Friday, May 8, 2015

Review: A7 Sports Action Cam via Lazada.com.ph

4 Days later


Not sure how I should begin the little review... no, I'm sorry. I know how: You get what you pay for.

Ok. Granted I paid just Php 1,199. For that amount, I was promised the following:
1) A portable yellow Action camera with
2) 5MP still photo capability, and
3) HD video recording
4) A waterproof case with different mounts

Given that there were at other similar cameras on offer for at least 3x the price (the SJ4000 for example costs roughly Php 4,400 ), I thought I'd take the risk and buy this cheap little thing fairly conscious of potential trade offs. I conditioned myself to expect the worst. In that regard, I guess I wasn't disappointed, though not fully so.


The Good: 


The A7 looks a lot like the GoPro and some other Chinese made action cams (like the SJ4000 as previously mentioned). Unlike the GoPro, it comes with a built in LCD with which you can see what you record. The water proof casing it comes with is indeed waterproof, though I have yet to test it at depth. The basic mounts it came with would allow me to mount it on a bicycle (if I had one), and on my helmet (which I did). Instead of going ahead and buying a new microSD, I opted to try it with my class4 16GB extra, which worked (and saved myself at least 900 pesos too).


The Bad (and not so bad):


Are you familiar with the term "interpolated"? It seems like the sensor itself isn't truly HD, nor is it truly 5MP. So while the final image and video may have the dimensions published in the manual and in the settings, what you get is a stretched image of whatever passes for the raw size. Photo samples below (click to enlarge).

5MP

2MP

The camera actually takes photos, with burst mode and, supposedly, time-lapse. Technically, it IS capable of producing 5MP (2592x1944), 3MP (2048x1536), 2MP (1600x1200), and 1MP (1280x1024) images. But like I said, interpolated. Click the above images to compare quality when enlarged.

Color quality isn't all that hot, under some fluorescent lighting.

Video recording works as well. Technically, the video dimensions are 1280x720 and 640x480. 640x480 recording isn't bad at all. Acceptable in bright light, passable in the dark (though I heard the same could be said of most action cameras). "HD" however, well, that's another story.


 640x480


1280x720

Above videos are meant to be video size comparisons.


One of the features on the camera is called "Loop Video" which basically means it cuts a video into 5 minute clips making the file size a little smaller. 640x480p recordings are cut into 350MB chunks in sunlight, and 250MB night time recordings. "HD"

I think I need video editing software. Those file sizes are crazy.

The Verdict:


Alright, so the moral of the story is "keep expectations low, and you won't be disappointed." Or is it "You get what you pay for?"

While the A7 does look a lot like its more expensive brethren, it doesn't perform nearly as well. I keep coming back to the price to justify it's performance. Considering that I paid Php 1,199 (it's now selling via Lazada.com.ph at Php 1,299), did I get my money's worth?

I got a camera that can go under water, capture decent 640x480 video, and usable stills, that I can mount on my helmet to record maybe an hour plus worth of video.

I think I'll reserve a more serious and definite verdict until I get to bring it underwater and test the casing for depth. On paper, it says 30meters. We'll see. I'll post more photos taken by the A7 and Video from under water by June, or on the road within the month.


Should YOU buy it? Maybe if it was your first action cam, and you don't have any lofty plans for the video it will take, and just wanted a toy for 1.2k, why not?

But if you're willing to pay a little more, you could probably go with the 8ten SDV-5271 Action Cam, or if you're willing to pony up upwards of 4400 pesos, you might go with the SJCAM SJ4000.


UPDATED:

I've finally been able to test the action camera at depth. The rear cover actually compressed deeper into the body int he middle of the dive. And yes, the casing held and kept the camera dry. Mostly. After our first dive, it became apparent that there was moisture on the front of the body, near the on and off switch. I'm guessing the seal wasn't quite as water tight as I'd hoped. Not that the casing flooded though. Kept it dry enough to survive 3 dives at Apo Island.


As you can see, the videos do turn out super blue as there are wavelengths of light that doesn't penetrate to those depths, particularly reds. The challenge for these cameras would be not having underwater dive filters built for the underwater case, or at least I haven't encountered any.

Underwater Use Verdict:

Did it work?  -- Yes. Just keep its limitations in mind and don't expect too much from these Go Pro Clones and you'll be fine.

Was it worth it?  -- Yes. Even if the dive case did eventually fail, I wouldn't have felt quite as bad if I had lost the camera compared to possibly losing a GoPro.

