There are hundreds of action cameras to choose from, so it’s not easy to pick from plethora of devices. Fortunately, we are here for you to give you some tips and provide suggestions on where to find most affordable devices. Read our guide on buying sports cameras (also known as action cameras) and check reviews of best and most affordable action cameras that you can find on largest Chinese online shopping portal – GearBest.
“…but first, let me take a selfie.”
How to Choose a Sports Camera?
- Start with picking desired video resolution. The larger the resolution, the better video quality will be. Current standard is 4K video, so you should pick action camera that captures video and images in Full HD. On the other side 2K or 1080p cameras are definitely cheaper and often can record longer without recharging so ultimately it depends on your preferences.
- Find out camera shape and mounting options. If you intend to put it in on the helmet, it should be bullet-shaped, which allows for easy mounting. There are also cameras suited for a motorcycle handle or that have backpack clip. Currently most cameras are lightweight and weight differences are small, but you can also check if it’s not too heavy for you.
- Don’t forget to see if camera is waterproof or have waterproof casing, which is important if you plan to record your underwater adventures. Most action cameras have waterproof IPX certificate, but have different allowed submersion depth, which matters if you dive.
- Battery life is important for any electronic gadget, and especially in case of sports camera. You wouldn’t want to miss the best shot, because you run out of juice, wouldn’t you? Compare cameras considering their battery capacity and estimated recording time on fully charged batteries. The more the better, though devices with powerful cells can be heavier and more expensive. If battery capacity in your chosen camera is not sufficient for you, consider buying powerbank, which allows you to recharge it on the fly.
- The more memory is available for camera, the more footage you can hold. Typically, cameras are using standard TF/Micro-SD cars and are limited in maximum card memory size that can be handled. Some cameras have dual card slots, while others don’t have it at all, but can have large internal memory available for recording.
- Lastly, check what accessories are available for camera. Various additional cases, mountings, straps, sticks and lenses can improve capabilities and ease of use.
EKEN H9 / H9R
Eken H9 is most popular camera on GearBest, with literally tens of thousands pieces sold, because it’s inexpensive and it has really great parameters for its price. Prices starts from $37.99 and you can get various additional accessories and choose different case color in one purchase. This 4K Ultra HD sports camera dubbed “GoPro killer” can record great videos and is waterproof. It has 170° wide angle lens, which covers large FOV area, so you won’t miss anything. 4K recording is done in 25fps, and you can get as much as 60fps if you lower resolution to 1080p. Image quality is further improved by digital image stabilization, so even if you record from fast moving bike or car, video recorded will be fluid and pleasant to watch. You can also dive up to 30 meters and record underwater videos, if you use waterproof case.
Remote controller is very useful addition, because if you are driving fast or swimming it may be hard to reach your sports camera. Instead of fumbling with camera, just push large buttons on remote to start and stop recording. And if you don’t want to use provided remote, you can control camera with smartphone, thanks to dedicated app for Android and iOS. App also allows for playback, live preview and content sharing. This is affordable and quality camera, so it’s great choice for every task. Watch video below to see EKEN H9 video quality:
Xiaomi Yi Action Camera
As expected from Xiaomi, this excellent device has great recording capabilities, is built on best hardware available and has outstanding design, though it’s certainly more expensive. It record in lower resolution than previously reviewed camera – just 1080p in 60 fps, but it can capture more frames per second: up to 240, if you lower resolution to humble 240p. This allows precise capture of images in high speed situations, like free falling or driving sports car on freeway.
Image quality is improved through Ambarella A7LS, which is one of the best image processor that you can find in video capturing devices. This GPU also allows for awesome slo-mo effects and extensive adjustments to image parameters. Sony Exmor R image sensor enhances video quality in bad lighting, which is usual problem with cheaper cameras. Colours and contrasts are bright and vivid, so if you are recording in the evening or at night, you can be assured that your video will look decent.
This camera can also be controlled by phone through app, and if you want to transfer video files to your computer, you can use built-in fast Wi-Fi to do it wireless. App also allows you to instantly share your recorded content in social media, including their popular (at least in China, though not only) Yi community portal. Reliable camera with powerful hardware, just remember that it’s not waterproof.
SJCAM is probably most popular action cams manufacturer on Chinese market and customers value their cameras for exceptional video quality and best bang for the buck price. So what’s so good about SJCAM SJ4000? Everything: it captures video in 1K HD with its 12MP sensor, has optical image stabilizer and is fully waterproof up to 30 meters. Other cool features include motion detection, that starts recording only when in motion and 4 x digital zoom that helps to capture distant images. It also has HDMI-out port and you can plug it directly into your TV to play recorded videos. It’s also one of the lightest cameras, weighing just 58 grams (44 grams without battery) so you can wear it comfortably on your helmet all the time.
It’s available from GearBest for 65.99$ for basic version or up to $108.99 for expanded version with additional accessories like extra battery and memory card. With wide range 170° FOV, waterproof capabilities and unusual features this is good choice for active people who wants to capture perfect videos. You can see sample SJCAM SJ4000 recording below:
DBPOWER EX5000 is 16MP camera, capable of recording in 1080p with wide angle lens and large, 2-inches display. It weights more than other cameras and is a bit larger, so I wouldn’t mount it on the helmet but in other cases it’s fine. Large display allows for easy movie preview and allows you to see your video recorded in real time. It’s compatible with MicroSD card up to 32 GB, which should be sufficient to record at least 8 hours of video and even more when shooting in lower resolution.
Built in WiFi can be used for fast file transfer and your videos can be reviewed on smartphone if you install dedicated app and connect those two devices. With waterproof cover, you can swim up to 30 m deep.
Full array of accessories is included in the box, so you get not only camera and charger, but also various clips and mounts, mount adapter, 2 batteries (one is spare), waterproof case and even 3M stickers. Starting from $45,79, so less than 1/3 price of GoPro, this is affordable and easy to use cam for everyone. Here’s a video comparing DBPOWER EX5000 and GoPro Hero 4 – and as you will see, EX5000 is no pushover in this comparison!
Do you have your favorite sports camera? Tell us about it in comments below!