Action cams have become an ubiquitous part of vacations in the past few years, having earned its place among sunscreens and sunglasses as summer must-haves. For a long time, the scene was dominated by pricey GoPros, and those without the kind of money a GoPro demands had to be content with snapping up cellphone pictures, minus the fancy wide-angle awesomeness.
That had largely changed with the inevitable arrival of affordable devices from various manufacturers, among them the W8 action camera. What does it bring to the table, and is it a worthwhile buy at Php1,499.00? Let’s find out.
Out of the box
The W8 camera comes with a boatload of accessories. Aside from the camera, there’s a waterproof case, charger, and a myriad of accessories to connect your camera to your car’s dashboard, your bike’s handlebars, your motorcycle helmet, heck you can tie it to a tree with the cable ties if you so fancy doing so!
You can download the EZ iCam app from the iOS app store/Google Play store for additional functionality, but it’s not really essential. You can pretty much use the camera out of the box. You just have to slap in a microSD card for storage and you’re good to go.
The camera is equipped with a fixed 140 degree wide angle lens. Photo resolution is set at a default of 12MP (4608×2592). You can also choose from resolutions ranging from 8MP (3760×2120), 5MP (2976×1672), down to 2MP (1920×1080) in the settings. The photos come out OK: although photo quality is nothing to write home about, the camera gets the job done. In low light situations it’s not that great, but for use in day time it’s quite good. Definition is quite clear, albeit edges are a bit smudgy when zoomed in, and colors are a bit muted for my taste but a quick pass in Lightroom or Photoshop will take care of this issue.
Video is set to a default of 1080p at 30 fps. There are options for 720p at 60 fps and 4K, but with a frame rate of 10 fps, it’s not really worthwhile to record videos in this format. 1080p is adequate enough. The videos taken with this camera are smooth, clear and bright, with no noticeable lag. You can also set the video to loop, if you want to use it as a dash cam.
The camera has a 2-inch LCD display and User Interface that seem to come straight from a late 1990’s digital camera. It’s that bad. You can actually see the individual pixels. The menu’s UI is cumbersome: you have to press buttons endlessly just to even exit the settings. You miss it and you have to go back again. But for quick reference, I guess it does the job. It’s just annoying as hell. Having the EZ iCam app somehow alleviates this, as you can go and set the resolution and whatnot from your phone. It just becomes a problem when you don’t have this option, say you’re in the pool or a situation where you don’t have your phone with you.
Battery Life and Connectivity
The battery is a 900maH Li-ion battery. It lasts about an hour and a half on a single charge. Charging time is about an hour or so.
There is also Wi-Fi connectivity but it’s a bit misleading. The camera connects to your phone through Wi-Fi. It doesn’t connect directly to Wi-Fi and you can’t upload pictures directly from the camera to your Facebook.
There’s an HMDI port you can use to connect the camera directly to your TV, and a microUSB port for data transfer and charging.
For something that I’d only use sparingly, as in very rarely, this is an awesome buy. I have used it about twice now, once during a family outing and once to film my kids dancing in the rain when a sudden rainstorm came. I have since kept it in a drawer somewhere, where I could just grab it when needed: maybe strap it to a cymbal stand or stick it in a guitar’s headstock to get music video-like footage, or whatever. The lack of a remote shutter button is a shame, but at just Php1,499.00 it does not feel like that much of a big deal. If you are planning to use an action cam frequently, though, investing in a higher end camera might be a better option for you. For the occasional weekend warrior, this is perfect.