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Best Action Cams for $300 or Less

If Q-Tips and Kleenex, GoPro has been defined in the market: Action cam, shoppers routinely forget to consider the competition.

But if you do a little research, you will find that there is a wide range of brands, including a number of advanced features—like GoPros.

These rival cameras are also easy to use—just like GoPros.

And, just like the $400 GoPro Hero5 and the $330 GoPro Hero4 Silver Standard Edition featured in our ratings, action cameras made by Kodak, Sony, and even Activeon are known for delivering quality video and photos.

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That does not mean that GoPro cameras are overrated. Only that—with a little work you can often get a better deal. So, if you’re willing to venture into the outdoors without a GoPro-label (and GoPro accessories), here are a few bargains worth considering.

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Kodak PixPro SP1

Despite its small size, this is $190 action cam is rugged enough to withstand a 7-foot drop and is waterproof to a depth of 33 metres. The 2-plus hours of battery life per charge ranks is one of the best in its class.

The camera comes with a 1.5-inch liquid crystal display (LCD) and an image stabilizer to counteract shake hands, not to mention the shaking steering wheel. According to our testers, it delivers good pictures and video. And here’s a fun extra: the ability to capture photos at 10 frames per second in Burst Mode.

Sony HDR-AS100V

Action cams are not known for producing stunning image quality. But according to our testers, this $300 model is one of the few to capture very good video. The hard-working image stabilization system deserves much of the credit.

The camera delivers good picture and audio, plus 130 minutes of the life of the battery. The splash-resistant body can handle a light rain. And, if you place it in the protective case, the model is waterproof to a depth of 16 metres.

Activeon CX Gold

In contrast to many other action cams, this $130 Activeon comes with a removable battery, which allows you to swap in a fully charged back-up in a pinch. Admittedly, the 80 minutes of the life of the battery is a bit shorter than you will find in many different models, but the camera’s image stabilizer delivers good video and photos. The protective housing is waterproof to a depth of 197 metres, according to the manufacturer. And, better yet, the model has a touch screen LCD screen on the back.

Sony HDR-AS50

Like most Sony models, this one has a very good image stabilizer. Priced at $190, it also offers a simple, intuitive interface, so that the camera is a snap. The video quality is good and so is the audio quality. The battery life extends up to 100 minutes. And, just like the Activeon camera above, the protective housing of this model of dry to a depth of 197 metres, according to the manufacturer.

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