Introduction: Welcome Back!
Last year, I reviewed the AKASO V50 Pro Action Camera. At that time, the V50 Pro was their highest end action camera. Not only was it well designed but it also performed very well during my testing.
Since then, AKASO released an action camera in their Brave line-up. Priced $20 higher than the V50 Pro, the Brave 7 LE shares quite a few features but still has some unique ones up its sleeve.
We'll be taking a closer look at the Brave 7 LE. Since both of these models are on the higher end in AKASO's line up, I'll be making a few comparisons between the unit I reviewed last year and the current one. I'll do my best to list both features so you don't need to fully read my previous review if the Brave 7 LE is the action camera that catches your eye.
|Feature||Brave 7 LE||V50 Pro|
Up to 30m with Case
2 x 1,350 mAh
2 x 1,100 mAh
The image and video capture settings across both action cameras are largely the same. Both take photos with resolution up to 20 MP and videos up to 4K at 30 frames per second (FPS).
Therefore, the quick comparison chart focuses on the differences between these two models. At first glance, it would be tempting to assume that the Brave 7 LE is better given that it earns some extra points with its waterproofing capabilities, extra display, stabilization, and bigger battery. This isn't necessarily true, which you'll see why once we take a closer look at both units.
The Unboxing Experience
There's a couple of blemishes on the outside of my box, but this occurred during transit. Compared to the transparent plastic casing on the V50 Pro, this packaging is quite an improvement.
As soon as you open the lid, you're greeted with AKASO's story. They detail why they got into this business, how to remain sustainable, and what you can expect out of your next adventure.
Putting that aside, we have the unit itself on the right. On the left, there's a foldout compartment for a set of accessories. Packaging wise, this is already an improvement from the V50 Pro where the accessories would drop out from the bottom.
Accessories Are Bagged
Organization seems to be a key focus with the Brave 7 LE. All the accessories were organized into three mesh bags. From a storage standpoint, this is great as I can simply grab the bag with the accessories that I need most.
The first bag contains a wrist remote and two batteries. The remote itself is pretty straightforward as it enables you to control the action camera from a distance. This is great if you are travelling solo and don't have a helping hand.
While I can't speak for the other models, the V50 Pro also came with two batteries. It's nice to see that AKASO is a package deal. You don't have to worry about going out of your way to source a second battery.
If two batteries aren't sufficient, you can always buy another set on AKASO's Amazon listing. My only dislike is that it includes another charging cradle. I would've liked to see an option to purchase additional batteries without the cradles.
On the bright side, I am glad to see that AKASO increased the capacity of their batteries from V50 Pro's 1,100 mAh to 1,350 mAh on the Brave 7 LE. What does this mean in terms of real world usage? In my V50 Pro review, I managed to squeeze 1.5 hours recording time out of a single battery. This was closer to 1 hour and 50 minutes on Brave 7 LE. It's definitely an improvement, but less than what I expected.
In addition to the zip ties, the stainless steel tether is a nice addition to give you an extra peace of mind. For my testing, I mounted the Brave 7 LE to my bike and recorded quite a few cycling trips. I found that the mounting platform was quite secure so I didn't use this steel tether. Regardless, I'm glad to see that AKASO is expanding the assortment of accessories offered since this wasn't seen on the V50 Pro.
I won't go into too much detail here since the final set of accessories is quite standard. We can break this down into two categories. The first is the handlebar mount. This mount can be clamped onto the handlebar of pretty much all bikes and motorcycles. I had no issues attaching this mount to the stem of my road bike.
The second category is for platform mounts. The two base plates can essentially be stuck onto any flat surfaces. I actually attached one of these base plates to the dash of my car when I carried out the testing for the V50 Pro.
Action Camera Enclosure
As you may recall, the Brave 7 LE is pre-housed in the plastic case. This might've been a good measure to add a layer of protection for the unit during transit. One thing that caught my attention is how big the clamp is as opposed to the case for the V50 Pro. I'm really not a fan of the case on the Brave 7 LE as it's bigger and bulkier. The clasp design on the V50 Pro is a lot more elegant than this.
Close-Up Look at the Brave 7 LE
This two-inch back screen provides plenty of viewing real estate to angle your shots. While I wouldn't recommend relying on this screen to view any footages, it certainly gets the job done for its size. I didn't encounter any issues navigating through the on-screen menu items. Overall, I don't really have any complaints here. I simply hope that AKASO is able to cut down the bezels and maximize the screen real estate for future models.
