Sports action cameras are an excellent option to create a good memory and leave everything recorded. It doesn’t matter what type of activity you do, from extreme sports like skydiving to surfing.
These little gadgets are a wonder in the broadest sense of the word: dimensions that are even smaller than the palm of your hand, great recording quality and stabilization typical of a camcorder.
What is the secret? Or the question that most often comes to mind: which one do I prefer?
We know that there are several options, and it is not easy to decide on one. We find them with all kinds of technologies, resolutions, recording programs or stabilizers. That said, through this guide we want to help you choose, eliminating the most expendable models and adding the most versatile options in terms of prices and features . Not without first guiding you in all the features and benefits that you have to take into account before launching yourself for one.
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More than anything because you will be able to find cheap underwater cameras, but they will more than meet the needs of any user who is looking for a device of this type to dive and do water sports without you having to worry about anything.
Yes, things have changed a lot. A few years ago, buying an action camera was within the reach of very few, due to the high price of this type of product. Luckily, things are changing a lot, and today it won’t cost you too much to find quality sports cameras at a good price.
Issues to consider
However, before launching yourself for one, you should look at some of these questions or parameters that we indicate below, and that are vital to elucidate the model that you need the most or that suits you:
- Resolution . Quality equals money, and the more resolution, the better quality and money. The current standard for cameras is 2K at 30 fps, which is enough quality to record with good results. That is the least we will accept.
However, the highest level is found in those cameras with 4K resolution, 60 fps and Ultra HD. If you want to prioritize budget and good quality, a 2K will suffice; if you are demanding, a 4K is your thing.
- Size and weight . In contrast to the usual camcorders, these small action cameras are interesting because, in addition to their size, they have very little weight. If we talk about one that is larger than the palm of our hand, it will be uncomfortable to record and capture the best moments.
And as for the weight, we prefer that they are below 200 grams, since in this way there is not a particularly high increase that impacts with the exercise.
- Water resistance. One of the most controversial factors is the water resistance of this type of camera, as we have mentioned in the previous section. This is simple: if you want to put the camera in the water, check that it has IP resistance to water. However, there is another option, and that is to use a waterproof casing that allows the aforementioned resistance to be added.
Regardless of this, the minimum is that the chosen model supports five meters of immersion, but for the purchase to be of good quality, the ideal is that it exceeds fifteen meters and therefore it is possible to make recordings or take photos with peace of mind. and as spectacular as possible.
- Autonomy. In the vast majority of cases, the autonomy comes to be one hour, which is the minimum acceptable. Something that is also recommended is that a second battery be included in the purchase since the autonomy of these models is not usually very high.
- The stabilization. We dare to say that it is the most important parameter that this type of sports camera must have. Action equals movement, lots of movement, especially when it comes to sports. Imagine riding a motorcycle: the differences between having a stabilizer and not having it are seeing the video without a single vibration or bump and seeing it completely shaken. Each camera equips different systems, so we will expand on this issue in another section.
- Interactive screen. It is very interesting that the faces of the sport include a screen on the back where it is possible to see the configuration and the different modes of use that are used and, even, that the results obtained can be seen.
- Accessories . It is a fact that the GoPro is the reference in this type of camera. Consequently, many manufacturers have ‘mimicked’ the attachment systems for accessories on that same camera, so preferably if you want to buy accessories, they will need to have the same attachment system.
We are talking about hermetic cases with resistance to water, sticks, etc. The system is none other than a shoe and screw. In the event that they are not compatible, it would mean limiting yourself to accessories that may not even exist or may be more expensive.
- Mobile compatibility? Preferably, if we opt for one of the big brands like GoPro or Insta, we will have the possibility to transfer all the images and videos directly to the mobile phone, instead of having to dump all the information to the PC through a USB. It will even allow you to add filters and various other options.
- Storage Expansion . The GB of these cameras are limited, usually between 32 and 64GB. Using a microSD card you can easily expand it up to 1TB of memory.
- Wi-Fi connection . A good option to keep in mind is that the camera we buy has a WiFi connection so that it uploads those videos and images directly to the cloud automatically, without the need to use the cable for anything other than charging it.
