best action camera under 100

There is really no better way to capture your once in a lifetime, thrilling moments, than a solid action camera that can withstand a heavy beating.

Most people think getting an action camera under $100 really limits your choice but truth to be told, there are tons of awesome action cameras out there that are great so why would you spend $400+ on a GoPro when you can get pretty much the same thing for a quarter of that?

Without further ado, let’s go over our top recommendations for the best action camera for under 100!


What To Consider & How to Choose

Real Resolution
native resolution in action cameras
Full Guide On Fake Resolution Here

Determining the shooting resolution isn’t that straightforward because there are many action cameras with fake resolutions, especially at this price point and most of them claim to be able to film 4K but are in fact fake 4k which can be achieved through interpolation.

This is the reason why there are many cheap action cameras claims to film in true 4K.

But having said that, those cameras most of the time are still able to shoot pretty sharp 1080p videos, so I’m not in any way saying they are bad.

Features

live streaming remote control wind noise reduction image stabilisation (features to consider)

There are many features that can improve video quality and user experience.

Some features to consider would be:

  • Gyro Image Stabilization
  • Wind Noise Reduction
  • Live Streaming
  • Touchscreen
  • Remote Control

Something to note is that at this price range (<$100), it is usually one or the other so you’ll have to prioritise what you really need vs what you want.

Accessories
eken h9r accessories
Eken H9R Accessories

What accessories does it come with?

Mounts, adapters, remote controls are just some of the few accessories that can come with your action cam.

However, the accessories provided shouldn’t affect your buying choice as you need to remind yourself that you’re buying the camera itself, rather than the accessories.

For the most of us, a waterproof protective housing is good enough. But if you’re thinking of mounting onto your backpack or bicycle, you’re going to need additional mounts.

The most important thing to note is that all action cameras do not come with a micro-SD card, hence if you don’t already have it, consider my top recommendations here!

Top 11 Best Action Cameras Under 100 2018

Name Summary Native Resolution Best Buy
Rexso Explorer K Great Image Quality With A Few Drawbacks 4K (3840 x 2160) 30fps
MGCOOL Explorer 3 Best Action Camera With Wind Noise Reduction 4K (3840 x 2160)30fps
Thieye E7 Great Camera For Underwater Shooting 4K (3840 x 2160) 30fps
Yi Lite Best Overall Action Camera Under $100 4K (3840 x 2160) 20fps / 1440p 30fps
Yi Discovery Cheap Yet User Friendly Action Cam 1080P 60fps
Eken H9R Best Action Camera For Beginners 1080P 60fps
MGCOOL Explorer Pro 2 Best Touchscreen Action Cam Under 60 With Accessories 1080P 60fps
Firefly 7S Best Non-Distortion Action Camera 2.5K (2560 x 1440) 30fps
MGCOOL Explorer 2C Best Action Cam With Exposure Correction 2.5K (2560 x 1440) 30fps
Eken H9S Best Cheap Live Streaming Action Camera 1080P 60fps
Rexso Explorer X Best Cheapest Usable Action Camera 1080P 60fps

 

1. Rexso Explorer K – Great Image Quality With A Few Drawbacks

explorer k review - body shot: front, back and side

The new Explorer K by Rexso, Elephone is quite a debatable action camera in my opinion because the views on this are very split,  mainly due to the fact that it has many strengths and weaknesses, some even saying this is the best cheap 4k action camera while others face a lot of problems and didn’t find it user-friendly.

For me, surprisingly, I found them both to be true. The Explorer K has superb image quality and stabilization but it wasn’t as easy or intuitive to use, compared with other action cams.

The Explorer K is undoubtedly the cheapest 4K action camera there is as of now. It’s able to stabilise real 4K videos and take really accurate and sharp 16MP photos, which is further complemented by the accurate and saturated colours on the shot.

Simply said, the image quality is surprisingly good, and one of the best, for something of this price point.

H265 Video Encoding

h265 vs h264 video encoding

Furthermore, the Explorer K also comes with tons of accessories and has H265 efficient video coding, which means you can film and take more shots, without it taking up any extra storage space.

