Best Action Cameras under $150

March 19, 2017

It looks like every day there’s new action camera model released, specially in the “cheap GoPro” price range. With 2017 now well on it’s way,  we thought it was a good time to write and update of our “Best 8 cheap gopro alternatives” list.

Many of the big players like GoPro, Sony and Xiaomi all released new and impressive action camera models over the last year.

And while these big players and flagship models are great, the advances in sensor and processor technology mean that  those of us on a budget can now get some pretty amazing action cameras cheaper than ever before.

It also means that there are a lot more alternatives to chose from, if you are on the lookout for a cheap GoPro alternative though, this is the article for you!

Our Pick: GitUp Git2 Pro

GitUp Git2 Pro is our pick for 'Best Action Camera under $150'
From
$108.95 on amazon.com

It was a pretty tough call to make as there are a few close contenders, in the end we were torn between thevery affordable SooCoo C30 and Gitup Git2 Pro .

Even though the SooCoo has amazing white balance and video at afraction of the price,  we went with the pricier Git2 as our top choice. The reason for this is the Git2’s has better image stabilization, superior still images and battery life and overall it is a more versatile camera which gives it a slight edge on the “best bang for your buck” scale.

That said for those of you that don’t intend to do post production or don’t particularly need the Git2’s superior image stabilization and pictures, the SooCoo C30 will give you great video right out of the camera at a considerably lower price and if you plan to take underwater footage the C30 has it’s “Dive mode” feature weighting in its favour.

However, depending on your specific needs it may be that neither the C30 or the Git2 are the right action camera for you, so read on to find one that matches exactly your budget and needs.

Budget

If you’ve been looking for an action camera—whether you’re a seasoned adventure photographer or are just beginning to foray into this world for the first time—you don’t have to limit yourself to traditional (and pricey) GoPro cameras. While GoPro are of high quality,and have some nifty features, their most basic model the  Hero5 Session starts at a steep $300.

Fortunately there are quite few action camera choices that are packing a lot of “bang for your buck”. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the best action cameras you can get for under 150$.

If you are very new to action cameras and the terminology take look at our Action Camera Buying Guide: What to look for? article to bring you up to speed.

Also, watch out! While many cameras on this price range claim to be capable of 4K resolution, in reality few of them produce usable video at this setting.


SooCoo C30

SooCoo C30 Action Camera

SooCoo C30
From
$69.99 on amazon.com

The C30 has an NTK96660 chip paired with Sony’s 12MP IMX 078 sensor, a pairing that produces some impressive results at a very affordable price.

Overall images and video are solid, clear and crisp. It offers audible alerts, which go off when certain functionalities are triggered. You can set up your WiFi connection to control the camera with your mobile (a standard feature at this price range).

You can easily set up internal features via the camera`s user-friendly LCD screen. The 170° wide-angle lens helps you capture larger vistas, and makes it easy to see what you’re recording.

A big plus  is the Diving Mode, which is specifically tailored to compensate for the lack of red light while filming at depth, but this is hampered by the short battery life with some user reporting 20-30min of recording before having to swap batteries (though at least it comes with a spare).

ProsCons
  • Cheap!
  • Decent Gyro stabilization
  • Smooth video at 60FPS
  • Live LCD screen allows you to see your work instantly
  • Diving Mode is perfect for divers
  • Onscreen menu is accessible and user-friendly
  • Very short battery life
  • The 20MP images are upscaled from the 12MP sensor
  • No RAW photo support
  • bundled accessories are not the highest quality

 


Git2 Pro

GitUp Git2 Pro
From
$108.95 on amazon.com

The Git2 has the same  Novatek NTK96660chip as the SooCoo, but it is paired with the superior Sony IMX206 sensor and a 170° super wide angle lens .

It is capable of 2K HD video at 30FPS and very crisp 16Mp photos. One of the big selling points of the Git2 is it’s fantastic gyro stabilization which is really a step above all cameras on it’s price range (and many beyond). Another  nifty feature is that it offers RAW image support on top of the already very good photo quality this makes it the perfect camera for those that want to squeeze out the most out of their camera’s capabilities.

Another nice feature is that besides having a decent audio quality out of the box, it also  supports an external microphone. A big plus if audio quality is important to you (YouTubers, Vlogers, etc.). 

Like all others in this list it has WiFi and a companion mobile phone app.

It is worth noting, that it’s rumored GitUp is preparing to launch the Git3 soon, this should mean a price drop for the Git2 and depending on the Git3’s launch price a new contender on the budget action camera category.

 

ProsCons
  • Amazing Image stabilization
  • Good build quality
  • RAW photo format support
  • Decent low light performance (for the price range)
  • Good battery life (100min+ at 1080p 60fps)
  • Good Costumer support
  • Ocasional compression artifacts in video
  • Some distortion caused by the ultra wide angle lens


ISAW Edge

ISAW Edge

ISAW Edge
From
$119.99 on amazon.com

The ISAW Edge is equiped with a sony 16MP Sony Exmor sensor. It has a strong battery, which can last up to 100min and produces smooth 1080p Video at 60fps and a completely impractical 4K at 10fps (Which I don’t recommend anyone use ever). The Edge has a 150° wide angle lens is not as wide as some of the other options but some might prefer it this way.

It comes with built-in WiFi functionality and a companion mobile app.

The bundled underwater housing is rated for up to 130 feet (40 meters) however I found that at a depth of  around 15m the camera would lock up due to the water pressure engaging all buttons simultaneously, though if it was already recording it would continue to do so without any issue.

Overall the Edge produces some very impressive video and stills and the wealth of accessories it comes bundled with are of fairly decent quality. 

