EKEN H8 Pro 4K Ambarella A12S75 Waterproof WiFi Action Camera Review @ ModSynergy.com
2016 was an incredible year for camera technology, especially in the realm of video. We witnessed remarkable advancements like dual cameras, 3D, VR, and 360-degree capabilities. Looking ahead to 2017, the popularity of action cameras is expected to continue growing. Just recently, the new GoPro HERO 5 was unveiled, boasting exciting features such as voice recognition, GPS, electronic stabilization, and a touch screen display. As a consumer in the camera market, it's an exhilarating time because technology keeps improving while prices have significantly dropped in recent years and will likely continue to do so in the future. The fierce competition among companies vying for our attention and money pushes technology forward and drives prices down.
GoPro currently holds the position of market leader in action cameras, but the extent of their superiority is up for debate. The latest HERO 5 Black comes with a price tag of $399 USD. Not everyone can afford such a high price, but no one wants to feel like they're getting a stripped-down product if they opt for a more affordable option. Some consider the overall value, while others prefer inexpensive cameras to avoid the disappointment of potential damage.
In the manufacturing hub of the world, China, countless action camera brands emerge, many of which are relatively unknown. It's no surprise considering the country's massive population of over 1.3 billion people. With so many companies in the market, the range of products available varies from decent to good to downright horrible. It's challenging to know what you're getting, which is why reading reviews like this one can help you make an informed decision before making a purchase.
I've had the opportunity to test a few budget Chinese action cameras, each offering its own value proposition in terms of pricing. Some include larger bundles compensating for fewer camera features, while others prioritize in-camera features but offer a more limited bundle. For instance, many budget Chinese action cameras provide features typically found in higher-end GoPro models that cost two to four times as much, such as a rear LCD display. Additionally, some cameras, like the Zeblaze iShot1 I reviewed previously, have unique features like two bright LED flashlights at the front—an innovation that even GoPro hasn't attempted. Some companies follow the crowd, while others strive to think outside the box and become innovators.
Unfortunately, in my experience, all these budget action cameras from China have had their share of issues, albeit varying in severity. Some have fared decently, while others have shown signs of rushed development, resulting in stability issues or broken WiFi functionality. Each action camera I've reviewed had areas that needed improvement. When it comes to Chinese action cameras, I believe it's crucial to find one that suits your needs and avoids models with drawbacks you cannot overlook.
EKEN is a Chinese action camera company I haven't tested before, so today's review will be my first experience with their products. EKEN is based in China and has recently launched their latest offering, the H8 Pro action camera. This camera is equipped with an Ambarella A12S75 chipset capable of genuine 4K resolution without resorting to software interpolation tricks. What sets it apart from other cameras are the additional goodies it comes with, such as a 2.4GHz remote control wristwatch, extra battery, selfie stick, and other accessories. All of this is available at an affordable price of $139.99 USD through Amazon.
Founded in 2005, Eken Group Limited has enjoyed a leading reputation in China's electronic and technology industries. Eken is a high-tech company specializing in designing and manufacturing innovative products of Action Cameras and Car DVRs.
EKEN H8 Pro Features
EKEN H8 Pro Technical Specifications
Editor's Note: It's worth noting that the technical specifications mentioned above were obtained directly from EKEN's website. However, it's interesting to observe that the website doesn't mention an important detail that is stated on the retail box of the H8 Pro—the use of a Sony IMX sensor. While the specific Sony IMX sensor isn't specified on the box, various online retailers promoting the EKEN H8 Pro suggest that the Ambarella A12S75 SoC is paired with the Sony IMX 078 image sensor. We'll delve deeper into my thoughts on the Sony IMX 078 image sensor later in the review.
Additionally, I'd like to point out a discrepancy between the information on EKEN's website and the actual weight of the H8 Pro. According to the website, the H8 Pro weighs 66 grams with the battery installed. However, when weighed on my digital scale, the camera actually weighs 76 grams with the battery.
The EKEN H8 Pro comes in an attractive package that features a transparent plastic window showcasing the action camera, surrounded by an image of a surfer riding ocean waves. The outer packaging is made of paper, and upon opening it, the camera and accessories are neatly arranged within a plastic compartment.