Image stabilization in cameras: fundamental
What is image stabilization? It is the technique, technology or mechanism that helps to offer a much more linear image, without vibrations or sudden movements. In this way, the stabilization, through one of the three systems that we have mentioned (technique, technology or mechanism), absorbs all vibrations and as a result, offers you a compensated video.
The most professional models, such as the GoPro , for example, include their own technology such as HyperSmooth . Through different parameters, it balances the image. It is what is known as optical stabilization inside the camera, very effective for vibrations, with no loss of quality, but of course, that shoots your budget.
The perfect combination would be an external image stabilizer, which works through a mechanism or small motor and sensors that regulate these vibrations. They are a cheaper option, which, in combination with a camera without a stabilizer , becomes an excellent option.
Top Cheap Action Cameras
We take action with these most versatile and economical models, which, depending on the use, will be more than enough for their price.
An effective, simple, functional and economic camera. If what you want is to record with the palm of your hand and not exceed your budget, this Dragon Touch is ideal for you. In the technical section we find a camera that records at 1080p, and although it does not have water resistance in the camera itself, it does so through a waterproof housing resistant to 98 feet ( and that is included in the price).
The positive part is that it is equipped with the same supports as for the GoPro, so it is a very favorable point, as well as having a remote control, without the need to fiddle with it while recording . More practical and convenient when the camera is mounted somewhere without scope.
Its screen is 2 inches, with an LCD panel and a 900 mAh battery for a duration of up to 4 hours. Its price on Amazon is approximately 35 euros.
Going up in price, this Apexcam is still very versatile for a slightly higher price. It is the choice of Amazon, and it has more than 9,000 reviews, and the vast majority of them are positive, an indication that this is one of the best. The good thing is that in addition to price, it also scales in resolution, reaching up to 4K and a 20-megapixel camera.
This model is waterproof up to 40 meters. 4K is capable at 30fps, as well as 2.7K and 1080p at 60fps.
Its casing is made of durable materials and a resistance of approximately 30 to 40 meters. In addition, it incorporates WiFi to transfer photos and videos to your smartphone, television or computer.
Among the modes, it includes: time-lapse, slow-motion video, white balance, cycle recording, photo burst… In addition, it comes with a remote control and a 170º wide-angle lens. It also comes with several accessories such as a waterproof bag and different supports. Its price is about 80 euros.
If you are looking for high-resolution recording, up to 4K and 60 fps , this model works wonders for just under 150 euros. The GA420 sports camera has a double-sided color LCD screen with a rear touch screen. It is waterproof up to 10 meters, with a waterproof case already installed, which will allow you to withstand an additional 40 meters.
But the best thing is the resolution: it is capable of recording video at 4k/60fps, 4k/30fps, 2.7k/30fps, 1080p/120fps, 1080p/60fps and 720p/240fps , as well as 20-megapixel photos. All this with different modes such as time-lapse, fast/slow movie and remote control.
Video stabilization is also important: with its own 6-axis system to improve recording even in 4K mode. It also allows WiFi file transfer . Its price, as we told you, is around 150 euros.
The SJCAM is one of the brands that have been on the market for the longest years, so they know how to make cameras. Broadly speaking, it has a remote control, a two-inch touch screen, an impressive 2,650 mAh battery and a double recording microphone, as well as a 140º wide-angle lens and night vision, something that very few models have.
The IP65 certification will guarantee you shoot in all types of terrain: dust, water, diving. .. But the important thing comes in the resolution with which it is capable of recording, up to 1920×1080 30fps. Not being the highest resolution, it stands out for its 140º wide angle and its 12 megapixel photos. Getting hold of it has a moderate price of about 100 euros , a little less on offer.
Before jumping to the highest range, the penultimate version of the GoPro is this HERO9 Black. It is the highest quality camera at the lowest price , in this case just under 400 euros. It is capable of recording video in resolution up to 5K, capable of recording even the smallest details thanks to a powerful 23.6 mp sensor.
With SuperPhoto, HERO9 Black can automatically select the best image processing. As far as video is concerned, it records up to 5K , with live transmission in 1080p. In addition, it is not just any video, and its stabilization breaks all molds with HyperSmooth technology.
