If you are looking for an action camera that delivers solid performance but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, set your budget to around $200.
There are truly excellent budget action camera options in this range for cash-strapped users.
I have compiled another list of the best action cameras under $100.
This list is for what I call “moderate budget” users, who want an affordable action camera but not a dirt cheap one.
For around $200, you can get good specs like the 4K that actually works.
GoPro HERO session tops the list because of its overall features.
Read ahead for a list of best action camera under $200:
|1||GoPro HERO Session||572 Reviews||Check Price|
|2||YI 4K Sports and Action Video Camera (US Edition) Night Black||480 Reviews||Check Price|
|3||Sony HDRAS50/B Full HD Action Cam (Black)||42 Reviews||Check Price|
|4||Kodak PIXPRO SP1 Action Cam with Aqua Sport Pack 14 MP Waterproof, Full HD 1080p Video, Digital...||104 Reviews||Check Price|
|5||ThiEYE T5e 4K WIFI Sports Action Camera, 16MP Ultra HD FPV 60M Waterproof Video Camera Camcorder...||39 Reviews||Check Price|
5 Best Action Cameras Under $200 – 2017
#1 GoPro HERO Session
Hands, down, GoPro HERO Session is the best action camera under $200 you can buy. This is our choice action camera to use. Hero was formerly known as GoPro Session 4, and it supports a variety of resolutions, including 1080p 60, 50, 30, 25 ultra wide, medium 1920 x 1080, 1080p SuperView, 720p SuperView, 1440p, and many more. You can find a full list of resolutions supported on the official GoPro website. Do not expect the same video quality as GoPro Hero Silver though.
The camera itself is very small and lightweight, so it’s highly portable. It’s very easy to operate as well. It has one-click operation, meaning video recording starts with a single press of the main button. It has an accompanying smartphone app as well. So, you can technically start recording with a handheld device as well.
We tested the Hero Sessions on hiking trips frequently. It’s great for shooting field views of vast, horizontal landscapes. With about a 3mm angle, there’s a bit of a fisheye effect, but it’s not too bad. It’s certainly not on the same scale as higher end GoPros, but it’s well suited for amateur videographers. Making clip videos is super easy with GoPro studio software. You can buy a host of accessories for this as well, like suction cup mounts for using in cars, boats, or bikes. Storage is expandable with an SD card.
We have to point out that this GoPro is remarkable durable and sturdy too. We have dropped it about twice now, and it got caught in rain once, and we even sat down on it once. But it works like none of this ever happened. If there’s a negative, we’d say the crappy Wi-Fi connection. It can take some time to set up and start working. Battery life could be a bit longer as well. Ours lasted about 2 hours on 1080p resolution.
- Variety of resolutions supported including Full HD
- Remarkably durable, sturdy and well built
- Smartphone compatible
- Some fisheye effect with wide angle shots
- Bad Wi-Fi connection
- Battery life could last longer
- Set up takes time
#2 YI 4K Action Camera (US Edition) Night Black
This is a tiny, but powerful camera. From the outset, the sleek design is notable. It looks like a neat little black box. This camera easily links to smartphones and tablets, so functionality level is high. It records 4K video at 30 fps, 1080 video at 120 fps, and 720p video at 240fps. So the specs are really solid. It can also take 12MP photos. We highly recommend this for landscape photographs, mainly because of the 155-degree wide angle lens with an F2.8 aperture. It supports really high speed Wi-Fi between 5GHz and 2.4GHz too.
The built-in touchscreeen has 640×360 resolution, which is quite high for camera screens. It’s powered by an Ambarella A9SE75 chip and a Sony IMX377 image sensor, so you know this is of the best quality the money can buy. It has image stability, and also comes with a cooling system. The cooling system prevents the camera from overheating, and enables stable recording throughout. Compared to GoPro Hero Session mentioned below, this one doesn’t have much contrast, but YI boots faster. Please note that this camera unfortunately lacks HDMI output.
