The Akaso Brave 8 ($279.99, buy from Akaso and Amazon) is an action camera capable of shooting 4K video at up to 60fps. It features dual screens — front and back — and is said to be waterproof to 10m. Check out this video review to see how it performs for mountain biking, or read the transcript below.
For a long time GoPro has been the gold standard in action cameras in the market with several other companies chomping at the bit trying to make a dent on their total market domination. Akaso has also been in the action camera game for a minute, and the Brave 8 is their newest offering.
With a long list of fancy features Akaso is definitely trying to lure people in with a more competitive price point, retailing for $279.99 at most online retailers. This action camera is significantly cheaper than the latest and greatest GoPros but is it worth the money?
By the numbers the Akaso Brave 8 sounds quite impressive. This camera features a half inch CMOS sensor and a 16mm equivalent lens which provides a decent field of view with video resolutions up to 4k at 60 frames per second and slow motion up to 16 times real time, which translates to roughly 400 frames per second. You can also take 48 megapixel photos and there’s a variety of time lapse options to help you speed up the passage of time.
At such a competitive price point the Akaso Brave 8 comes well accessorized. In the box you’ll find the Brave 8 action camera and camera frame, a wireless remote a USB battery charger and two 1550 milliamp hour batteries, one handlebar/pole mount, a couple sticky mounts, and an assortment of mounting accessories and tethers. This camera requires a class U3 micro SD card sold separately.
Two batteries seem to be just enough to get me through about two hours of riding and filming with only one battery change during the ride. I did notice that once the batteries hit below 20% capacity left, it was a bit of a gamble for how much longer they would last. I found this to be pretty annoying when trying to download footage at the end of the ride. With the download process being so time consuming battery life is a precious resource when using the Brave 8.
The main thing I look for in an action camera is how simple it is to use. I don’t want to be fighting technology just to get the shot. From the get go the Brave 8 was fairly intuitive and simple enough to navigate via the touchscreen on the back of the camera. Changing settings was straightforward with every change being just a swipe or two away. More granular menu options are available if you swipe up from the bottom allowing users to fine tune their camera settings.
There is a front facing LCD screen to help you frame up the perfect selfie. Only one screen can be on at a time and you can’t change settings with the back screen disabled. There are some basic voice commands to start and stop recording, like take a photo and power off the camera. In testing at home the Brave 8 was a good listener and responded quickly to well enunciated commands, so be sure to speak clearly. This worked perfectly at home out on the trail not so much.
Since I already own a GoPro I opted to use my GoPro mounts and accessories with the Akaso Brave 8, including the chest mount and my helmet mount. The included mounts look more than adequate and there are plenty of options on the kit. I’d hate to go out for a ride and realize that I forgot my Akaso-branded pieces and end up having to buy a whole slew of GoPro branded accessories just to make the camera work. If you choose to go with your Akaso accessories, then for $20 you can get a 14 in one accessory bundle direct from their website. The kit includes a lot of goodies, although the stock photos look suspiciously like GoPro accessories and are very different from the Akaso branded pieces included with the camera.
The Brave 8 features a half inch CMOS sensor and a fancy lens with nine layers of glass ready to document all your ventures in stunning 4k video or amazing 48 megapixel photos. Despite hitting all the buzzwords, the footage was not as impressive as I had hoped. With perfect lighting colors were bright and vibrant. But the quality of the video felt lacking. There was a lot of lens distortion on the edges and objects sometimes look soft and out of focus. The only time things look pretty was in perfect lighting conditions. And even then there were times when the colors felt muddy and dull.
There are four different zoom options available: super wide angle, wide angle, something called portrait perspective, and narrow angle. I opted for only using the super wide angle because it yielded the sharpest image quality in both photo and video mode. And frankly, the other options were simply unusable.
The sound quality also left much to be desired. Even in quieter settings everything sounded over modulated and muffled and the wind noise was often distracting and overbearing.
On the photo side of things it was a mixed bag. If conditions were perfect and I stuck to the super wide angle lens, then I was able to capture some pretty decent shots. Anything outside of that looked muddy and distorted. Portrait perspective and narrow angle did not look great. Despite all that, I did get some nice shots, but conditions were just right and even the most basic camera phone could have captured a work of art.
The cameras seem to keep up well with any sudden lighting changes. I felt the auto exposure did okay with evening out the image unless it was really dark or overcast. The highlights on average did feel blown out. But if you’re feeling motivated, you can fine tune the exposure settings in camera to your liking. Just be sure to monitor the changes on phone. I thought the LCD screen on the camera was not the best for judging overall exposure.