Bright & Clear Screens

explorer k screen

As for the display, the Explorer K features a 2-inch screen and although it isn’t touchscreen, it’s one of the best screens I have seen because it’s really bright and clear, allowing you to see clearly no matter where you are.

The Explorer K looks all great and dandy till here, but as I mentioned earlier, there are also quite a few cons.

Drawback: Lack of User-friendliness

The main one is that it generally isn’t very user-friendly, does not have good indications (when taking a photo/video, no sound, light whatsoever), multiple spelling errors lying around in the camera and in the app. It also requires a bit of time for you to get used to it as there’s 1 less button to navigate around.

Overall, it’s hardware and image quality it can produce is phenomenal for something at this price. However, until they release the next firmware update, you’ll have to work around with the lack of user-friendliness and occasional glitches here and there.

Check out my full review of the Explorer K here!

Pros Cons
H.265 Decoding Capability High Operating Temperature
Comes with tons of accessories Can't shoot in PAL (50Hz) Power Frequency
Clear 16MP Photos May Bug Out If Use Non-Recommended Memory Cards
Responsive Customer Support Team Raw Image Bug
Good True 4K Image Stabilisation Spelling Errors in App & Settings Page
Best Buy:

 

2. MGCOOL Explorer 3 – Best Action Camera With Wind Noise Reduction

explorer 3 front with protective case

The Explorer 3 is one of the few action cameras in this price range that has a touchscreen. Coupled together with the neat interface categorisation, it makes it really easy and intuitive to navigate around.explorer 3 bodyAlso, the Explorer 3 has a unique control where both of the buttons are located side by side at the top. Although this isn’t a very typical setup, it still works great.

Dual-Mic (Stereo) Audio Recording

Moreover, for audio, because there are 2 inbuilt microphones, it has a stereo audio recording which allows you to get very clear audio regardless of where you are, especially when wind noise reduction is turned on.

H264+ Recording

In addition, the Explorer 3 features something that you don’t see that often which MGCOOL calls H264+ video encoding. But in actual fact, it’s just H265 or HEVC, similar to the one you see in Explorer K.

To put it simply, this means you can film and take more shots but at the same time consuming less storage space.

I feel what really makes this stand out is how much you’re getting for the price and the value for money but there’s one tiny drawback. The support for MGCOOL as a whole isn’t that great and optional accessories for the Explorer 3 such as extra batteries or waterproof housing is not available.

As of now, Explorer 3 is one of the cheapest EIS true 4K action cameras alongside Explorer K and Thieye E7 . I’ll be doing a comparison between them soon so opt-in if you’re interested!

To sum it up, the Explorer 3 is very user-friendly, has superb bang for the buck and is one of the best action cameras if you value audio quality thanks to its dual microphones.

Check out my full review on the Explorer 3 here!

Pros Cons
H.265 Decoding Capability High Operating Temperature
Comes with tons of accessories Can't shoot in PAL (50Hz) Power Frequency
Clear 16MP Photos May Bug Out If Use Non-Recommended Memory Cards
Responsive Customer Support Team Raw Image Bug
Good True 4K Image Stabilisation Spelling Errors in App & Settings Page
Best Buy:

 

3. Thieye E7 – Great Camera For Underwater Shooting

Thieye has always been known for releasing action cameras with exceptional build quality at a competitive price dating all the way back to their first action cam, the ThiEYE T5e. And the E7 is no exception.

The E7 is able to film native or true 4K and is one of the cheapest real 4K action cameras out there, as of the time of writing, alongside Explorer 3 and Explorer K.

As I found the E7 to be very similar to the Explorer 3 and Explorer K in terms of price and functionality, I have created a quick comparison between them.

Quick Comparison With Explorer K & Explorer 3

Features Explorer K Explorer 3 Thieye E7
Native Video Resolution Up to 4K 30fps Up to 4K 30fps Up to 4K 30fps
Gyro Stabilization
Photo Resolution 16MP 14MP 14MP
Distortion Correction
Waterproofness With Case 30m 30m 60m
Stereo Audio Recording (Wind Noise Reduction)
Remote Control Capable
Battery 1200mAh 1100mAh 1100mAh

Underwater Shooting Mode

The E7 also has a waterproofing index of 60m, compared to the typical 30m rating seen in most action cams. Hence, you can be sure that your camera will be perfectly fine for all watersports, including scuba diving, swimming and even snorkelling.

