Dirt Cheap 4K Action Camera: Eken H9



How much should an action camera with 4k video cost? $200? $100? $60? How about $46? 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!


Features
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.

Performance
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. 

Videos


Photos
(1080p Frame)
(Edited)
(1080p Frame)

(4k Frame)

(1080p Frame)



Full video review:


Conclusion
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), Banggood, or through Eken's website. Tight lines!

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1 comments:

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December 1, 2015 at 9:11 AM delete

great article - these are so great! I actually just picked one up the other day for christmas! http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/VvJAIaybQ

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Be nice.