EKEN is a brand that is quickly rising through the action camera ranks, and the EKEN Alfawise H6s sits bang in the middle of the range.
The camera offers 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps, more than enough for any extreme sports enthusiast.
As ever it offers a photo function that captures stills at an impressive 14mp.
Then there’s Wifi so you can connect it with the Smartphone App and shoot time-lapse and remotely control the camera.
The camera models an old skool style waterproof housing, but the features are refined. This instantly pitches expectations well above its competitors at the same price.
The lens is flat, and the buttons are rubber rather than cheap sprung loaded metal which makes them easy to use in all conditions.
Switched on and the camera’s easy to navigate with an icon-based interface.
The build quality is a huge leap up from the EKEN Alfawise V50 which I looked at a few months back, and to be honest, that wasn’t bad, overall this feels like a far higher quality offering.
Video quality at 4K is excellent and despite the poor lighting conditions offered by the British winter, the results were surprisingly good.
Drop the framerate to 25fps and the EIS kicks in, it’s a mild improvement stabilising the image but in the British Winter, the light levels mean that the footage is a little jerky.
The low light of the British winter does seem to challenge the camera, drop the resolution down to 1080p and something odd happens. Detail and colour reduce dramatically, and the detail, tone and colour that impresses at 4K evaporate.
When the light picks up so does the visual quality of the footage – I’m hoping for a bright day soon to complete this review.
Overall the Eken Alfawise 4K+ H6s performs well at 4K. I like the style and design of the camera, it feels solid and the navigation and usability are excellent.
The App is limited but does the job and forms a robust connection between smartphone and camera.
Where this camera has issued is with low light, once the light drops it struggles with video quality at anything other than 4K. The 1080p footage looks washed out and lacks tone or detail.
There’s plenty of promise, but in low light, this camera really struggles. With better weather forecast in the weeks ahead, I hope to update the review with full details on image quality.
EKEN are making huge leaps forward with the quality of their cameras, and the H6s is a big step up from the cheaper V50.
Instantly the quality of the waterproof housing leaps out; this is a traditional housing done right.
The lens is flat, the lever is a single action release, and the buttons are easy to push rubber making them easy to use in all weather conditions.
It features the bare essentials for an action camera these days, 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps.
There’s also a decent if simple App; this is the EZ iCam which is nice to see as this means there’s consistency in the range.
What makes the H6s stand out from the rest is the solid feel. It covers the basics and feels like a decent quality offering.
Initial thoughts are that the EKEN Alfawise H6s is a camera to be reckoned with; well spec’d, exceptional price and excellent build quality.
There’s been a shift in the action camera market, or maybe a lull in the technology which has meant that the focus has shifted from greater specs to better quality.
The H6s is a balanced action camera; it has the base features and a solid build that all comes in at a great price. But, it doesn’t pack in some of the more advanced features we’ve come to expect such as touch screen and voice activation.
But then this is a camera that retails for around £80 so what do you expect. It’s solid, well built, surely that’s all you need from an action camera.
It has all the usual resolutions and frame rates and offers electronic stabilisation: 4K 30fps, EIS 4K 25fps / 2.7K 30fps / 1080P 60fps / 30fps.
It also has the ability to shoot stills at 14MP.
These specs are made possible by an A12S75 Ambarella processor and Panasonic 34112 Sensor.
Fronting the sensor is a seven element glass lens with a 170º field-of-view that gives the typical fish-eye look to your images.
As you’d expect it has a decent selection of connectivity options including Wifi so you can connect to the EZ iCam App for iOS and Android.
This enables you to control the camera remotely, live preview, photo playback and sharing once you’ve downloaded the images and footage to your phone.
If you want to watch back your footage on TV then there’s an HDMI port alongside the MicroSD slot and USB.
A big feature of action cameras this year is EIS or electronic Image Stabilisation, of which it has a 3-axis gyroscope and 3-axis accelerometer that detects position and motion changes.
When shooting 4K EIS video and the camera tilts, moves shakes, or experiences impact, the sensors inside use an image cross-border compensation algorithm to compensate for the change and produce stable videos.