Interestingly, as I laid eyes on the surfer image, a sense of familiarity struck me. It turns out that I had seen this exact same image before on the packaging of another budget Chinese action camera from a different manufacturer—the Amkov AMK7000S, which I had previously reviewed. It's amusing to think about two separate companies using the exact same image on their retail packages. This observation raises questions about whether they are produced in the same factory or if they are truly distinct entities. What are the odds of two supposedly competing brands using the same stock photo? Perhaps it's simply a coincidence, but it does make one wonder.
The EKEN H8 Pro impresses with its extensive range of included accessories, which surpasses any other action camera we've reviewed on ModSynergy. The bundle is filled with useful items that you'll find yourself using on various occasions. Notably, EKEN has gone above and beyond by providing a second battery accompanied by its own charger dock, ensuring you can extend your shooting time without interruption. Additionally, a sturdy and grippy selfie stick is included, adding to the versatility of the package.
What sets this bundle apart is the remarkable quality of the accessories. They exude a sense of durability and sturdiness, making them capable of withstanding extended use and handling. EKEN has truly delivered a fantastic bundle, surpassing any other I have encountered thus far. It's clear that they have prioritized the overall value and user experience by providing top-notch accessories that don't feel cheap or flimsy.
Ambarella SoC & Sony IMX078 Image Sensor
The EKEN H8 Pro sets a new standard among Chinese action cameras by featuring a top-tier chipset, the Ambarella A12S75 SoC (System on Chip). This is a significant milestone as previous Chinese action cameras I've tested have typically been equipped with lower to lower-mid end chipsets from lesser-known manufacturers like Sunchip and Novatek.
It's worth noting that Ambarella is a reputable chipset supplier that even supplies GoPro with chipsets for their HERO action camera lineup. With 12 years of industry experience, Ambarella's chipsets can be found in a wide range of products beyond action cameras, including video broadcasting equipment, drone cameras, car DVR cameras, and Google Wearable products. Their expertise and reputation in the industry give the EKEN H8 Pro a notable advantage in terms of performance and reliability.
In addition to the improved chipset, the EKEN H8 Pro also stands out with its choice of image sensor. While many previous Chinese action cameras have utilized aging image sensors from manufacturers like Sunchip or OmniVision, EKEN has opted for a Sony IMX sensor, specifically rumored to be the Sony IMX 078. This signifies a leap forward in image quality and performance compared to its counterparts.
The use of the Ambarella A12S75 SoC in the EKEN H8 Pro brings several advantages, including its 28nm manufacturing process. This process results in lower power consumption compared to previous generation chipsets and provides a competitive edge over chipsets from other manufacturers that are based on 32nm, 45nm, and 65nm processes. The efficiency of the Ambarella A12S75 allows for longer battery life and improved overall performance.
At the core of the Ambarella A12S75 is the ARM Cortex-A9 CPU, which operates at speeds of up to 792 MHz. This powerful CPU enables the camera to handle complex tasks efficiently, contributing to a smooth user experience. One notable feature of the A12S75 is its H.264 encoder, which supports native 4K video recording at 30fps. This is a significant improvement compared to some previous action cameras that claimed 4K capability but could only achieve lower frame rates like 10 or 15fps.
It's important to highlight this distinction because some cameras in the past have falsely advertised their ability to capture true 4K footage. Instead, they employed software interpolation techniques to artificially enhance the resolution, resulting in what is commonly referred to as "fake 4K." In contrast, the EKEN H8 Pro with its Ambarella A12S75 chipset can genuinely record native 4K video at a smooth 30fps, ensuring high-quality, true-to-life footage without compromising on frame rate or resorting to software manipulation.
On the other hand, the EKEN H8 Pro features a Sony IMX078 image sensor, which was originally designed for the consumer digital camera market about five years ago. Although it is not a recent sensor, it is still a notable improvement compared to the older Sunchip and OmniVision sensors found in many budget Chinese action cameras. Sony is widely recognized as a global leader in supplying image sensors, with renowned camera manufacturers like Nikon and Canon using Sony sensors in their products.
