The AKASO Brave 7 LE is the latest budget action camera on the market. We find it offers great value for the money as well as featuring outstandingly good battery life.
AKASO is one of those action camera brands that has been gradually building a reputable portfolio of devices somewhat under the radar when compared to better known makes. It is gaining a name for itself for cameras that offer a lot of bang for the buck. For example its V50 Elite camera, which can record 4K up to 60fps costs only $139.99.
The company has a new budget conscious camera out now, though. The Brave 7 LE. Also priced at $139.99 it is a device that is very much priced to be as accessible as possible. It's not as inexpensive as its EK7000 model, but it has a few extra features over that camera. We’ve given a lot of focus on RedShark to the major brands such as GoPro, so let’s take a look at this new budget alternative to see how it stacks up. But first, here's my summary video.
AKASO Brave 7 first impressions
The AKASO Brave 7 LE comes in a nicely packaged box, using high quality materials. It makes a good first impression, particularly given the low price of the camera. When you open it up the surprising thing is just how much you are getting for your money.
You get the camera, complete with waterproof housing, but you also get two batteries and a dual compartment charger, and a boat load of mounts and accessories. Not only are there a multitude of mount attachments, you also get sticky mounts and even a handlebar mount. There’s even a wrist remote control included and metal cable tethers for when you are attaching the camera to boats and vehicles.
Given the price it would cost to buy these mounts separately the Brave 7 LE begins to look even better value for money that it seemed before opening the box.
The camera itself looks and feels high quality, belying its budget origins. Size wise, when not mounted inside the waterproof housing the Brave 7 LE is slightly smaller than the Hero8. The outer lens glass appears to be replaceable, although my attempts to unscrew it were less than fruitful so it looks like it will be a factory job if it gets damaged.
Two large buttons select shooting mode and record trigger.
There are the now familiar sliding compartment doors to reveal the battery compartment and USB and micro HDMI connectivity. Unlike most modern cameras the USB is the micro style rather than USB-C. Large buttons form the power, mode, and record trigger.
On the rear there’s a large 2-inch touch screen, while on the front there’s a DJI OSMO Action style selfie screen. A useful addition.
The camera body is rated to IPX7 water resistance. In practice this means that it can withstand submersion of 1m for up to 30 minutes. This should make it okay for some watersports. Although it is recommended that you use the plastic external waterproof housing for this.
Going forward I would like to see all action cameras ditch the need for a housing unless doing deep diving because, when it comes to watersports, housings almost always steam up. A phenomenon that I was glad to see the back of once GoPro stopped needing them for all but continuous underwater use. The housing also adds more size and bulk to the camera.
When it isn’t living inside the housing the camera body features a standard tripod screw base. Now, this might interest some people. However, while such a feature might attract some camera users the fact of the matter is that these types of cameras are designed first and foremost for action sports. There’s a very good reason why the GoPro mount exists and these cameras don’t tend to use a tripod screw mount. And that’s because there’s no standardisation for screw depth.
The rear screen on the AKASO Brave 7 LE is bright and easy to view.
The net result of this is that you either need an adjustable collar on the mounting base to align the camera, or to be able to rotate on the mount itself. In adventure sports where the camera is subject to extreme forces, a standard tripod style screw base is not a reliable mount. Plus it is a very simple matter indeed to buy a GoPro to tripod adaptor if you really do need that kind of attachment. So to the traditional camera users who keep requesting a tripod screw base on these cameras instead of a GoPro style mount, please stop it. It isn’t as sensible as you think. At least not for the primary intended use for these things.
That said if you really want that feature the Brave 7 LE has it. Once it is inside the waterproof case though, its GoPro style mounts all the way.
The tripod screw will please some people, but for action sports it isn't practical.
Brave 7 LE main features
The Brave 7 is a budget conscious camera, so it doesn’t have all the fancy modes that you will find on pricier alternatives. The camera is designed for budget conscious users who want to film and edit easily, and not be confused by a multitude of settings and adjustments.
The highest resolution that the camera is capable of 4K UHD at 30fps. Although it can do 2.7K at 60fps and 1080 at up to 120fps. Note that stabilisation is not available in these latter modes. Recording quality can be set to high, middle, or low. These settings can be changed in the main menu, or a quick swipe upwards on the rear LCD screen brings up quick selection options.
Electronic stabilisation features, although it does crop in a fair bit. There’s also the option to switch on distortion correction to get rid of the fisheye effect, but you will sacrifice the ability to use stabilisation if you switch it on, and vice versa.
There’s video based Timelapse and Fast Motion modes, although stills are restricted to 20MP in JPG format, no raw. In video you can select your angle of view, which crops the sensor, to produce ultra-wide, wide, medium, and narrow viewpoints.
The touch screen is generally very responsive, It actually sometimes feels more responsive than the Hero8. It is bright and easy to see, so it’s good to see a budget camera solve some of the issues that sometimes blight some of the lower cost options out there.
Start-up time is also very fast at around 3 seconds from first holding down the power button. The display is very easy to read, clearly showing the current settings and modes you are in. Holding down the Mode button on the top of the camera switches from the rear screen to the front ‘selfie’ screen.
