Looking for the best low light action camera can be a tough job since most action cameras are just not designed to shoot in poor lighting conditions, but there are a few models that really shine out of the current offerings.
In this post, we’ll take a look at those cameras and see which ones handle low light conditions the best. For what it’s worth, a low light action camera will never perform quite as well as a regular camera, but then again, there are certain situations where the only camera that will do the trick is an action camera.
How does a camera handle low light?
Cameras have two ways of handling low light situations. One is to increase the aperture, which lets more light onto the sensor. The other is to slow down the shutter speed, which keeps the shutter open for longer, and lets more light onto the sensor. Back in the day, there was film, but now, there is a digital sensor which captures the image.
Because there’s not enough light coming in, you won’t be able to see as many details or colors as you would in better light.
Lately though, the processing software inside cameras has gotten very advanced and a lot of post-processing that you would have had to do on the computer is now done by the camera itself.
With that short intro out of the way, let’s get into our favorite low light cameras.
5 Low light action cameras that don’t suck
1. GoPro Hero 7 Black
It should come as no surprise that the GoPro Hero 7 is at the top of our list. GoPro are the pioneers of the action camera itself and year in and year out, their models just shoot plain better video than any other camera out there.
There used to be a time where GoPros actually had terrible low light shooting but the company has addressed the issue in their new model. The Hero 7 black has some modes that are especially designed for taking nighttime videos and photos:
- Night Photo mode
- Night Lapse Mode
- Auto Low Light mode
You should be aware that low light mode will not have stabilization, so if your camera is moving very quickly, you will have rather blurry video, especially since the shutter is working slower.
Some advantages of the GoPro 7 Black is that it’s waterproof and in good lighting, the Hypersmooth stabilization does a fantastic job of recording creamy, smooth videos, and it has voice commands so you don’t need to fumble in the dark.
However, the battery life is quite low.
- Hypersmooth video stabilization get gimbal like stabilization without the gimbal; Hero7 black predicts your movements and corrects for camera shake to deliver insanely smooth footage
- Time warp video capture super stabilized time lapse videos while you move about a scene; Increase the speed up to 30x to turn longer activities into shareable moments
- Super photo: Get the best photos automatically; with super photo, Hero7 black intelligently applies hdr, local tone mapping or noise reduction to optimize your shots
- Rugged + waterproof: Share experiences you can’t capture with your phone; Hero7 black is rugged, waterproof without a housing to 33 feet (10 meter) and up for any adventure
- Voice control: Stay in the moment; Control your Hero7 black hands free with voice commands like 'GoPro, take a photo' and 'GoPro, start recording'
2. DJI Osmo Action
The DJI Osmo Action is DJI’s response to the GoPro Hero 7 Black. Sporting a front and back facing screen, in some cases, the DJI actually records better low light video than the Hero 7 Black. Interestingly enough, both cameras have a 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor.
This is quite striking, especially considering that the GoPro has a higher maximum ISO (3200) than that of the Osmo Action (1600).
However, because the DJI is not waterproof without a case and can’t live stream, it falls to the number 2 spot instead of claiming the number 1 spot. Also, GoPro’s customer service and warranty is much better than that of DJI. It is what it is!
- Dual Screens: Osmo Action’s dual screens allow you to capture it all with the touch of a button. A vivid front screen lets you frame yourself effortlessly in any setting, while the back screen delivers a crystal-clear, hyper-responsive display. This durable, versatile action camera is jam-packed with advanced technology that lets you spend less time worrying about equipment and more time living the action.
- The RockSteady technology combines EIS with complex algorithms, delivering stable, shake-free footage no matter how heavy the action gets.
- Action camera with 1/2.3" CMOS Sensor, 12MP, wide-angle 145° that allows you to shoot 4K HDR videos.
- 8x Slow Motion: Capture every epic move with jaw-dropping clarity and detail when you use 8x slow motion with 1080p resolution and 240fps. Time-lapse: Condense time and movement for stunning, easy-to-achieve results.
- 11m Waterproof, -10℃ Temperature Resistant Sporting a watertight seal and a hydrophobic coating on the back touchscreen, Osmo Action is waterproof at depths of up to 11 meters, making it the perfect underwater companion. Versatile batteries perform well even in extremely cold environments with temperatures as low as -10℃.
3. EZVIZ Action Camera
The EZVIZ Action Camera is quite affordable compared to the pricier DJI and GoPros, which is why we wanted to include this one in our list too.
On the surface, it shoots 1080p/60fps video with a huge 150 degree wide angle lens. There’s very little that you won’t be able to capture with such a wide angle lens. Though one small disadvantage here would be that you’ll get a bit of fish-eye effect.
The reason that the EZVIZ makes our list, though, is the low-light mode. Whenever the surroundings get dark to a certain degree, low-light mode automatically kicks in.
If you use the waterproof housing(you’ll need the housing for this to work), you can take it to a depth of 40 meters underwater.