However, there is an interesting twist when it comes to the Sony IMX078 sensor. According to the official specifications, it is a 1/2.3" (7.81mm diagonal) back-illuminated BSI CMOS sensor with an effective pixel count of 12.4 megapixels. Here's where it gets intriguing: the Sony IMX078 sensor is officially advertised as capable of achieving full HD video at 1920 x 1080 resolution and 60 frames per second. While it technically has the potential to handle 2.7K resolution, anything beyond that would involve software interpolation or upscaling to a higher degree. Therefore, the EKEN H8 Pro, despite its powerful Ambarella A12S75 chipset capable of true 4K recording, is limited by the native 1080p capability of the Sony IMX078 sensor. It remains to be seen how well this combination performs in real-world scenarios. Essentially, EKEN has constrained the full potential of the H8 Pro by pairing it with a sensor that falls short of delivering native 4K resolution.
Visual Overview & Build Quality
The EKEN H8 Pro, unfortunately, lacks a unique and distinct design. It closely resembles a well-known action camera in the market. It would have been refreshing if EKEN had applied its own sense of style and differentiation. One notable example of a Chinese action camera that successfully differentiated itself is the Zeblaze iShot1, which was reviewed in early 2015. Zeblaze took the common form factor but added unique elements such as integrated waterproofing without the need for an external case, an attractive aluminum alloy faceplate, and two powerful LED flashlights on the front of the camera. To this day, no other action camera has been able to replicate this feature. It's a shame that Zeblaze remained relatively unknown outside of China because integrating LEDs within action cameras should become a standard feature. Hopefully, other manufacturers will take note and follow suit.
The EKEN H8 Pro is available in six different colors: black, silver, gold, blue, pink, and yellow. Its dimensions, excluding the protruding lens, are 59.3mm (L) x 21.4mm (W) x 41.1mm (H). The actual weight of the camera is 76 grams, contradicting the weight advertised on their website. When placed inside the clear waterproof housing with a quick release buckle and thumbscrew attached, the weight increases to 152 grams (0.335 lbs).
The plastic body of the EKEN H8 Pro feels sturdy and durable compared to other Chinese action cameras. It surpasses the AMKOV action cameras I've tested, such as the AMK5000S and AMK7000S, but falls short of the durability of the Zeblaze iShot1 with its aluminum faceplate and waterproof body. I appreciate the tough feel of the EKEN H8 Pro, thanks to its thin matte finished rubberized coating, resembling a powder-coat finish. However, I did notice some build quality issues with the camera I'm testing, including a small defect at the top and a visible split in the middle where the body panels don't properly touch.
For situations where the EKEN H8 Pro will be exposed to action and unpredictable weather, it is advisable to use the provided waterproof housing. The housing is rated for up to 30 meters and is made of thick, likely Polycarbonate construction. It comes with a sealed back door attached, but an additional vented back door is included, allowing for better audio recording compared to a fully sealed back door. Both doors are sealed with bright orange silicone O-rings, and the housing provides access to all camera buttons.
One of the advantages of the EKEN H8 Pro is the inclusion of an extra battery, which means you'll be able to swap batteries frequently. However, the battery compartment door is detached from the camera, making it easy to misplace. It would have been better if the door was tethered to the camera to prevent loss.
Now, let's take a closer look at the camera itself.
The EKEN H8 Pro features a lens ring shroud at the very front of the camera, which matches the color of the rest of the body. This is a welcome change compared to other Chinese action cameras that often have mismatched colors. The black lens ring shroud surrounds the fixed focus 170° ultra-wide-angle lens on the H8 Pro.
Located at the front of the camera is a 0.95" OLED display, setting the H8 Pro apart from other action cameras that typically have a basic and inferior monochromatic dot-matrix design. The OLED display offers numerous advantages, including significantly higher brightness for easy outdoor visibility and improved viewing angles. The OLED screen provides relevant information such as the current mode, video recording time and length, battery status indicator, photo capture information, and more. This OLED display is truly superior, and I believe it should be utilized more in other devices.
On the right profile of the EKEN H8 Pro, you'll find a WiFi button, which allows you to easily access the camera's wireless connectivity. On the opposite profile, there are several ports for connectivity. These include a micro USB port, a mini-HDMI port (for playback only, as there is no live viewfinder), and a micro SD card slot for storage. Additionally, there is a microphone port hole on this side of the camera.
Another microphone port is located on the top of the camera, next to the shutter button. This provides flexibility in capturing audio from different directions. All the buttons on the camera have a good tactile feel, making it difficult to accidentally press them.
