The Eken H8R action camera is part of Eken’s H-series of 4K Ultra HD cameras. My colleague Pavle, founder and Editor-in-Chief of Pevly, tested their H9 camera, another (nominal) 4K model, earlier this year and had quite a favorable impression. He said it’s “one of the best cheap beginners action cameras” and included it on his list of Best Action Cameras. My H8R was selling for about $8o to $100 in the US (around 71€ to 89€) at the time of this test but the retail list price is $136 (around 121€).
At those prices is the H8R as good a value as its $49 (about 44€) H9 sibling? Does it deserve equally high praise? Read on for the answers to those questions and many more.
The H8R is a dual-screen camera. In addition to the 2-inch LCD screen on the back of the camera it has a smaller, front-facing status screen that displays basic information including battery status, WiFi On/Off, mode, video resolution, frame rate and the count of the duration of the video or remaining photos.
The camera has a Sony IMX078 image sensor and a Sunplus 6350 image processor. The “R” designation in the H8R model number indicates that a 2.4 GHz wireless remote control is included.
The specifications according to Eken are:
- Image sensor
- Max image resolution
- Max Video resolution
- Video compression format
- Image format
- Photo time-lapse
- Video time-lapse
- Car camera
- Remote controller
- External Mic
- Video Stabilization
- Eken H8R
- Sunplus 6350
- Sony IMX078 12 MP
- 6 glass
- Weight : 66 grams / 2.32 ounce
- (L*W*H) 59.3*21.4*41.1 mm
- 2" LCD 240 x 320
- 12 megapixels
- Video Resolutions : 1080p @30FPS, 1080p @60FPS, 2.7K @30FPS, 4K @30FPS
- Image format : JPEG
- USB, HDMI
- 2s / 5s / 10s
If you want to see what’s inside the box check out this unboxing video!
This box is rich with accessories. It contains:
- 1x Camera
- 1x Waterproof case
- 1x Handle bar mount
- 7x Screw mount
- 1x Clip mount
- 1x Plastic case mount
- 2x Helmet mount (3M)
- 4x Bandages
- 1x Battery
- 1x Lens cloth
- 4x Tethers
- 1x Metal tether
- 1x Protective backdoor
- 1x USB cable
- 1x Wall charger
Design and Build Quality
The Eken H8R has a good design. It’s has a beautiful look and feel and seems very well built. All around the camera there is the classic anti-slip surface and on the front the plastic is completely matt with a rubbery feel. Personally I love it!
There are three buttons and all of them are big enough to fit your fingers perfectly. They also have a good mechanical “click” sound when you press them followed by a “beep” from the internal speaker.
The resistance is perfect – in fact it’s impossible to accidentally press them.
The battery space is so precise that you can use it without the door because the battery is hard to pull out even with your hand. During my tests I noticed that if it’s been on for a long time it heats up enough to burn your fingers around the SD card slot the screen gets very hot.
This is probably because it is so compact. I suggest that you don’t use it for too long time continuously, like a dash cam for instance, because it might actually melt some parts of the camera.
Buttons, Lights and Ports
As you can see, the Eken has only three buttons. Let’s make a list of them and some other external features:
- Shutter / Selection Button
- Main Screen
- WiFi Button
- Power / Mode Button
- Status Screen
- Micro USB Port
- Micro SD Slot
On the Main Screen you can see:
- Remaining Rec Time / Remaining Photos
- Recording Time / Amount of Photos
- Battery Status
On the status screen you can see:
- Rec Time / Amount photos
- WiFi on/off
- Battery status
Both screens are easy to see. The main screen might be a little less so in full light but the status screen is also a color display and easy to read in all lighting conditions.
As you can see the Eken H8R doesn’t have ANY LED’s. I think this is a very stupid design choice because you can’t tell if the camera is recording or not or if it’s recharging or not. Depending of your position or distance from the camera you can’t understand what it’s doing! It has an “auto switch off screen” to turn off the main screen automatically after 1, 3 or 5 minutes. When the screen is off, from the back of the camera you don’t even know if it’s still working so you’re forced to click something to check.
The battery door and the battery slot are very precise components. In fact the battery is hard to remove (the trick is to move it left and right a few times)
The waterproof case has a defect, or rather the case by itself is well built but the gasket is not perfectly aligned with the plastic case. I doubt it would remain watertight under pressure at diving depths. I made a test in my sink and it works great, but 20 cm of water is not enough to test the full performance at depth.
The navigation of the Eken H8R camera is intuitive and easy to understand. It’s divided into two parts: a quick modes part that can be reached just by pressing the “mode” button; and the settings part, where you change all the settings of the camera from the format to the Time lapse. Let me show you these parts:
- Video – Record Video
- Photo – Capture a single photo
- Burst Photo – Shoot 3 photos in a raw
- Time lapse – Shoot a series of photos at set time intervals
- VR 360 – Record VR 360 Video
The second menu has this interface:
- Video Playback
- Photo Playback
In the settings you can find:
- Video Resolution – 1080p (60FPS), 1080p (30FPS), 2.7K (30FPS), 4K (30FPS)
- Photo Resolution – 12MP (4608×2592), 8MP (3760×2120), 5MP (2976×1672)
- Looping Video – On/Off
- Metering – Center/Multi/Spot
- Time Stamp – Off/Date/Date & Time
- Exposure – 0, ±0.3, ±0.7, ±1.0, ±1.3, ±1.7, ±2.0
- Burst Photo – On (3 photos)
- Time Lapse – 2s, 3s, 5s, 10s, 20s, 30s, 60s
- Continuous Lapse – On/Off
- Power Frequency – 50Hz/60Hz/Auto
- Language – Dutch, Hungarian, Polish, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, German, Simplified Chinese
English, French, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Traditional Chinese
- Date & Time
- Sound Indicator – Shutter (On/Off), Start-up (Off/1/2/3), Beep (On/Off), Volume (0/1/2/3)
- Upside Down – On/Off
- Screen Saver – Off/1min/3min/5min
- Power Saver – Off/1min/3min/5min
[phpzon keywords=”Eken H8r camera” num=”4″ country=”US” trackingid=”pevly0d-20″ templatename=”columns” columns=”4″]
The Eken H8R can record videos in 1080p @30 and 60FPS, 2.7K @30FPS and 4K @30fps. The reason it can’t record videos at 720p is a mystery. Before anything else let me warn you that the sensor of this camera is not a real Sony sensor but a fake and is not able to record videos at 4K – the 4K videos are interpolated!
