Amkov AMK7000S 4K/1080p 60 FPS Waterproof WiFi Action Camera @ ModSynergy.com
2016 will be the year of the camera. So many new technologies are on the way such as dual cameras on Smartphones, 3D, VR, 360 panoramic, and the continued emergence of the action camera in various forms including resolutions of 4K and possibly 6-8K by year's end. It's an exciting time to be a consumer in this market because prices have dropped drastically over the span of 2-5 years making affordability even better. There's so many companies competing for your hard earned money, and with this competition is what drives down prices and forces technology to evolve.
GoPro is definitely the market leader in this segment, however, buying their top model will cost you $499 USD. In today's economy, some people just don't have that type of money to spend. If you were to spend, no one wants to feel like they have to purchase a stripped down product.
In the factory of the world (China), there's tons of action cameras from companies you've never heard of, many popping up every so often and who can blame them when there's over 1.3 billion people right where they are. Since there are so many, you'll find products that are decent, some good, and some downright horrible. You never really know what you're getting, that's why it's a good idea to read reviews so you can know what to expect before you purchase.
To date we've looked at Chinese action cameras (Zeblaze iShot1/Amkov AMK5000S) that have offered extreme value in terms of being able to offer high end features such as 1080p, rear LCD display, an infrared wrist watch, dual LED flash, WiFi connectivity, and waterproof casing for a fraction of the price of a top end GoPro, but none of these Chinese action cameras ended up being close to perfect, as all exhibited positives and negatives. They were overall good, but neither great or excellent. The same can be said for Polaroid for their CUBE lifestyle camera which has a better brand recognition. CUBE had positives but also a good number of limitations because of the miniature size. Every one of these action cameras had things that needed to be improved upon, but I think what it comes down to is finding an action camera that is suitable for your needs and realizing that you're going to have to live with certain drawbacks.
For this review, ModSynergy gets to share with you another Amkov action camera, this time a higher end model in their product lineup. The lower end AMK5000S model without a rear LCD display was recently reviewed, it recorded in 1080p/30fps, had WiFi, and could be purchased for around $75USD, so AMK5000S was the most inexpensive action camera ModSynergy had ever reviewed, and it did pretty well for the money.
Today we'll turn our focus on the higher end Amkov AMK7000S action camera, which sells on Amazon.com for $103.99 USD, sports a rear 2" LCD display, comes with a remote control wrist watch allowing one touch operation, has a 1150mAh capacity battery, 170-degree wide angle lens, and extra added resolutions over the AMK5000S including 240/120fps slow motion, 1080p 60 FPS, 4K, and 2K resolution. On paper the Amkov AMK7000S sounds like a sure winner, but how does it stack up in the real world? Read on to find out!
About Amkov (Amkovery Technology Co., Limited)
"Based on Shenzhen, China, AMKOV is a professional manufacturer for sports camera, action camera, dash cam, digital camera, camera lens and other cameras for over 10 years. This website is built for presenting our nice cameras and solving our consumers' problems and questions. AMKOV will keep providing nice products with competitive price and good quality to you."
Amkov AMK7000S Product Overview & Features
Dimensions and Weight
Amkov AMK7000S comes packaged almost the same way AMK5000S was, and that's a good thing as the AMK5000S had one of the better designed packages I've seen in some time. It comes in a nicely designed compact corrugated cardboard interior and outer slip on layer that definitely gets the "action" point across with a photo of a water surfer on the package.
Missing from the Amkov AMK5000S box was the brand name, something I pointed out in my review and thankfully Amkov took note and placed their logo on this newer AMK7000S packaging. A window showcases the action camera inside its waterproof case, and symbols of 4K, WiFi Sports Cam, 60FPS, 1080p HD, along with product images showcasing the camera in different configurations reside around the box.
At the rear of the box, we find a full breakdown of specifications and a visual breakdown of all the accessories included. The side of the box contains two QR codes, that when scanned, allow the customer to download the AMKOV WiFi app for Android or Apple devices.
