There’s no denying that the best action camera that you can get right now is a GoPro, specifically the GoPro Hero8 Black. While there may be plenty of reasons to consider buying it, you might get dissuaded by its sticker price, which is nearly $400 for just the camera itself and not including its numerous mounts and accessories. If you’re on a tight budget but are dying to get an action cam to capture your next adventure, consider the following budget-friendly alternatives. The Campark ACT74, Apeman Trawo A100, and Garmin Virb Ultra 30 are currently available on Amazon at incredibly low prices. Save as much as $122 when you get them today.
The Campark ACT74 looks pretty similar to a GoPro. In fact, you might even say that it’s a knockoff of the older GoPro models. It has four buttons, including a multifunction button on the front opposite the lens, which you use to turn the camera on and off, switch to different modes, and browse the menu. The shutter button found on top starts and stops recording, takes photos, and acts as the “OK” button for selecting a menu item. The up and down buttons found on the left side are used for navigating.
There’s an LED screen at the back that isn’t a touchscreen, and there’s also a removable slot found at the bottom which completely detaches and houses the camera’s ports: A Micro USB port, a mini HDMI port, and a Micro SD card slot.
This action camera is capable of recording 4K videos and shooting time-lapse and burst photos using its 170-degree HD wide-angle lens. The footage it captures is honestly astounding, almost as good as a GoPro’s. In our experience with it, the colors were vibrant and details looked sharp and accurate, even in low light. You can set the camera to shoot at multiple adjustable angles (170, 140, 110, and 70 degrees), depending on how much of the scenery you want to include. Video stabilization was a little underwhelming, though: Footage captured while riding a bike was a little shaky but still watchable. Its built-in microphone? Not any good. Audio recordings sounded muffled with excessive background noise, and conversations were nearly incomprehensible. Thankfully, you can turn it off in the settings.
This action camera comes with a lot of accessories, including a waterproof housing (which allows the camera to record underwater in depths of up to 30 meters), several mounts, bases, and clips, a USB cable, an adapter, and a couple of rechargeable batteries. Finally, you can download Campark’s XDV app on your phone to view the camera in real time, transfer files, and remotely control it via a Wi-Fi connection.
The Campark ACT74 is a true value for your money, a budget action camera that offers above-average picture quality and a ton of accessories including the waterproof housing (which you need to buy separately for a GoPro). The drawbacks are the horrible microphone and mediocre video stabilization. Honestly, for just $40 on Amazon, though, which is $20 less than its original price of $60, you get more than what you pay for.
Just like the Campark ACT74, the Apeman Trawo A100 looks suspiciously like a standard GoPro camera. It can shoot up to 4k30p (no 24p or 25p mode), 2.7k30p, 1080p60, and 720p120 resolution using an f1.8 lens and a Panasonic image sensor. By comparison, most action cameras use an f2.8 lens and a Sony image sensor.
The images it captures are pretty impressive, thanks to a 20-megapixel sensor. Shots taken in ample lighting are crisp, bright, and very detailed. It also fares well in conditions with lots of shadows, like in a forest, though not as good as the GoPro Hero 7 or 8. Footage taken where natural light is plenty looks great, like on the beach or the city when the sun is at its peak. No glares here, which can be the issue with cheap cameras. Image stabilization is also quite good. Action shots taken while riding a bike provided exceptionally stable footage.
Its internal microphone, though, leaves a lot to be desired. Audio recordings sound muffled and echoey, but conversations are still intelligible. You’re better off using a second microphone. It doesn’t support an external microphone, so you have to do the tedious task of synchronizing the video footage and the audio post-production.
The Trawo comes with a lot of accessories, the ones that you normally have to buy separately with a GoPro camera. It includes a waterproof housing (which is really necessary as the camera itself is not waterproof), rear case cover, Micro USB cable, microfiber cleaning cloth, wire strap, double-sided tape, and some Velcro straps. You also get seven case mounts, and three base mounts, which allows you to attach the Trawo to your bicycle or any slender pipe. You practically have everything you need for shooting all kinds of adventure.
The LCD screen isn’t a touchscreen and takes up the entire backside of the camera. Operating the camera requires you to push the buttons found on the sides. There’s the power button, a multipurpose button where you normally find the shutter button, up and down buttons, and a recording button. It takes a bit of time getting used to the layout of the buttons. On the left side of the camera is a removable rubber cover that houses the Micro SD card slot, Micro USB port, and Micro HDMI port.
The camera stumbles a bit when it comes to battery life. It only lasts for 45 minutes tops when used actively. Fortunately, there are two spare batteries included. Just bring the charger with you or a power bank, and you’re good to go.
All things considered, the Apeman Trawo 4K action camera is an exceptional budget action camera that’s definitely worth the buck. Get it for the very affordable price of $90 on Amazon.
The most expensive on this list but also the most feature-packed is the Garmin Virb Ultra 30. This action camera not only looks like a GoPro camera, but it’s also compatible with GoPro-style mounts and accessories. It has a quick-to-respond touchscreen that works consistently both in and out of the case, even when wet. This camera is not waterproof by itself, though, but requires a housing, so never dip it in the water on its own. Its physical buttons are smartly laid out if you prefer pressing over swiping and tapping. There’s a dedicated video switch to start and stop the recording, a still photo button where you can normally find the shutter button, a power button, and a Wi-Fi button. One great feature that this action camera has is you can control it through voice command. Start with “Okay, Garmin,” followed by your command to record a video or take a picture.
This is the first Garmin action camera than can shoot in 4K Ultra HD, and the footage it captures is excellent, with sharp details and vibrant colors. This camera is also equipped with electronic image stabilization and distortion correction which are sadly not very good. Extreme sports footage that we captured still looked rather too shaky for our liking.
Much like Garmin’s smartwatches, this camera has lots of built-in sensors, including an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, barometer, thermometer, and, naturally, a GPS. All of these give useful information on speed, position, g-force, hill grade, and much more. These are collectively known as G-Metrix, and what sets the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 apart from other action cameras (a GoPro can never). The sensors can measure all sorts of data, like your own temperature and heart rate, making your footages feel even more personal. Not only can you watch a video of how fast you’re riding a bike, but you can also see the actual MPH and incline displayed on top of the video. And if you regularly monitor your progress, it can show if you are improving (or not). It’s great for bragging to your friends how fast you rode or how high you jumped.
Not only can the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 capture spectacular images in ultra-high definition, but it’s also incredibly feature-packed, making it our choice for the best action camera for fitness and data freaks. It normally sells for $400, but right now you can get it on Amazon for $278 – that’s a huge $122 worth of savings. You can also get an additional $50 off instantly upon approval for the Amazon Rewards Visa Card, cutting the price further down to $228.
For more options click here for the best affordable GoPro alternatives. And visit our curated deals page for more exciting deals.
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