The design follows the traditional GoPro design of the camera and waterproof housing which will protect the camera down to 30m.
On the back, there’s a large clear 2-inch IPS screen, perfect for composition and viewing your footage and photos.
For the money this camera is looking really good.
Build quality and handling
Action cameras are built tough, and the H6s is reassuringly solid. Actually, it’s more than solid, if this was thrown at you it would hurt a lot.
At 95g it’s 25g lighter than the GoPro Hero 7 Black but although very different manages to match the feeling of quality.
The outer is a combination of metal for the sides, top and bottom a large screen that covers the back. The plastic front features the lens, power button and small LCD screen.
It’s all very neat.
As ever the camera comes with a waterproof housing and with the weather doing overtime to promote traditional British winter a casing that can stand up to the elements is needed.
The waterproof housing like the camera is well thought out and solid. It’s a no-fuss affair but get things right. The lens is 100% flat so, despite the mud and rain, it’s easy to wipe clean.
The lever on the top is a single release affair which holds the camera safely inside but is easy enough to open with gloves when needed.
Then there are the buttons, gone are the awful metal spring loaded type that we often see on action cameras and instead there are large rubberised plastic pads.
These work incredibly well and don’t clog with mud. They’re large enough for you to easily push them whatever the conditions, they are, just right.
Overall the H6s is a solid and well-made piece of kit, I’ve instantly warmed to it as it doesn’t feel cheap and the design really does reflect what’s needed from an action camera.
A decent amount of time has gone into the design and it’s not just another action camera sporting the latest cut priced sensor and processor to get 4K video.
The interface is nicely designed as well, reflecting the quality of the rest of the camera.
As there’s no touch screen the operating system works on a carousel system which is easy enough to understand. Unlike similar systems, however, the WiFi button can be used to exit out of menu sections without needing to scroll through all options which is a nice touch.
There are only three buttons on the camera so the power/mode button on the front rotates you through the options; Video, Stills, Settings and then the shutter button enables you to select.
The main settings screen gives you access to some of the other modes including Burst, TL Video, TL Photos, Video playback and Photo.
Eken has kept the resolutions and frame rates combined and streamlined with the top option being 4K at 30fps.
When selecting the resolution you’ll see the top option doesn’t feature EIS but as you scroll down to 4K at 25fps the EIS kicks in as standard.
Resolution options are as follows: 4k(30fps), 4K(25fps)EIS, 2.7K(30fps)EIS, 1080p(60fps)EIS and 1080p(30fps).
Once you’ve selected the resolution your set to go, there are no video quality settings, but you do have EV adjustment, maybe it’s just that the H6s seems confident that its settings out of the box will be right.
When it comes to the interface the onscreen options aren’t the end of the story as there is, of course, the App.
Ez iCam has been the featured App for a few action camera’s and provides a solid if light performance.
Here it’s really stripped back with just the options to start and stop recording and change the resolution. You can also change mode, but aside from that, there’s not a great deal more.
While the options on the App are as light as they come, it is functional and the live stream is fast with only a slight delay in the feed. Unlike some other action cameras, I’ve seen recently the live stream for the camera continues once you hit record.
Overall the camera is well built, well above the quality I’d usually associate with an £80ish camera.
The Eken H6s is the standard action camera size, so when it comes to mounting it’ll slot into all the usual mounts.
The housing is of a decent quality so there are no issues with it standing up to a few knocks and scratches and I have faith that it will withstand more than most other cases.
Out on the trail and navigation and use was well above the usual entry-level action camera level. The buttons were easy to use, the screen bright and crisp and finding and selecting options was easy if stripped down.
The App performed solidly although outside was a little slow to connect, once it had the stream was robust. Although the options in the App are limited.
The housing really does come into its own, I have four cameras on test at the moment and this one stands out for its quality of design. It’s just a joy to use.
EIS is a big feature for this small camera and while it’s not available at the top resolution and framerate combo it is available for all other settings.
Once switched on it does an OK job, taking out the small wobbles from handheld footage and vibrations from being bar mounted to some degree.
It’s no HyperSmooth but you can see the effect.
