Best cheap action camera 2020: Feature-packed cameras at bargain prices | T3

Best cheap action camera 2020: Feature-packed cameras at bargain prices

Check out our pick of cheap action cameras that can capture your finest action sport moments without the need to spend a fortune

best cheap action camera: Akaso Brave 7 LE
(Image credit: Rich Owen)

If you’re looking for a well-appointed and bombproof camera that won’t send your wallet into cardiac arrest, our expert pick of the best cheap action cameras available has exactly what you need.

These cameras may not be quite as feature-rich as the fanciest models that you'll find topping our list of the best action cameras (current leader: the stunning GoPro HERO8 Black). However, trickledown technology means that most of the cameras here are plenty rugged enough to capture your adventures whether they take place on snow, trail or at sea in state of the art 4K video.

Just like 4K image quality, capture facilities such as image stabilisation, hyperlapse video modes and HDR photography used to be the preserve of range topping models, but now you can find them on cameras costing less than £200 too. Invest in some of the best video editing software to truly bring your adventures to life.

Our dedicated tool will pull in the best prices on each of the models in our list, so you can be sure you're not missing a bargain. And make sure you bookmark our Amazon Prime Day deals guide for any offers when the 2020 event finally arrives.

Best cheap action camera: our expert pick

  • Unlike some of the top-end cams, the cheaper models featured below have lower price tags, sure, but that doesn't necessarily mean they skimp on features.
  • Our top pick for the best cheap action camera is a case in point. Considering its low price, the GoPro HERO7 White has a seemingly endless list of features, including voice control and digital video stabilisation. It's ideal for all extreme sports and outdoors pursuits, both in and out of the water (its waterproof to 10m).

There are more affordable rugged cams still, though most are unable to defeat the GoPro’s mighty performance. That said, there are definitely some GoPro alternatives listed below that you should check out, especially the Yi 4K Action Camera. It might not be as feature-rich as the HERO7 White, but it does deliver 4K footage. 

Before we run you through our list of the best cheap action cameras, let's take a look at how you can zero in on the right one for your chosen extreme sport or outdoor pursuit… 

The best cheap action cam for you

When looking for a budget action camera, there are certain details you need to keep an eye out for if you want to capture action properly. Video quality is the most important. The highest quality currently available is 4K. To really close in on the back spray from your snowboard as you carve across the slopes, you shouldn’t be looking for an action cam that shoots any lower than 1080p at 60fps. 

Also look at the size, shape and weight of the camera. If you’re planning on attaching it to your helmet or equipment, you don’t want a hefty action cam throwing you off balance. You’ll also need to ensure you can get your hands on appropriate mounts for your chosen pursuit 

On top of that, keep in mind whether you would rather view raw footage via your  camera's companion app (if it has one), or whether you’d like to view it on an LCD screen for instant feedback.

While it's true that most cheap action cams aren’t waterproof, there’s always the option to purchase a case to make them safe in torrential downpours or if you’re taking one surfing or SUPing. Other than that, consider photo resolution (especially if you’re looking to take the occasional selfie) and battery life as the essentials. Ready to discover the best cheap action camera for you? Read on...

The best cheap action cameras you can buy right now

Best cheap action camera: GoPro HERO7 White

(Image credit: GoPro)

1. GoPro Hero 7 White

GoPro's sub-£200 model is still the best cheap action camera available

Best for: Overall quality
Video quality: 1440p30, 1080p60
Battery life: 2 hours
Waterproof: 10m without case
Reasons to buy
+Touchscreen+10 metre waterproofing without case+Digital video stabilisation+Voice control

Aiming to extend GoPro's authority into the budget market, the entry level HERO7 White borrows premium features from the flagship HERO7 Black and wraps them in a streamlined, wallet-friendly package, especially compared to the price tag of the new GoPro flagship, the HERO8 Black.

The GoPro HERO7 White has been awarded Best Budget Action Camera in the T3 Awards 2020 – for the second year running (check out more T3 Awards 2020 winners).

The White's design is similar to the HERO7 Black and Silver, making it compatible with GoPro’s extensive mount and housing range. The camera is also shock and waterproof (to 10 metres). The responsive, sunlight-friendly two-inch touchscreen provides rapid access to playback and settings. The built-in (non-removable) battery dishes out around two hours of use per charge.