Moreover, the E7 has a shooting mode called aqua mode which automatically compensates for the loss of light underwater, meaning you’ll be able to film underwater shots with more clarity and ease.

Distortion Correction

Other than that, the E7 has distortion correction feature, to reduce the barrel distortion caused by the fisheye lens.

As for image quality, the E7 is able to shoot up to 14MP photos which performs exceptionally well in daylight conditions and has a wide dynamic range too, meaning you rest assure that it shoots really sharp pictures.

The E7 also has gyro stabilization which stabilises the videos, which works for all resolution including 4. Hence you’ll be able to film smooth & detailed videos without compromising any video quality.

Furthermore, if you’re thinking about using the E7 with a remote control, you can either use the smartphone app or use Thieye’s signature remote control which works really well too.

Pros Cons
Shoots & Stabilizes in True 4K No Touchscreen
Long Battery Life Poor Audio Quality
Really Good Quality Accessories
Great For Underwater Shooting
Best Places To Buy:

 

4. Yi Lite – Best Overall Action Camera Under $100

This may be the best action camera under 100 if you’re looking at a balance of image quality and overall interface. And because of this, this would be my recommendation to you if you’re looking for something that is decent all-round.

The Yi Lite is made to be a successor and an improvement of the original Yi action cam, which was quite heavily disliked because it didn’t have a screen. Some also regard it as a middle camera to bridge between the Yi 4K and the original Yi action cam.

Despite costing only half the price of the Yi 4K, it still takes really sharp 16MP pictures and has the highest resolution in this list.

Electronic Image stabilization is also one of its strength, so you can guarantee smooth and live-like shots when taken with the Yi Lite.

Moreover, the Yi Lite also shares the same, awesome firmware and app that you see on the Yi 4K/4K+ but lacks live streaming, so you might want to keep that in mind.

On the other hand, a major downside of the Yi Lite is that it does not have what I call a ‘usable 4K’ as it can only shoot at 15fps at 4K, which is too low of a frame rate to maintain smoothness in the shots. So if you really really want to shoot in 4K, I’d highly recommend the Mijia 4K instead.

Also, another thing to keep in mind is that similar to Yi 4K, it does not come with any accessories so you might have to spend a little more on buying a waterproof case to protect it.

Yi Lite VS Yi 4K

I found Yi Lite’s closest competitor to be the Mijia 4K and the main difference, in my opinion, is user-friendliness vs image quality.

Although both have tremendous value for money, I still found some aspects that set them apart is that the Mijia 4K has a nicer interface to work with (app, settings, navigations, touch screen) and is able to film real 4K + take RAW image, whereas Yi Lite has a sharper video and photo quality, complemented by its better image stabilization. So it really depends on what you’re looking for.

Pros Cons
Sharp 16MP Photo And Video Quality 4K - Too Low Frame Rate (Not Usable)
2" Touchscreen Unable to take ‘RAW’ Photos
Great EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization)
Reliable App
Best Buy: OR

 

5. Yi Discovery – Cheap Yet User Friendly Action Cam

Being the newest released action camera here, it is no doubt that the Discovery, made by Yi, has great value for money.

Being powered by the Allwinner V3 chipset, the Yi Discovery is able to take sharp 8MP photos and although it is not able to film in true 4K (it’s interpolated or upscaled), it still shoots very clear and smooth 1080p videos.

However, the best part about the Yi Discovery, in my opinion, is the user-friendliness and ease of using it.

The Yi Discovery has a large 2-inch touchscreen display so you’ve got lots of space to work around with. Moreover, it has a really easy to navigate around interface as it is very neatly organised and uses the same interface as other Yi action cams, which is one of the best, if not the best software among action cameras.

Furthermore, the Xiaomi Yi Action smartphone app is also very well-designed and made. It is reliable, stable and most importantly easy to use.

