You want to capture your trip in glorious definition but have been put off by those eye-watering DJI and GoPro prices. We don’t blame you.
But unless you’re regularly throwing yourself out of planes or speeding down mountain bike trails, there’s no need to take out a loan to buy a top-level action camera.
Luckily, having a strict budget no longer means that you have to settle for amateur quality footage.
Thanks to the increase in demand, there is now an array of value action cameras that offer good quality images and video, as well as a range of features at a much lower price point.
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Remember, there’s a fine line between affordable and cheap.
Even if it’s not breaking the bank, you don’t want to end up with something that doesn’t get the jobs done.
As such, we’ve pulled together some of the best value action cameras on the market right now.
These entry-level action cameras all come in at well under £200 (many of them only a fraction of that price) but still offer high-quality footage, a selection of shooting modes and accessories to boot.
Decent features, an array of accessories, robust build quality and waterproof down to 30 metres.
- Dimensions: 60 × 41× 30mm
- Weight: 74g
- Field of View: 170°
- Video resolutions: 4K 25fps; 2.7K 30fps; 1080p 60/30fps; 720p 120/60/30fps
- Bitrate: 60Mbps
- Photo: 12MP
- Modes: Single Shot, Burst, Time – Lapse
- Features: WiFi, 2″ LCD screen, Remote Control
- Ports: mini USB, micro HDMI, MicroSD card slot
- Memory: MicroSD with Class 10 and SDXC cards, up to 64GB
- Battery life: 80 minutes of 1080p at 60
When considering the value for money ratio, the AKASO EK7000 offers a set of significant features.
Video recording capability of up to 4K interpolated resolution at 25fps (that is, recording at 2.7K, followed by the insertion of fake pixels filling in the gaps to create a 4K resolution), impressively accurate focus, vivid colors and fast responses.
Note, though, that bad lighting will take a huge toll on the video’s quality, so do your best to find good lighting conditions.
The EK7000 comes with a wireless remote control, for controlling the camera, framing shots or recording video with an ultra convenient press of the button.
Video settings are accessed either through the LCD screen or via an iOS or Android device.
It can be connected via WiFi to your mobile device (using the AKASO app) and its operation is simple and straightforward – even for beginners.
In terms of photo capture, the device has 12MP burst photos at 30 frames per second. Single snaps, bursts or time lapse are all possible and are surprisingly vivid for such an economical option.
What is impressive for such a low-priced camera is that it is waterproof to depths of up to 30 metres.
This means that it is capable of withstanding the elements and adverse environments. So for anyone who regularly hikes fells and finds themselves in a downpour, there’s no need to panic about the camera.
In the box are two rechargeable 1050mAh batteries, as well as a USB dual battery charger. Unfortunately the batteries have a recording capability of around 1.5 hours each.
If you can afford to throw a little more at it, Akaso’s updated model – the EK7000 Pro – delivers 4K/25fps and 16 MP photos that capture every moment in crisp detail and unparalleled clarity.
A wide variety of settings and resolutions with the bonus of Selfie Mode and image stabilisation.
- Resolution of Videos: 4K/30fps, 2.7K/30fps, 1080P/60fps, 1080P/30fps, 720P/120fps
- WiFi Connection: Android/IOS supported
- Video/Image Format: MOV/JPG
- Weight: 60 grams
- Image Resolution: 20MP, 16MP, 12MP, 8MP, 5MP
- Dimensions: 59x41x25mm
- Battery: Two Rechargeable 1200mAh batteries
- Time-lapse video, Slow-Motion, Burst and Selfie Modes
- Image stabilisation
- Waterproof to 30-40 metres
Gookam’s HD 4K action camera is a wearable, mountable, portable, and waterproof device with more than enough functions to keep any beginner satisfied.
Hold it in your hand or mount it on a chest strap when out hiking, then switch to a skateboard, surfboard, bike or helmet mount to get the most out of it.
Videos and images are recorded in 4K/20MP, and the 170° wide-angle view captures far more than a standard camera or phone.
The integrated image stabilisation uses a six-axis gyroscope to detect changes in position and movement and generates smooth videos when moving.
That said, it won’t offer the same level of stabilisation as higher end products such as the GoPro 8.
The external microphone records sound within a 10-metre radius of the camera and various functions include looping video, timelapse, slow motion, photo burst, underwater, upside down and more.