In low light conditions, it can go a bit bonkers and there were some funny warping effects that will mess with your eyes, but the low light performance of this camera isn’t a strong point.
In better lighting conditions the stabilisation does the job intended.
The all-important feature is, of course, the video quality. Up until now, this camera has been a mix of two parts. Solid and quality feeling build with a stripped down feature set, which to be honest I’ve really liked.
The big question is has that pairing back been done to provide the camera with the best possible video quality for the price.
At this time of year, action camera image quality can be hit by the lack of light, and at present, there really is a lack of light.
In these British Winter conditions, the footage looks grainy, colours look a little washed out and while you can see the potential of the camera it’s difficult to really rate the full performance, so I’ll come back to the full video quality once the sun finally breaks through.
At present, video quality is as follows:
Starting with general observations at all resolutions.
The distortion and the camera doesn’t feature any type of lens correction so you can see the full characteristic fish-eye style. This is great when the cameras mounted to your bike, surfboard or car but not so great if you’re thinking of using the camera for vlogging.
Actually, this camera is definitely not for vlogging.
Looking across the frame and the quality of the video is good with excellent edge to edge sharpness.
Now looking at the 4K video at 30fps; detail is well resolved and there’s a good amount of tonal graduation.
Dynamic range does seem to be an issue with large areas of the video blown out to highlight in high contrast situations such as filming indoors with windows in the background, or out in the trial going through the woods from light to shadow.
In these situations, the lens shows some amount of purple and blue chromatic aberration around the contrast edges, not enough to worry and in the condition, I was filming it’s actually well handled.
Overall the footage at 4K resolution is pretty good, there’s a good amount of detail in brighter conditions, and even though you can see it struggles in low light conditions the image quality is better than other cameras in this price range.
4K at 25fps with EIS
At 4K you have a second option 25fps with EIS. As soon as you drop the frame rate in these lighting conditions you can see the difference in quality. The EIS does stabilise the footage, but there just isn’t enough light to balance the video.
One big issue with action cameras in low light is the adjustment of shutter speed. While you may dial in a decent framerate the cameras shutter speed then has to adjust to enable the correct exposure.
On all but the GoPro Hero 7 Black shutter speed is handled by the camera automatically so you have no control over the effect that it has.
In low light as the shutter speed is extended to balance the exposure it can lead to jerky footage. This means that while 4K at 30fps without the EIS is usable the 4K at 25fps with EIS in the present low light conditions it isn’t.
The combination of 4K at 25fps with EIS gives a strange warping effect to the video, however again this will probably improve once the light levels increase.
I’ll pick up the image quality as soon as a decent day of weather and myself meet and I’ll update the video quality.
1080p at 60fps and 30fps
Drop the resolution down to 1080p and the footage starts to look painterly, again this is probably caused by the low light.
In a brief moment when there was just light cloud and in between rain showers I did shoot some footage of me doing a piece to camera. The brighter conditions did see an increase in quality to the footage, but I’ll update this as soon as I can confirm how it looks in decent sunlight or even light cloud.
The H6s definitely feels worth the money. On first removing the camera from the box and before I’d checked out the price I would have thought that it would have retailed for twice what it actually does.
It’s well designed and there’s been a lot of thought put into what it offers. I like the simple design approach, the waterproof housing is a revelation and the best of its type.
In use out on the trial the camera performs well, the screen is easy to see, the housing works and it’s a joy to use.
Back home and reviewing the footage and the cracks start to show, the quality of the footage is good at 4K there’s grain but nothing too much to worry about.
But then drop the framerate and may be due to the low light the footage at 4K becomes jerky. Drop the resolution and the quality of the footage drops adopting a painter like quality.
This is not a camera for low light shooting, and by that, I mean the British Winter. However, I have recorded some clips in brighter conditions at 1080p where the footage looks quite good, but not enough to confirm the quality.
Action camera’s at this price don’t usually feel of as good as the H6s, at the moment I’ll have to hold judgement on the full verdict as I have a feeling the camera will perform better in good lighting conditions.
At the moment I would recommend the build quality, features and quality of the 4K video at 30fps. As soon as the sun breaks through I’ll bring you an update and the final verdict.