Just as a heads up, the Discovery also does not have any form of image stabilization too, which is kind of a bummer, but in my opinion, it’s totally understandable for something at this price point.

Uses The Same Accessories As Other Yi Action Cams

Oh and in case you were wondering, there aren’t any accessories that come with it, unfortunately.

However, if you wanted to get one, which I’m recommending to get at least the waterproof case)for protection, it uses the same accessories as other Yi action cams, such as Yi 4K/4K+ and Yi Lite and thus the accessories, specifically the skeletal case can be used interchangeably even though the sd card & micro-USB ports are located differently.

Yi Discovery VS Yi Lite

yi lite versus yi discovery

This is a quick comparison of the Yi Lite and Yi Discovery for those of you interested in it as they’re pretty similar features wise (UI, app, interface, etc) but differ quite a lot in specs.

Features Yi Discovery Yi Lite
Photo Resolution 8MP 12MP
Video Resolution 1080P 60fps 1440p 30fps
Display 2" Touchscreen 2" Touchscreen
Battery 900mAh 1200mAh
Image Stabilization Gyro Image Stabilization
Accessories

All in all, the Yi discovery is a great budget action camera that’s extremely fun and easy to use and would be my recommendation if you’re looking for something about the $50 mark.

Read what others have to say about the Yi Discovery action cam here!
Pros Cons
Shoots & Stabilizes in True 4K No Touchscreen
Long Battery Life Poor Audio Quality
Really Good Quality Accessories
Great For Underwater Shooting
Best Places To Buy:

6. Eken H9R – Best Action Camera For Beginners

If you’re looking for something simple that can’t go wrong, the H9R is the one for you.

Tons of Accessories Provided

The reason why I’m recommending to beginners is the H9R comes in a complete package has essentially everything you need from mounts, protective housing, all the way to adapters, cables and more.

Also, you might think that with all these accessories that comes with the H9R, it should be relatively expensive right?

Nope. The H9R is one of the cheapest on this list and the quality of the camera and despite that, the accessories are not in anyway inferior to other action cams on this list, which gives tremendous bang for buck.

Decent 1080p Video Quality Despite Non-True 4K

Also, although it does not film in true 4K resolution, I still felt the quality of its 1080p video to be pretty decent, especially for something at its price range, although it doesn’t come close to quality found at the top of this list, such as Yi Lite & Explorer K.

As for features, what you are getting from the H9R doesn’t in anyway fall short compared to other action cameras as you are still able to shoot time-lapse, slow motion and burst, just like any other action cam out there.

Remote Control

Eken H9R Action Camera Remote

The R in H9R stands for the remote control as it comes together with the camera.

The remote control which is connected to the camera via Bluetooth is really useful to have as you are able to operate the H9R without having to constantly be pressing the buttons on the camera which can be quite a hassle especially when it’s mounted somewhere inaccessible.

h9r h9s and h9 comparison

The H9R is part of the H9 series by Eken and there are also other versions of it such as the H9 (not avail anymore) which is almost identical to the H9R but it doesn’t come with the remote and slightly lower battery life; the H9s which has live streaming (check out below).

All in all, I found the H9R to have great value for money and if you want an action camera that comes together with a complete package, I’d definitely be recommending this to you.

If you’re interested in the H9R, feel free to check out my full review on it here! 

Pros Cons
User-friendly Interface - Ideal for Beginners Fake 4K
Comes With Responsive Bluetooth Remote Maximum 4MP Photos
Great Value For Money Smartphone App has minor bugs
Tons of Accessories Provided
Best Buy:

 

7. MGCOOL Explorer Pro 2 – Best Touchscreen Action Cam Under 60 With Accessories

The Explorer Pro 2, successor of Explorer Pro, has great value for money. With it’s useful touchscreen interface, making it easy to navigate around, and its smartphone app designed for it, all for the price of $60, the Explorer Pro 2 earns a spot on this list for its bang for buck.

Responsive Touchscreen Interface

MGCOOL Explorer pro 2 touchscreen

The Explorer Pro 2 is pretty impressive because, at this price, it is able to utilise a touchscreen, which if you’re wondering is very responsive and reliable.