So what's included? Here's a list of all items you get...
Strangely with this higher end and costlier AMK7000S you do not receive a secondary vented back cover for the waterproof case and micro USB wall charge adapter, two things that came with the lower end and less expensive AMK5000S. I'm only guessing, but I think this has to do with the inclusion of infrared remote control wrist watch for the AMK7000S that Amkov decided to not bundle these other items.
With that said, Amkov AMK7000S comes with more than enough accessories to get started. And considering how easily accessible and interchangeable this mounting system is (it's the GoPro mounting system), you'll have no issues finding plenty of extra accessories to purchase in the future. The accessories that are bundled with the AMK7000S are very good quality and don't feel cheap, but feel tough and likely able to withstand extended abuse.
The user's manual is translated into multiple languages and does a good job at covering everything, is straight forward, contains symbols, diagrams, and tables in organized fashion.
The Amkov AMK7000S resembles a conventional action camera design, more or less it's a replica of a GoPro Hero 4. I wish Amkov decided to differentiate their design, something like Zeblaze did with the iShot1 managing to place a front aluminum alloy faceplate and two LED front flashlights making it unique than anything else on the market.
Amkov AMK7000S is sold in three different colors of yellow, black, or silver. The color differences are only applied to the faceplate, while the rest of the body remains black. The whole exterior body and paint is of smooth to the touch finish. All three are the same in that the lens ring is all black. This is the same issue I had with AMK5000S, that the lens ring was not the same color as the faceplate so it made the lens ring stick out and made everything less discrete. Well at least this time around a black lens ring doesn't stick out like a sore thumb as a silver lens ring does.
Amkov AMK7000S is slightly smaller and 2-4 grams lighter, depending on configuration, than the AMK5000S. This is somewhat surprising considering it contains a rear 2.0" LCD display that wasn't offered on the AMK5000S, so any weight savings is a welcome.
AMK7000S measures approximately 2.32" x 1.61" x 0.82", weighs 53 grams (0.116 lbs) without the battery (2 grams less than AMK5000S), and 76 grams with the battery (0.168 lbs). Placed inside the clear waterproof housing and with one a quick release buckle and thumbscrew attached, we observe a weight of 162 grams (0.357 lbs), 4 grams lighter than the AMK5000S in this same configuration.
The AMK7000S is constructed entirely out of plastic, so admittedly it's not the strongest or beefiest body out there on the market, but will get the job done. Placing it inside the waterproof case will take care of all impact if you're doing something extreme.
The rear 2" LCD display is covered with a thin plastic film, so do not attempt in any way to touch or push, with even with light force, the rear LCD as you'll end up seeing waves and ripples and possibly end up damaging it. It's not a touch screen unit so there's no need to touch it. The same goes for the front LCD panel, best to leave it untouched.
You can use the AMK7000S action camera naked out of the waterproof housing without any problems just as long as you keep it away from extreme weather conditions and obvious harm from impact. Any durability questions are put to rest when the action camera is placed inside the waterproof housing.
The waterproof housing is rated 10 meters higher than AMK5000S, good for up to 40 meters under water. It's super thick thus making it very strong and will protect the AMK7000S from impact. It's a plastic constructed waterproof housing, but so thick and tough that I'm leaning towards it being Polycarbonate. The housing comes pre-attached with a sealed back door, but as stated earlier, Amkov elected to omit bundling a second vented back door that came with the AMK5000S, so your audio is basically non-existent inside the waterproof case. The back door is sealed with a white color silicone o-ring. In tandem with the locking mechanism that requires a lot of force to open and close, it gives the AMK7000S a watertight seal. The waterproof housing gives access to all three buttons so you have full functionality.
Thankfully the design of the AMK7000S is different than AMK5000S so we do not find the same battery compartment door, as it was something I was firm about being the weakest part of the AMK5000S as it rattled under usage and the latch lock and opening mechanism did not work at all. This AMK7000S utilizes a completely different and improved battery chamber door and locking mechanism. AMK7000S also utilizes a completely different style Lithium-Ion battery. So there's no rattling of the battery door with this AMK7000S and no problems with opening and closing the spring loaded battery compartment door.