The EKEN H8 Pro has a relatively slow start-up time compared to other action cameras, taking approximately 8 seconds from the moment you push the power button until it is fully operational and ready to start recording. The power-down time is slightly faster, taking around 6 seconds to shut down the camera completely.
The rear of the EKEN H8 Pro features a 2.0" LCD display, which serves as both a viewfinder for framing your footage and a means to navigate through the camera's settings menu. The LCD display is protected by a thin and clear film, enhancing visibility at different viewing angles. While the brightness of the LCD is sufficient for indoor use, it can struggle to be adequately visible in bright sunlight. In such cases, you may need to shade the screen with your hand to better see the objects being filmed, a common practice with LCD panels in general. The LCD panel demonstrates good uniformity, without any noticeable clouding or backlight bleeding, indicating a quality component. It's important to note that the rear LCD is not a touch screen, so it's advisable to avoid applying excessive force or touching the display to prevent distortions or potential damage.
Having a rear LCD display is a significant advantage, as it provides a more intuitive way to interact with the camera and adjust settings compared to relying solely on a smartphone app. However, the user interface (UI) of the H8 Pro could have been designed better to improve ease of navigation. The UI, while manageable, is not as streamlined as it could be and can be time-consuming. One of the main reasons for this is that the UI does not align well with the physical buttons on the camera body. For example, the UI includes up/down arrows, but the camera does not have corresponding up/down buttons. Similarly, the UI has an OK button, but the camera lacks a dedicated OK button and does not have the buttons in the same positions as depicted on the screen. This discrepancy between the UI and physical buttons can be frustrating for users and detract from the overall user experience.
The user interface (UI) of the EKEN H8 Pro could be more user-friendly and intuitive. Navigating through the menu is manageable but not as efficient as it could be. One of the main issues is the lack of correlation between the on-screen UI and the physical buttons on the camera body.
The UI features up/down arrows and an OK button, but the camera itself does not have dedicated up/down buttons or a dedicated OK button in corresponding positions. Instead, the top shutter button serves as the OK/enter button, the front power on/off button is used for navigating down the menu, and the right side WiFi button acts as the exit button.
This button arrangement can be frustrating because there is no way to cycle up through the menu options. If you accidentally pass a setting you wanted to access, you have to cycle through the entire menu again to reach it. Since there are multiple pages in the menu, this can be time-consuming and inconvenient.
Overall, while the UI on the EKEN H8 Pro is functional, it could benefit from better alignment with the physical buttons on the camera body to enhance user experience and streamline menu navigation.
The EKEN H8 Pro action camera lacks LED indicator lights, which is a notable absence. There are no LED lights anywhere on the camera body, which is puzzling considering LED indicators are a common feature in action cameras. It appears that this omission was likely a cost-cutting measure by EKEN.
Instead of LED indicators, the EKEN H8 Pro relies on an audible tone to provide feedback. While this can be sufficient in some situations, having LED indicators would have been beneficial, especially when discretion is desired or when using the wrist watch remote control from a distance. LED indicators would have allowed users to easily determine if a command was executed or not, making it a strange omission from the camera's design.
EKEN H8 Pro - Is It Any Good?
Short Summary - The EKEN H8 Pro stands out among budget Chinese action cameras due to its exceptional photo and video performance. It surpasses its competitors by a significant margin in this aspect, thanks to the powerful combination of the Ambarella A12S75 chipset and Sony image sensor. The credit for this success primarily goes to the Ambarella System on Chip (SoC).
However, it's important to note that the EKEN H8 Pro is not without its flaws. It lacks certain features that are typically present in action cameras, and some of its functions may not work as expected. These shortcomings serve as a reminder that, ultimately, it is still a budget Chinese action camera.
Nevertheless, the H8 Pro's most significant advantage lies in its affordability, as it is priced 2-4 times lower than top-tier action cameras in the market. This makes it an enticing option, particularly for applications where one doesn't want to invest in a more expensive device. However, it's essential to acknowledge that it cannot be compared to higher-end cameras like the TomTom Bandit 4K GPS action camera I reviewed previously. The H8 Pro's price point positions it significantly below such premium offerings.
