There are lots of popular GoPro action camera knockoffs on sale, most of which are less than $100, but the LeadEdge LE5000 is currently the cheapest with 4K resolution: $39 for a complete kit. Is that too good to be true? Well, it depends on what kind of footage quality you’re expecting from an action camera that’s a tenth the price of the industry leader.

Here’s my full review of the LeadEdge LE5000 action camera and who it might be best suited for.

The Battleground

Let’s start by comparing the LeadEdge LE5000 4K camera to the GoPro line, from the HERO4 ($239) on up since they’re 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30fps as well. For those of you who looking at the LeadEdge I’m guessing 4K is a big reason why, but in case you aren’t quite sure what this higher resolution is, PCMag has a good primer.

Resolution is just one part of how good the video you get looks. The sensor in the camera as well as the lens, amount of light coming through the lens, all play an important factor in video quality. Given that action cameras are designed to be physically small, with very wide-angle lenses (the LeadEdge is 170 degrees), the size of the lenses are heavily restricted.

That means the quality of video you get from any action camera isn’t going to be great and any point and shoot like this bargain Lumix will likely give you crisper footage with better color range in a wider variety of lighting conditions.

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Cutting Corners

Given these constraints, the LE5000 has to cut some corners to come $250+ cheaper than a comparable GoPro. Both the lens and the sensor are lacking. The drawbacks of the lens being somewhat grainy footage, that’s especially poor indoors unless you’re working with a lot of light.

You can see examples of LeadEdge 4K footage in my video review above.

leadedge 4k action camera

The electronics in the LeadEdge also seem just barely capable of keeping up with 4K footage, writing to the microSD card sufficiently when there’s little camera motion. On faster action however, the footage is choppy. Slow motion? Forget about using it, the LeadEdge is terrible at 720p 120fps.

Advantages Of The LeadEdge

Clearly you’re not going to get GoPro-level footage with a camera that’s so much cheaper. But the LeadEdge does come with a full kit – case, underwater housing, all of this stuff you can see in my unboxing video.

leadedge le5000 4kLeadEdge Action Camera 4K Ultra HD

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On a tripod, camera dashboard, slow skiing, or as an inexpensive beach camera though the LeadEdge can take some cool shots you couldn’t with a larger mirrorless. The LeadEdge is good enough, but it’s not great. For most users though, an action camera is one you’ll use only a few times a year. Plus travelers will like the reduced theft anxiety of the LeadEdge since it’s much easier to swallow a $39 loss if you get robbed.

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Frequent snorkelers, divers, fast-car-snowboarding-all-winter-serious-about-action-vloggers should probably take a close look at a GoPro HERO4 or HERO5. GoPro has also had a lot of financial difficulty, forcing them to lower the prices on their products. Once the HERO4 hits $150 or lower, it will make the choice between a LeadEdge much more difficult. For now, if you only hit the beach once or twice a year, $200 or more dollars on an action camera might not be the best investment.