To capture those thrilling, adrenaline-infused moments, you need a solid action camera that can withstand rough handling. The rugged action cameras are no longer confined to professional photographers.
When you think of action cameras, you probably think GoPro. The brand has singlehandedly made action cameras popular among not just sports enthusiasts, but pet lovers and homemakers too.
Nowadays, everyone from professional snowboarders to cute pets who can’t stand still wears action cameras to capture breathtaking moments.
Thanks to this widespread popularity, there are plenty of action cameras that are highly affordable for budget users. You really don’t need to spend more than $100 for a good action camera with great features for home use. Here are our picks at a glance:
Best Action Camera Under $100 List – 2017
This rather small action camera can shoot 4k HD video at 30 fps or 1080p Full HD video at 60 fps. It can take 16MP photos too. The rather powerful resolutions are paired with 170-degree wide angle lens for taking capturing images in panoramic ranges. It has Wi-Fi which ranges about 10 meters, and comes with a remote controller. The camera comes with a waterproof casing so you can even take this snorkeling or diving. It also has an HDMI connection.
We found the picture and video quality to be really crisp. For photos, the camera can achieve resolutions up to 4608×3456, which is impressive. It also has really high speed functionality. For 720p resolution, the fps is 90! So you can be assured of shooting really smooth footage. The build is also very compact and lightweight, ideal for travelling. It also came with a ton of accessories for mounting, fitting, a cleaning cloth, and even an extra battery. Speaking of battery, the capacity is a disappointing 900mAh, possibly because the camera is small. It can shoot video on highest settings for perhaps 50 minutes. Depending on your settings, battery can last up to 90 minutes max.
- Compact for travel
- Waterproof casing provided
- Comes with a lot of accessories
- Full HD video with high speed smoothness
- High res pictures
- Wi-Fi remote
- Small battery capacity
This action camera packs the Ambarella A7LS image processor, which is the world’s leading image processor for action cameras. It makes pixel processing very speedy, and also has dynamic range enhancement, advanced image stabilization, and noise reduction tech.
This is a 16MP camera, combined with the amazing processor, takes sharp and vibrant photographs. Pictures have little to no noise and come out great even in low-light conditions.
This camera can take pictures or video in 1080p high-def resolution at 60 FPS. Full range of resolutions and maximum FPS is as follows: 1080p/60 FPS, 720p/120 FPS, and 848×480/240 FPS.
This camera also comes with a cool feature that makes it possible to accelerate shooting. That is very useful when you are taking shots of objects moving really fast. It also has a really strong Wi-Fi signal with up to 100 meters in range. The camera comes with two 1200mAh rechargeable batteries.
You can get little over an hour of nonstop shooting with them. That’s not too long, but it’s actually extended compared to previous versions.
This camera is speedy, but the time for actually taking pictures can take a couple of seconds. The camera issues a “beep” when it is ready to shoot. But it doesn’t mean you have actually taken a picture. It takes about 2 seconds to get the camera ready for a shooting. Regardless, overall this is a very reliable and excellent product.
- Top-of-the-line image processor
- HD resolution for video afnd photos
- Noise reduction tech
- Low light shooting possible
- Accelerated shooting for fast objects
- Great Wi-Fi signal
- Battery life is extended but won’t last more than an hour of nonstop shooting
- Takes the camera about 2 seconds to prep for a shoot
This is a box-like, light weight action camera that can take 20MP photos and 4K video. It can shoot 4k ultra HD video in 25 FPS, or 2k video at 30 FPS. Video and pictures are undoubtedly clear thanks to ultra HD features. The camera casing is also waterproof up to 30 meters.
You can take this underwater for snorkeling or swimming trips as long as you don’t dive below 30 meters. It comes with 2 1050mAh batteries. The battery capacity is not impressive, but these batteries should allow about roughly an hour of nonstop video shooting. The batteries take only about an hour to recharge.
Other perks include a 170-degree wide angle lens for taking truly panoramic shots. Also, the camera has an HDMI output. It also has a setting for image stabilization if needed.
It’s possible to do time lapse recording and loop recordings on this camera. Memory can be expanded up to 64GB using a micro SD card.
This camera comes in the default video mode, so you have to press down the power button to get to the camera mode. There are a number of modes for playback and settings, and you have to cycle through all modes to get to what you want.
- Waterproof up to 30 meters
- 4k and 2k video
- Ultra wide angle lens
- Image stabilization setting
- Low battery capacity
- Have to cycle through modes
This is a high-res camera where you can shoot video in 4K at 25 FPS, 2.7K at 30 FPS, 1080p at 60 FPS, or 720p at 120 FPS. That is indeed impressive. If you want crisp and clear video capturing super fast action, then this is the camera for you. For photos, it only has 12MP max.