The EKEN H8 Pro stands out among budget Chinese action cameras due to its true 4K resolution at 30fps, made possible by the powerful Ambarella A12S75 chipset. Unlike other cameras that rely on software interpolation for 4K footage, the H8 Pro delivers a more natural and less artificial video quality. The difference in image quality, especially in terms of color accuracy, is noticeable when compared to cameras using lower-tier chipsets like Sunchip and Novatek.
However, despite its strengths, the H8 Pro does have some notable omissions in its features. For instance, it lacks the ability to change the field of view (FOV) of its wide-angle lens or flip the image 180 degrees. This can be inconvenient for certain shooting situations, resulting in upside-down footage when the camera is mounted in a specific way. Additionally, there is no option for automatic recording upon powering on the camera, which would have been useful for car dash cam usage.
One unique aspect of the H8 Pro is its creation of two files on the memory card: the original video file and a hidden duplicate file scaled down to a lower resolution. This seems to be done to facilitate easier in-camera video playback on the small LCD screen. However, this approach reduces the available micro SD card capacity since it generates extra duplicate files.
Regarding memory cards, EKEN recommends using UHS (Ultra High Speed) micro SD cards with UHS-3 speed capabilities for the best performance. Using a slower Speed Class 10 card may result in issues such as recording interruptions and freezing. While it's possible to use a UHS-I card, EKEN advises getting the fastest UHS-3 card available. The user manual provides a list of tested and recommended cards for reference.
It's worth noting that the H8 Pro imposes a 5-minute file interval for recording, which can be seen as a drawback. While this is likely due to the FAT32 file system's 4GB limit, the largest 5-minute 4K file generated by the camera is only 2.1GB. Although it's possible to stitch the videos together during post-editing, the enforced 5-minute limit is generally seen as an inconvenience.
Miscellaneous Bullet Point Observations
Usable 4K 30fps On A Budget
The EKEN H8 Pro utilizes the Ambarella A12S75 chipset to capture true hardware-based 4K resolution at 30fps, without relying on interpolation. The recorded 4K footage has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 in a 16:9 aspect ratio. Despite the unconventional pairing of a real 4K chipset with a 1080p image sensor, the video quality remains satisfying and is a significant improvement over the fake 4K cameras in its price range.
While the choice of a 1080p image sensor limits the full potential of the camera, the resulting video still looks pleasing to the eye. The 4K footage is shot at a useful 30fps, and the variable video bitrate can reach up to 57.6 Mbps at 4K resolution. The video appears clear with minimal noisy artifacts, the sharpness is consistent across the frame indicating a good lens match, and the color rendition has a natural tone, though it could benefit from increased saturation as an in-camera option.
Having 4K resolution is a significant advantage in today's market, particularly for marketing purposes. It has become increasingly popular and affordable, with 4K dominance expected to continue rising in 2017. It's important to note that technically, 4K resolution is 4096 x 2160 in a 4:3 aspect ratio, while 2K resolution is 2048 x 1556. The EKEN H8 Pro is capable of both 4K and 2K (technically 2.7K) recording in a 16:9 aspect ratio. When comparing the specifications on paper, the H8 Pro is comparable to the GoPro HERO 4 Black.
2.7K 60fps Is The Best Compromise And Best For Motion
Recording action footage on an action camera often requires capturing fast movement with minimal motion blur. While the standard 30fps works well in most cases, using 60fps can provide even smoother and more fluid motion. The EKEN H8 Pro offers the capability to record in 2K resolution at 60fps, with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 in a 16:9 aspect ratio. This resolution is ideal for those using QHD IPS monitors, providing a higher pixel count compared to 1080p.
Recording at 2K and 60fps on the EKEN H8 Pro also results in an increased video bitrate. Observations have shown variable video bitrates as high as 41.7 Mbps at 2K resolution. This higher bitrate helps to maintain the quality of the footage and ensure a clear and detailed image, even during fast-paced action sequences. It can also help to minimize motion shake and preserve fluid movements in the recorded footage.
Adjustable FOV (Field of View)
Unlike some other action cameras that provide the ability to adjust the field of view (FOV) in-camera to reduce the fish-eye effect, the EKEN H8 Pro does not offer this option. The camera has a fixed 170-degree wide-angle lens, which results in a noticeable fish-eye distortion in the captured footage. This fixed FOV may be a limitation for users who prefer a narrower or less distorted perspective in their recordings.
