APEMAN A80 4K ACTION CAMERA
Complete Kit 558g £69.99
The Apeman A80 4K Action Camera is a very comprehensive, cheap but very cheerful package that has horizons beyond the bike. Performance and user-friendly design trump several, pricier Go-Pro homages I’ve tested and owned. That said; the Apeman A80 is no Go-Pro killer. Overall image and sound recording quality doesn’t rival Go-Pro Hero 4, let alone its successors.
Pros: Cheap but extremely cheerful, intuitive functions, comprehensive package, some tunability, reasonable video and still capture.
Cons: No external microphone option, not true 4K, moderate battery life, phone app connectivity.
The Apeman 80 comes in a sturdy Softshell carry case. Open the zipper and there’s a refreshing choice of mounts, to suit application, hard shell waterproof casing (reckoned good for 40 metres), second 1050mAH lithium ion battery.
Swapping the back for its dust proof counterpart, which is waterproof, in the heavy rain sense, enables decent audio capture. There is also a skeleton cage, which is designed for optimal audio capture but not something I’d use on a bike, or other vehicle.
The main unit is compact (80mmx25mmx40mm) and broadly comparable with other Go-Pro homages, including this long serving Geonaute. However, The Apeman 80 is supplied with a 2inch display screen, allowing you to review footage, mid ride. The lens is described as Ultra HD with 170-degree, adjustable angle.
Video Capture varies from a cited 4K@24fps (Frames Per Second) 2K @30fps, 1080@60fps, 720P@120fps and 480P@240fps. It can also capture time lapse footage and loop recording (discuss in greater detail) 3 minutes/5minutes/10minutes. Stills are a maximum of 20mpxls (5120*3640) 16mpxls (480*3456) 12mpxls (4032*3024) and 10mpxl (3648*2736).
There’s the option of single shot, burst and timed shooting-2second, 5 second and 10 seconds. Further manual controls include ISO (between 100 and 400), exposure (between +2 and -2EV in 13 steps). Base frame rate from NTSC to PAL (25fps). Now, if 4K wasn’t enough, it also features Wi-Fi. At present, Apeman doesn’t supply its own app, rather recommends downloading FinalCam.
This is designed to work with iOS and Android operating systems. Problem being, that while I was able to connect my Android phone and change certain things, connectivity was unreliable at best. Disappointing and something I hope will be addressed but for me at, least, not a deal-breaker, taking everything else into account.
Images are recorded to Micro SD cards. 64gb is tops but offers a lot of footage to be captured, especially in the 1080HD mode, which testing aside, has been my default. Bearing in mind, with both fully charged batteries, there’s only scope for 2.5 hours capture at any one point. I’ve primarily fed ours 32gb, which has proven sufficient for capturing regular commutes, or decent amount of trail action.
Talking of which, there are image stabilisation settings. Gyroscope and WDR, located in the menu system and designed to counteract distortion. The sort caused by lower level vibration and more intrusive camera shake.
I’ve downloaded our footage via SD adaptor card. However, you can plug the A80 into your computer via Micro USB cable and it will mains charge in around 2.5 hours.
These are very comprehensive and solid enough. I found the bike (stem mount) a little crude. OK with stems with moderate extension, my Univega’s was a non-starter. I preferred this Minoura and a resin, auction site pattern. I’ve used these for
several years and with excellent results. Passable footage can be achieved using budget cameras with no, or less effective image stabilisation.
Ease of Use 3.5/5
As I said in my introduction, the Apeman is very intuitive to use. At its simplest, once the battery has had a full charge, you can literally press the Power/Mode button on the front. A short press, of its top mounted counterpart, starts recording video/stills. Literally plug n’ play. Toggling the Mode button will switch between these, and more detailed options.
Once you’ve got the basics sorted, its well worth putting the kettle on, and familiarising yourself with its finer capabilities. There is a moderate amount of manual control-focus, image and sound quality. However, given the overall specification, its qualities are best appreciated in semi-automatic mode.
Image Quality 2.75/5
The data rate is a little low for the highest level of resolution, footage quality is relatively clear. As tends to be the case with the cheaper units, video footage is good, rather than great. The image stabilisation does a decent job of taming lower level vibration/shake. However, mount quality certainly helps. Helmet mounting was secure and footage blur free. Helmet mounts are fine, for motorcycle helmets but I find an action cameras’ additional heft intrusive when cycling.
Hence, bars are my preferred points. Paired with this rock steady Minoura, footage was smooth and glitch free. Even off, road. However, the camera’s internal stabilisation had its work cut out, with my resin “auction site special”. The latter’s relatively willowy profile tends to amplify intrusive low-level vibration and the ball-joint doesn’t cope so well with more intrusive jolts.
The data rate is a little low for the highest resolution, capture is relatively clear. Detail and colour fidelity are relatively good, too.
That said, despite the wide dynamic range option, the A80 struggles to capture details in bright areas, where there’s high contrast. Dull rainy conditions also tax it.
You’ll want something better for more serious, documentary style film-making. Nevertheless, I’ve never had any problems capturing road signs, licence plates and similar. Publishable quality for sites, such as you tube. That said; the gap between the A80 and my Tom Tom Bandit is also very stark.
It’s a similar story with stills. The wide angle distorts things at relatively close range, but detail is still surprisingly good. Noise and grain are only apparent when blowing the images up and really scrutinising them.
At £70, The Apeman A80 represents fantastic value for money. Overall performance is better than several Go-Pro homages, including Kitivision Venture 4K Action Camera, which costs £149.99.
Simply put, we get what we pay for. The Apeman A80 is not a GO-Pro Killer, nor does it rival the iconic action camera in terms of build and video capture. Nonetheless, it delivers massive bang, for meagre buck. User-friendly, plug and play simplicity is another definite plus.
If you are looking for a second camera, say for general riding/documenting commutes, or unfortunately, recording close passes/similar aggression, its hard to fault. (It’ll be staying on my Univega’s bars, for the foreseeable).