I have gotten a lot of queries about whether cheap action cams are good and whether you should consider getting one. That’s why I decided to write this article, which we will be discussing on the pros and cons of cheap action cams.
As we know, action cameras are on the low side of the price spectrum. Many people buy action cameras because they aren’t planning to spend a lot on a camera. But are cheap action cameras any good? Is a $30 camera going to break down after a month? Or are you better off spending way more on a digital camera or sticking to your phone?
Let’s find out!
Action Cams Vs Other Types of Cameras
Let’s start off by doing a quick comparison between action cams and other types of camera, ie. camcorders or digital cameras to get a better idea of how much cheaper action cams are, compared to the rest.
Mid-range action cameras like the Thieye T5e & Gitup Git 2 cost about 100-150 USD. However, when placed side by side with other types of cameras at the mid range price point, such as camcorders or digital cameras, these do seem to be way overpriced, pricing at 250-400 USD.
Firstly, action cameras are mostly china-based and made. A few popular brands would be like SJCAM, Eken, Yi, ThiEYE and more. As we know, whatever that is made from China are significantly cheaper than the rest of the world due to their low labour cost.
Secondly, the materials used to make the majority of action cams. There is significantly lower production cost of an action camera because there is less electronics involved and majority of the camera’s body is made from relatively cheaper materials such as plastic and rubber. This is because they prioritise the external, physical features, to make it more durable, rather than focusing on the video and photo quality.
Some of the features to consider when getting one:
Video Resolution – Anything above 1080p 60fps
Image Sensor – Preferably Sony Exmor or Ambarella
Wireless Connectivity – To pair with your smartphone
Waterproofing – 30m and above preferably
Accessories – Should come with the basic set
External Remote Control – To remotely control the camera
What can you get from a cheap action cam?
We are now going to go over what you can get from a cheap action cam.
Just a word of warning for action cams at the price range, although the action cam’s specs sheet and descriptions look very nice and pretty, for example being able to film 4K or taking 16MP shots, you must know that many of these stats are intelligently disguised to trick buyers and most of the times, what you think is really too good to be true is fake.
Having said that, below are some of the features that can be found in cheap action cams.
Under 50 USD
Max. Video Resolution: 2K (none has the ability to film real 4K yet)
Max Image/Picture Resolution: Around 3MP (marjority) though there are some 8MP ones without image stabilization.
Image Stabilization: Anti-Shake Only
Includes basic set of accessories (mounts, charging cable, some have remote control)
Between 50 – 100 USD
Max. Video Resolution: 2K (none can film real 4K as of now)
Max Image/Picture Resolution: 12MP
Image Stabilization: Anti-Shake & Gyro
Includes basic set of accessories (mounts, charging cable, some have remote control, adapter, etc)
My Top 5 Recommendations Below 100:
Firefly 6S (Has Gyro Stabilization)
SJCAM SJ4000 (Stable build)
Yi (Excellent Customer Support)
Eken H9 (User-friendly interface)
Mgcool Explorer Pro (Reliable Smartphone App)
Final Qn: Is it worth your money?
Honesly, the answer is that it really depends on your needs and uses. If you’re using it for general use, such as holiday vlogging or taking family photos, action cam would make the cut. However, if you really value video or picture quality a lot, and don’t mind the lack of waterproofing, shock proofing, etc, DSLR or camcorders will make the cut, though costing a lot more.
Comparing to other types of cameras’ value for money, I feel action cams are by far the best bang for your buck in the market right now, thus, if you are looking for a cheap camera to have, that would be your best bet.
I have owned and reviewed many cheap action cams below 80 USD and compared to digital cameras (I used them before action cams were popular) at this price range, I like action cams way more due to their versatility and durability when filming.
Also, if you’re looking for a cheap action cam, my best advice for you is not to think of getting one that’s good overall, because that’s not possible at this price range. Instead, priortise certain features that you want, such as gyro stabilization, screen, good image sensor, remote control, etc and go for those that has it!
That comes to the end of this article! Hopefully by now, you have a better idea of whether or not a cheap action camera suits your needs!
If you’ve don’t really know what action cam suits you, feel free to drop a comment, maybe saying your price range, your needs or possibly the features that you are looking for! I’ll definitely reply as soon as I can.
Lastly, thanks for dropping by and have a great day ahead! 🙂