The EKEN H8 Pro records video in the typical AVC video stream format, using the .MP4 file container. However, some users may encounter difficulties opening the video files in certain video editing software. This issue may be attributed to the AVC decoder profile used in the H8 Pro, which deviates from the usual 4.0+ profile that is widely compatible with most software and hardware. Instead, EKEN has opted for the Main@L5.1 AVC decoder profile, which offers a higher bandwidth limit but may lack compatibility with certain software and hardware configurations.
Under optimal outdoor lighting conditions, the video footage captured by the EKEN H8 Pro exhibits clean and artifact-free visuals. The image is notably sharp throughout the frame, indicating a good match between the lens optics and the camera. The color rendition of the footage has a natural look, although some users may desire a slightly higher level of saturation, which unfortunately cannot be adjusted through an in-menu option.
In terms of lens performance, the H8 Pro demonstrates excellent sharpness from edge to edge, without noticeable softness on the edges that can be observed in some other action cameras. However, it is worth mentioning that moderate glares may appear when the camera is pointed directly at the sun, although they are not excessively pronounced. One area of concern is the presence of chromatic aberration and purple fringing in video footage, particularly in areas with high brightness and contrast. The amount of chromatic aberration is notable enough to be mentioned and may detract from the overall image quality. It is speculated that this issue could be related to the absence of an anti-reflective (AR) coating on the front of the lens or a lack of a proper infrared (IR) filter at the back of the lens to minimize chromatic aberration and purple fringing, although this is conjecture.
Regarding frame rate stability, the EKEN H8 Pro does not possess a proper 60fps lock. When transitioning between areas of varying lighting conditions, the frame rate may drop from 60fps to a slower rate until the camera returns to an area with better lighting. This behavior is attributed to the Ambarella chipset rather than the image sensor. It is hoped that this issue can be addressed through firmware updates by EKEN.
In low-light conditions, the performance of the H8 Pro with its Sony image sensor is marginally better compared to other budget Chinese action cameras. However, it is important to note that the camera's performance in low light is still limited, and the footage will appear darker than what the human eye can perceive. While there may be a slight improvement in capturing additional light compared to previous budget action cameras, the footage may still exhibit grain and artificial noise associated with low-light environments. A dedicated night mode option with increased ISO and brightness settings could have potentially enhanced the camera's low-light performance.
EKEN 2.4GHz Remote Control Wrist Watch
The EKEN H8 Pro comes with an upgraded remote control wristwatch that operates on the 2.4GHz frequency, providing improved performance compared to previous versions. The remote control functions perfectly and can be used from distances of up to 8 meters, making it suitable for outdoor use. It is splash-proof, meaning it can withstand outdoor elements as long as it is not submerged in water. The package includes Velcro straps of different sizes, allowing users to choose the best fit for their wrist.
The two buttons on the remote control are clearly labeled with universally recognized symbols to indicate their functions. The orange button is for photo capture, while the gray button is for video recording. When either button is pressed, two red LED lights illuminate to provide visual confirmation of the button press.
Using the remote control is extremely simple and does not require any pairing between the remote and the action camera. However, it's important to note that the remote control does not have the ability to power on or power off the action camera. One minor drawback is that the remote control does not have this functionality.
To operate the camera, simply press the desired button on the remote control while the camera is powered on. The remote control is designed to automatically start video recording or take a photo when the corresponding button is pressed. Pressing the button again stops the operation. The process is the same for both modes. Pressing the respective mode button initiates the action, and pressing it again stops the recording or triggers another photo capture.
Overall, the operation of the 2.4GHz remote control for the EKEN H8 Pro is commendable, offering simplicity and ease of use.
Video Footage Samples
Videos uploaded to YouTube undergo additional compression to maximize efficiency on the platform. The original raw source files typically offer significantly cleaner and sharper visuals compared to what you'll see on YouTube. Please keep in mind that the sample videos in this review provide a general idea of the expected quality, but they may not fully reflect the original footage due to YouTube's higher compression rate.
Among the budget Chinese action cameras I've tested on ModSynergy, the EKEN H8 Pro stands out in the still photo department. Unlike other cameras that rely on interpolation to artificially enhance the photo size, the H8 Pro captures photos at their native resolution thanks to the Sony IMX078 image sensor, which boasts an effective pixel count of 12.40 megapixels.
