Finally, the AKASO Brave 8 has arrived, and it’s an action camera that combines an affordable price with great features and decent video quality.
It’s a sturdy, all-weather action camera that certainly looks the part. The camera features a large rear touch display, a small front screen and a cageless design; features that all bring the Brave 8 bang up to date in action camera style.
There are a few minor points, such as the limited ability of the EIS and the usual action camera low light issues, but overall it provides everything you need at half the price of the market leaders.
Good range of specifications
Not great in low light
SuperSmooth is limited
App good but limited
What is AKASO BRAVE 8?
The AKASO Brave 8 is the action camera that most people need. It might not have the latest headline features or push the boundaries of the format, but what it does do is provide you with the essentials and a lot more.
Firstly it’s waterproof without a cage; although it does have a frame, it’s well spec’d with 1080p at 200fps and 4k at 60fps. It has a rear touch screen and a small full-colour front selfie screen. It has voice control and plenty of other features that make it very useful. It also has a decent app that does everything you could possibly need other than live stream.
I should point out that I have had the Brave 8 for a few months, and initially, the software was buggy, and the battery life seemed short. However, after a few restarts and firmware updates, the camera’s software has settled down, and since the last update at the start of January, all has been good and stable.
Build and Handling
The AKASO Brave 8 looks and feels like a pedigree action camera following the standard GoPro shape and design. Compact size, lightweight, and a front right mounted lens, large screen on the back, small screen on the front and shutter button on top that all go towards this camera ticking off all standard features.
The quality of the build is excellent, and my only niggle with the design is the textured detailing across the front bottom. It looks nice in the same way as the detailing on the DJI OSMO Action looked great, but in the UK, it just acts as a mud catcher and is a pain to clean, if you can be bothered.
Aside from that, all doors are nicely secured, and the seals around the ports and battery compartments are of a decent quality. Left filming submerged in a stream for an hour, and those seals proved to do the job without issue; at least the camera is still working at present.
Another nice feature of the design is the removable lens cover; this removes with a quick twist and enables you to replace it if damaged, or you could update with a filter version if AKASO releases such an accessory.
Out in the field is where this camera comes alive, with the touch screen on the back proving highly effective for quickly changing settings. The one hit record of the shutter button is also a nice touch and enables those who simply want a no-fuss camera that helps them capture great video.
Ultimately, the build enables you to take the camera anywhere and film everything you want. The design provides excellent handling that enables you to shoot without fuss, and if you need to delve into the settings, that’s all easy enough with the AKASO touch screen UI. The AKASO Brave 8 is an action camera that provides what you need in a very neat and relatively cheap package.
The build already puts the Brave 8 above what I would usually expect for a camera at this price, and the decent set of features backs up that build quality.
First is the big 4K video at 60fps. While this is old news at the top end of the market, it’s rarely seen at quality in this price range. Then it packs in 48MP images, 8K Time Lapse, 16x Slow motion, AI Face Metering, and has those dual screens.
AKASO has also really focused on the image quality with this camera; I’ll talk about that in the performance section. The lens combines nine pieces of glass, four of which are aspherical. This lens fronts a large 1/2-inch CMOS sensor with quad pixel technology – essentially a technology that enables increased detail capture in motion images.
A big feature taunted for this camera is the 16x slo-mo footage; this essentially captures 400fps. This is limited in resolution to 720p, but it’s still impressive. More impressive is the 1080p at 200fps, which enables plenty of scope for capturing impressive video action.
Numbers are a big deal with the Brave 8, and alongside the impressive 4K at 60fps that most core action camera users will be more than happy with, the Brave 8 also features 8K Time Lapse and 48mp image capture.
DJI, Insta360 and GoPro all feature outstanding electronic image stabilisation, and the Brave 8 also has some abilities on that front with AKASO’s own SuperSmooth. This is, in effect, a few generations behind what we have seen from the other manufacturers and is limited in its effectiveness; it stabilises but doesn’t take out the smaller shake and vibrations in the same way as the market leaders.
AKASO has also boosted sound recording with built-in stereo audio recording rather than the more standard mono, Smart Face Detection that automatically adjusts exposure to optimise for the face. There are also a few more common inclusions, such as switching between different lens crops; SuperWide, Wide, Portrait and Narrow. In effect, these field of view options just digitally zoom into the video, so some image quality loss is noticeable.
I’ve decided to start with battery life; it’s an essential part of the review but usually doesn’t get covered in a great deal of detail. Battery life can vary greatly due to temperature, resolution, framerate and how much reviewing of footage and adjustment of settings I’m doing as I test the camera.
Here the AKASO lasted around an hour on average. This might not seem like a great deal of time, but for the price and the fact that I was swapping between settings, reviewing content and testing out the different features, this isn’t bad at all, not quite up to the battery life of the Insta360 ONE R or GoPro but on par with the DJI Action 2.
As ever, the battery is replaceable, and there’s two in the box along with a dual battery USB charger. In reality, that’s a day of filming and the fact that you can charge both batteries simultaneously is another big tick for the Brave 8.
After a days ride, a trip to the beach despite the weather, and the usual treks through the forest, it was time to review the footage.
The first observation is that in bright sunlit conditions, the footage is excellent, full of detail, texture and tone. The motion of the 4K at 60fps is also superb, and looking closely at the footage, you can see how the SuperSmooth does kick in to help stabilise that footage with mixed results.
The SuperSmooth image stabilisation is OK for walking and general motion, but occasionally you’ll see a slight visual warp across the screen. This is something that I’ve often seen in other electronic stabilisation systems and something that marks out the GoPro, DJI and Insta360 cameras and their excellent EIS.
This warp becomes more pronounced the faster the action, so you need to make sure there is no mount vibration; otherwise, you’ll end up with some very strange effects.
On the whole, despite this slight warp for faster-paced video. The quality isn’t at all bad; in fact, it’s rather good, through all the framerates and resolutions. I’d go as far as to say that all resolutions and framerates are usable, and at this price, that’s unusual.
The usual caveat is that the faster the framerate and high the resolution, the more important light becomes. Filming at 60, 100, 200fps in the shade of the forest will produce slightly pixelated and undersaturated footage. This is just due to the sensor struggling to capture detail. However, break out into an open sunlit plain, and all will be OK.
As with most action cameras, plenty of Californian style sun is required to make the most of the cameras full potential. At present, in the mid-British winter, that sun is just a dream.
Despite this, even with the limited daylight and plentiful overcast and rain-filled days, the camera performed well, producing good quality footage.
The flaws in the image stabilisation and the low light performance are minor, especially when considering the camera’s price, which is almost half that of the GoPro.
For your money, you get an incredible amount of action camera and one that’s offers plenty of function and features that should keep you entertained. I like that for almost half the price of the GoPro; you can purchase two cameras and easily capture Multicam action with friends, which I think is more valuable than going for the market leader.
The two main flaws are the image stabilisation which is OK but not great, and the low light performance, which is about standard for an action camera. But on the flip side, the AKASO Brave 8 has plenty to offer. All the settings will enable you to capture high-quality video footage for vlogs, action or anything else you want to turn your hand to.
It’s also incredibly easy to use, and the quality of the build should see it last a good few years.
Overall, it’s rare to find a camera at this price that sits as a viable alternative to the top three. The Brave 8 might not quite match the features or video quality of the GoPro, Insta360 or DJI, but you can buy two of these for one of those, and two is much more fun.
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