Housed in an IP68 waterproof case, the camera is waterproof, shatter-resistant dustproof.
Gookam markets the camera as being able to dive to 30 to 40 metres under water.
This is quite a significant difference in safe maximums so we would recommend sticking to 30 metres.
Built-in WiFi makes capturing, reviewing, and sharing great footage easier and the remote control allows users to control the camera from up to 10 metres.
For those who are just starting out, the camera and accessories are extremely easy to use even without having the instruction booklet at hand.
A great all-round budget action camera with just the right amount of features, and a great selection of mounting accessories.
- Dimensions: 6 x 4.2 x 2.5 centimetres
- Weight: 16g
- Video resolutions: 4K(30fps), 2.7K(30fps) and 1080P(60fps)
- ISO Range: 2
- Focal Length: 5-10mm
- Max Shutter Speed: 60 seconds
- Wireless remote control
Unlike Crosstour’s older CT7000 model, this camera shoots 4K video and captures HD quality images via a 20MP sensor.
The CT9000’s highest resolution is 4K at 25fps. Highest pixel count 16MP.
A wireless remote allows you to capture photos and videos with the click of a red/grey button, and you can use your phone as a viewfinder via the app.
The camera comes in an IP68 housing, allowing it to remain watertight down to 30 metres. It also protects it from rocks, dust and scratches when you’re out and about.
However, it’s worth noting that the remote control is not waterproof.
One of our favourite things about the camera is the option to switch on lens distortion correction.
This setting negates some of the fish-eye effect caused by a wide angle lens – a common issue on actions cams.
The camera and its various mounts/ accessories are of surprisingly impressive build quality – far beyond our expectations at this price point.
Each of the two included batteries last 90 minutes under normal conditions, or 60 minutes when recording in 4K.
For anyone wanting versatility out of their action camera, this device can also be used as a dashcam or webcam.
The sound onboard the camera is virtually non-existent, but on inserting the memory card into a computer for playback the sound is perfect with no issues.
The main downfalls of the camera are the lack of image stabilisation, the simplistic manual (which doesn’t touch on many of the included accessories) and the fact that there is no charger included.
Lightweight and intuitive with an impressive Sony sensor that is usually reserved for high-end devices.
- Dimensions: 6 x 4.2 x 2.1cm
- Weight: 180 grams
- Fixed focal length: 2.7mm
- Video shooting: 1080P/60FPS, 720P/120FPS, 848×480/240FPS
- Bluetooth and built-in 2.4G WiFi
The YI 16MP camera manages to strike the balance between affordability and producing great shots.
The all-glass 16MP CMOS lens, Sony sensor and a F2.8 aperture capture surroundings nicely. The camera struggles in lower light situations but we’d say that is true of most action cameras.
The 1080p video recording is a true 60 frames per second, meaning that if you slow the footage down by half, it is still silky smooth.
The device’s WiFi is functional up to 90 metres and the Bluetooth connectivity lets users frame shots perfectly by previewing live footage on their phone.
The camera itself is not waterproof and doesn’t come in a protective housing. This makes it fine for hiking/backpacking and standard use, but might rule it out for those who want to take it diving.
In fact there are no accessories and only one battery in the box. However the camera itself has a thread in the bottom that can be screwed onto tripods, and adapter bases.
The main downsides are the lack of screen, the 155-degree angle of view that isn’t as wide as many of the other cheap action cams and the fact that you need to shell out for a waterproof case.
However, the newer (and significantly more expensive) YI 4K camera boasts electronic image stabilisation, courtesy of a built-in gyroscope and accelerometer, a 720p/240fps mode for impressive slow-mo footage and a Gorilla Glass LCD touchscreen for control and playback.
A well-featured action camera that was recently upgraded to support 4K 50 fps resolution.
- Video capture resolution: 4K
- Display size: 5cm
- Max aperture: 1.8 f
- Weight: 73g (without casing/mount)
- Wide-angle lens
- WiFi and HDMI connections
Apeman is a successful action camera brand that many people don’t know about and this model is a bestseller.
The Apeman A100 is one of our favourite action cameras. Whether you’re hiking, running, swimming, cycling, or anything else – this budget camera has you covered.
It has electronic image stabilisation (EIS), WiFi control and comes with a generous bunch of accessories.
The anti-shake EIS setting is disabled by default but is worth turning on for any sort of action footage.
