it’s a little tricky to hold it in your hand as you use it, especially if you plan on doing so while moving around.
As a result, you’re going to want to get your hands on some accessories which let you use the camera hands-free.
Many action cameras, such as the Piwoka model, will come with several accessories so that you have a way of attaching them right out of the box.
The accessories are often used to attach the camera either to a helmet or a selfie stick, but there are other options too.
You don’t need to find a camera that comes with these accessories included, since you can buy them separately, but it does make things more convenient.
Free Quiz: Find Your Ideal Gear Setup in 1 Minute or Less 📷
Frequently Asked Questions About Action Cameras Under $100
What is the best budget action camera?
We believe that the best budget action camera is the AKASO EK7000 Pro.
This is a camera which offers outstanding resolution offers, including crisp 4k at 25fps, and 1080p at a smooth framerate of 60fps.
It also has a handful of useful features such as an adjustable angle viewer and electronic image stabilization.
What is the best underwater action camera?
Piwoka action camera is the best affordable underwater action camera in our view.
It’s incredibly cheap, but still offers up 1080p HD quality video footage at a respectable 30fps.
This means it’s perfect for a trip to the beach since you won’t be too concerned about damaging it, and it will let you shoot underwater footage to a depth of 98ft.
How do I choose an action camera?
To choose the right action camera for your needs, it’s important to take into account everything from the technical specifications to the extra features.
You should ask yourself what you will use the camera for most often, and then which features will either make your life easier or improve the quality of your photography.
While some action cameras are well suited to high quality videography, others are better for taking underwater photos and videos.
A Final Word From Run Gun Shoot
An action camera purchase is a fun, adventurous investment to make.
Yet that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. There are many great budget-friendly action cameras on the market, the likes of which can rival premium models such as those by the dominant brand in this market, GoPro.