It is not the latest version of HyperSmooth, but 3.0 will give you the most fluidity ; allows you to activate the integrated horizon alignment and Boost functions in any capture configuration, according to the brand itself.
Among other options, it also has TimeWarp 3.0, for fascinating sequential scenes, 8x slow motion and HindSight to capture video from 30 seconds before. Its price is less than 400 euros.
Top camera models with stabilizer
If what you are looking for is the superior image and video quality, with image stabilizers, then these models are for you:
Insta360 One X2
Its arrival on the market was not so long ago, and it was a revolution in all aspects. This model is the natural update of the first, which improved in various aspects such as the battery, which seemed insufficient, as well as the lens for exquisite recording, and with a dreamy wide angle.
You will not find an equal in terms of design, with a vertical shape and stabilization through the lens. Capture video in 5.7K resolution with a 360º lens . And it is that it has its own image stabilizer: FlowState with an improved algorithm. You will not need to attach any type of stabilizer.
In addition, you can record with an invisible stick, which is also included in the pack. For example, you can record from a motorcycle or surfboard, holding it with one hand, while the stick is invisible. You’ll be able to capture impossible drone-like angles and third-person perspectives with a flick of the wrist. It is also IPX8 certified, and submersible to 10 meters (33 feet). Its price is approximately 450 euros.
Insta360 One RS
If the previous model was already good, this ONE R Twin from Insta360 is even better. It is the smallest you can opt for in the market; versatile and with a resolution of 5.7K, H265 encoding and advanced image processing for unprecedented quality and stabilization.
This model also uses FlowState stabilization without the need for a gimbal even in low light conditions. It uses automatic horizon leveling and intelligent acceleration for the famous ‘Bullet Time’ effect. It has its own tracking pattern – just select a subject with a tap or voice command when shooting in 360.
It will record in 360 degrees, with what that implies. That is, you can record everything around you, literally. Equip night mode through infrared, capturing natural, clear and vibrant photos. In addition, it has its own app to edit the photos and easily transfer them to the smartphone.
The ONE R Twin Edition records 360 at 3K 100fps or 1080p Wide Angle at 200fps . A madness never seen before in a sports action camera! Its price is approximately 550 euros.
GoPro Hero 10
How could it be otherwise, in the selection could not miss the latest GoPro for sale, the Hero 10 Black . We are talking about one of the best cameras on the market, we could say, the reference. Capable of capturing 23-megapixel photos and 5.3K video; double the frame rate, with improved performance and HyperSmooth 4.0 video stabilization.
As you can see, it is a higher level compared to the 9 that we explained to you previously. Instead, it is more advanced stabilization and improved horizon alignment from 27º to 45º.
It will allow you to upload all kinds of content to the cloud with original quality. As well as it also has HindSight to capture up to 30 seconds before; time programming to record; LiveBurst to record 45 frames in just 1.5 seconds and image editing and transfer thanks to GoPro Quik. Its price is about 700 euros.
Sony RX0 II
Finally, the most professional model in the entire market is surely this Sony RX0 II. In addition to their extensive experience in the world of photography, they now bring this little sports action camcorder, one of the most resistant and ultra compacts in the entire market in all probability.
It is a waterproof and shock- resistant model, with 4K video recording with Pro functions and its own in-lens image stabilizer. Take impressive 13.5-megapixel photos, with subject tracking and are capable of shooting at all kinds of angles.
It has the best systems on the market; the ZEISS Tessar T* lens; 15.3-megapixel stacked CMOS sensor; BIONZ X for low image noise; reliable performance; 4K movies shot with full pixel readout and unrivaled image stabilization.
All for a price of 800 euros.
The recommendation of Topes de Gama
And now that? Which one do you prefer? Can’t you make up your mind? We make things easier for you and help you choose from different price ranges.
If you’re looking for a good budget camera, one of the first, then our choice would be the Wolfgang GA420, which for its price offers 4K recording and its own image stabilization. Absolute quality! On the other hand, if what you are looking for is a higher level, there is nothing like the GoPro Hero 10 , the latest model of the famous brand, with the best stabilization on the market and all kinds of technologies, in addition to allowing you to transfer all the photography and video to your mobile easily.
Now all you have to do is choose yourself!