While photographs come out in rather high quality, this camera is best for shooting videos. It has time lapse and loop recording modes. Other modes include burse photo. It’s also waterproof up to 30 meters, so this is a great action camera for watersports enthusiasts.
The camera has a HDMI outlet and built-in Wi-Fi with a range up to 10 meters, which is impressive. It has a 1050mAh battery. It can shoot HD video nonstop for about 50 minutes.
There are two battery provided so you can extend this up to 2 hours. Recharging batteries are quick.
This camera is really easy to use and takes great pictures and video both underwater and above the water. Controls are really easy to use, but sometimes you may experience a lag. It does not have image stabilization.
- Ultra HD res for video and photos
- Works underwater up to 30 meters
- 10m Wi-Fi range
- Multiple recording modes
- Easy to use
- Controls sometimes have a lag
- No image stabilization setting
This is a really well constructed camera that comes with a waterproof case. The exterior is really durable and has no cheap plastic feel like some other cameras. It enables really fast video shooting, and photos captures are equally stunning.
You can take 4k video using this camera at 24 fps. 2k video at 30 fps and 1080p video at 60 fps is enabled. So this is a really reliable high-def camera. Thanks to high fps, video shooting is really smooth. The camera also takes 12MP photos, including burst photos.
You can capture photos up to 30 fps, so it’s great for capturing high-speed action in still pictures. For video, time lapse features are available.
It also comes with an image stabilizer that works as tended. It’s also incredibly waterproof. You can take it diving even down to 94 feet! The camera also boots up really fast and overall works really speedily.
The total downside is the battery. It won’t last an hour. And during some 4k video shoots the battery didn’t last 15 minutes. You also need to separately charge the batteries because the camera doesn’t come with a charger.
- Durable exterior
- Waterproof casing
- 4k and HD shooting
- Great for capturing still photos of fast action
- Terrible battery
This is a full HD action camera that can shoot 4k video at 25 fps. All resolutions for video are as following: 4k at 25 fps, 2.7k at 30 fps, 1080p at 60 fps, 720p at 60 fps.
Video is really smooth and gets captures in high quality as promised. As for photos, you can capture 12MP photographs up to a maximum resolution of 4608×2592.
That’s really cool for a camera of this price range. This camera is also made with a waterproof casing so you can shoot pictures underwater while snorkeling and diving. There’s a waterproof case provided for diving. Picture quality largely lasts underwater as well.
It comes with two 1050mAh rechargeable batteries. Battery life will depend on what you do with the camera. If you are shooting nonstop, expect the batteries to last only about an hour.
It won’t last long if you are using very high resolutions. But compared to other models, this camera has more reliable batteries. Recharging is a pain and can take up to 3.5 hours. On the other hand, it does have built-in Wi-Fi and image stabilization features.
- Full HD video shots
- Sharp photos with a very high max resolution
- Waterproof casing provided for diving
- Reliable battery life
- Takes a long time to recharge batteries
How to Buy an Action Camera with a $100 Budget
When people think of action cameras, they think GoPro. This is not the only brand available out there. So, be open minded and be willing to learn to get a good action camera under $100 that suits your needs.
Do not discriminate based on the brand name. Discriminate based on the features offered against the price.
Video resolution is very important when buying an action camera. Otherwise, you can do with just about any smartphone camera. Currently, 4K is the highest action camera resolution available. Next come 1080p and 720p resolutions. To stream top-quality 4K video, you need compatible TVs or a computer.
If you don’t, go for the 1080p and 720p resolutions, which is compatible with almost all TVs and computers.
Size and shape of the camera also matter. For example, box-shaped action cameras are the best for chest mounting. Bullet shaped ones are the best for helmet mounting.
If you need a highly portable action camera, choose the most lightweight one.
Most action cameras have rugged exteriors to last long. However, do pay attention to features on offer like waterproof and weatherproof. If you plan on taking your action camera near a body of water, make sure it doesn’t require a waterproof casing.
The field of view (FOV) offered in action cameras matter when it comes to how a moment is captured. Action cameras offer wide angle, medium and narrow FOVs. Wide angle is the most common, but it alco commonly causes distortions in the angle.
You need to consider the megapixel level offered by the action camera to take still photos. The higher the MP is, the better the photo resolution will be, just like in smartphones.
Expect that battery life will depend on usage level. If you shoot high-res videos, have Wi-Fi on, the battery will drain faster. So, don’t take the battery life on the label too seriously as it can vary depending on usage.
To avoid jerky footage, get an action camera with high memory capacity and fast writing speeds. A Class 10 memory card is enough for average needs.
You may need to buy extra accessories to use your action camera for certain activities. For example, if you need surfing footage, you will have to buy a special mount to fix the camera onto a surfing board. Not all cameras can be accessorized in that manner.
So, before you buy, carefully consider your needs. When buying, make sure the camera can be accessorized the way you want to for special needs.