- Shoots 4k and Full HD video
- Supports high speed Wi-Fi
- Powerful processor
- Cooling system that stabilized recording
- Fast booting
- No HDMI output
- Somewhat high contrast
#3 Sony HDRAS50/B Full HD Action Cam
This is definitely one of the best action cameras under 200 money can buy. This Sony is an older model, but it can stand toe to toe with a GoPro any given day. The quality of the video is truly impressive when shot while moving. This camera can shoot Full HD video with XAVC-S. What really makes it worth it is the SteadyShot image stabilization tech. It reduces blur in footage shot while in rapid motion. We’ve shot video using this when biking and driving, and there’s a noticeable difference in quality when compared to just about any other action camera in this price range. There’s little oscillation so the video is not nauseating to watch.
The camera is a bit bulky, but it comes with a waterproof case and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC connections. With ZEISS lenses, it offers Optical Steady shots. The waterproof housing can withstand 60m of submergence. It’s definitely well worth the money, but keep in mind that it only works with software Sony provides. It lacks a connection to stream HD video on TVs too.
- Shoots Full HD video with XAVC-S
- SteadyShot image stabilization
- 60m waterproof casing
- Only works with Sony software
- Can’t watch HD video on a TV screen directly from the camera
- Somewhat bulky
#4 Kodak PIXPRO SP1 Action Cam with Aqua Sport Pack
This Kodak action cam comes with an easy to grip exterior painted an eye-catching yellow. It can shoot 1080p Full HD video in 10 fps. For high speed movies, fps can go up to 120. It can shoot full res images with the 14 MP camera at 10fps. The camera has time lapse video and a feature to capture slow motion video too. It can sync to a mobile app wirelessly. This camera comes in an accessory pack intended for watersports. The pack includes an adhesive surfboard mount, head strap, curved adhesive mount, flat adhesive mount, tethers, extended arms, and base plates.
It’s waterproof so it can shoot underwater video as well. We found the underwater video quality to be quite good an on par with surface video. The battery life is really long and can stretch up to 3 hours. The cam has good auto exposure and white balance too. The cam however lacks auto shut off for video. We found it a bit heavy for an action cam too. Also, it doesn’t work with 64GB cards and only supports 32GB max SD cards.
- Long battery life
- Good video quality even underwater
- Pack comes with various mounts
- No auto shutoff for video
- Bit on the heavy side
- Memory expandable only to 32GB max
#5 ThiEYE Ultra 4K Action Camera
This action camera can shoot 4K video and is powered by an Ambarella A12s processor and a Sony IMX117 image sensor. It does shoot 3840×2160 Ultra HD 4K 30fps as advertised without any issues. It can shoot 3840×2160 video at 25p in SuperView, which is a wide screen shot. It can shoot 1280×720 video at 240p. There are loads more high speed resolutions to choose from. It has simple image stabilization to reduce blurring and shakeup too.
The camera comes in IPX8 waterproof housing, so you don’t have to worry about taking this snorkeling or whitewater rafting. There’s a corresponding smartphone app for the cam. The camera sports a larger 1100mAh battery too. It can definitely last more than an hour, and power can be stretched depending on usage. We initially had some issues using the app, and we had to contact the manufacturer. Impressively, they got right back to us and fixed the issue. The only problem we had was with the firmware. The camera comes with outdated firmware that needs to be upgraded soon after unboxing.
- Loads of resolutions including 4k video
- Higher battery capacity
- IPX8 waterproof casing
- Solid processor
- Firmware needs upgrading
- App could be buggy
Tips for Buying a Good Action Camera with a $200 Budget
Here are several tips to keep in mind when buying a good action camera under $200:
If you are willing to spend close to $200, then you are not going for a dirt cheap action camera. So look closely at the features on offer. A $200 camera must offer more than what you can get for a $100.
Do not expect true 4K for this price. Most budget action cams advertise 4k video, but it’s shot at a very low fps, like 15. In other words, not really 4k. What you should look for instead is the fps for 1080p. Most budget cameras mentioned above can shoot excellent 1080p 60fps video, which is really all you need for truly great footage.
Do not buy the action camera if the max field view is below 140 degrees. The higher the field view, the wider the footage will be. It’s best to understand various camera specs so you can make the best buying decision. Here is a useful guide.
Not all budget action cameras are waterproof or water resistant. So make sure the camera has waterproof features before buying if you need it.
Buy your action camera from a seller with good ratings for customer support. You may need to replace parts or upgrade software, which you will have to rely on the seller for. Therefore, it’s important to go with a good one.