Focusing on the very front of the camera, we are drawn to the 170° ultra wide angle lens surrounded by a black lens ring. As stated before, I would have preferred the lens ring to be the same color as the faceplate. All the lens unit probably comes as one color from the factory floor, so Amkov likely don't want to have to repaint them again.
A front monochromatic dot-matrix LCD display sits to the left of the lens and above the mode button and acts as the front menu screen, where you can change modes and see relevant recording length and photo capture information. It also says ON when powered up and showcases battery life status. The screen only shows you two modes, different from AMK5000S which showed four modes. And because of the addition of 2" rear LCD display, that one will focuses on the rest of the functions supported on the AMK7000S. So this front display only cycles between video and picture mode information.
The 2.0" rear LCD is a TFT 260K Color unit with a resolution of 240 x 320. Not the most spectacular display out there, but considering its size does pretty well and is a welcome change coming from the AMK5000S which had no back LCD. Viewing angles are fair but get worse if viewed off center axis with changing colors and darker brightness because of TFT LCD properties. Best to look at the screen straight on center. Note that you're not going to get true color rendition from only 260K colors, but the LCD display is a great match for this little action camera. I definitely like it as it makes AMK7000S far more intuitive than the AMK5000S ever was without an LCD of its own forcing users to change settings through the use of the Amkov-iCam application on your Smartphone or tablet. So now there's definitely less compromise as you can change most settings without ever having to pull out your Smartphone or tablet. It's so much better having an LCD screen on an action camera, a huge advantage in my opinion.
With that said, in terms of the actual User Interface (UI), it could have been much easier to navigate. It's not perfect, but still manageable the way it is, it just takes longer than it needs to be. When used for the first time, and if you don't read the manual, the UI navigation is kind of a mystery. First of all, how do you enter in-camera settings when there's no dedicated menu button on the camera? Turns out you need to press and hold the WiFi button on the camera for 3 seconds. Second of all, you will surely have issues figuring out how to navigate up and down the menu, turns out you have to keep pressing the WiFi button as it makes its way down the menu. This is tedious and you'll surely miss your desired option selection and have to cycle through the whole menu again and again. To get into the system settings tab next over, you have to use the front mode button, and to enter an option, use the Shutter button to enter in and select. At the bottom of the UI, it says "OK - Enter", and "MENU - Back", those are not correct.
To the right of the mode button in front of the camera we have two LED lights, one is a charge indicator light (blue color), and the other is a LED activity light (green color) for when it's connected to the computer and transferring files, and for when the unit is recording video. Lastly, we find a red WiFi symbol and Amkov company logo to finish off the front faceplate design. Behind the Amkov company logo is actually the IR (infrared) receiver, so communication between the remote control wrist watch can work.
Unfortunately, if you look closely at the red WiFi symbol in front of the camera, you'll notice that it's painted on by hand and ended up coming out sloppy. The symbol must have been painted on with a template and when that template was removed, it rubbed across the silver faceplate and left paint spray dragged around. That or its simply overspray, a bit sloppy but not a huge issue.
Coming to the very top of the AMK7000S we see a diamond pattern that makes its way around the entire profile of the camera, we see multiple holes which are for the microphone and general vent holes for some passive cooling. A shutter button for taking photos or recording video is to the right and just above that is another LED indicator light that blinks when recording video or when taking a photo. Fit and finish wise I did notice that this shutter button wasn't really working 100% as it should. I find that if you push more on the backside of the button towards the rear LCD display, it doesn't register the command all that well, doesn't have that solid click feeling. Pushed at the topside of the button the click feeling is more pronounced and has no issue. I did not see this issue on the AMK5000S. You just have to push the button down a little harder than normal, most likely could be this review sample with this issue.