ProsCons
  • 1.5-inch LCD viewer is built in
  • Lots of mounts and accesories bundled
  • Battery can last up to 100min
  • Great Video and Image quality
  • Some users report issues with the companion app
  • No Image stabilization


SJCAM M20

SJCAM M20

SJCAM M20
From
$105.99 on amazon.com

This is a nifty little camera by SJCAM

The M20 is quiped with a NTK96660 processor and a Sony IMX206 16MP sensor producing sharp, vivid images with clear details up to 2K resolution at 30fps.

The M20’s small packages is feature packed, it has a gyro stabilization, you can  adjust the Field of View, and correct against fish-eye distortion.  It also features AV Out functionality  and  a mode for underwater video. Again it supports WiFi control via your mobile phone and companion app.

Finally the SJCAM M20 also has support for both MP4 and MOV videos and weighting in at just 55grams, it is ideal if weight is a concern (e.g. mounting it on a drone). 

Overall this is a very  good alternative to the GoPro Hero5 Session while costing you less than half the price.

ProsCons
  • Small, compact and lightweight
  • User-friendly and easy to use
  • Free sharing and editing app, for Android and iOS phones
  • Battery life is on the short side (about 60min)
  • Poor low-light performance (though that is common in this price range)
  • Awkward shape


ThiEYE T5

ThiEYE T5e

ThiEYE T5
From
$169.99 on amazon.com

This camera has a lot going for it. For starters, it is capable of real 4K video at 30fps, unlike the upscaled low frame-rate attempts made by some of the competition.   The T5 is built with a 12MP IMX117 Sony Sensor and an Ambarella A12 chipset. 

It has a waterproof housing rated for up to 60m  with a 360° rotating buckle. The ThiEYE HD app will allow you to share and edit your works at the click of a button.

This ThiEye camera offers an impressively wide range of speeds and resolutions from 720p at 240fps all the way up to 4K at 30fps and for those that only need 180p, you’ll be able to take smooth video at 120fps or 60fps if you enable “super view” .

The super-wide 170° angle lens is great for wide vistas and panoramas. And the built-in LCD screen measures 2 inches, which makes setting up your camera and previewing videos easy as pie.

The menu displays are also available in 17 languages, and it offers several modes, both scene modes and effect modes, as well as electronic image stabilization (only available up to 1080p).

All that said, the T5 looses a few points due to it unremarkable still photo quality and lack of accessories (the included 360 swivel is not compatible with the standard GoPro mounts though the casing is).

Overall this is still great value and the top choice for those that need true 4K video.

ProsCons
  • Real 4K video
  • Impressive fps at lower resolutions (up to 200fps at 720p perfect for slow motion footage)
  • ThiEYE HD app to easily share and edit your videos
  • Large 2” display
  • Waterproof housing with 360° rotating buckle
  • Two rechargeable batteries included
  • No inverted image mode
  • Photos 16MP upscaled from it’s 12MP sensor
  • Doesn’t come with accessories (other than a second battery) like some of the competition


SJ5000X Elite

SJCAM SJ5000X Elite

SJCAM SJ5000X Elite
From
$113.99 on amazon.com

SJCAM have actually managed to get two of their models in our “Best Action Cameras under $150”, the SJ5000X Elite is slightly older than the M20 and while it sports the same Novatek 96660 chip, it has a lower resolution IMX078 12MP sensor. On the plus side it has a large 2” screen and a more traditional “GoPro-like” shape.

Apart from that it has almost identical specs as the M20. Make sure you update to the latest firmware though as there are reports of poor quality results before the upgrade.

The Sj500X elite is a standard camera in thisprice range, it doesn’t really stand out from the crowd and it has almost identical specs as other popular players like the  Elephone Explorer Pro and the  Firefly 6S

ProsCons
  • Good Gyro stabilization 
  • Comes with a full set of accessories
  •  More expensive than the smaller SJCAM M20
  • Average specs for its price range
  • Poor sound

 


Have a bit of extra cash?

YI 4K Action Camera

YI 4K Action Camera

Yi 4K
From
$169.00 on amazon.com

If you have a little extra cash, then spending a Iut more for the  Yi 4K might be worth it, this is our top choice for our previous “Top 8 Best Cheap GoPro Alternatives” article and a recent price-drop (probably anticipating the release of the YI 4K+) allowing you to pick it up for  ~$200 make it still a fantastic choice.

The YI 4K   uses a sony 12MP IMX377 sensor coupled witha powerful Ambarella A9Se chip and can record  video in 4K at 30fps, 1080p at up to 120fps for HD slow-motion, or even 720p at a blazing 240fps. With the waterproof case, you can go up to 40m (131ft) underwater, and your camera will be freeze-proof down to -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit).

Unfortunately id doesn’t include any accesoories, so the price can very quickly go up depending on what your needs are (the Waterproof Case will set you back another ~$40)

You might want to wait out for the upcoming YI 4K+ though which will offer 4K at 60fps, voice control and a Mic in port.

Pros

Cons

  • Up to 120 minutes of footage before you need to charge it
  • Gorilla Glass 2.19” LCD touch-screen
  • Long battery life
  • RAW photo support
  • Video quality competes directly with the HERo5 Black
  • No accessories included
  • No waterproof housing included!

 


Conclusion

We hope this article gives better idea of the budget options when picking an action camera. As you can see you can get high quality video and some very nice features in the ~$150 budget range. As you can see there are several inexpensive GoPro alternatives to chose from.

Maybe you’d like more flexibility and options in terms of mounting and accessories, or maybe you’d prefer a model backed up by a good brand and reliable customer support.  No matter which model you end up choosing in the end, we hope you found this article helpful and wish you the best of luck in your search!

If you have any questions about the products on our list, or any questions about these sports action cameras, let us know in the comments below.

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