Considering the low price, voice control is is an impressive addition to the HERO7 White. Filming is as easy as saying, "GoPro, start recording" and waiting for the beep. On the whole, voice recognition is incredibly responsive, although when we took the camera surfing we found that the Hero won’t always pick up commands over the cacophony of crashing waves.

Keeping things simple, the HERO7 White offers just two filming resolutions: 1440 or 1080p at 30 or 60fps, as well as 10MP stills. From ’board to bike, footage is crisp and vibrant, and Video Stabilisation mode helps keep clips smooth when things get turbulent. 

Auto Low Light mode works incredibly well when shooting in darker situations, like under a tree canopy; switch these modes off and you’ll quickly realise the difference they make. In the past, entry level GoPro cameras dispensed with the slow-motion video option, so it’s great to see it make an appearance in the HERO7 White.

If you live for cliff diving or base jumping and need to make banging edits to appease your sponsors, you’ll probably find the Hero’s lack of 4K resolution a tad limiting. However, if you’re a part-time adrenaline junkie needing a reliable, easy to operate HD camera to shoot YouTube-ready footage of your adventures, the GoPro HERO7 White is the big-name cheap action camera to beat.

best cheap action camera: Akaso Brave 7 LE

(Image credit: Akaso )

2. Akasko Brave 7 LE

A front screen equipped camera with a bargain price tag

Best for: Vlogging
Video quality: 4K30
Battery life: 50 minutes
Waterproof: 1m (or 30m with supplied case)
Reasons to buy
+Front and rear screens+A lot of camera for the money+Two batteries, remote and mounts included
Reasons to avoid
-Problematic app support

The Brave 7 LE fits nicely in the palm of your hand. At 127g, it has a sturdy weight to it and its contoured metal and plastic body looks and feels like a camera with a far heftier price tag. While its headline feature is a front-facing screen, the Brave 7 LE also sports a number of features only usually found on fancier models, such as voice control, time-lapse facilities and six-axis image stabilisation. Factor in that it comes with two batteries, a remote, a wide range of mounts and a waterproof housing and this is a camera that gives fantastic value for money. If you're looking for a rugged and feature packed camera with a wallet-friendly price, the Akaso Brave 7 LE is seriously hard to beat.

Read more: Akaso Brave 7 LE action camera review

best cheap action camera: Akaso V50 X

(Image credit: Akaso)

3. Akaso V50 X

This budget action cam can shoot 4K video at 30fps

Best for: Maximum bangs for minimum bucks
Video quality: 4K30, 2.7K30, 2K60
Battery life: 60 minutes
Waterproof: 40m with case
Reasons to buy
+4K30 video for less than £100+Video stabilisation+2-inch touchscreen+Diving mode for underwater capture
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life could be longer

While it may look remarkably similar to ageing GoPro models, Akaso’s V50 X camera is bang up to date. Top billing goes to its ability to shoot 4K video at 30fps, which is mightily impressive for a camera costing less than a £100/$100, but its list of well-appointed features doesn’t end there. While you don't get the front-facing camera included in the slightly pricier Akasko Brave 7 LE, the V50 X can take 12MP stills, has in-built image stabilisation software and comes with an adjustable wide-angle lens that has a maximum field of view of 170 degrees. It also boasts slow-motion video at 1080P90 or 720P120, time-lapse video, a stills timer and a host of metering and exposure options.

The camera comes complete with a host of accessories, including an underwater housing, spare battery, remote shutter and a selection of GoPro-compatible mounts. A smartphone app is also available allowing you to remotely operate the camera, view your content and share it directly on social media. All in all, this is a hugely competitive package that is outstanding value for its price. 

Best cheap action camera: YI 4K action camera

4. YI 4K Action Camera

One of the best cheap action cameras for capturing high quality footage

Best for: Quality footage
Video quality: 4K30
Battery life: 2 hours
Waterproof: 40m with case
Reasons to buy
+4K recording+Sony Sensor+Slow motion mode

If you like the look and feel of the latest GoPro action cams but your budget doesn’t quite stretch to one, try this. You don’t get much in the box with the YI 4K Action Camera, but there isn’t much else that can rain on your parade with this sleek, affordable device. YI’s action cam shoots in 4K at 30fps and, thanks to an excellent LCE 7 layer all-glass lens and Sony Exmor-R IMX377 sensor, the quality is top-notch, even in lower light situations. Stills are commedable at 12MP.

