One great stocking stuffer or “under the tree” gift is a high quality action camera. Fortunately, this type of camera offers better value than ever before. Gone are the days where one needs a GoPro or similar name brand model to get solid quality footage of doing high intensity sports or other intense activities. Indeed, on this list, there are cameras as cheap as $36, and as expensive as $400. Of course, you do get what you pay for, but it’s also true that you can get a lot for very little.
Here’s the top 10 best cheap 4K action cameras from lowest to highest price.
1. Apeman Action Camera
For those who want them as cheap as they come, this Apeman camera offers an extremely low price and solid specs for YouTube-filmmaking. Boasting 1080P at 30FPS and 720P at a smooth 60FPS, this is a great camera to get your feet wet with action camera photography. It’s perfect for the aspiring YouTuber who’s looking to do action shots. It has built-in anti-shake technology, and include a waterproof case. Plus, if you (or the recipient of this gift) isn’t satisfied, it includes a 30-day money back guarantee.
- 1080P 30FPS and 720P at 60FPS
- Waterproof case
- 30 day money back guarantee with 12-month warranty
- Built-in anti-shake technology
- Solid footage for the price
- Some learning curve in setup
- Some found photos to be too noisy
2. DBPower Ex5000
For just a few more dollars than the Apeman, this DBpower model offers some nice benefits, namely, a 2″ LCD screen. This can be really nice for making sure you’re capturing the exact shot you set out to. However, it only shoots at 30FPS which for action sequences is a bit on the slow side. For those who want a monitor, this is a solid trade off, but if you really want those slow motion sequences, the Apeman is likely a better choice.
Price: $43.99 (27 percent off MSRP)
- 2″ LCD screen
- Built-in WiFi
- 14 megapixel camera
- 1080P and 720P at 30FPS
- Easy to use menu
- Only 30FPS
- Bad low light performance
- A small percentage of users had issues with reliability
3. Fitfort Action Camera
This Fitfort model really steps things up. It shoots full 4K at 25FPS, 1080P at 60FPS, and 720P at 120FPS. It boasts the best video quality of any camera so far on our list, waterproof housing, and includes a huge variety of mounts. Users love it for its wireless remote control, affordable price, and solid optics. While the dynamic range doesn’t quite stack up to a GoPro or even a Yi! for most, this camera more than delivers.
The FitFort offers surprisingly good image quality for the price.
- Shoots 4k at 25FPS, 1080P at 60FPS, and 720 at 120FPS
- Includes wireless remote controller
- Acceptable video quality
- Includes waterproof housing
- Includes huge variety of mounts
- Video quality could be better
- Wi-Fi is unencrypted (could theoretically be intercepted)
- Manual isn’t very thorough
4. Akaso 4k Action Camera (Editor’s Choice)
This insanely popular action camera from Akaso is a great middle of the road model. For those who don’t want to spend GoPro money, but still want a solid camera with decent 4K, two batteries, and a huge variety of mounts (plus it’s compatible with GoPro mounts), this camera does it all. It has solid dynamic range, includes waterproof casing, and offers a ton of value at a decent price.
The Akaso offers solid value, but the DBPower below and the Yi Lite clearly offer better image quality.
- 4K 25fps, 2.7k 30fps and 1080p at 60fps
- Waterproof to 100 feet
- Includes two batteries that can record up to 90 minutes
- Built-in HDMI
- Includes huge variety of mounts
- Praised as superb value for the money
- Spare backdoor is not waterproof
- A small percentage of users had issues with the video quality
5. DBPower N6 – 4K
This DBPower model offers 4k at 24FPS, 2.7k at 30FPS, and 20 megapixel photos. Its touch screen makes changing setting easier than ever before. Plus it includes a two year warranty from the manufacturer. The image quality speaks for itself. That said, compared to the Yi Lite, it’s a very close call, especially considering they’re the exact same price.
Footage shows that this camera offers decent dynamic range and excellent sharpness.