For you slow motion enthusiast out there, you’re probably thinking, “Wow 400 frames, I gotta get one of these cameras now!” Well, I hate to break it to you but the 16 times slow motion at 400 frames is only available at the low low resolution of 720p. If you want to shoot in 1080, then the slowest you can go is 8x which is roughly 200 frames per second. If you’re looking for a higher resolution slomo then the best the Akaso Brave can do is 2.7k at 4x Slomo, which is roughly 116 frames per second. All these frame rates are plenty slow to capture the nitty gritty details of whatever you’re shooting, but the lacking image quality and lower resolution makes me want to stay away from using these super slow options.
Another major drawback is that there is no option for video stabilization. So this will not be a good choice for POV or any shaky footage. For comparison, the GoPro Hero nine can do 1080 at 240 frames and 2.7k at 120. Both options allow you to use their most advanced image stabilization in camera. Being an action camera things are bound to get bumpy when shooting. The Akaso Brave 8 offers two options for stabilizing the image. The in camera stabilization was identified as normal in the menu options, this mode will only work with a super wide lens at certain resolution and framerate combinations. I found this method of stabilization to be moderately effective. It definitely takes the edge off of the footage and smooths out the minor hits. But I didn’t feel it was super effective on the bumper things.
Akaso also has an app-based stabilizer called Super Smooth. In order to use this feature, you have to turn on the setting in camera and then export the footage through the app by clicking the Super Smooth option. The end result is pretty decent, but it comes at a slight cost of your time and patience. When compared to the normal stabilization, you’ll notice a huge difference in the quality of the clip. Unfortunately, the only way to get this super smooth clip is to process it through the app. If you download the clip straight from the media card onto a computer, it’s the same as shooting with stabilization turned off completely.
I’ve waited this long to bring up the app because there’s just so much to unpack here. At first glance, the app seems to masquerade as some sort of social network for Akaso camera users worldwide. You can look around and see what other users have submitted from their adventures and comment on their posts. There’s also a point system of some sort that you can use to redeem random prizes, including this Akaso camera toy plushie, which I found tempting.
On its own, the Brave 8 has a lot to offer. However, the downside is that you can’t use the camera to its fullest potential without the Akaso Go app. For some reason, every time I open the app, it automatically pastes whatever is on my clipboard, which is a little concerning. As far as useful features on the app, it is pretty straightforward in terms of file management, clip playback, and settings adjustments. The interface is functional but a little rough around the edges. The deeper you go into the app, the more likely you are to find untranslated sections.
The camera control side is simple yet effective. You can make all the resolution lensing and framerate changes you want to your heart’s content, but the more in-depth exposure settings appear to only be accessible via the menus on the camera. Out in the field you will have to use the app to connect to your camera via Wi Fi to download your footage. If you plan on using the Super Smooth stabilization offered in the app, then that is your only method of getting the processed clips off your camera.
One major headache I ran into was that I wasn’t able to batch download the Super Smooth clips, so I had to go back and download them one at a time. This literally took hours and was not always successful. The download process is already a time and battery consuming endeavor. And more than once I had the camera either shut down or overheat in the middle of trying to export footage. If you play your cards right, you might find yourself downloading clips late into the night while enjoying a beer and a burger somewhere. By the way, that download eventually failed. Also worth noting the naming convention of the files visible on the app does not match what the file names are after export. So good luck trying to figure out what things are after the fact.
There is a built in video editor that seems perfect for very simple projects. You do still need to download the footage to your phone and then select your clips, but the editing process was pretty easy to figure out. You can even mix and match sources so you can throw clips from your phone or other cameras into the timeline. In a pinch. I could probably make a quick edit at the end of a ride, but in general, I’d rather sit at a computer and get the editing done at home with a bigger screen.
It’s also worth noting that although this camera can shoot up to 4k 60 frames per second, the editor only lets you export a very low quality 1080p file at 24 frames. The camera won’t even let you record at 24 so I’m confused as to why it won’t let me export at the same frame rate I shot in.
My impression of the Akaso Brave 8 action camera is that it over promises and under delivers on many fronts. My experience and trying to use this camera to its fullest potential was nothing short of frustrating. In the time since I started testing the camera Akaso has released a number of updates that have improved some features. Unfortunately, those changes haven’t been big enough to tip the scales in favor of the Brave 8. On paper, it looks like a solid contender to take on all the other cameras on the market. But a half baked app, an agonizingly slow download process, and subpar image quality leaves me wondering if an older GoPro is a better investment.
The bottom line is that the Akaso Brave 8 is all bark and no bite. I can only recommend this camera for folks who have the patience of a saint and a hankering for tinkering with footage and hoping for the best. If you’re like me and you’d rather get the shot and move on then I would recommend getting something else.
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