REVIEW – While high-end phone cameras are replacing traditional or digital cameras for more people every year, there’s still one market they can’t replace: action cameras. Although the marketing suggests it, I think most rational people wouldn’t take their brand new iPhone or flagship Samsung phone snorkeling or strap it to their helmet or bike to record trail footage. There are great options on the market like GoPro and DJI action cameras, but many of them are quite expensive. AKASO has always made action cameras with similar specifications to the latest established brands, but at lower prices. For example, I have already reviewed the AKASO Brave 6 plus action camera, and my colleague James has reviewed the AKASO Brave 7 action camera. With the Brave 8 action camera, AKASO has a record technically quite similar to the big boys, at around half the market price of current competing models. However, my experience over the past few weeks has been that this comes with some trade-offs.
What is that?
The AKASO Brave 8 Action Camera is a weatherproof action camera designed to capture your outdoor adventures while attached to a vehicle, body part or helmet, or used on a gimbal or even mounted on a drone. It includes the hardware to mount the camera, a physical remote, a small front-facing selfie screen, and a sound spec sheet that includes 8k timelapse and 4k video capture.
What’s in the box?
- Akaso Brave 8 Action Camera
- camera frame
- Remote control + strap
- 2 removable batteries
- 2 bay battery charger
- Handlebar/post mount
- 7 x various brackets
- 2 x helmet mounts
- 4 x “bandages” (straps)
- USB-A to C cable
- 5 x fasteners
- 2 x double-sided tape
- Lens cleaning cloth
- Quick Start Guide
- Weight with battery: 114.8 g (4 oz)
- Dimensions: 63 x 36.5 x 44 mm (2.48 x 1.44 x 1.73 inches)
- Camera sensor: 1/2″ CMOS
- Effective camera pixels: 48 megapixels
- Lens: 16mm f/2.5 equivalent
- Video formats: H.264 / H.265
- Battery: 1550 mAh each (2 included)
- Idle speeds (2x – 16x)
- Memory card support: Micro SD, class U3 recommended, up to 512 GB max.
- Waterproof: up to 33 ft (10 m)
- Supported video modes: NTSC/PAL, 16:9 / 4:3 (native), 4k, 2.7k, 1440p, 1080p
- Digital crop modes: Super wide angle (native), wide angle, portrait perspective, narrow angle
- Metering modes: AI Face Metering, Center Average, Full, Spot
- Frame rates for video recording: 30 FPS at 4K to 200 FPS at 1080P
- Data connection: USB-C (for charging, data transfer and PC camera mode)
Design and features
The AKASO Brave 8 action camera is quite similar to their previous models, as well as competitors’ offerings. It looks like a newer, more premium device though, especially compared to the previous model I reviewed:
I like matte gray and black with a red border aesthetic. The move to a fully waterproof body without the need for the additional enclosure is also much appreciated (the included bezel makes mounting easier while still providing access to buttons and touchscreen).
This USB and micro-SD compartment is on one side, and is difficult to open and use (more on that in a bit)
The battery charger, batteries and remote control. I liked the remote control, in some situations it can be very useful not having to mash the buttons on the camera itself, but rather being able to start/stop recording and even see information on the screen . The battery charger can charge both included batteries at once, with a USB-C connection (cable included, but wall plug not included). This can be plugged into just about any computer or power adapter to charge.
On the back are the large touchscreen (for its size), a power/multi-function display button and the start/stop recording button.
Around the front is the camera lens (the lens cover is removable and replaceable, which I really like, pesky scratches won’t permanently ruin future videos). The selfie screen is also handy, you can use it to frame selfie videos (but it’s not a touchscreen, you’ll have to put the display back on to change the settings).
No complaints here, the battery compartment works as expected.
AKASO includes a nice set of accessories with the AKASO Brave 8, including a handlebar/post mount, 2 helmet mounts and a variety of other options. They also have accessory kits for sale if you need other options for your adventures.
Setup and setup
After charging the battery, I started the setup. I inserted a Samsung U3 class Micro SD card that I had, I encountered my first problems. The camera frame/shell has a cutout designed for you to access the SD/USB compartment, but it wouldn’t open at all. The frame overlaps the edge of the compartment by about half a millimeter, I would need to sand off a good amount of plastic to let it open. This meant that I had to either scrape off part of the bezel or remove the bezel every time I wanted to plug into USB or access the SD card (either is needed to get videos and photos out of it). ‘device).
Once I had an SD card inserted there were a few setup screens and I was right shooting:
The only language options were English and Chinese.
When the camera is plugged into a computer via USB, it gives you the option of operating in USB storage, PC camera or charging mode. I like that you can charge it that way rather than always taking the battery out, and that’s how I’ve also transferred files, as it’s impossible to remove the SD card without tweezers due to the tight clearance around from the SD slot.
Then I tried using the AKASO app. I followed their QR code on the quick start guide to get the app on both a Samsung Android phone and an iPhone 13. Both were buggy and the camera connection was pretty bad. The ratings/reviews in both app stores reflect this issue, this seems to be an area where AKASO needs to improve.
On the last screen, you can see what I saw on all devices every time: a spinning wheel where there should have been a preview as well as untranslated Chinese elements. Every menu function timed out or loaded an empty menu list, and the connection to the camera constantly dropped. I submitted bug reports and support tickets, and while AKASO support was pretty responsive (they fixed a complete camera lockup with a simple test file that magically restored function), it never fixed the app issues. I will update my review in the future if I make progress on this, it would be nice to be able to transfer media directly from the camera to the phone, as well as preview and control settings from within the app.
The first thing I tried with the AKASO Brave 8 was a battery drain test, and at 4k it nearly did the quoted 90 minutes from a full charge: 82 minutes to death. Then I attached it to my helmet with zip ties (I didn’t trust the included double sided tape. The tape seems sticky and strong, but for long term use I wouldn’t even trust the tape strongest adhesive on a zip tie). Below is a video with and without image stabilization, as well as the motion timelapse function:
I was happy with the images obtained. Image stabilization could have been better, I couldn’t tell much difference with it on or off. Wind reduction on the microphones was good, I was traveling over 20 MPH and except for a few bits of windy audio it sounded fine. The motion timelapse feature worked better than expected, when I tested timelapses on the Brave 6 plus it wasn’t as smooth. It looks like AKASO has improved the software they use to process the timelapse, which is good to see.
I was hoping to use the device as a second webcam for my Twitch Beat Saber stream, but it doesn’t have great image quality even though my office is quite bright. It also looks like it can’t simultaneously charge and function as a webcam as the battery ran out during the test. The photos below show the webcam mode compared to my usual webcam:
Stills were nothing special (screenshots above are a good representation of stills performance), on sunny days they were fine, but you’ll get better images on any phone built during the last years. The LCD on the device itself was clear and bright enough for sunny days. The touchscreen was also responsive, I had no issues with missed taps or swipes.
What I like
- Decent performance for the price
- Good accessories included like the different mounts and extra battery
What I would change
- App is terrible, needs work to be useful
- The SD card slot is still difficult to access and does not open at all when in the frame case
Although the price seems high for an action camera, when I did some market research it seems quite competitive compared to the latest models from other companies. I look forward to capturing more outdoor adventures with the AKASO Brave 8 action camera, although I hope they fix the issues I’ve had with companion apps in the future.