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What to look for in a budget action camera

What to look for in a budget action camera

When it comes to capturing your adventures, action cameras are the way to go. They are small, portable and can withstand harsh weather conditions. However, not everyone can afford a high-end action camera such as a GoPro. Fortunately, there are plenty of budget action cameras available in the market that offer great features at an affordable price.  However, with so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your needs. This article discusses the features to look for in a budget action camera, and should hopefully help you purchase the right camera for your adventures. From video quality to battery life, we will cover everything you need to know to make an informed decision.

Image and video quality

When it comes to budget action cameras, image and video quality are crucial factors to consider. While you may not get the same level of quality as you would with a high-end camera, there are still plenty of options that offer impressive results at an affordable price point.

One of the most important things to look for is the camera’s resolution. Many budget action cameras offer 4K resolution nowadays (4K resolution is high-definition (HD) video that has four times the resolution of 1080p video – or put simply, it’s much better!), but keep in mind that higher resolution doesn’t always equate to better quality. Look for cameras with good image sensors and lenses that can capture clear, sharp images and videos.

Another important factor to consider is the camera’s frame rate. A higher frame rate can make a big difference in the smoothness of your videos, especially if you plan on capturing fast-moving action. Look for cameras that offer at least 30 frames per second (fps) at your desired resolution.

Durability and build quality

When it comes to action cameras, durability is a crucial factor to consider. These cameras are designed to capture footage in extreme environments, so they need to be able to withstand a fair amount of wear and tear. Here are some key things to look for in terms of durability and build quality:

Waterproofing: Many action cameras come with waterproof cases, but it’s important to check the level of waterproofing. Look for cameras with the best waterproof rating for your budget.

Shock resistance: Action cameras are often subject to bumps and jolts, so it’s important to choose a camera with good shock resistance. How often have you seen an outdoorsy Youtuber’s camera blow over? A lot. Look for cameras with shock-resistant housing or those that come with protective cases.

Build quality: A camera with a solid build quality will be less likely to break or malfunction. Look for cameras with sturdy construction and high-quality materials. It’s also worth considering the warranty offered by the manufacturer. A longer warranty period can give you peace of mind that your camera will be replaced or repaired if it does fail.

Overall, when choosing a budget action camera, it’s important to strike a balance between price and durability. While you may be tempted to go for the cheapest option, investing a little more in a camera with good build quality and waterproofing can save you money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs or replacements.

Battery life and charging

When it comes to action cameras, battery life is a crucial factor to consider. Most budget action cameras offer a battery life of around 1-2 hours of continuous recording. However, it’s important to note that battery life can vary depending on the camera’s settings and usage. Also remember that things like altitude and temperature can all affect battery life.

When choosing a budget action camera, it’s important to look for one that has a removable battery. This allows you to carry spare batteries and swap them out when needed, ensuring you never run out of juice during your adventures.

Another factor to consider is the charging time. Some cameras take longer to charge than others, which can be frustrating if you’re in a rush to get out and start recording. Look for a camera that has a fast charging time, so you can quickly get back to recording your adventures.

Some budget action cameras come with a USB cable for charging, while others require a separate charging dock. If you plan on taking your camera on the go, a USB cable may be more convenient as it allows you to charge your camera using a power bank or laptop.

It’s also worth considering whether the camera has a battery level indicator. This allows you to keep track of how much battery life you have left, so you can plan accordingly and avoid running out of power mid-recording.

Overall, when choosing a budget action camera, it’s important to consider the battery life, charging time, and whether the camera has a removable battery and battery level indicator.

Storage and connectivity

When it comes to action cameras, storage is a crucial factor to consider. Most budget action cameras come with limited storage space, so it’s important to choose one that allows for expandable storage. Look for cameras that support microSD cards, which can be easily swapped out once they are full. Make sure to check the maximum capacity of the microSD card that the camera can support.

Connectivity is also an important aspect to consider. Thankfully, most budget action cameras come with Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows you to transfer your footage wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet. Some cameras also come with Bluetooth connectivity, which can be useful for remote control or for connecting to external devices such as GPS devices.

It’s also worth noting that some budget action cameras come with built-in storage, which can be a convenient option if you don’t want to deal with swapping out microSD cards. However, built-in storage is usually limited, so it’s important to check the storage capacity before making a purchase.

Ease of use and user interface

When it comes to budget action cameras, ease of use and a user-friendly interface are essential. You don’t want to spend hours trying to figure out how to use the camera or navigate through complicated menus. Look for a camera with a simple and intuitive interface that allows you to quickly access the settings you need.