(Interpolated video means that the camera invents pixels to reach a determined resolution but obviously it’s false.) Moreover the 4K doesn’t really record at 30fps but only 15fps at a double frame rate. In other words the frames are not 1,2,3,4,5….28,29,30 but 1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5,5…13,13,14,14,15,15. On the other hand the 2.7K works fine.
The video quality of the Eken is not what I expected. The colors are quite good, maybe too saturated but still true to life, but the sharpness is near zero. As you can see with this screenshot, it’s impossible to read the license plate of the car on front of me even though it’s only 4 to 5 meters distant. I think the compression algorithm is the problem because the photos look great as I’ll show you later.
Videos recorded by the Eken are really bad. Also it has no Gyro stabilization – you can see every movement. As you can see in this video there is a lot of shaking. It’s partly my doing but you can compare the video below with the Amkov 7000S.
I spent a lot of time with the Eken as a dash camera and noticed that it’s a little bit slow adjusting to a change of brightness. For example when you exit from a tunnel it takes 2 to 3 seconds before it resets to the best exposure. In backlight conditions it works very well, but in the dark it’s not the best. In fact as you can see in these videos, there isn’t enough viewing distance to understand what’s going on around you. It’s a little bit better with a fully lit road.
Let me say a couple words about the VR 360 Mode. Why the hell does it exist? No really, it’s just a horrible mode that records videos in 4:4 with a strange resolution (1440×1440) at 30FPS. The vertical angle of view is noticeably greater than a normal video but that’s it. I leave you with two comparison frames.
As I said before the photos look great. It’s strange to make good photos with an action camera because they’re made more for video recording. I compared the Eken’s photos with those of my smartphone and the Eken’s look better! All these photos are 12MP (real 12MP, not interpolated).
As you can see in this photo the resolution and sharpness are very very good. You can easily zoom in without losing too much detail.
This photo was made in a complete back-light condition and it looks great.
These two photos are made in full light condition. The colors might lack a bit of saturation. I noticed that in this condition there is a strange white “veil” all over the photos – like a light haze or fog – possibly a reflection on the lens.
And this is one of the best photos I’ve ever made. It was completely random.
I really love how this camera works shooting photos.
The audio of a camera is no less important than the video because without good audio even a beautiful video falls flat. The audio of the Eken at low-medium volume is quite good but with a medium-high volume it starts to distort hugely making the camera unusable.
In general the camera captures mostly low frequencies but it misses high frequencies. This problems is annoying if you want to record a conversation. These three videos are with a low, medium-high and very high volume:
And this is what can you hear in a normal restaurant. There’s too much low frequency and you can’t hear my order being taken even though I was next to the camera.
Battery and Memory Performance
These are the results of my battery test:
- 4K – 106 Minutes (46Gb)
- 2.7K – 91 Minutes (37Gb)
- 1080p 60FPS – 81 Minutes (13Gb)
- 1080p 30 FPS – 92 Minutes (9Gb)
Recharging Time – I don’t know exactly how much time it takes because the Eken has no recharging indicator, probably it’s about 1-1/2 hours.
Note that the camera can read a maximum 32GB SD card but no larger. I don’t know why Eken made the decision to limit the maximum card size to 32GB. Personally I think it’s stupid.
WiFi and Remote Control
The Eken H8R like a lot of other cameras has WiFi (with its own app for Android and iOS) and a Wrist Remote Control. I must say that this is the best WiFi connection in a camera I’ve ever had. The Wifi and app are completely perfect! It has good range, about 3 to 4 meters, and the app is very stable – it never crashed. The app looks like this:
- Playback Photo/Video
- Photo Mode
- Record Video/Shoot Photos
- Video Mode
- Options (There is only white balance)
There’s little lag and the app reacts quickly when you touch your smartphone screen.
The remote control is the same as the app – it’s impeccable! Every click results in quick action.
[phpzon keywords=”Eken H8r” num=”4″ country=”US” trackingid=”pevly0d-20″ templatename=”columns” columns=”4″]
The Eken H8R has great WiFi and remote control connections and an incredible amount of accessories. It also has good battery life for a double screen camera. It can shoot really good photos with great details but it misses the main point of an action camera: the videos.
The sham claim of 4K at 30fps, the lack of gyro stabilization and the complete absence of details in its videos all mean it misses the mark. You can buy it for about $80 to $100 (around 71€ to 89€) but honestly for this amount of money you can buy something better.
26 August 2016 Update:
They added with a firmware update ( V. 160615LY ) the resolution 720P @120FPS
Where to buy Eken H8R?
Here are few links where you can get this camera :