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 out there that really deliver results in low light.
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 DSLR or mirrorless camera, but then again, there are certain situations where the only camera that will do the trick is an action camera.
5 Low Light Action Cameras That Don’t Suck
|GoPro Hero 7 Black||
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|DJI Osmo Action Camera||
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|Yi 4K+ Action Camera||
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1. GoPro Hero 9 Black
It should come as no surprise that the GoPro Hero 9 Black 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 9 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 9 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, GoPro’s battery life always leaves some stuff to be desired.
This video is a good example of the GoPro Hero 9’s low light performance:
2. DJI Osmo Action Camera
The DJI Osmo Action is DJI’s response to the GoPro Hero. Sporting a front and back facing screen, in some cases, the DJI actually records better low light video than the GoPro Hero. Interestingly enough, both cameras have a 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor, but the DJI Osmo seems to have better image processing.
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!
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.
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.
5. Polaroid Cube Act II
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.
How does a camera handle low light?
The main factor that determines how well a camera handles low light is the sensor size. A bigger sensor means better light handling. However, since action cameras are tiny by nature, they have tiny sensors, and that’s why they’ll always suffer in low light situations.
On top of the sensor size, 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.
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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.