Coming to the very bottom of the AMK7000S we have more holes at the bottom which allows the microphone to pick up more audio and to be used as passive cooling at the same time. We find the location of the battery compartment door (words of Li-ion Battery) which slides in and out to open and close and is spring loaded for good measure.
On the right side of the camera the words FHD 1080P are embossed on the plastic body. Another LED indicator light sits in the middle, and the WiFi symbol button sits below. Press once to turn on the internal WiFi and the LED screen will display the SSID and password, and once connected will display the respective device name that is connected. The LED on this side is only meant for WiFi operation and blinks under operation.
The rear 2.0" LCD display is surrounded by a black bezel with the words sports-cam, 1080P-60fps and a WiFi symbol. I noticed that this rear plastic screen bezel is not properly framed against the LCD display so the black bezel actually cuts off a tiny portion of the LCD display, for example, the battery status indicator symbol and video recording symbol on the left side is slightly cut off if you're looking dead center at the screen, but if you tilt the camera and look at an angle you can see the remaining piece of the symbol. It's not a major problem, but I think it was interesting to point out this slight offset.
In terms of the LCD panel uniformity, I found no clouding or backlight bleeding, so a good panel is used on this camera.
To the left of the LCD display we find a small dot which I initially thought was a ambient light sensor, but it's just another LED activity light, like the many already around the AMK7000S.
Back here is where everything will happen, including ability to frame your shot and change in-camera settings on the fly. The ability to frame your shot cannot be overstated, it was something sorely missed on the AMK5000S and missed on any action camera without a display. A glossy but thin plastic film is what makes up the rear bezel, so don't try to touch the LCD display or else you'll see waves and ripples and potentially ruin the display if pushed in too much. In terms of LCD brightness, it's fair but not the best in really bright sunny conditions. You'll still find yourself covering the LCD from the bright sun but overall it gets the job done rather well and is very useable and useful.
Rounding off the AMK7000S visual overview we come to the left side which contains yet another LED activity light, micro USB charge port, micro HDMI output jack (cable is not included), and micro USB charge port. If you've counted, there are four (4) LED activity lights all throughout the action camera.
What was not offered on the lower end AMK5000S and what I suggested having, was audible tones so that you can know what is going on since the AMK5000S has no rear LCD screen. LED activity lights weren't really enough under real world usage. Thankfully Amkov has listened and this audible tone feature has been added to this AMK7000S. So when the camera is powered on, shut off, or changed through modes and menus, an audible beep tone(s) is sounded off. This makes a big difference in real world usage and out in the field so you don't have to bend down and look at the camera to see if its recording or done what you wanted it to do.
The Amkov AMK7000S - Is It Any Good?
The firmware version of the box was version 1.02. However, right away I experienced camera freezing issues that required the battery to be removed, this was without a micro SD card inserted. So I searched on Amkov's website and Facebook page for a newer firmware upgrade and found version 1.03. I updated the firmware right away and the freezing issue is solved. Since the release of 1.03, Amkov has released another firmware upgrade making it version 1.04.
You can look at this in two ways, one being that it's great to see Amkov listening to customers and fixing their issues and adding changes, but on the flip side you can see this releasing of numerous firmware updates as the product being rushed out to market. I mean some of these issues should not have made its way in production, especially the camera freezing. I love firmware upgrades, but I love it more when the camera is working 100% with no issues out of the box. Amkov should have released the AMK7000S to the market with a stable firmware, taken the extra time to test and fine tune stability of the camera and all of its functions before releasing the product. Now it's as if customers are the beta testers of the product. You know what I'm saying? There's positives and negatives to everything. But as it is now, I haven't had any major issues with the latest firmware so stability has been quite good.
You know how the camera has the words FHD 1080P embossed into the plastic? Well it's sort of strange because the whole marketing of the AMK7000S has been to point out that it's a 4K camera (2160p). Having 4K for marketing purposes is huge nowadays because Ultra HD 4K is increasingly popular and will continue to ramp up in popularity throughout 2016 as customers make their transition to 4K HDTVs as prices decrease and become more affordable.
