Sports or action cameras have a specific set of purposes that gives them a specific place and category in the photography world. Though most phone cameras now can exceed the photo and video quality of action cams, the latter offers much more convenience in specific situations. Due to their sizes, they can be easily attached almost anywhere.
However, when it was first introduced, the camera was almost tagged as something synonymous with one giant brand: GoPro. Due to the quality of the brand’s action cameras, it managed to attract the attention of the market.
GoPro’s action cameras, however, are not the best sweet pea for your wallet; given that the ‘cheapest’ model comes at almost $200. With this, more and more businesses saw the eagerness of the general public to own an action camera at the cheapest price possible. This gave birth to various action cam models under $100.
Apparently, you won’t get the 5-star features of GoPro Hero9 such as the 5K videos and 20 MP stills. Yet, most of them get the job done without you fearing the possible breakage when you use them in terribly dangerous stunts. Most of all, you get what you need at such an affordable price.
One good example is the Akaso V50X which comes with good audio, native 4K video, and image stabilization. It even offers all (ALL) the accessories you need to get you started. All of them come in a single package that’s as low as $100!
Together with our very own Photography Editor, Evangeline Summers, we reviewed four more action cameras under $100 to give more options. With the market saturated with such cams, we aim to give you the best deals possible to make sure you get the value of your money down to the last cent. From additional accessories to relatively quality videos and more, here are the best action cameras under $100 for you:
1. Akaso V50X
4K at 30fps
Akaso is undeniably one of the closest competition of GoPro due to its extremely affordable cameras. According to Summers, the Akaso V50X is proof of it due to the number of fair features it comes with.
“It has a WiFi connection capability and electronic image stabilization which is truly impressive at its price point. The EIS works at any resolution compared to EK7000 Pro which doesn’t support it at max resolution. What’s impressive about it is how incredibly effective it is whether you are casually walking or running. It isn’t as steady as the stabilization of GoPro Hero9 but it can deliver outstanding results. When you activate its EIS, the results become very obvious,” said Summers.
Also, compared to the EK7000 Pro, it can cater to an external microphone. Without one, the audio is quite acceptable. During the test, the voice sounded clear and it seemed to tolerate wind noise.
It sports a 12 MP Sony sensor and 4K videos at 30fps video that showed favorable quality images and details under a good amount of daylight upon our tests. The 1080p at 90fps and 720p at 120fps are also the best since it means you have a very effective slow-mo feature here. The view angle can be set to 170°, 140°, 110°, or 70°. However, as for its low-light performance at night, do not expect the best quality since its sensor is packed in a small body.
On the other hand, it has lots of other features worth appreciating such as the 2-inch IPS touchscreen. It is relatively bright enough that under sunlight, you can still easily use its settings. The touch sensitivity is also fairly great and while the settings and options are pretty limited, we still find it great. The interface is simple, so it really is a good option for beginners and young users.
Most of all, the package is extremely amazing. Exemplary. For a hundred dollars, you get almost the complete package to enjoy the camera itself in any situation you wish. It comes with 2 rechargeable 1350 mAh batteries, a battery charger, 2.4GHz wireless wrist remote control, waterproof case, different mounts, and others. The best thing about it is that most of the accessories can also complement GoPro camera units. So, would you get your money’s worth in V50X? Well, perhaps, more.
2. SJCAM SJ8 Air
1296p at 30fps
SJCAM SJ8 Air is possibly one of the best action cameras that excel in aesthetics. Compared to the designs and body of Akaso cams, it basically comes with a smoother body and even the cable ports have flap covers on them. The 2.33" IPS touchscreen is also relatively larger than the common 2-inch LCD that you see in Akaso models. The touch sensitivity is fairly great and we found it actually even better than Akaso models.
“One distinctive thing about SJ8 Air is its audio,” Summers started. “Compared to the previous models, it has one excellent performance in terms of wind tolerance and other unnecessary noises when you use it. Of course, there was still that faint muffled sound when we tried it, especially to the sounds of dried leaves being walked on. Yet, the clarity of voice recorded was stunning. Truly clear. One of the best we have experienced.”
On the other hand, it offers a max video resolution of 1296p at 30fps. With the aid of a 14 MP Panasonic sensor and the 7G lens, you get a fairly great amount of details. Even the dynamic range is pretty impressive. The daylight videos are divine and even at a low light condition, SJ8 Air really does a great job. In fact, even at night, the details of objects are captured. You see the lines and colors of objects clearly. Bright images and clear details, though there is a fair amount of noise. This beats Akaso products here. However, there is a huge caveat about its video: image stabilization. There is no EIS on this cam, so this means you have to expect a lot of shaky movements even if you would just walk. We were really a bit saddened about this since it kind of contradicts the main purpose of an ‘action’ camera. Nonetheless, this could be resolved with a good gimbal which (of course) means additional expense for you.
3. Akaso EK7000 Pro
4K at 25fps
EK7000 Pro is another affordable camera from Akaso. As a matter of fact, it is way cheaper than the V50X that you’ll be surprised at how many accessories it still comes with.