While the H8 Pro's photo quality is decent, it is not the camera's strongest aspect. I've noticed that white balance can be a hit or miss when taking photos with the H8 Pro, with colors sometimes appearing slightly or significantly off. Moreover, I've observed more chromatic aberration and purple fringing in the photos compared to the videos. The H8 Pro has a tendency to overexpose scenery in photo mode, resulting in varying quality between different scenarios.
It seems that EKEN has programmed the metering mode differently for photo mode compared to video mode, as there is no option to modify the metering mode within the camera itself. This indicates that the behavior is determined by the firmware.
In some instances, the H8 Pro's photos exhibit a characteristic reminiscent of an oil pastel art painting, which is also a result of the firmware settings. I have encountered similar effects on smartphones equipped with Sony image sensors, but those cases were eventually addressed through firmware upgrades that minimized the effect. EKEN may need to release a firmware upgrade in the future to address and minimize this particular characteristic on the H8 Pro.
12MP Photo Samples
The audio quality of the EKEN H8 Pro is generally decent. Compared to other budget Chinese action cameras I've tested, it performs similarly. However, the H8 Pro's audio is more susceptible to garbled distortion, particularly when picking up wind or loud ambient noise. For example, when used as a dash cam or in environments with high levels of noise, the H8 Pro's audio can become more distorted compared to other action cameras in similar situations.
The exact reason for this issue is not clear, but it could be attributed to a cheaper internal microphone with a lower sensitivity threshold or an audio recording gain that is set too high, causing distortion, clipping, and garbled sound when encountering loud sounds.
Like most action cameras, the H8 Pro relies on an internal omnidirectional microphone that captures audio from all directions. It serves its purpose, but expectations should be kept in check as it is not capable of delivering exceptional sound quality. The H8 Pro records audio in mono, not stereo.
In terms of musical performance, the H8 Pro's audio is decent but lacks clarity in the top end, sounding slightly muffled overall. This is disappointing considering the technical specifications of the audio recording, which utilizes the technically superior PCM audio stream that is lossless and operates at a higher constant bitrate of 768 Kbps at 48,000 kHz. One would expect better sound quality based on these specifications, but in reality, it falls short. The likely culprit for this underwhelming audio quality is the microphone unit itself.
EKEN H8 Pro WiFi Software - Ez iCam Broken
EKEN H8 Pro Firmware:
Ez iCam WiFi Android App Version:
During the review conducted in December 2016, it was found that WiFi connectivity from the EKEN H8 Pro to the Ez iCam software was not functioning properly. Specifically, when attempting to connect the action camera to an Android 4.4.4 smartphone and opening the app, there was no live WiFi view and the application screen remained blank and black. Additionally, the software became completely unresponsive, resulting in a system pop-up message after approximately 20-30 seconds, indicating that Ez iCam was not responding and offering options to wait, report, or close the app.
Unfortunately, the issues didn't end there. After force-closing the Ez iCam app, it was no longer possible to reconnect to the EKEN H8 Pro, as the action camera itself became frozen and unresponsive to commands, including the power-off function. The only solution was to manually remove the battery, reinsert it, and power up the camera again. However, every subsequent attempt to establish a WiFi connection resulted in the same problematic outcome, creating an endless loop of unsuccessful attempts.
Battery Life & Capacity Testing
The EKEN H8 Pro comes with two 1050mAh Lithium-ion batteries, which is a welcome addition as it provides users with extended runtime and reduces downtime. It is worth noting that including extra batteries and a battery recharge dock is not a common practice among action cameras, so it's a positive aspect of the H8 Pro package.
However, during battery testing, it was discovered that the labeled capacity of 1050mAh may not accurately reflect the true capacity of the batteries. With the help of a USB doctor device module, it was revealed that the actual capacity of the batteries is approximately 878mAh, which is roughly 172mAh lower than the labeled rating. This overestimation of battery capacity seems to be a common occurrence among budget Chinese action cameras, as other cameras have also misrepresented their battery capacity claims.
It is important to note that neither EKEN's website nor the manual provides any specific claims regarding battery life, leaving users uncertain about the actual performance. Nevertheless, it is clear that the included extra battery is necessary to compensate for the relatively poor battery life of a single battery.
