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!
Top 5 Best Action Cameras Under 100 2019
1. 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 . And the E7 is no exception.
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.
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 which works really well too.
- Shoots & Stabilizes in True 4K
- Long Battery Life
- High Quality Accessories
- Ideal For Underwater Shooting
- No Touchscreen
- Poor Audio Quality
2. 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.
- Sharp 16MP Photos
- Responsive & Clear 2″ Touchscreen
- Great EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization)
- Reliable App
- 4K – Too Low Frame Rate (Not Usable)
- Unable to take ‘RAW’ Photos
3. 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 come 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 any way 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 any way 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.
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.
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.
- User-friendly Interface – Ideal for Beginners
- Comes With Responsive Bluetooth Remote
- Great Value For Money
- Tons of Accessories Provided
4. 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.
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.
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.
- Great Live Streaming
- Great Value For Money
- Useful Exposure Correction
- Comes With A Lot Of Accessories
- Can’t Shoot In True 4K
- Live Streaming Only Works Through Mobile Data
4. SJCAM SJ8 Air – Most User-Friendly Action Cam
I’m sure many of you are looking for the action camera with the best image quality and the best specs and all that and while that’s not entirely wrong, there’s another feature that’s also equally important: user-friendliness.
Sure, the SJ8 Air does not film 4K and has video stabilization.
However, it still earns a top spot in this list simply because it’s easy to use thanks to its super neat interface and its large & responsive retina IPS display.
Moreover, they’ve also equipped it with the newest technology such the USB Type-C port for quick and reliable data transfer, which makes transferring your footage and charging much faster and more convenient than a traditional micro-USB port.
If you’re curious about the image quality, despite it only abling to shoot at 1080p, the image is still sharp and colours are still accurate.
Take a look for yourself here.
The only thing that was quite apparent was the lack of image stabilization which caused the video to be a little shaky at times.
However, that aside, the SJ8 Air is certainly a great budget action cam to consider especially if you’re looking for something that can shoot decently and one that’s fun to use.
SJCAM SJ8 Air
- Straightforward Navigation Interface
- Great Value For Money
- Responsive & Vivid Touchscreen Display
- No Video Image Stabilization
- Low Max Shooting Resolution – 1080p
What To Consider & How to Choose
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.
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
- 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.
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 most of us, 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.