The front screen is square, and the camera doesn’t do any sort of aspect correction. However the good news is that the camera settings are also displayed here, so you don’t need to guess or risk forgetting how the camera has been set up.
The camera can be controlled from AKASO’s own mobile app. The camera connects to this quickly and easily by pressing the power button to prime the wireless connection, and then loading and connecting the app. There is a slight lag when viewing live images, but only around half a second or so if I’m being unscientific. This is pretty good compared to other cameras I have used this way!
Using the camera
Aside from the compression setting there’s not much you can do to set up the picture on the Brave 7 LE. The camera records to H.264 compression, which will make it easy for casual users to deal with. Although even on the High Quality setting I found that the recordings were topping out at just over a smidgen above 50Mb/s. For H.264 compression in 4K that is quite low, although it will save on card space. More on this later.
In the time I used the camera I didn’t notice any glitching or overheating problems. In fact one of the most amazing things about the camera is its battery life. It’s one of the best I’ve come across. We’re used to action cameras lasting only around an hour per battery with the sheer amount of processing and abilities that they have now. I left the Brave 7 LE recording and it managed to keep going for pretty much spot on two hours. That’s around an hour or more than the GoPro Hero8 and Insta360 ONE R. So if battery life is your primary consideration you’d do well to think about the Brave 7 LE.
Picture quality and sound
We have to remember that this is a budget camera when looking at the picture quality. In good light the Brave 7 LE produces a crisp looking image, although it does suffer from excess digital edge enhancement, and there’s no way to dial this down. Manufacturers tend to do this because casual users do prefer the overt sharpness that this processing brings to the table. However for a more natural look it would be nice to be able to switch it off. Not least because this type of enhancement also puts pressure on the compression system.
As I mentioned earlier, even on the high setting the Brave 7 LE seems to top out at 50Mb/s, which for H.264 in 4K is quite low. The result is that with complicated detail such as trees or moving water compression artefacts are noticeably present. If there was the option of H.265 and/or the ability to reduce the image processing many of these issues could be reduced.
That said, colour seems pretty good, although the image is a little too contrasty for my liking and verges on being a little too warm temperature wise. For the type of user the camera is aimed at, these things will probably go unnoticed. But since RedShark is image focussed it is as well to point these things out.
The AKASO Brave 7 LE lacks a wide enough view for truly immersive POV shots.
The electronic stabilisation, for a budget system, is actually pretty good. It isn’t as good as Hypersmooth 2.0 or the Insta360 FlowState, but for the price it is quite effective. The price you pay for turning it on though is a quite large image crop. So for POV style shots I would recommend leaving it turned off.
On the subject of POV shots, the Brave 7 isn’t as wide as a GoPro even with the stabilisation turned off. When it comes to POV you really do need a wide, immersive view, either with a 4:3 super wide image that can be dynamically stretched in post, from a 360 camera, or from the GoPro’s Super View mode, which does the dynamic stretch in-camera. As it is the Brave 7 isn’t as wide as its higher priced competitor even when the GoPro is set to a standard wide angle setting.
The result is that, for my chosen sport of kayaking for instance, the angle of view isn’t wide enough to create a sense of vista and speed, with the nose of the boat stretching out in front, and the paddle position being clearly visible. But for using the camera to film other people, that’s where the Brave 7 LE will be at its best.
The reason I point this out is not because I want to put the Brave 7 LE in a bad light, but to illustrate what you generally give up when going for something on a much lower budget.
Sound is another area in which you will notice a difference. The Brave 7 LE has a wind filter which can be turned on, but even still, when performing selfie shots, while the GoPro sounds almost like I have a lav mic on, the Brave 7 is distant and rather tinny. For most people filming their general sports activities this might not be an issue, but it is something to be mindful of if sound is on your list of important things to consider.
The Brave 7 LE has one last trick up its sleeve, and that's its dash cam mode. Switch this on and the camera, when connected to a car's cigar lighter power output, will automatically turn on and start recording when the ignition is started.
The Brave 7 LE does offer users some nice still image options. Photos can only be taken in JPG format, but it can perform bursts of up to 30 images, Timelapse of between 3 second and 1 minute intervals, and timer delay. The nicest inclusion to see is long exposure. This can be set to a minimum of 1 second up to a pretty impressive 1-minute.
AKASO Brave 7 LE action camera conclusions
The important thing to be reminded of with the AKASO Brave 7 LE is that it is a budget camera. Not only that, it has to be taken into account what you actually get for that money.
So, what do we have? We have a camera that. in good light, produces a respectable picture, subject to the issues mentioned above. The file sizes for casual users will be easier to deal with than from cameras like the GoPro or Insta360 ONE R, which for many people will be a selling point. The camera offers good stills capabilities, and the fact that the camera comes complete with two batteries and all the mounts and accessories you could possibly need means that the Brave 7 LE represents remarkable value for the money. Its class leading battery power is the icing on the cake.
For budget conscious casual action camera users the Brave 7 LE could be all the action camera they ever need, as long as outright picture quality isn't a priority. For more information visit the Akaso website.