All in all, the EZVIZ is a surprisingly good camera that ticks a lot of the boxes where the DJI and GoPro fall short. It has a removable battery, takes respectable low light photos and videos, and it’s quite user friendly.
The main disadvantage though is that it’s a bit on the bigger side, and there are no mounts included in the packaging.
- ✔ 2 In 1 Waterproof Camera - With two modes available, you can easily switch between Action cam and Dash cam(Mounting accessories are not included.). It records up to 1080p 60fps and picture up to 8MP.
- ✔ 150° Ultra Wide Angle with Less Distortion - With 6 layers of full glass lens and 150° Ultra Wide Angle, S3 covers more and prevents de-focusing. The specialized correction algorithm adjusts FOV and image distortion.
- ✔ Advanced Low-Light Mode & WDR - Thanks to the low light mode and WDR, the S2 handles high-contrast lighting with ease and presents images with intense detail and clarity even in the dark.
- ✔ Built-in Wi-Fi & HDMI - Edit & share your action in minutes in wireless(Wi-Fi) or wired(HDMI/AV) ways. Download the free app EZVIZ Sport on your smart phone to take full control of the camera in real time.
- ✔ Have Fun Anywhere Anytime - Waterproof up to 131ft with Waterproof casing, 2 hours battery life in 1080p 60fps mode (varies according to video mode) lets you take pictures anywhere you wish.
4. Yi 4K+ Action Camera
The Yi is Xiaomi’s action camera. Xiaomi has burst on the scene in the past two years as a powerhouse brand that makes nearly everything under the sun.
The Yi 4K+ is a super affordable, high quality action camera. You can’t expect daytime videos like the GoPro, but for most practical usage(casual Youtube or Instagram), you won’t even notice the difference in quality once you’ve uploaded the video.
It can shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second, but if you enable the low light mode, you will no longer be able to shoot 4K. You’ll lose out on stabilization, too.
Still, you’ll get pretty decent results from the 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor and even though there will be a few traces of grains, the video will be usable.
Like the EZVIZ, the Yi falls short with no accessories being packaged with it, and it’s not waterproof without a case.
- Impressive Video Quality - The world’s first action camera to record 4K/60fps video; Built-in Sony IMX377 image sensor captures 12MP pictures and films high-quality full HD footages.
- Superb Image Stablization - Built-in Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) delivers spectacularly smooth and steady videos in up to 4K/30fps resolution, ensuring excellent experience in shooting fast-moving objects.
- Intuitive UI Design - Ultra responsive 2.2” Gorilla Glass retina touchscreen shows everything crystal clearly and brightly, easy to change settings, switch shooting modes, preview and playback footage.
- Long Battery Life - 1200mAh high capacity battery supports video recording at 4K / 60fps for up to 70 minutes; USB-C connector offers more efficient power delivery and faster data transfer.
- Versatile Travel Camcorder - Packed with features including voice control, RAW image capture, built-in Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi, and external type-C microphone support. Note: Always update your 4K+ action camera to the latest version of the firmware(v1.3.11). By updating, you can enjoy additional features, keep your hardware healthy and system stability.
5. Polaroid Cube Act II
- Its brilliant – The Polaroid cube two is here to prove that the best things do indeed come in small packages standing at just about 35mm (1. 4”) and weighing just 49 grams this tiny action camera is ready to capture your most exciting moments in stunning Hi-Definition video on the go.
- Advanced camera technology – the cube records full HD either 720P or 1080P video and can take 6-megapixel still photos. To help capture more of the action, It features a fixed 124-degree wide-angle Lens, making it the ultimate combination of performance and small size.
- Capture every moment – The rubberized rugged body ensure you on all types of extreme conditions.
- Advanced simplicity - no more fumbling around with buttons hold the multifunction button until the led light turns green and you hear 3 beeps. All set! The built-in rechargeable battery and advance video and image stabilization enables you to continuously record up to 90 minutes per charge without worry.
The last pick on our list is the Polaroid Cube Act II. The Cube is a super cute, small action camera that measures just under 1.5 inch on each side. It has a decent 124 degree wide angle lens that should capture quite a lot of imagery, and the internal stabilization will help keep your videos smooth even if the camera is subjected to a jerk here or there.
The EXTREMELY cool feature of the Act II is that the bottom of the camera is magnetic, so you can just stick it anywhere to get an interesting vantage point for recording videos.
It takes high quality photos and video, and the low light performance is respectable, too.
More than its low light capability, what drew us to the Cube Act II was really the super cool form factor and convenience that this camera offers.
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Final thoughts on the best low light action cam
Even though we rated the GoPro as number 1, we feel that the EZVIZ actually falls right between everything and strikes a nice balance between price, image quality, and usability.
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend but still want a nice action camera, The best choice is the EZVIZ.
However, if you want more expandability and flexibility and you are willing to pay the extra money, then you can’t go wrong with a GoPro or an Osmo, either.