Should you buy it?  -- I leave that up to you.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you make a review on how to transferthose images? Somehow i couldn't find how to do so. Only videos seems to pop out on my laptop and not the images.

jason carlos bulatao said...

Hi Anonymous. With regard to transferring the files, on a Mac I'm able to access the micro SD just by plugging the USB cable into the Mac. I just basically drag the files out and edit them on iMovie. While I've tried to do the same on my windows PC, however, I've had to remove the microSD and copy the files individually.

Thanks for the blog visit!

Unknown said...

I have this product. How do I swap from being on vdeo mode to camera? I can't seem to figure it out..

jason carlos bulatao said...

Hi Unknown!

If you mean how do you take a photo, all you have to do is press the "down" button, the lower button on the right side. Your A7 must be on when you do this, but not necessarily recording video.

Hope that helps!

rhoy sanchez said...

ilang oras po ito charges pag bago??

Richelle Diane Mendoza said...

I just got mine today. wanna confirm tho, does the camera has flash????

Jeremy Miranda said...

Hi, how is your camera now? And can you post more photos from your a7 sports cam.thanks

xxmikerayxx said...

Hey nice review article. I just got this thing from lazada. Itching to test it out for moto vlogging.

xxmikerayxx said...

hey nice review article.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, this is a great review, your right don't compare the cheap camera, for a toy worth it, you lost it, just fine rather that losing a GoPro. quality not good don't expect, can save a moment? yes, indeed.


have a great day! cheers

I bought mine 949 pesos, sd card is much more expensive :p

Erik Job Jacob said...

Hi Jason,

I'm thinking of getting one that should work as dashcam for my everyday bicycle ride. I am curious though how wide the lens can cover as expensive ones can cover closer to 180 degrees.

-Jacob

jason carlos bulatao said...

Hi Jacob!

Regarding the angle of view, if you haven't seen it yet, it's not really 180 degrees. If you just want to use it for bike riding, it'll do the job. I do recommend not using the clear case though if you plan on keeping it recording for long periods of time in the sun. Took mine on a bike riding tour in Olango Island in Cebu and it overheated towards the end of the ride.

Hope that helps!

===

Hey Mikeray!

If you're planning on using this for HighRes vlogging and posting on youtube, I suggest you look at something else. You basically get what you pay for with this. Basic resolution is really just 640x480 and quality without bright light isn't all that great. Colors are, well, passable.

===

Hey Jeremy,

I'll see what I can do about posting some new videos and photos from the cam. :-)

===

Richelle,

Nope. No flash. :-)

===

Rhoy!

Honestly I don't check. I think from 1 to 2 hours. I don't time it. Battery life is impressive though. Charge keeps even when not in use for a long time.


Thanks for visiting the blog guys!

Lois Villareal Bala said...

When you turn it on you will see it is in recording mode but when you press the "power button" again for one time you will see the "camera" icon on the top left side of the screen. And that's it!

Kathy San said...

hi just want to ask, i charged my new a7 camera for just 15mins and tried to turn it on, but it didn't. do i have to fully charge it first before turning it on? because i was worried that after charging it into a powerbank, it might break.

jason carlos bulatao said...

@Kathy San

Thanks for the comment! I wonder if you've been able to use your camera already. :-) I do recommend a full charge. The sooner you find out whether it's just the charge or actually the camera that was the problem, the better so you can send it back. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I always have a doubt with regards to quality of cheaper products. This is why I search for reviews first, because Metrodeal is offering P799 for that same product.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Saw this in Lazada today and it's for Php499. Can I ask if the package includes a tripod or any tool to hold it much easier?

jason carlos bulatao said...

Hi Anonymous,

If it's the same one I bought for 1,199, it won't come with a tripod or monopod. Those you have to purchase separately.

Good luck!

karla cindy sta. maria said...

Hi. Can I use ordinary monopod with shutter to take photos using that a7 sports cam? Thank you I hope I could get a reply

jason carlos bulatao said...

Hi Karla!

With the version that I purchased, since it has no wireless connectivity, I think taking a photo with it on a monopod would be impossible. I think there are newer versions however that are also called "A7" that might, MIGHT, be wireless.

Hope that helps!

BONA GABRIEL said...

Hi ! Is there an app na pwede idownload sa phone at iconnect sa cam to take photos ? Thanks

jason carlos bulatao said...

Hi BONA!

Unfortunately No. For this model and the succeeding model I purchased (also called A7), there is no external connectivity. No bluetooth, or wifi, or IR.