They say that imitation is the best form of flattery and when it comes to action cameras, that is most definitely true. There are numerous inexpensive action cams around that flatter the original, the GoPro, by looking and operating with striking similarity to its earlier models.
This version from Akaso is one such camera. It is very similar to early GoPro Hero models yet like many similar examples, costs a fraction of the price of the real deal and it is this that makes it a proposition worth considering.
As you would imagine, at this kind of price, it won’t be offering the same quality or functionality that a comparable GoPro does but once you accept that, then it is reasonably impressive. It records in 4k resolution at a frame rate of 25 frames per second although the frame rate can be boosted by reducing the video resolution – you can get up to 60fps if you come down to 1080p.
That should be enough to capture most action smoothly, such as recording sessions on a trackday, for example.
The picture quality is, if viewed in isolation (excuse the pun) not too bad. Colours can be a little washed out but generally, it is bright though the built-in image stabilisation sometimes struggles and images can be a little rough round the edges. There are several lens focal lengths possible, from super-wide to narrow. Super-wide is just that – very wide angle and of course, fore-shortens the view but if you’re after plenty of coverage, it could be the best option.
The camera itself features a touchscreen on the back as well as a couple of buttons that serve to cycle through the menu options. These are particularly useful when the camera is mounted in the – included – waterproof housing. Controls are fairly intuitive though it can sometimes be a little frustrating trying to remember where certain functions are.
It is Wi-Fi enabled and will connect to the matching app on your smartphone, using it as a monitor screen and to control the camera though again, this can be very temperamental. You can also upload images and video to the web using the app but I found it a bit too clunky – I much preferred copying footage across to a computer and doing it that way.
I found it best to use the phone app to set the camera-view and the associated settings and then use the included remote control to activate it at the right point if I didn’t want to run it continuously. The remote will trigger either video recording or take a still shot, with a 16 mega-pixel sensor and has a strap to mount it to your wrist.
Battery life isn’t amazing – when I tested it from full to flat, I got about half an hour of recording even though the manufacturer suggests 90 minutes of recording is possible per battery. That presumably is why it comes with a spare battery, which can be charged in the included dock or in the camera, to give you 60 minutes of total shooting time.
The camera records onto a microSD card and I found that you really need a decent quality, high-speed card for it to work. I tried a cheap generic version and what recordings it did make were blank. However, as soon as I bought a decent quality card from a known manufacturer, everything was fine. It records in MP4 files as standard, which are generally easy to manipulate and chop across to a computer or upload to the internet.
The camera comes with a waterproof housing that the manufacturer says is good down to a depth of 40 metres and while I never got that deep, I did find it worked fine as deep as I wanted to go – a few metres. It will certainly keep any rain out if you’re using it in bad weather.
In addition to the waterproof housing, it comes with what the manufacturer describes as a ‘bicycle’ mount that houses it in open air. Probably not secure enough to use on a motorcycle, it would work in a car, for example or on a mountain bike.
While video quality is reasonable and certainly good enough for most online use (though perhaps not broadcast), sound quality is less so. In the waterproof housing, it is muffled and somewhat distorted and on the bicycle mount, it tends to pick up wind noise more than anything else.
The camera comes with a useful array of accessories, including the two mounts, the remote control, spare battery and dual-charging dock and several mounts and clips.
The first thing to get past is that this is no GoPro. If you can do that, then it’s actually a reasonable proposition if all you want is a camera for the odd trackday, rides with mates, gnarly mountain-bike expeditions or your underwater fun.
The resolution is decent and the image isn’t bad – a bit rough and ready around the edges and the image stabilisation is not perfect but better switched on than off. It’ll do underwater as well and comes with pretty much everything you need to get going.
I’ve used it on motorcycles, mountain bikes, snorkelling and messing about in swimming pools and for the money, it’s alright. It won’t win you any lucrative video-production awards but then, it’s a fraction of the cost of the real thing.
Comes with everything you need to get going
Wi-Fi for remote control and smartphone connection
Max resolution of 4k
Image and sound a little rough round the edges