As phone cameras become more and more powerful, it has driven traditional digital cameras to find new niches in which to compete. On the other hand, if you’re looking to capture your adventures, especially in gnarly conditions, there’s no competing with a dedicated action camera. You don’t have to spend a fortune, though-enter the AKASO V50 Pro!
The AKASO is, for lack of a better word, adorable. It feels tiny but incredibly solid, and the buttons along the top have satisfying travel and click to them. Likewise, popping the MicroSD in feels quite secure, even though there is no flap to cover it. It isn’t difficult to get it up and running either-the red button acts as power/mode, and the blue button acts as shutter/select. The menus are intuitive and the touchscreen is small but responsive. As a test, I handed the camera to my 6-year-old, who was able to figure out the operations almost immediately. It means I had a lot of photos of Pokemon cards and my television for some reason, but I persuaded him to test it in a more action-y environment, our local climbing gym. Here’s how he (and I) did (and yes, before you say anything, we did fix his chalk bag immediately after so it wasn’t around his neck):
In addition to the action shots, we also have a number of candids of the staff as we checked in, and a few rather artsy pictures of flyers. But the important point here is that I handed my son the camera, and he was able to stand on an uneven padded surface and fire off a whole slew of photos, all of which came out fairly well, even if the world doesn’t really need a shot by shot recreation of me climbing.
Now, getting the photos off the camera is a few steps but once you know what you’re doing it is quite easy. The camera has its own wifi, and you can use it to create a private network to your phone, which allows you to use the iSmart Pro+ app to pull photos over to your phone. In addition, that app allows you to use your phone as a remote to operate the camera. That’s very handy, but it’s a little hard to figure out when that would be helpful. Possibly if you were working the phone while someone else was wearing the camera, but it’s hard to imagine why you’d have your phone out operating the camera in an action scenario. In any case, should the urge strike you, it works quite well.
The V50 Pro has an incredible number of settings as well — you can change filters to make it black and white, sepia toned, red, vivid, natural, etc. You can also adjust the white balance, the ISO, and other tweaks if you like to really dial in your shots. However, if pointing and shooting your adventures is more your style, you can easily whip out the V50 Pro and start shooting.
In addition to a really impressive software package, the V50 Pro comes with a jaw-dropping amount of accessories as well. There’s a number of connectors for what looks like bikes, helmets, and similar setups, plus it has a screw port for a tripod as well. There is also a waterproof housing for underwater shots. You lose the microphone for video, but it protects the camera and keeps it dry while you’re underwater. Another nice touch from the V50 Pro, in addition to the slew of accessories, is that it comes with two rechargeable batteries and a nice little dock to charge them both. The battery is reasonably long-we’ve been testing it on and off for almost two weeks and we’re still on the first charge-but it’s nice to know you can swap in a fresh one and not wait forever for a charge. I could see that being extremely helpful if you wanted to use the V50 Pro on an extended camping or hiking trip and you wouldn’t have much access to charging.
I have an issue with one of the included accessories-it came with a wrist remote to control the camera, but I found that to be flimsy. The buttons were soft and way too easy to press, and I felt like they shifted around a lot as I activated them. I would be concerned about the wrist remote lasting an extended period of time. However, the companion phone app does the same thing, so it’s just a matter of how important the wrist remote is to you.
All this makes for a very compelling package, but here’s where the V50 Pro goes from interesting to whoa…the entire package retails for $119.99. Now, I don’t have a GoPro on hand, but I did show it to one of the climbing staffers who is apparently a photography major and familiar with GoPros, and he was really impressed in his limited hands-on time with it. I can’t say you’re going to get GoPro quality for 1/4 of the cost, but here’s a serious question: how often do you need an action camera? If you’re looking for a way to record your weekend warrior adventures, and maybe get some fun snorkeling pictures on vacation, I think the V50 Pro is a very compelling choice. It’s easy to use, comes with everything you could possibly need to record in almost all circumstances, doesn’t have a high learning curve, and won’t leave your wallet sobbing in the corner.
The AKASO V50 Pro Action Camera retails for $154.99; it is available directly from the manufacturer and from other retailers including Amazon [affiliate link].
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Liked: Very intuitive menu and touchscreen; comes with tons of accessories; can customize shots and adjust images; easy to sync photos via companion app; small and easily pocketable; comes with extra batteries; excellent price
What Needs Improvement: Wrist remote is flimsy