Some cameras come with touchscreens, which can make navigating through menus and adjusting settings much easier. However, touchscreens can also be more prone to damage and may not work well in wet or cold conditions. Consider if a touchscreen is necessary for your needs before making a purchase.

Another important consideration is the size and placement of the camera’s buttons. If the buttons are too small or difficult to reach, it can be frustrating to use the camera, especially when wearing gloves or in difficult conditions. Look for a camera with well-placed and easy-to-use buttons that allow you to quickly start and stop recording or take photos.

Finally, consider the camera’s app or software interface. Many budget action cameras come with companion apps that allow you to control the camera, view footage, and adjust settings from your smartphone or tablet. Make sure the app is compatible with your device and has a user-friendly interface that allows you to quickly and easily access the features you need.

Additional features to consider

When shopping for a budget action camera, there are a few additional features to consider that can enhance your overall experience. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Image stabilization: Some budget action cameras come with features like image stabilization, which can help reduce shakiness and blur in your videos, making them look smoother and more professional. This is especially important if you plan on using your camera for activities like cycling, paddling or skiing, where there may be a lot of movement and vibration. 
  • Wide-angle lens: A great feature if you’re mounting the camera for outdoors activities, such as cycling or canoeing.
  • Mounting options: If you’re planning to mount the camera to film on the go – for example, when cycling or mountain biking, then having a couple of mounting options may prove useful.
  • Slow-motion and Time-lapse Modes: These modes can add a creative touch to your footage, allowing you to capture slow-motion action or time-lapse sequences.
  • Audio quality: This is important if you’re planning on using the camera to create content for platforms such as Youtube. As a viewer, there’s nothing worse than poor sound quality. You probably want the camera to have a port for using an external mic with a wind protector too.
  • While some of these features may not be essential, they can greatly enhance your overall experience with your budget action camera. 

Related: Interested in a GPS to keep you safe and on the right track? Check out our Choosing the best GPS for hiking, wild-camping or backpacking article.

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What features are necessary for various different outdoor activities?

There’s a lot of cross-over here. For example, image stabalization and waterproofing is pretty important whatever outdoor adventure you’re going on, particularly if you live somewhere like the UK. Here’s a few outdoor activities and the features you should look for:

  • Camping/hiking: image stabilization; robust build; waterproofing; wide-angle lens; long battery life; mounting options.
  • Mountain biking/cycling: image stabilization; wide-angle lens; waterproofing; battery life; robust build.
  • Water sports: waterproofing; image stabilization; wide-angle lens; battery life; mounting options.
  • Outdoors youtuber: video quality; image stabilization; audio quality; wide-angle lens; waterproofing; battery life; robust build.

It all comes down to your budget and what you’ll be using the camera for. Some people may prioritize one feature over the others depending on the type of activity they will be using the camera for. For example, if you’re into water sports, waterproofing may be the most important feature. If you’re into mountain biking, then having something with good stabilization will be required. So, it’s worth taking some time and thinking about how you’ll use the camera.

Some of the best budget action cameras – Price Checker

If you like the look of the Akaso budget cameras, check out our Akaso Ek7000 vs Akaso Ek7000 Pro article, which compares two brilliant budget action cameras.

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What to look for in a budget action camera – summary 

Choosing a budget action camera can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. By keeping a few key factors in mind, you can find the perfect camera for your needs without breaking the bank.

First and foremost, consider the camera’s design and build quality. Look for a camera that is durable and can withstand the elements, especially if you plan on using it for outdoor activities – which you probably do, or you wouldn’t be on this website. Additionally, consider the camera’s size and weight, as well as its mounting options, to ensure that it is versatile and easy to use.

Next, consider the camera’s video quality. Look for a camera that can preferably shoot in 4K, to ensure that your footage is clear and detailed. Additionally, consider the camera’s frame rate and stabilization features to ensure that your footage is smooth and free of motion blur.

Finally, consider the camera’s additional features and accessories. Look for a camera that has Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity, as well as a companion app, to make it easy to share your footage. Additionally, consider purchasing accessories such as a waterproof case, additional storage and extra batteries to enhance your camera’s functionality.

By keeping these factors in mind, you can find a budget action camera that is perfect for your needs. Hopefully, this What to look for in a budget action camera article has been useful. Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or just looking to capture some fun footage, there’s a camera out there that’s right for you.

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The specs in our articles have been compiled on a best effort basis from research on the manufacturers’ own websites, and on other websites selling the products. We do not guarantee the data we have given is correct and cannot be held responsible for incorrect information. Always do your own spec checks before making a purchase.