Electronic image stabilisation, courtesy of a built-in gyroscope and accelerometer, keeps footage smooth at resolutions lower than 4K. A 720p/240fps mode produces impressive slow-mo footage. The YI’s design is also neat and simplistic, and out back you’ll find a vivid 2.19-inch Gorilla Glass LCD touchscreen for ease of control and playback. The only downside to the YI 4K is that its 155-degree angle of view isn’t as wide as many of the other cheap action cams here. Plus, you’ll need to shell out for a waterproof case if you want to take it in the water.

The best cheap action camera: Olfi One.Five Black

(Image credit: Olfi)

5. Olfi One.Five Black (2nd gen)

A feature-packed camera with a bargain price tag

Best for: Features
Video quality: 4K 24fps
Battery life: N/A
Waterproof: 30m with case
Reasons to buy
+Excellent image and video quality+Image stabilisation+Compact size+Memory card included
Reasons to avoid
-Small touchscreen

This second generation Olfi One.Five Black gives you a big, bulging bag of bangs for a relatively small number of bucks. It can shoot in 4K, can take 15 megapixel photos, has in-built image stabilisation, is waterproof to 30 meters, can record slow motion at 120fps and has a wealth of other features you’d expect to find on a camera costing a whole lot more. The package also includes a carry case, an array of mounts and accessories, an ultra-fast 64GB MicroSD memory card and even free accidental damage cover. You may expect Olfi to have cut some corners to hit such a competitive price point with the One.Five Black, but the camera is solidly built, the rear touchscreen is responsive and the Sony branded sensor is excellent even in low light conditions.

The best cheap action camera: Sony HDR-AS50

6. Sony HDR-AS50

A streamlined action camera with a flair for high quality stills

Best for: Shooting stills
Video quality: 1080p60, 720p120
Battery life: 2.5 hours
Waterproof: 60m with case
Reasons to buy
+Shoots quality stills+Waterproof to 60m in housing+Great video image stabilisation+Streamlined design

The HDR-AS50 may sit closer to the bottom of Sony’s action cam range, but it still packs plenty of punch. In the hardware department Sony has opted for a Zeiss Tessar lens, paired with a 1/2.3-inch Exmor R CMOS sensor. Adventurers can achieve 1080p full HD resolution at 60fps, or drop to 720p to double the frame rate to 120. 

Video quality is commendable considering the camera’s price, and built-in SteadyShot electronic image stabilisation helps smooth out any activity, whether you’re hitting mountain bike trails or kayaking down rolling rapids. Audio leaves a little to be desired, particular with the camera in its waterproof housing, and there’s no option to connect an external microphone.

Stills are where the HDR-AS50 really shines. At 11.1 megapixels they compete with the GoPro HERO7 White and YI 4K. On the whole results are crisp and vibrant – ideal for taking quick snaps on your travels. The supplied underwater housing is a beast, enabling the camera to reach depths of 60 metres. That's in addition to top notch shock- dust- and sand-proofing. However, adding the housing bumps the weight up by almost 100 grams. The HDR-AS50 is no GoPro beater, but for a rugged and cheap action camera with loads of mounting options, there’s plenty here for action junkies.

Best cheap action camera: Kaiser Baas X4

7. Kaiser Baas X4

A great choice if you have butter fingers or shaky hands

Best for: Image stabilisation
Video quality: 4K
Battery life: N/A
Waterproof: 40m with case
Reasons to buy
+Easy grip case+Great image stabilisation+4K at 30fps

This rubbery feeling action cam has ridged sides to lessen the chance of you dropping it while you’re getting stuck into your latest high octane pursuit. Controls are located a little strangely, with the Wi-Fi button on top, the power button and indicator lights on the front, and up/down selectors on the side, so it might take a little getting used to. 

Move past the odd controls though and the Kaiser Baas X4 puts in a pleasing performance. It shoots detailed 4K video at 30fps, along with 12MP stills. Built-in video stabilisation smooths out the shakes and judders when things getting bumpy. If you want to add some extra style to your edits, the X4 can shoot slow-mo HD video at 120fps. Heading into the water? Attach the included case and it will have no problem hitting depths of up to 40 metres.