The front is rather interesting but a little impractical. I get that the concept here is to better angle your shots by seeing exactly what is being recorded. Usage wise, the front screen will likely be leveraged for vlogging purposes. However, there is a problem with this. Let's take a look at the side view.
Unlike the V50 Pro, the Brave 7 LE is rugged. This means that all the port openings are sealed with water resistant covers. You may recall that the comparison chart indicating that a case isn't required for waterproofing. I believe that this rugged design isn't suitable for vlogging purposes since you can't attach any external microphone accessories. If you were to do so, the cover would have to remain in an opened position. In conclusion, I do believe that the V50 Pro would be a more suitable candidate for this purpose.
There's not much to show on the other side. The power button is sealed off, which is consistent with the rest of the action camera.
These are two critical buttons that can be operated through the hard case. The one of the left is the record function when taking a video or capture in camera mode. The button with the engraved "M" marks the mode. This allows you to quickly toggle between video and photo modes. Overall, this usage is quite straightforward and easy to understand.
The bottom features a standard gimbal or tripod attachment screw. This works nicely with the write remote if you were to place the action camera at a distance.
Thoughts on Design
The rugged design on the Brave 7 LE certainly has its advantages. For one, the overall unit certainly feels more durable. However, the V50 Pro will continue to remain a personal favorite of mine simply for the boxier design along with the rubberized exterior.
The V50 Pro is also a slightly smaller and sleeker unit than the Brave 7 LE. Consequently, this means that it has to house a smaller battery. This is a trade-off I'm willing to make since a smaller unit translates to a smaller and sleeker hard case.
Overall, I do like the aesthetics of the V50 Pro over the Brave 7 LE. Functionality and feature-wise, the Brave 7 LE does carry several improvements that were outlined in my comparison chart. I do believe that they are apparent in the video quality, which we'll take a look at in the next section.
Since I shot the last set of videos for the V50 Pro, I kept the resolution settings comparable. This was also a nice baseline to ensure that my storage capacity could save quite a bit of footage.
Unlike the previous video test, the weather is on my side so I mounted the Brave 7 LE to my bike. The video I'm using now is one of many that I captured. I like this one in particular since I happened to catch a trail with far less people.
Since I consider myself as an average user, definitely not an expert, my thoughts are largely based on my observation.
While I was able to observe the electronic image stabilization at work, I was still able to notice a little bit of shaking. This was largely observable over the rougher gravel stretches. As a result, the leaves on either side of the path appeared to be slightly fuzzy. I think they will be sharper if I recorded the footage in 4K or even 2K. However, this doesn't seem to be an issue with sceneries that provide a bit more contrast. In the first 20 seconds of my recording, you can clearly make out the railings and path of the bridge that I crossed.
To expand on the image stabilization, this was handled entirely by the action camera. I intentionally avoided making any additional edits or tweaking the stabilization settings in iMovie. For the most part, I think the action camera handled this quite well. The gravel road was actually a lot bumpier than the footage let on. As expected, the action camera struggled when I made sudden motions in my steering as I navigated through the trail crossing gates. After reviewing the footage, I believe that the Brave 7 LE's strong point is dampening the vertical vibrations.
In terms of the color, you can differentiate the lighter and darker patches of green. I wouldn't say that the color was oversaturated but rather we've observed the opposite effect. The action camera seems to struggle a little bit under direct sunlight. The color was quite blown out, which you can notice in one of the trail crossings. Unless you're aiming the action camera at the sky for the majority of the time, the Brave 7 LE will get the job done.
I recommend investing in a high capacity endurance memory card and stick with capturing 2K or 4K footages. You can get away with recording at 1080p if the video capture is more for documenting potential incidents that may occur during a bike or car ride.
For vlogging purposes, you'll definitely benefit from selecting a higher resolution. Personally, I still plan on reverting my bike mount setup back to the V50 Pro . It's simply a more elegant unit as opposed to the rugged Brave 7 LE. The boxier V50 Pro also allows for a slightly more compact hard case. The clamp for that hard case is also a bit more low profile. If you do anticipate the need to attach an external microphone, the V50 Pro will be better for offering an unobstructed cable connection.
The Brave 7 LE isn't without its own advantages. The rugged design of both the action camera unit itself along with the hard case offers the ultimate protection. If you are filming contact sports where the action camera may get knocked around, the Brave 7 LE would be the way to go. The in-hand feel of the unit screams durability. I wouldn't be against using the Brave 7 LE without the hard case.