- 4K at 24FPS, 2.7K at 30FPS, 20MP photos
- Large 2.31″ touch screen LCD
- 30M waterproof case
- DBPower provides two year product warranty
- Lifetime warranty for the N6
- Can be controlled via CamKing app
- Some users didn’t like the color
- A small percentage of users had issues with memory cards
6. Yi Lite
YI’s budget offering offers a lot of value for the price. The Yi Lite has excellent dynamic range, sharpness, and color. In fact, the biggest difference between it and its big brother, the Yi 4K is that it appears to apply less saturation; one can easily add their own in post. This is a great budget camera as long as you don’t need your 4K footage to be at a normal rate; since it shoots 20FPS, it won’t be smooth (24FPS is the minimum for smooth motion).
- 4k at 20FPS footage, 1080P at 60FPS and 30FPS
- 130 minutes of battery life
- 2″ LCD touch screen
- Excellent Wi-fi, with Bluetooth control via app
- Variety of shooting modes
- Praised as best action camera for the price
- A very small percentage of users had issues with reliability
- One user had an issue with artifacts
7. Yi 4K Action Camera
Yi’s more fancy offering boasts 4k at a full 30FPS, 2.7K at 60FPS and a 1080P at a full 120 FPS. Users love it for its Go-Pro-esque quality at half the price. It also has a nice 2.2″ LCD touchscreen made with Gorilla Glass. It offers solid image quality and superb build quality.
Comparing footage from the two cameras reveals that the Yi takes slightly flatter images, but the dynamic range and sharpness are very comparable. With some saturation in post, it’s hard to say that the Yi is noticeably inferior.
- 4k at 30FPS, 2.7K at 60FPS, 1080P at 120FPS, 720 at 240FPS
- Advanced image stabilization
- 2.2″ LCD touchscreen made with Gorilla Glass
- Can run off external battery pack
- Comparable to GoPro at half the price
- A small percentage of users had issues with the app
- Mic can be dicey
8. GoPro Hero
GoPro’s entry level camera offers solid value. While the specs aren’t as good as the Yi, with GoPro, the image quality is just a nudge higher and the App ecosystem is the best one can buy. Still, this camera will only shoot 1080p at 30FPS and 720P. Still, for most YouTube users that will be just fine. It also boasts waterproofing to 131 feet and a surprisingly good mic. Users love it for its great app, high quality lens, and crisp images.
- Shoots 1080p at 30FPS and 720P at 60FPS
- 5 megapixel camera
- Waterproof up to 131 feet
- Easy to use
- No LCD to view the shot
- Wide angle lens
9. GoPro Hero 5 Black
While the GoPro Hero 6 dropped this year, it has received serious criticism. Needless to say, the images are stunning, but a shocking number of users have had serious issues with reliability and stability. It’s a shame, but only inasmuch as the GoPro Hero 5 Black is more affordable and still offers really great images. It boasts 4K Footage at 30FPS (while the 6 will do 4K at 60), but beyond this, it’s hard to suggest that the cameras are widely different (check out this video comparing them directly).
Price: $399 (5 percent off MSRP)
- Stunning 4K footage and 12 megapixels photos
- Top of the line action camera (praise more than GoPro Hero 6)
- 60-90 minutes of 4K recording
- 2″ display
- Noisy in low light
10. Revl 4K Action Camera
For those who will settle for nothing short of revolutionary, this Revl action camera redefines what action cameras can do. For one, it boasts amazing internal stabilization, including a rotating chasis that helps one get the shot perfectly. That said, the coolest part about the Revl camera is the metrics it gathers, including rotation and G-forces. For those are engaging in next-level extreme sports, this camera is bar-none the right choice. It boasts a fancy app, unique features, excellent image quality, and a built-in stabilization system that puts it in the realm for entirely different cameras and rigs like a DJI Osmo or Ronin– of course, it has a much smaller form factor. This is as good as its for those who want sweet, selfie action cam footage.
- Stunning video quality 4k at 30FPS, 12 megapixel with dual stabilization
- Superb app
- Unique parameters that are tracked by camera
- Can be controlled via Apple Watch
- Motion capture tracks movement, speed and G (units of gravity)
- Drop, dirt, and waterproof
- Difficult to change battery
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