Best cheap action camera: Veho Muvi KX-1 4K

8. Veho Muvi KX-1 4K

A great all-round cheap action camera for hitting the water

Best for: Small budgets
Video quality: 4K10, 1080p60
Battery life: N/A
Waterproof: 40m with case
Reasons to buy
+4K10 resolution+Plenty of photo modes+40m waterproof case supplied 

It might not be much of a looker, but Veho’s newest cheap action camera can deliver UHD 4K10 or 1080p60 footage with consummate ease. On the camera’s rear is a 1.8-inch smart LCD touchscreen, making it simple to navigate menus and preview your footage and stills. The KX-1’s stills game is strong too. Shoot straight 12MP images, or try time-lapse, photo burst or 180-degree rollover modes (for when you’re mounting the camera upside-down) and get creative with your shots. If you’re looking to take the Muvi KX-1 underwater, the camera comes with a 40m waterproof housing – ideal if you’re diving, surfing, or in the swimming pool on holiday. When you’re done shooting, the free Muvi app for iOS or Android devices makes it a doddle to stream your videos or share you photos on your social channels.

Best cheap action camera: Xiaomi Mijia Camera Mini

9. Xiaomi Mijia Camera Mini

Shoot 4K footage in style and without breaking your bank

Best for: Style
Video quality: 4K30
Battery life: 2 hours
Waterproof: 45m with case (available separately)
Reasons to buy
+Range of accessories+Stylish design+Works well in low light

The Xiaomi action camera could earn its place on this list for the stylish design alone, but thankfully there’s plenty happening under the hood to justify its inclusion in our best cheap action camera buyer’s guide. The 7-glass lens and Sony IMX317 sensor work in perfect harmony, whether you’re shooting under blue skies or grey clouds. Footage is electronically stabilised across 6-axes of movement, and 3D noise reduction technology helps smooth out your shots. Settings can be tweaked on the 2.4-inch touchscreen. In its standalone state, the Mijia Camera mini is best used as a lightweight, portable camera to documents your travels, but pair it with the array of mounts or 45m waterproof housing and it will be ready tackle anything.

Insta360 GO

(Image credit: Insta360 GO)

10. Insta360 Go

The smallest feature-packed action camera you can buy

Best for: Use as a wearable
Video quality: 1080 25fps
Battery life: 200 18sec clips
Waterproof: Not quite
Reasons to buy
+A lightweight and wearable camera+Full HD quality video+Image stabilisation+Hyperlapse, timelapse and slow-mo
Reasons to avoid
-Only shoots up to 60 secs at a time

While it may look more like a desktop webcam, the Insta360 Go is a fully functioning action camera that punches well above its gossamer 18.3g weight. At 5cm in length, the Go makes an ideal wearable camera and comes with a back clip and pendant as well as a selection of conventional base attachments. It also has a magnetic rear so it can be quickly fixed to any metal surface.

The Insta360 Go can record 1080p HD quality video at 25fps and is designed for shooting short video clips of up to 60 seconds at a time. In addition to conventional video, it can also record timelapse, moving hyperlapse sequences and slow motion video at 100fps. Incredibly for a camera of this size, the Go comes with in-built image stabilisation, which Insta360 have dubbed FlowState. While not fully waterproof, the tiny camera shrugs off wet conditions and is rugged enough to survive being fully submerged in water for up to 10 seconds at a time.

The best cheap action camera 2020: AKASO EK7000 Pro 4K

11. AKASO EK7000 Pro 4K

The ideal budget choice for capturing water-based pursuits

Best for: Diving and watersports
Video quality: 4K25, 2.7K30 and 1080p60
Battery life: 90 minutes
Waterproof: 40m with case
Reasons to buy
+Diving Mode for underwater capture+Electronic image stabilisation+4K25 top resolution+Slick 2-inch touchscreen

At its top resolution, AKASO’s budget shooter can deliver crisp footage at 4K25. Drop to 1080p and the EK7000 is capable of 60fps for those epic slow mo clips. There’s also a 16 megapixel sensor if stills are your bag. Built-in electronic image stabilisation takes care of smoothing your footage if the action gets a little unruly or your subject is moving fast, while the adjustable viewing angle enables power users to switch between narrow and super wide.

If most of your adventures take place in water, the EK7000 is definitely aimed at you; add the supplied waterproof case to enable shooting to a depth of 40 metres, while a dedicated Diving Mode compensates for the lack of red light underwater, ensuring that your sub-aquatic shots are just as good as those taken on dry land. The EK7000 also functions as a dash cam with Loop and Upside Down recording functionality, while control of settings, shooting modes and playback is handled smoothly via the 2-inch touchscreen.