Since WiFi wasn't working for me, all battery testing was with WiFi off. Here are the results from EKEN H8 Pro battery testing for a single battery...
I understand now why EKEN included an additional battery in the package for the H8 Pro. It allows the camera to achieve a total battery life of approximately 2 hours, which is a duration commonly seen in other Chinese action cameras. If EKEN had only provided one battery, the camera's 1-hour battery life would have been quite inadequate.
During the recharging process, I used a USB doctor device module and observed that the EKEN H8 Pro has a moderate maximum charge rate of approximately 0.68-0.72A when charging inside the camera itself. This means that the recharging time is neither excessively slow nor remarkably fast. However, if you prefer slightly faster recharging times, it is advisable to utilize the included USB charge dock, which has a maximum charge rate of 0.83A. Using the dock allows for a slightly accelerated recharge process, taking less than 1 hour and 30 minutes in total.Where Can I Buy One? And For How Much?
The EKEN H8 Pro is currently available for purchase at a price of $139.99 USD on Amazon USA. This makes it an incredibly affordable option for those in search of an action camera. The package includes a comprehensive bundle with two batteries, a charging dock, and a selfie stick, adding significant value to the purchase. It comes as no surprise that the EKEN H8 Pro is selling well and frequently running out of stock on Amazon.com.
For Canadian customers, the EKEN H8 Pro can also be purchased through Amazon Canada. Although it is currently unavailable, it is expected to be restocked soon.
It's important to note that both American and Canadian purchases made through Amazon will be fulfilled by Amazon itself, ensuring a safe transaction and giving you the added protection and peace of mind that comes with Amazon's services.
There are several reasons why I appreciate Amazon as a shopping platform. Firstly, their efficiency and speed in delivering products is remarkable. I can rely on them to promptly deliver my orders, which is a great convenience.
Moreover, Amazon has gained my trust through their honesty and transparency. On one occasion, they mistakenly overcharged me for duty costs, but to my surprise, they promptly refunded the excess amount without any hesitation. This level of integrity is commendable and sets them apart from many other companies.
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The EKEN H8 Pro stands out as a remarkable value in the action camera market, offering 4K capabilities at an affordable price point. It has made good quality 4K footage accessible to a wider audience without the need to spend significantly more money. Among the budget Chinese action cameras I've tested, the EKEN H8 Pro proves to be the best so far, thanks to its Ambarella A12S75 chipset, which provides a significant upgrade over cheaper alternatives.
While the EKEN H8 Pro is capable of 4K recording with its Ambarella chipset, it's important to note that the Sony IMX078 image sensor is technically a 1080p sensor. So, while it's not entirely true 4K, the EKEN H8 Pro still outperforms many competitors in its category. Overall, I am satisfied with the video and photo quality it delivers, especially considering its price point. The ability to record in 2.7K at 60fps is particularly useful for capturing motion-oriented footage.
The bundle that comes with the EKEN H8 Pro is impressive, featuring valuable accessories such as an extra battery, a charging dock, a selfie stick, and a functional 2.4GHz remote control wristwatch. Additionally, the camera boasts a useful and high-quality 2.0" LCD screen at the rear and an excellent OLED display at the front.
However, it's worth noting that the EKEN H8 Pro has several issues that detract from its overall performance. Throughout the review, I've highlighted various shortcomings, including missing features like 180-degree image rotation, lack of live viewfinder via HDMI (only playback), a 5-minute video recording file limit, slightly overexposed chromatic aberrations, and broken WiFi connectivity with the Ez iCam app. It feels as though the camera was rushed to market before it was fully ready.
Fortunately, many of these issues can potentially be addressed through a firmware upgrade. I strongly urge EKEN to release a firmware update as soon as possible, as it could greatly enhance the performance and functionality of the H8 Pro. A successful firmware update would significantly improve my overall opinion of this action camera. As it stands, there are more cons than pros, but if you don't rely on WiFi and prioritize video performance, the EKEN H8 Pro can deliver satisfying 4K 30fps and 2.7K 60fps footage.
Ultimately, the decision to purchase the EKEN H8 Pro lies with the customer, considering the drawbacks and whether they can live with them.