Hands-on review: Akaso V50 Pro Native 4K/30fps action camera
Image credit: Akaos
After years of GoPro having the action camera market to itself, alternatives are emerging that offer quality results with a lower price tag.
Dedicated cameras are falling by the wayside. The quality and utility of smartphone cameras is now at the stage that standalone cameras are increasingly for the enthusiasts and professionals. One area still requiring specialist equipment is in the action camera sector. Phones are simply not yet robust nor waterproof enough to move into this area unchallenged.
It is a market which has been dominated by GoPro, for many year’s really the only option if you wanted to strap a camera to the helmet of a mountain biker, climber or diver. New brands have emerged recently and one of those leading the pack is Akaso, whose latest model - the V50 Pro - was launched earlier this year.
When comparing it to a GoPro, the obvious first differentiator is the price. While the bottom of the GoPro range (the Hero 7) retails for about £175, the V50 Pro, which is the top of the Akaso range, is now available on Amazon for around £100. Expect to pay several hundreds of pounds for more sophisticated members of the GoPro range and, interestingly, these only offer a 12-megapixel sensor for taking still photos, whereas the V50 has a 20-megapixel sensor.
Although people get caught up on sensor stats and ignore the quality of the lens, the V50 does produce some very good stills. The depth of colour is good, as is the light balance, from which we can assume that they have got their exposure control spot on. If you are the sort of person – and we are – that likes to zoom in as close as possible to see how far you can go while retaining the integrity of the picture, you would be aware of the ‘colour aberration’ effect appearing in the V50’s stills, particularly in the brighter shots. This is the effect that appears to create darker lines around the boundaries of objects, but it is not an issue at ‘normal’ size.
Of course, like all action cameras, the resulting photos are a product of the fisheye lens they have been taken through. Those bent lines do add a certain energy to a shot, but while normalising the pictures in photo-editing software is perfectly possible, it’s not necessarily a task many photographers will have the energy for.
To our way of thinking, while an action camera can be useful for taking stills, particularly in hostile environments, its real domain is shooting videos. In this respect, the V50 proved very capable, shooting 4K video at 30 frames per second. It is a quality threshold that users would expect from higher-priced alternatives, but it wouldn’t be as effective were it not for the Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS).
This is a feature that isn’t present on most other cameras in the Akaso range and it is the one that transforms sharp images (which you get in 4K) into video that is worth watching. The V50 has a six-axis gyroscope detecting position and motion changes, smoothing the effects of everything from cycling on cobbled stones to jogging down hillsides (although it is fair to say that we didn’t test the hill-jogging scenario).
Further enhancing the quality of the output is an external microphone, which reduces muffling of sounds.
Underwater results – and it is rated operational to a depth of 30m – are also very good. There is a dedicated Diving Mode that compensates for the lack of available red light beneath the waves and it is designed to be used in tropical and blue water. Unfortunately, our test site was in the murky and largely sterile waters of Lake Garda in Italy, which made for uninspiring viewing, but further tests in swimming pools verified the quality of the video and the integrity of the casing, albeit not quite down to 30m. The picture below of a storm approaching across Lake Garda shows the quality of still photography.
There are many further features including filters; long-exposure modes; slow and fast-motion movies; time lapse and others that keen photographers will be familiar with. However, basic operation is simple and reasonably instinctive using the 2" touchscreen and we suspect most users will happily ‘point and click’ and get pleasing results, in much the same way that first compact cameras and then smartphones dumbed down SLR photography to the point where only the more talented and dedicated individuals benefitted from having more sophisticated equipment. There is also an easy transition for images and videos into the world of social media, allowing adventures to be served fresh to the waiting public.
In short, we felt that this is a very capable camera, producing very satisfactory results and which comes at a price that should bring interest in action cameras to a wider audience.
Akaso V50 Pro, £90 (approximately; price correct at time of writing)
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