As for its performance, you get almost the same set of features including electronic image stabilization. However, it comes with a maximum video capability of 4K at 25fps and stills at 16 MP. The quality of details has almost no difference compared to the V50X. The details are still great under daylight and during nighttime, the cameras can capture details as long as there is sufficient lighting.
The EIS works just fine and there is that obvious difference when you use the cam with and without it. However, keep in mind that at 4K at 25fps, EIS is not available. Also, it isn’t as smooth as what V50X has.
As for the audio, according to Summers, it isn’t really the best.
“As for our experience, the voice sounded muffled and it showed poor wind-noise control. Unfortunately, it can’t also support an external microphone so you might find yourself stuck in its audio capabilities. Yet, being 30% cheaper than the V50X, it is truly hard to complain,” she said.
4. Dragon Touch Vision 3
4K at 30fps
Dragon Touch Vision 3 costs a little lower than Akaso EK7000 Pro. The two almost look the same but given the cheaper price of the former, expect some cutbacks on its features.
“The body looks like any other Akaso product. It has a 2-inch screen which is bright. However, despite its brand name ‘Dragon Touch,’ you don’t get a touchscreen feature. But for the controls and interface, it is still worth considering; especially that it also includes WiFi capabilities,” Summers said.
It can capture 4K videos at 30fps. The clarity of footage is almost just the same as what you can get in EK7000 Pro but the downside about it is that it doesn't have image stabilization. As for the stills, the camera can capture 16 MP still images. The details and colors are exemplary as long as you keep the camera steady. In low-light conditions, it is not really the best.
That said, it is really meant for casual users who don’t mind the video quality. Just like the Vivitar DVR783HD, it focuses on the money you can save in its purchase. Nonetheless, it comes with all the accessories you need and provides you with a decent performance.
5. Vivitar DVR783HD
Vivitar DVR783HD is not the most beautiful action camera out there. It looks more like a toy due to its incredibly small size and the body is made of inexpensive plastic. Yet, this offers you all the basics.
“It can capture 720p and capture 5 MP still images. Under a bright light, the quality can almost be compared to what Akaso EK7000 Pro would give you but at night, you really can’t rely on it. Given its specs, this is pretty understandable. The audio is also muffled and not the best,” stated Summers.
The screen comes at 1.8" which is a bit smaller than others. It also doesn’t support touchscreen features but the controls are pretty easy. The interface is kind of relic but browsing it is a breeze.
Lastly, it comes with a considerable number of accessories to improve your experiences such as the rechargeable lithium-ion battery, bike mount, and helmet mount. Most of all, you have a case that allows you to use underwater as deep as 10 feet. Not as deep as the first models discussed.
All in all, it really can’t brag about its features. But there is definitely one thing about it that will lure you: the price. Compared to others, you can purchase it for as low as $25! Yes, you read that right. This makes it almost at the same price as disposable cameras; only, you can enjoy this bad boy longer.
Best Action Cameras Under $100 - Buyer's Guide
The image stabilization will help you to get better videos. Given the purpose of the action cameras where you wear them as you move, shaking movement is inevitable and this will greatly affect your video quality. This is why image stabilization is one of the top things you need to consider when buying an action camera under $100. Of course, finding it in action cameras at such a price point would be phenomenal. With this, we really recommend those that have one; though most of them are just electronic. Akaso brand offers it to most of its cams despite their affordable price tags.
Finding cameras under $100 offering crystal-clear videos is almost impossible. That being said, always go for 4K resolution when you find one. However, keep in mind that not all ‘4K’ sports cameras will give you ‘4K’ videos. Due to their price, most affordable action cameras under $100 are just interpolated. It means that they are just up-scaling the footage for the sake of the marketing trick. Nonetheless, there are still reliable native 4K cameras that are under $100 and that includes the Akaso V50X.
Finding quality audio in cameras under $100 is just as hard as finding reliable native 4K video capability. Apparently, you can’t expect this from cameras that are excessively cheap. The hard thing about it is that you won't be able to know if the camera has a good audio system until you’ve tested it yourself. To directly guide you, we tell you that the best suggestions that you can have here are the Akaso V50X and the SJCAM SJ8 Air.
It is really amazing how many accessories you could get packed with cameras under $100. The more the accessories, the better. It is also best if the package includes all the mounts you need or the case of the camera so you won’t have to purchase them separately.
Best Action Cameras Under $100 - FAQs
Yes. There are still reliable action cameras available at fairly low prices. Some of them come with image stabilization, native 4K videos, and good audio. However, be careful in your search as there are lots of cheap non-native 4K action cams now saturating the market.
Despite being affordable. An action camera should still be capable of capturing good stills and videos. The audio shouldn’t sound muffled and it should come with all the important features such as long battery life, considerable depth underwater depth capacity, and image stabilization.
It can’t be denied that GoPro is the king in this category. However, if you still want to experience a decent action but you don’t want to break the bank, there are cameras under $100 that can do the job. Akaso cameras are some of the best options you have. They come with 4K videos, good audio, touchscreen, and even image stabilization capability.