The only drawback of the touchscreen is that it can’t be used when the waterproof housing is on, but again, this affects most action cams.

I honestly wasn’t expecting the touchscreen to be this good at this price range but it certainly was the case.

Integrated Smartphone App

explorer pro 2 app control

The Explorer Pro 2 uses the Explorer Pro app, which because is made specifically for it, works really well and has a nice interface too.

Hence, if you’re planning on using the smartphone app to wirelessly control and view the camera quite regularly, the Explorer Pro 2 would be a good choice for you.

Sharp Image Quality

Also, if you’re wondering about image quality, the Explorer Pro 2 can take pretty sharp 8MP shots and take up to 1080p 60fps footages (2.7K & 4K are upscaled). And as far as the quality goes, I found the Explorer Pro 2 to be slightly above average in this price range.

Basic Set of Accessories Included

basic set explorer pro 2 accessories

Other than the camera, the Explorer Pro 2 also comes with a couple of mounts (bicycle and helmet), adapters, clips and even tripods and portable bag if you decide to purchase through Amazon. Hence, you don’t have to worry about finding additional accessories for it as it’s all provided.

Overall, the Explorer Pro 2 is a very solid and well-built action camera and if you’re looking for a cheap touchscreen action cam that comes with accessories, you should definitely consider the Explorer Pro 2.

Check out my full review of the Explorer Pro 2 here.

Pros Cons
Great Value For Money Touch Screen Doesn't Work Together With Waterproof Housing
Simple To Use Interface No Anti-Shake Image Stabilisation
Built In Slow Motion And Timelapse For Convenience Not Capable Of Real 4K
Responsive Touch Screen
Integrated Smartphone App (Made Specifically For This Camera)
Best Buy:

 

8. Firefly 7S – Best Non-Distortion Action Camera

The 7S is the predecessor of Firefly’s latest model, the Firefly 8S, which costs over a $100, and is known for having a different field of view options and great image stabilization.

2 FOV Options Available

The firefly 7S is available in 2 different versions, one with a 90˚ field of view which is the anti-distortion model and the other, which has a wider 170˚ field of view.

If you’d like to know more about the difference, feel free to read it here!

Dual Screens Setupfirefly 7s waterproof hd wifi dual screen dv action-sports-camera-for-fpv

Also, as the Firefly 7S has two screens, the front display is used to show quick status information such as date, time, current shooting mode and whether or not it’s recording or on standby, whereas the back display is the main display.

Native 2K Resolution

The firefly 7S is able to shoot up to 2K (4K is interpolated)and also has gyro image stabilization which works really well to stabilise mini shakes and tremors. So no matter if you’re planning to mount it on your drone, or simply to use it while vlogging, you can always expect smooth, cinematic footages.

Moreover, it is able to take really sharp and detailed 12MP RAW photos which is pretty impressive for this price.

The firefly 7s also comes with lots of accessories for mounting onto bicycle, helmets, selfie sticks, essentially everything, to get you started and going.

Pros Cons
RAW Photo Capable Max Supported Storage 32GB
Neat Dual Screens Display Not Touchscreen
2 FOV Options Available
Comes With Lots Of Accessories
Great Gyro Stabilization
Best Places To Buy:

 

9. MGCOOL Explorer 2C – Best Action Cam With Exposure Correction

explorer 2c front back and side

The Explorer 2C is actually the first action camera to be released by MGCOOL which utilises a touchscreen before other MGCOOL touchscreen action cams like the Explorer 3 came along.

Manual Exposure Correction

The touchscreen on the Explorer 2C ’s able to do something that no other action cam on this list can do. And that is exposure correction.

This is similar to your smartphone where you can select a spot and slide up or down in order to adjust the exposure. It’s really useful in my opinion as normally, action cams take an average of the exposure and adjust to that, which can sometimes result in under or overexposed shots but since now you have the option of manually changing it, it can really improve the shots you take.

Other than the exposure correction, the Explorer 2C also has electronic image stabilization (similar to gyro) which can help smoothen the bumps in your videos, resulting in the videos looking more professional and stable.

