Thursday, November 5, 2015

Inland Empire Crappie Fishing

Secret Pond. Big Crappie. Success!
Nailed on a Yamamoto Swim Senko, White.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dirt Cheap 4K Action Camera: Eken H9

How much should an action camera with 4k video cost? $200? $100? $60? How about $58? The Eken H9 Action Camera is simply the cheapest 4K video option on the block today. It is really shocking how the price on these action cameras has dramatically dropped just over the last year. Still, what use is a 4K camera if it doesn't hold up under use? Is the Eken H9 worth picking up? Keep reading for my full review of the Eken H9, courtesy of GearBest and check out the sample footage while fishing and hitting up local beaches in California!

Right out of the box you will notice the Eken looks very similar to the SJ400 and associated clones. It utilizes the typical boxy form-factor that GoPro helped popularize, complete with a similar waterproof case. The LCD screen on the back is a little larger than the stock SJ4000 screen at 2 inches from corner to corner.

Eken on left, SJ4000 on right
The Eken comes with the usual selection of accessories: waterproof case,USB charger, wall charger, belt clip mount, handlebar mount, adhesive pads, and several other angle attachments. The case features a single spring to open and close, nice large buttons that respond easily to being pressed. The case I received had a few very minor scratches on it, not sure if this is a quality control issue or if the camera was a refurb. The camera lenses itself was fine. All the accessories and the waterproof case use the excellent GoPro mounting system, so it is compatible with the generic chest mounts, head mounts, and other mounting gear I find useful when fishing or hiking.
Battery is a standard 3.7v action camera battery, the same you will find in an SJ4000, GitUp and so on.
Eken's menu is really easy to browse through. You can select Video, Photo, Burst Photo (3 photos in 1.5 s), Time Lapse mode, Playback, and Settings. The settings are also a snap to scroll through, and unlike the SJ7000, you can actually turn off/on the date/time stamp on both the videos AND the photos (shame on SJ7000 for not including the ability to turn it off on photos!).
Now, on to the 4K option: It's neat but really not as useful as I had initially hoped, as it is only at 10FPS. Eken also offers 2.7k at a slightly better but still not very usable 15fps, then 1080p at 60/30 fps, and 720 at 120/60 fps. Really happy with the 60 fps support for 1080p and the 120fps at 720p, definitely helps set Eken ahead of other similarly priced action cameras, in addition to the 4k option. Video field of view is at a nice 170 degrees, and the camera supports WiFi control through a local app (EZ iCam App is recommended from GearBest). Under the hood, Eken uses the Sunplus 6330M OV4689 chipset, one I have not seen in other cameras.

I took the Eken out to the beach recently while fishing and bodyboarding. Conditions were initially very bright, hence the faded, washed-out look. Eken does have adjustable white-balance options, which I did not tweak with too much (used default). I then took it out on a cloudy day for bodyboarding, which you can see in the video. Video turned out reasonably good, on par if not a little better than the SJ4000 or SJ7000. However, it was not as good as the GitUp or BlackVue Sport action cameras. Details were somewhat lacking in the video. The 60fps was smooth, but the 4k was mostly unusable due to the low FPS. I also discovered there is no playback viewing mode on the camera! Duhoh! You have to rely on the app to view playback, a definite missed opportunity in my book. The case worked great underwater, no leaks, and the buttons responded easily to taps when needed.  Take at lok at the photos below, the frame-extracts definitely turned out better than the photos. Photos are shown unedited, unless otherwise noted, same with video. 


(1080p Frame)
(1080p Frame)

(4k Frame)

(1080p Frame)

Full video review:

The 4K option is neat and it is impressive that at sub $60 camera can offer it, but it's really not that useful at 10FPS, nor is the 2.7k option. However, both the 720 and 1080p work well. They aren't quite as crisp as my beloved GitUp camera, but they are better than both the SJ4000 and the SJ7000 cameras, which are closer in price range.
Overall, The Eken H9 is an amazingly affordable action camera that offers solid video, unimpressive photos, lacks a useful playback feature, neat but not as useful 4K mode, and probably one of the better deals on a budget camera at this time. You are unlikely to find the array of video recording options on any other camera + waterproof case at this price. Check it out at through GearBest here (as well as their other action cameras, on Amazon (more pricey), or through Eken's website. Tight lines!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Quick SoCal Urban Creek Largemouth Trip