Unfortunately its quality diminishes with light levels and it narrows the field of view from wide to medium without any warning.
The camera takes photos up to 20MP resolution and there’s even a RAW photo mode.
The camera comes with two rechargeable batteries and an external charger, as well as a protective case. This case is impact-resistant and waterproof up to 40 metres.
For those wanting to mount it without the housing, there is a lightweight frame included with the standard GoPro two-fingered mount.
As with all budget cameras, the more light you have, the better it can perform. Stabilisation is also more effective in brighter conditions and is generally on par with that of the GoPro Hero 5.
The battery holds up for about 60 minutes in 4K or 120 minutes at 1080P and there is a spare one in the box.
Batteries are rechargeable but cannot be charged up externally, which is a pain when it comes to recharging them.
A bonus is that when connected to a PC it will work as a webcam, which is extremely handy in times of social distancing and working from home.
Even if you get caught out in the rain without the waterproof housing it will survive a short stint but with no sealing whatsoever we wouldn’t deliberately take that risk.
Front and back screens incorporated for easy use and a weatherproof build makes it perfect for hikers.
- Video: 4K30, 2.7K60, 1080P120, 720P240
- Photo: 20MP
- Digital lenses: Super wide, wide, medium, narrow
- Burst: 3, 7, 15 and 30 shots
- Time-lapse: 3, 5, 10, 30, 60 second intervals
- Weight: 127 grams (without casing/mount)
- Long exposure: 1, 2, 5, 8, 30 and 60 seconds
- Voice control: Yes
- Stabilisation: 6-axis EIS 2.0
- Screens: 5cm rear touchscreen and 3.8cm front screen
- IPX7 water-resistance, waterproof case for down to 40m
Akaso’s Brave 7 LE is a rugged and feature-packed camera with a wallet-friendly price.
Its headline feature is a front-facing screen, but the intuitive touch screen is just as great.
This action camera also sports a number of features like voice control, time-lapse facilities and six-axis image stabilisation that you’d expect only from more expensive competitors.
The Brave 7 captures 4K video at 30 frames per second. It is crisp and clear with bright, vibrant colours that mimic real life. That said, the low-light performance is relatively poor.
Once the sun hits the horizon, it’s time to pack it away.
Still images are just as impressive as video. Image quality of 20 megapixels roughly equates to 4K, so your snaps will have plenty of detail, even if they’re of distant objects.
The six-axis internal stabilisation system works like a gimbal to keep footage smooth and stable during movement or vibration. It’s not perfect but it’s good enough for walking, skating, snowboarding and surfing.
Akaso claims the batteries will last you all day long but we think this is a gross oversell.
Depending on the mode you’re recording in and how much playback you do as you go, you can expect around four to six hours.
The spare battery is good to have on hand and switching them out only takes a few seconds.
The IPX7 rating means that the camera is weatherproof rather than waterproof, making it ideal for hikers that often get caught out by changing weather conditions.
It also comes with a traditional waterproof housing (which we didn’t love – thanks to its poor bulky design) if you do want to go swimming.
Waterproof, streamlined and easy-to-use option from a reputable brand.
- Video capture resolution: 1080p
- Optical sensor size: 1/2.3″
- Connections: wireless, USB
- Lens: zoom
- Max Focal Length: 18.4mm
- Weight: 58g
- Image stabilisation
- 5cm display
- Waterproof to 60 metres in housing
- 5 hour battery life
The HDR-AS50 is definitely towards to the low end of Sony’s camera range, but it still has plenty to offer.
Users can achieve 1080p full HD resolution at 60fps, or drop to 720p to double the frame rate to 120fps.
A Zeiss Tessar lens, paired with a 1/2.3-inch Exmor R CMOS sensor, offers crisp, clear photos and video footage.
The Exmor sensor also helps to boost the low-light sensitivity for improved clarity and drastically reduced grain.
Sony’s own image stabilisation – SteadyShot – normalises image oscillation to reduce motion blur and noise levels, even in low light.
Still images are where the HDR-AS50 comes into its own. Capturing photos at an impressive 11.1 megapixels, this camera actually competes with the GoPro HERO7 White.
The audio is a bit so-so and in the waterproof housing it is virtually non-existent.
Because there is no option to connect an external microphone this could make it a non-starter for anyone who likes to vlog or document their hikes and adventures.