Manual Pause During Recordingexplorer 2c pause video recording

Furthermore, it also allows you to pause video recording, which is really nice for vlogging or holiday trips as you’ll be able to skip the unwanted parts without having to edit anything.

If you’re thinking about using the Explorer 2C for photos, the Explorer 2C is able to take really crisp and accurate 12MP photos as the colours are really accurate and have sharp details.

Moreover, the Explorer 2C comes with a basic set of accessories, such as bicycle handlebar, helmet mounts and also clips for mounting onto a backpack, etc, so if you’re using it for general use, you won’t have to get anything else.

A few drawbacks of the Explorer 2C is that it isn’t able to film true 4K (it’s interpolated) and the touchscreen interface doesn’t work when using with the waterproof protective housing which can be quite a disappointment if you’re thinking of using the touchscreen together with the protective housing.

All in all, the Explorer 2C is a great action camera as it is solidly built, has great image quality and comes with many accessories.

Pros Cons
Responsive Touchscreen Interface Can't Shoot In True 4K
Useful Exposure Correction Touchscreen Doesn't Work When Waterproof Housing Is Used
Great Image Stabilization
Comes With Some Accessories
Best Places To Buy:

 

10. Eken H9S – Best Cheap Live Streaming Action Camera

The Eken H9s is part of the Eken H9 series, known for their super cost effective action cameras.

Hence, H9s also has similar specs as other H9 cameras: Up to 4MP photos and 1080p 60fps video recording.

It definitely seems a little inferior compared to other action cams but you’ll have to bear in mind that it costs just a little over $60.

Live Streaming

The live streaming on the H9s is compatible with Facebook and Youtube. Everything has already been set up in the app thus all you have to do is to link to your profile and you’re ready to go!

However, as the H9s creates a Wi-Fi hotspot for your phone, you’ll not be able to use live streaming with WiFi but instead only using your cellular or mobile data.

Nevertheless, the live streaming feature is not often seen in action cameras and I felt the H9s did a rather good job at making it easy to use.

Mounting

If you are planning on mounting the H9s, there are tons of accessories provided from bike to helmet mounts, clips, straps, tethers, protective backdoor.

Overall, what you’re getting from the H9s is pretty much the same as more costly action cameras, without the bells and whistles.

Hence, if you’re thinking of getting a cheap action camera with a live streaming capability and comes with protective housing, mounts and clips, the Eken H9s may the right for you.

Pros Cons
Nice Live Streaming Can't Shoot In True 4K
Useful Exposure Correction Live Streaming Only Works Through Mobile Data
Great Value For Money
Comes With A Lot Of Accessories
Best Places To Buy:

 

11. Rexso Explorer X – Cheapest Usable Action Camera

rexso explorer x body shot

I’m sure there are many cheaper action cameras out there but the Explorer X is the bare minimum as to what I define a usable action camera: stable firmware.

The Explorer X is able to shoot up to 1080P 60fps and take up to 8MP photos but it lacks any stabilization so even the photos you take can easily be blurry.

Moreover, the Explorer X also has an integrated app, meaning you can expect it to be pretty reliable in that aspect.

Having said that, I still found the Explorer X to be a very rudimentary action camera.

It does what it’s supposed to do, take videos and photos. However, it lacks additional features which improve the quality of the video, such as stabilization, wide dynamic range and more.

I would say it’s good for someone who hasn’t used a camera before and wants to try it out. But if you don’t belong to that, you should probably consider investing at least $50 for an action camera.

It doesn’t also come with much accessories other than a waterproof housing and a helmet mount.

All in all, the Explorer X would cater to only a small group of people, mostly camera newbies, to try out an action cam, without having to spend much.

Pros Cons
Nice Live Streaming Can't Shoot In True 4K
Useful Exposure Correction Live Streaming Only Works Through Mobile Data
Great Value For Money
Comes With A Lot Of Accessories
Best Places To Buy:

 


Summary

 


That’s all for now. I hope I have helped you to pick the best action camera under 100 for you. If you’ve any questions or thoughts, feel free to comment down below!

Till next time, thanks for reading and have a great one! 🙂