So, I am going to say right off the bat, I paid $83 for an action camera, I was expecting an $83 action camera. Short handed, that’s not what I got.
Shortly after getting this camera I immediately set to taking it through its paces. Between dash mounted footage, motorcycle helmet footage, and eventual PodCams (podcast video accompaniment), I needed to get a strong feel for how well this camera handled it. I took it around my yard on the two modes I will record video (1080p60 and 4K24). Then I strapped it to my motorcycle helmet and went for a ride. I picked up a decent amount of footage.
Now, I am going to briefly cover the reason I took half a star from my actual rating. I used the iSmart DV app (as the product description says to use, since the original one has been depreciated) to activate the recording for the ride, because it’s mounted to my helmet, that was being worn. I expected that it would record until I brought my phone back out and stopped it from the app as well. Turns out, after my half an hour ride, it only recorded about 3 minutes of it, because at some point it decided to stop recording. This was annoying, but I can live with that, I don’t really have faith in App controls, so I will just use the included remote control to do it from now on.
Moving on! Once I took the footage from the various modes off the camera and transferred them to my PC, I previewed it all. Mind you my expectations were pretty low, since it’s an $83 action camera, but what I watched was astonishing. The 1080p60 was the best of the two modes I used, because the framerate made it seem much more lifelike than the 24fps 4K. Either way, I definitely did not expect such video quality with this. Now that we know I like the video quality, I am going to break down the keypoints I look for in cameras, and various devices as a whole.
Build Quality: Now, it’s not a solid block of metal that you are confident would sustain being pitched against a concrete wall, but it’s not a flimsy piece of hollow plastic either. It’s lightweight without feeling super cheap. I’d say the one thing that will most certainly become an issue later in it’s life is the battery door. It’s just difficult to get off that you lose finesse, and must utilize focused brute force. One day that motion will break the tabs. Hopefully Akaso has some sort of minor parts store one can purchase a new battery door from, for when that time does come. Quick note, the mounts, remote, and various accessories this comes with are all well built as well.
Video Quality: Crisp, clean, and pleasurable, as long as you have sufficient light. There aren’t many cameras like this that do all that well in super low light, but this wasn’t awful. However, note that your frame rate will drop a bit if you are in a noticeably darker room.
Audio Quality: Junk. As expected. They all are. Mind you, it is there, but like every action camera I’ve ever used, the audio is not clear and far reaching, but muffled, because I am fairly certain they all drop them under the solid plastic casing, not exposed to the air. So the sound is muffled. That’s true of all action cameras of this size, if you are looking for audio quality over video, you want the Zoom Q8, it has nowhere near the video quality of this camera, but it records studio grade audio with many interchangeable mic modules you can buy.
Battery Life: Lacking. You can get a little over an hour recording 1080p60 on one charge. There are two redeeming factors here that saved it from losing more of a star. 1) The camera comes with two batteries, doubling the life. 2) The camera still records when you have the camera plugged into a charger or external battery, so if long life matters, you have options. Plus getting more batteries isn’t crazy expensive anyway.
User Interface and Controls: Simple, easy to understand, and feature rich. The included remote is pretty killer too. It does have the "wifi" option, and for basic operation that is cool, but my experience with it, as stated above, was not great. 5 different video modes (720p120, 1080p30, 1080p60, 2.7k30, 4K24), and 2 still image modes (single and burst), as well as a time lapse option, it’s hard to ask for more really.
Additional features: MicroSD card slot, up to 64GB, use class 10 or higher. A 64gb calss 10 card gets you over 6 hours of 1080p60 footage without switching cards.
Included accessories: Well, the fact that it comes with ANY gives it an edge, but it comes with a solid starting base of accessories for mounting, charging and controlling. Way more than the big brand GoPro.
Now that I’ve said that magic word (GoPro) let me end on this:
I’ve rented a GoPro Hero5 to use on a road trip. I pulled that footage up today and compared it to the footage taken with this Akaso, two clips nearly identical light, identical settings, and this Akaso kicks it’s butt with video quality. Hands down. So, for less than a quarter of the price, you get this camera that out classes the Hero5 and comes with well, a lot, whereas that Hero5 $400 pricetag just gets you the camera. No deal GoPro, Akaso, you’re winning. I look forward to getting the three more I need, and pumping out great video content, care of Akaso’s great camera.
The biggest plan behind this camera was to get one per microphone for my podcasts. That’s when I quickly learned something irreversibly bad about the cameras as a series. I’ll start off with a note that everything else I said is true, of the first camera I received. However, upon receipt of two more to round off my mic came, I realized that one of the two I received was different. Sure, the model number was the same, but there’s a laundry list of things different. The "features" remain the same, but one sensor needs to be back about 6" from the other to capture the same image. It’s as if one is zoomed in a bit further than the other. The software itself reacts just slightly different as well. For example, when it’s plugged into power the cameras all turn on automatically, however when you long press the power, the different one doesn’t shut back off, but instead goes into something of a sleep mode.
But in the end, I returned all of these cameras today because of the primary flaws:
They record at a mere fraction of a fraction variance of speed, add in that occasionally when the file switches to a new, it loses a frame or more. This leads right up to the complete inability to sync recordings together into one cohesive project. I can’t record the same event, in 3 different angles, and make a single video out of it without losing sync with all of them by the end.
So, if you are planning to use more than one of these, prepare to run into a lot of issues. Consistency in equipment is a must for production equipment. Unfortunately these just don’t have it. So, if app you need is one single high quality action camera, go ahead and grab this. Me? I’ll be getting a round of Zoom Q2Ns, because they make consistent equipment for professionals.