About a month ago, Emily sent me the new Aukey 4K AC-LC2 action camera to evaluate. After seeing the $70 price point on Amazon, I was sure I would end up even more frustrated than I was with the Hero4 Session due to poor quality and unreliable performance. I was completely wrong and if you are even thinking of trying out an action camera, I would get this first before spending hundreds of dollars on something you may not need.
Last year before I hit the local rivers to fly fish, I wanted to purchase a low cost action camera that I could use to prove I did actually catch something while standing in ice cold mountain water. At the time, the GoPro Hero4 Session was the best option so I picked one up. Most of my video shot with the Session is missing fish landings and I am about ready to get rid of it.
The Hero4 Session has proven to be frustrating with beeps and indicator lights activating in a delayed manner so that I never know if the camera is on or off or what it is actually capturing. I’ve been working to improve the experience while fishing by connecting my Samsung Gear S3 and smartphones, but it’s still too many things to mess around with while I am trying to land a rainbow trout.
- Display: 2 inch non-touch LCD display
- Camera: 170 degree wide angle lens, capable of 12 megapixel still images and 4K/25fps
- Wireless connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
- Storage: microSD expansion card slot supporting up to 32GB
- Battery: 1050 mAh removable with 90 minute recording time
- Water resistance: Up to 30 meters using waterproof enclosure
- Dimensions: 59 x 41 x 25 mm and 64 grams
The Aukey 4K sports action camera looks similar to a GoPro with a rectangular block body, color screen taking up most of the back, and wide angle lens on the front. It is very light at just 64 grams, but the plastic body doesn’t feel cheap.
The power/mode button is found on the front with the lens and brand name. A light sensor is also positioned below the lens.
A microUSB port, microHDMI port, and microSD storage card slot are found on the left side. The official specs state it supports a 32GB microSD card, but I successfully used a Samsung 256GB microSD card without any issues. You also need a Class 10 card to record in 4K resolution.
There are up and down navigation buttons on the right side, along with an integrated speaker. An OK button is found on the top of the camera. The removable battery is positioned on the bottom of the camera.
Two indicator lights and the non-touch screen display are found on the back.
One of the best features of the Aukey sports action camera package is everything that is included with the camera. A spare battery is in the package, along with a 2.4GHz wrist-strap remote control that I discuss below in the experience section.
Here is everything that is INCLUDED at no extra cost:
- Waterproof enclosure
- Camera holder
- Quick release adapter, type 1
- Quick release adapter, type 2
- Bicycle bracket
- Belt mount
- Connection adapter 1
- Connection adapter 2
- Connection adapter 3
- 360 angle adapter
- Screw on base
- Two self-adhesive helmet mounts
- Two small fastening straps and two camera straps
- Spare waterproof enclosure door
- Spare 1050 mAh battery
- microUSB charging cable
- Steel securing cable
- Four cable ties
Aukey uses the fairly standard GoPro accessory mount configuration so if you already have GoPro mounts or want to use a GoPro mount that is not included then you should be able to secure the Aukey camera universally with these other mounts. It is impressive to get such a full and complete package, especially at just $70.
The only thing that is not included is a microSD storage card so you will need to purchase one of these to use the camera since there is no internal storage.
There is no touchscreen on the Aukey action camera so all navigation on the camera is carried out by the front mode button, top OK button, and side up and down buttons. Once you navigate around the camera a few times, then it is easy and I find it much more intuitive than the limited buttons on my Hero4 Session that frustrate the heck out of me.
Start by pressing and holding the front mode button down for two seconds to turn on the camera. Press the mode button again to cycle through video, photo, burst photo, time lapse photo, and settings modes. When in a selected mode, you simply press the top OK button to start recording or capture an image. When the large tool appears on the display, press OK to access the settings.
Within settings you can select the video resolution, looping video, time stamp, exposure, photo resolution, burst photo, time lapse, continuous lapse, power frequency, language, date/time, sounds indicator, orientation, screen saver, power save, format, reset, and view software version. Scrolling is done by pressing the up and down arrow with a press of OK to access the setting.
Supported video and still image resolutions include:
- 4k (25 fps)
- 2K (30 fps)
- 1080p (60/30 fps)
- 720p (120/60 fps)
- Still: 12MP, 8MP, 5MP, 4 MP
While in viewfinder mode, you can press the up button on the right to enter playback mode. This will allow you to view your photos and videos right on the display of the camera itself. You cannot edit images or video on the camera, but you can delete them in case there are errant captures or videos you don’t want to view later.
iSmart DV phone software
You can also connect the camera to your iOS or Android device with the iSmart DV app. The Aukey camera connects to your phone via WiFi and a PIN will appear on the camera to setup the pairing the first time.
With your connected smartphone, you can manipulate the settings and save them right from your phone. You can view captured content and also use your phone to control the capture experience with your phone display also working as a viewfinder for the camera.
I personally found it faster and easier to establish all of the settings right on the camera itself, but liked using my phone to view videos I captured before editing on my computer later.
A couple months after I bought the Hero4 Session, GoPro dropped the price and changed the name to the Hero Session. It is available for $149.99 and offers 1080 recording capability. You can also upgrade to the Hero5 Session for $299.99 that includes 4K resolution, voice control, and video stabilization.
I previously tested the excellent Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 and that is a rock solid action camera priced at $399.99. You receive a couple of mounts with that kit and no extra battery or remote.
Experiences out in the field
I am not a professional videographer and have just been trying to find a decent camera that could help capture my fly fishing adventures to share with my family later. With the Hero4 Session I mostly have video of me slinging dry flies with very few, if any, fish captured on video. The first time I used the Aukey camera with the handy wrist remote control I captured every single fish I caught that day.
The package includes a wrist remote control with a button for video and one for still images. Simply make sure the Aukey camera is turned on and then as you fish you hit the button on your wrist and video or still images are captured. There is no pairing required or anything and the wrist remote performed flawlessly for me.
As you can see in my embedded YouTube video (make sure you are watching in 1080p mode) the quality is actually pretty good. I was very impressed with the quality captured by the camera and expected much less for just $70. Photos were OK, a couple are in my image gallery, but I don’t expect any action camera to give me high quality still images anyway as that is not the intent of using such a video camera.
Audio was also better than expected. Please excuse my corny narration during the fly fishing video. You can hear the running water and even the birds chirping in the background. The Aukey camera was mounted in the waterproof enclosure on top of my head for this filming, using a GoPro head mount I put on my hat.
I carried the spare battery with me, but on my two fishing trips I tested the camera the first battery lasted me for the entire time I captured video and stills. The 90 minute stated battery life seems to be about what I experienced so having an extra means you can capture about three hours of action. Given you have to edit it later, that should be plenty for most adventures.
The Aukey sports action camera comes with a 24-month warranty, which is rather shocking for a $70 product that is designed to function in the elements. Pick one up and get outside to capture videos of your adventures.