Video - Day9.0/10
Video - Night7.0/10
- Stunning daylight video
- Real 4K @ 30 FPS
- 12MP Sony Sensor
- Clear still images
- Acceptable low light recording
- Loud and clear sound recording
- Image stabilization could be more effective
- Included accessories are minimal
- Camera is slightly bigger than a GoPro making some mounts incompatible
Summary: Despite a few little issues with the stabilization and a slight size difference with other action cams, the T5e is an excellent value, from a pure image quality perspective.
Build Quality & Appearance
The body quality of this camera is above average. It certainly doesn’t feel like a cheap camera, as it is made from solid plastic and has a pleasant texture. The battery door has a locking latch and all the buttons have a pleasant click to them. Unfortunately the waterproof case does not reflect the same quality, as the case is a cheap style with no extra safety latch. The buttons on the waterproof case are quite difficult to press too.
Video Quality – Daylight
Out of the budget cams available for around $100 USD the T5e has some of the best video quality to date, equal to or surpassing the more expensive SJ7-star because it is slightly brighter and more lively in overcast situations. In many situations the cameras output is nearly identical, so the only reason to buy the SJ7 would be for the better body quality and touch screen. The T5e has lovely video in daylight. It is bright and colourful with lots of detail. 4K is the proper resolution and framerate. The camera produces a pleasant lens flare in direct sunlight. One thing that is very positive compared to other cameras is that the gradient of blue in the sky is smooth. Highlights and shadows hold better with this cam than some others and the image is sharp and full of detail. The camera is not too bad in low light either. It keeps its resolution fine but it does drop framerate a little. This is pretty typical of this class of action camera and performance is acceptable, bordering on higher than average.
Video Quality – Night
At night the video quality is decent, with video noise becoming apparent around the same time it would be difficult to use the camera for its intended purpose. The image stabilization does not work as well at night as it does during the day, because the frame rate of the camera drops. It means that night video is usable, best in 30 FPS mode, with a very steady hand.
Still images are on par with video quality. Smooth gradients in colour stay smooth and details are pretty sharp. There is a decent amount of detail in the bright and shadow areas. Low light images introduce image noise, but it’s fairly controlled until the point where it is too dark for me to hand-hold the camera, so no complaints there.
Battery life is accurately indicated by the battery meter (not every cam can do this right, it seems). In normal use the battery lasts between 70 – 90 minutes of recording, depending on resolution, frame rate and quality settings. The battery does not last very long in cold weather though. The camera includes two batteries but no charger.
Screen, Buttons & U.I.
Operation of this camera is fairly straightforward and typical of cameras in its class: the front button cycles through modes, the top button selects items and the side buttons go up/down in menus. The menus are all one long list without categories. It is cumbersome to navigate, but thankfully once the camera is set up using the menu will be rare. The screen is easy to read in direct light and accurately represents the final output from the camera.
I tried to put the camera in another waterproof case and it didn’t fit: turns out the cam is slightly bigger than its competitors. Other included accessories are quite minimal, which I am OK with. I’d rather have a cheaper camera and buy quality accessories myself than get the garbage that manufacturers usually throw in. It included just the stick on clasps and some angle adapters. It did come with a spare battery too so that’s good.
Where to Buy
This camera astounds me how cheap it can be for the video quality it produces (especially if you shop around to other retailers and import yourself). At the time of writing I have several cams in the sub-two hundred range, and this is my favorite that I have tested so far. If you need real 4K it has a great ratio of price vs performance. Hunt around though, because at the price it is available direct from China it is a bargain.