The supplied waterproof casing enables the camera to reach depths of 60 metres (as well as protecting it from dust/sand and shocks/drops) but it also bulks it up and adds almost 100 grams to the weight.
The GoPro Hero 7 Silver is a solid action camera that includes the all-important 4K.
- Video Capture Resolution: 4K
- Optical sensor size: 10mp
- Weight: 120g
- Dimensions: 6.2 x 4.4 x 2.8cm
- 5cm display
- Image stabilisation
- Voice control
- Waterproof to 10 metres without housing
- WiFi and Bluetooth connections
- Close-up lens
- Effective still resolutions: 10mp
We simply couldn’t round off our list without at least one GoPro in there, and the HERO7 Silver still slides in at well under £200.
The HERO7 silver is built tough and totally waterproof – so it will survive any adventure that you take on.
Whether you’re trekking, skydiving, surfing, base jumping or anything in between, your GoPro will capture the moment in HD.
Smooth 4K video and vibrant WDR photos make every moment look amazing.
The camera performs just as well with its colourful 10MP photos – even in challenging conditions that mix light and shadow.
Burst mode captures 15 photos in one second and you can even zoom in on subjects by pinching the screen.
The touch screen is easy to use and saves scrolling through endless menu options. The GoPro app is just as intuitive and can pull together your videos and photos into a montage with music with the click of a button.
There’s no need for a remote thanks to voice control, activated with simple commands such as “GoPro, take a photo” or “GoPro, start recording.”
Neither is there any need for bulky housing or accessories as the camera itself is fully waterproof to 10 metres and the rechargeable battery is built in.
The stabilisation is almost as good as most recent models and internal GPS lets users review just how fast, high and far they travelled.
If you can afford to spend a little extra, this camera is completely worth the investment.
What to look for when buying an action camera
When choosing an action camera, the sizes and weights don’t differ massively. They’re designed to be small, light and easy to use.
However, it is the picture quality, accessories and settings that will set an ok camera apart from a great one.
You want to be able to snap amazing pictures in a number of different scenarios, whether that’s hiking up a mountain, sailing at sea or trekking through the jungle, come rain, wind or shine.
Anyone you ask will give you different advice on which camera to buy and with so many options it can be incredibly overwhelming.
Some key things that we would recommend taking into consideration when looking for a value action camera are outlined below.
The biggest factor in which camera you’ll end up with is your budget.
Set yourself a price limit but also bear in mind that paying a little extra now will mean that your camera will last longer and the quality of photos that you end up with will be better.
Each time a company launches a new model, previous versions tend to fall in price.
Keep an eye on Black Friday sales and end of season sales to make your cash go further.
There isn’t one ideal travel camera to suit everyone.
Your decision should be primarily based on where you’re going and what you’re looking to capture.
Consider whether your priority will be people, landscapes or wildlife.
If you want to be able to zoom in then consider a travel camera, rather than an action one.
Another important factor is whether you’re mainly looking to shoot stills, video or a combination of the two.
If video is a high priority then look for 4K settings that go well beyond the capabilities of your smartphone.
Action cameras are coming on leaps and bounds in terms of photos, and if you’re happy with wide angle shots, they’ll perform well enough for all your hiking photos.
Although your main purpose might be hiking, think about whether you’ll want to be able to use the camera underwater or in dusty conditions – in which case you’ll need a completely sealed device or housing.
Video resolutions and frame rates
This is where action cameras come into their own.
Wide angle lenses get everything in shot and their video resolutions and frame rates usually exceed that of bigger cameras, for a lot less money.
Even with your purse strings pulled tight you don’t need to settle for anything under 1080p or 4K and 25-30 frames per second (fps).
Remember that even at 4K, super-budget cameras are unlikely to guarantee the crisp footage you might see on a professional grade GoPro.
Different cameras will react to different lighting levels at varying speeds.
Be sure to check the camera’s battery life and be aware that manufacturers often oversell on this front.
Always carry spare batteries or a portable charger to avoid missing out on the action.
Once the camera starts to age a bit or if you’re a heavy user, you’ll notice the battery drains quicker than at the start.
Action Cameras – Amazon BEST Sellers
Charlotte walks anywhere and everywhere she can. Although she hasn’t ticked off as many official routes as she’d like, she has walked her way around large parts of Latin America, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
Bucket list routes:
Last update on 2021-01-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API