Old report but still a goodie! Fished at a new spot for a couple of tiny bites. Frustrated, I drove home, but not before stopping to fish an old reliable urban creek in the Inland Empire.
Success! Missed two and landed two more, including a nice one (by urban creek standards) in 30 minutes. Hard to beat that!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tiny Creek Redband Trout San Bernardino

 Locating a tiny creek through online research and discussion with other fishermen, then hiking in and actually fishing it sucessfully is truly rewarding. Such was the case for one of my recent fishing trips in the San Bernardino National Forest.
 Armed with my ultralite fishing gear, I located this miniscule watershed and proceeded to catch many healthy Redband-strain rainbow trout in less than an hour. All fish were quickly released back into their mountain stream environment, colorful patterns and all.
The creek has been through a lot, with natural disasters and manmade problems really hurting the fish population. Still, some fish still exist here, as evidenced in the video I took of the trip:

Thursday, September 10, 2015

SJ7000 Action Camera Review: Bargain-Priced Cam

Recently got my hands on the SJ7000, courtesy of GearBest, a new budget-priced action camera. Got to take it out on a long fishing trip to the Eastern Sierra. Check out the review AND the footage of the awesome fishing trip I had in this part of California!

The SJ7000 is yet another action camera aiming for the bargain market, with a host of neat features. At first glance, it looks just like the popular SJ4000, which I have also reviewed. In fact, it's basically a clone of it but don't take this as a bad thing! The cases are compatible, batteries, and even actual camera size are virtually identicle. Two main differences: SJ7000 sports a different software and the SJ7000 has a much larger back LCD screen, making viewing photos and adjusting settings much easier. 

SJ4000 on the right, SJ7000 on the left

Saturday, August 8, 2015

GitUp Git1 Action Camera Review: Affordable GoPro Alternative

Yet another interesting and affordable action camera has been released, the Git1 action camera, from producer GitUp. I couldn't wait to get my hands on one, and thanks to the developers I was able to try it out, while surfing, fishing, hiking, and just plain relaxing a summer trip to one of the wonderful beaches we have in Southern California. With an impressive Sony CMOS IMX322 image sensor and 160 angle of view, I had high hopes for the Git1 and I was not disappointed. 

The Git1 arrived in a smartly-packaged box and, and as the pro model of the GitUp Git1 action camera, it comes with a waterproof case and several attachments. These attachments include the typical GoPro style ones such as mounting pads, handlebar grips, angled brackets, and screws. You'll notice I said GoPro style, because all these mounts are GoPro attachment compatible. That's a huge plus and something I'm a big fan of, and that many action cameras have adopted. It's nice to have a virtual universal standard when it comes to different mounting options, because they're just so many compatible accessories that you can purchase through sites like eBay, including chest mounts, head mounts, wrist mount, floating devices, and much more. The waterproof case snaps snugly around the GitUp Git1 action camera. The latch for it is found on the left hand side, sort of a unique attachment that isn't often seen with many other action camera models. There's only three buttons on the action camera overall, and only two of these can be accessed through the waterproof case. Those buttons are the power / options, wifi/options, and the start / stop recording buttons. I found the mounting points on this camera allowed me to easily attach it to gear I already had such as my favorite chest mount. These two mounts make it really easy to record all the fishing action that is taking place in front of you be it on the water, on a jetty, hiking or otherwise.

More after the jump!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Jackson Lake Fishing: Drying Up

  Stopped by Jackson Lake, near Wrightwood, California. This little lake on the NE side of the San Gabriel Mountains is reportedly stocked with rainbow trout intermittently, in addition to have a popular of sunfish, catfish, and largemouth bass

However, when I arrived, I was taken back by the very limited amount of water that remained. It is just another reminder of California's current drought and another example of poor fishing in the region. The shoreline was receeded and the bottom of the lake was visible from the shore at most angles. Furthermore, most of the water reachable with a cast from the shore was less than 1ft deep. Very discouraging; the fish population is likely mostly gone as well. There was several 2-3" sunfish hanging around one set of reeds, but that was the extent of finned friends to be spotted. 

Save yourself the trip for now, don't bother with this little lake! Hopefully the upcoming El Nino will fill it back up, for a long time.