Video - 4K Day6.0/10
Video - 1080p30 Day8.0/10
Video - Night5.0/10
- Robust build quality
- Decent 1080p30 with EIS
- Usable 4K30
- Simple interface
- Dual screens!
- 4K 60 is fake
- 1080p 60 is chunky
- Stabilization could be improved
Those who read my review of the Victure AC940 will see a lot of similarities between the two cameras. To summarize the similarities:
- Both cameras are fully waterproof without an external case
- The build quality on both cameras is very good
- Neither camera does real 4K 60
- The fake 4K 60 is an upscaled resolution from 1080p 60
- The cameras have identical user interfaces
- Video quality is adequate at 4K 30 (no EIS) and the best resolution with EIS is 2.7K 30
The main differences between these two cameras are:
- The AC940 has more clarity to its microphone
- The AC960 has a front facing screen
In my opinion, the forward facing screen is practically a necessity for anyone who wants to “walk and talk vlog”, so the AC960 is the camera to get. However if you are constrained by budget, the AC940 is about $20 – 30 cheaper, and is a fine camera as well. Were these two cameras advertised as “4K 30” instead of falsely advertised as 4K 60, they would be easier to recommend.
As well, there are several other cameras in the $100-$130 range that appear to be very similar to the AC940 and AC960 such as the XTU S3 and Actman (Campark’s new brand after they got banned from Amazon). Victure on the other hand is tied to Apeman, both of whom were also banned for falsifying reviews. All of these brands seem to be rebranding HDKing products and have very similar performance and likely little-to-no firmware tweaks are made to improve overall video quality.
Video Quality – Day
Again, it is important to reiterate that this camera does not do real 4K at 60 FPS, and its 4K quality is not comparable to other high end cameras such as DJI Osmo Action, Firefly X, or even older real 4K 60 cameras like the SJ8 Pro.
That being said, at 4K 30 with the EIS turned off there is a decent amount of detail, good colour balance and a smooth frame rate. The camera can be called at least near-true 4K 30. Turning on the EIS reduces details to the same level as 2.7K 30, so with EIS on I preferred to use that format which resulted in slightly smaller file sizes with the same overall quality. Stabilization, as well, is not as effective as high end cameras and can be called decidedly average. On a positive note, because the stabilization is not very strong, it does not interfere much with the overall quality of the video or cause notable warping. This first sample is from 4K 30 with the EIS turned on.
At 1080p 60 the camera produces chunky video that lacks detail compared to its 1080p30. Overall this format is usable but lacking, as with many other budget action cams. The colour balance is still very good and as long as video is watched on a small screen it will be adequate.
It is also worth noting that the high frame rate mode (1080p 120) is faked. It is neither 1080p quality, nor is it a true 120 FPS. The end file is a 1920 x 1080p file with only 90 unique frames, and details more equivalent to true 720p.
Video Quality – Low Light
At dusk, this camera can still pick up an adequate amount of light but once it gets pitch black out the camera struggles. Video is noisy and it is hard to make out much beyond blocks and blobs of light. Keep EIS off for best quality here. The sample is taken under orange street lights.
The microphone on this camera is too quiet. The tuning of the microphone is very good, so as long as you are right next to it (ie walk and vlog) it is possible to boost the mic in post production and end up with usable audio quality, but anything further than about 5 feet away will be very hard to pick up. This is contrary to the AC940 which has much louder audio with a similar level of clarity. But out of the box that cameras mic gain is tuned better. There does not appear to be any mic adjustment.
Thankfully the camera can take an external microphone, which is included in the box, and substantially increases audio volume and quality. It’s quite a good external mic, although using it does render the camera no longer waterproof, since it plugs into the micro usb port on the device.
Where to Buy
This camera is competitive with the Akaso Brave 7, the XTU S3, the Campark (Actman), and they all seem to be around the same price. Although due to budget constraints I don’t have the ability to do a side by side with every camera listed here, I suspect they’ll all be similar to the point where I would recommend going with whichever dual screen, fully waterproof camera is cheapest. From watching other reviews of these cameras:
- The Akaso Brave 7 (and LE version) seem to have worse overall audio quality but more detail
- The XTU S3 is somewhere in the middle for both
- The Campark / Actman camera exists
- The Victure AC960 (especially the AC940) have better audio quality but slightly less detailed video
Many of the above cameras also appear to be HDKing rebrands, even sometimes having the same physical body, so in the end it comes down to whichever has the best price at that time. After all, if the camera will not suit your needs, they’re easy to return. And also, please don’t buy these if you want real 4K at 60 FPS. You’ll be exceptionally disappointed if you do. The Osmo Action is the way to go if you need true 4K and real 60 FPS but it is substantially more expensive.