I decided to give the V3 + IMX179 platform another shot to see if it had improved. Spoiler alert: it has not. Don’t buy these cheap trash cams. The “1080p” video looks like an old VHS tape or a kid drawing with crayons. The 1440p video is OK, but it has issues too (see the shot after the credit clip for a “fun” example).
I have some high hopes for this cam but can it hold up? You’ll find out in the full review in a few weeks. I have so many things to review and so little time (going away for a trip soon and want to get done before that!). This cam was provided to me by Gearbest for review.
Links to cams are found below. I sorted them by price in the video. Here’s some action cams under $80 that have decent performance. This video is a response to several comments on the EK7000 video that claim there can’t be a camera that is cheaper/better than the EK7000…
I mixed some old footage and new footage to get this, and I had to borrow cams. It took a lot longer to put together than it should have. Unfortunately I’m not going to have enough time with those cams to do full length reviews.
It’s 2017 and that means it’s time for another round of cheap so-called 4K cameras to be released! Allwinner technology has got us covered with their new low end processor, the V3s.
For fake 4K action cams there are three main makers of processors. These are like Intel or AMD for cameras, except they’re not really like Intel or AMD because those two are actually good and some of these are, well, questionable at best. Each processor has a maximum video quality it can produce and none of them have enough power to produce actual 4K footage. They all do it in some weird resolution or frame rate or some sort of software tricks to fake it. From best to worse, in my experience, is Novatek, then Sunplus and Allwinner are kinda tied for a sad last place.
The video you see is from an Allwinner camera based on their new processor, the V3s. This is a lower end version of the common V3 processor, and since it is cheap to make cameras with low end processors I’m expecting to see a lot of cams based on it to be released soon. There are already a few brands that use this configuration including MGcool and the generic F60C.
The older Allwinner V3 was not a great processor by any means, but in most cases the cameras that were released based on it were crippled by software, meaning that with some hacking the V3 cameras were actually capable of producing decent results, up to 1080p60 or 2K30. At least with the V3 you’d be guaranteed the same consistent level of image quality across multiple vendors, even if that image quality wasn’t particularly good on the Sony variant.
Now that the V3S has been released, some cameras are being advertised as containing Allwinner SoCs but now they do not have the V3. Instead they have the S variety and, surprise surprise, it’s almost like the S stands for S***! The V3s only supports image sensors up to 5 Megapixels (despite these cams being advertised as 16 MP), and they have a maximum video resolution of 1080p at 40 FPS (despite being advertised as 4K). This is a case of newer is not better as it is a step backwards in image quality. It’s almost like comparing the slowest Atom processor to a Pentium. The cameras look similar, the user interface looks similar, but the results speak for themselves. And the V3 isn’t great to start with!
My recommendation, if you’re looking at an Allwinner camera, is to stay vigilant and read the specs very carefully so you don’t get ripped off. The V3 is bundled with one of two image sensors: an OV4689, which has the best image quality out of the box despite only being 4MP, or an IMX179 which is 8MP and generally has more mediocre image quality. The V3S on the other hand is being bundled with one of two sensors: a GC2023, which is 2MP, and not even high enough resolution for 1080p let alone 4K, or the OV2720 which is also 2MP but can do 1080p resolution. At the price point of these cameras, it’s worth spending the extra $10 – $20 to get something with far more capable specs instead of cheaping out.
The other day I made the mistake of attempting to push a SJcam SJ4000 firmware update to my F23 action cam. I had a morbid curiosity, and a little bit of a destructive mindset. Needless to say that the SJ4000 hardware must be different in some way, as its firmware did not work on the camera. I did a ton of hunting and thought I was S.O.L. for finding the original firmware and my camera was ruined. Thankfully I was able to acquire it.
This camera is called the F23 and it is available on Gearbest. It’s a near identical clone of the SJ4000. Despite it being listed as a SooCoo product, it is not. The firmware version here is only for the cameras with the original firmware version N20150723V01. Install at your own risk. I am not responsible for failed firmware updates. Here’s how to update:
Charge the camera so the battery is full or near full.
Download the .bin file and place it onto a blank Micro SD (32GB or less).
Put the Micro SD into the camera with the camera powered off.
Turn on the camera. The lights will flicker and blink for about 30 seconds.
The camera will turn on if the update is successful.
Good overall video quality with high amount of details and natural color
Easy to set up and install
Excellent mounting hardware included
360 base makes it easy to install anywhere
Records in MP4 H265 format to SD card
What I Don’t Like:
Android app is limited in functionality
Difficult to export video footage from Android app
Video Transcript: Hey, Rob from DrekiTech here and today I’m reviewing the Misafes MiCam Apollo II 1080p IP cam. I gave this cam a 4.5/5 noting its excellent mounting hardware and good video quality. This camera uses a 360 degree ball-type base that is magnetic, which makes the camera super easy to mount anywhere. It includes a metal plate and a screw so the camera can be screwed straight into any wall. I love this mounting hardware, and it’s probably one of the best features about the camera and why I’d recommend this cam over other competitors. Video quality is great. Details are sharp and color is pleasant. The camera automatically records to SD card when one is put in – network setup and recording is done through a smartphone. The cameras video is sharp and smooth when recorded to SD card, but I notice it does jitter a little when recorded over the network. SD card quality maxes out at 720p, but network recording goes up to 1080. Night video is good too – sharp and detailed. It automatically enables itself when the room gets dark. Audio quality is alright. While it’s a little on the quiet side, I can easily understand someone speaking in a normal voice. Here’s what it sounds like: […]. Wi-Fi range is adequate. It made it to the same distance as my phone before dropping out. The app itself is very limited, but it works fine and does offer motion alerts. Otherwise the only options are view camera, record video, snapshot or talk through the camera. One thing that is missing is a manual way to engage night mode. Overall I really like this little camera. It’s got great video quality for the price and some nice mounting hardware.