Technically speaking, 4K resolution is 4096 x 2160, while 2K resolution is 2048 x 1556; the Amkov can do both, but does so in widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio effectively making it become 4K (3840 x 2160) and 2.7K (2704 x 1524). However, here's the catch; the Amkov AMK7000S can only do 4K @ 10 FPS and 2.7K @ 15 FPS. So now you see the limitations are with the FPS (frames per second). Let me remind you this is a $103.99 USD action camera.
How does this stack up with the $499.99 USD GoPro HERO4 Black? Well the GoPro does 4K @ 30/24 FPS and 2.7K @ up to 60 FPS. So the GoPro HERO4 Black is the true and more usable action camera for 4K and 2.7K. It turns out that with the Amkov AMK7000S, 4K and 2.7K are basically marketing gimmicks at this time, and in my opinion, unusable. This action camera is really just a 1080p/60 FPS action camera, and there's really nothing wrong with that at the end of the day. 1080p is alive and well and isn't going anywhere soon.
So why the difference between the greater FPS of the GoPro HERO4 Black compared to the Amkov AMK7000S? It comes down to GoPro HERO 4 having the better DSP and image sensor combination. It's no secret that GoPro uses an Ambarella A9 SOC solution capable and designed to do 4K @ 30 FPS and 2.7K @ up to 60 FPS. That's why there is a price premium on the GoPro.
The Amkov AMK7000S on the other hand uses a very similar setup as the AMK5000S did. Where the AMK5000S used the Sunchip 6330M and OmniVision OV4689 combination, the AMK7000S still uses the same exact OmniVision OV4689 CMOS 4-MP image sensor, but now it's paired to a higher spec Sunplus 6350M DSP which allows for added capability for 1080p @ up to 60 FPS, and 720p @ up to 120 FPS (slow motion). So the AMK7000S was not designed for 2.7K and 4K, the image sensor does not natively support it. So aside from the optimizations done through firmware and the actual lens unit chosen for both of the cameras, AMK7000S and AMK5000S should be almost identical in performance. We'll see what if any differences we can spot in real world usage and if the things we saw exhibited with the AMK5000S such as lens flare issues, are also seen on AMK7000S.
I would say the biggest selling factor with the AMK7000S would be the added capability of 1080p @ 60 FPS and now 720p @ up to 120 FPS making slow motion video a possibility. These are new features along with 4K and 2.7K which are not offered by the AMK5000S, and making the AMK7000S the first action camera I've tested that is capable of recording at such rates. 60 FPS is an advantage ideal for recording fast moving subjects, let's say that of hockey game, or movement coming from a Quadcopter drone. The theory and idea behind 60 FPS recording is to produce video that has fluid movement eliminating the motion blur associated with regular 30 FPS recording.
Knowing what I know about the OV4689 image sensor and Sunchip 6350M DSP that the Amkov AMK7000S uses, this pretty much tells me that the 4K and 2.7K resolutions on the AMK7000S are software interpolated (fake) because these are not native resolutions supported by the OV4689 image sensor. So the 4K and 2.7K resolutions on AMK7000S are not true native resolutions but software interpolated resolutions. This should have been pointed out to the customer up front.
Amkov Infrared Remote Control Wrist Watch
Amkov bundles their version of a remote control watch allowing one touch video record and one touch photo capture from the comfort of a wrist watch, so you don't really need to be near the camera. The watch uses infrared technology (IR) instead of (the costlier, and better) 2.4GHz watch that came with the Zeblaze iShot1. One of the limitations of IR technology compared to 2.4GHz is distance and sensitivity, this means you're not able to use it as far as you would with a 2.4GHz watch. Though I don't think in the application of an action camera you'll be using this very far from each other anyway.
The drawback of using IR as a remote control similar to what you would see in a television remote control, is that it's very directional therefore the IR transmitter on the watch needs to be pointed directly to the camera's IR receiver for the command to register. If you're pointing behind the camera, then you need to at least be close for it to penetrate the backside of the camera and work when the signal is received by the receiver. IR requires line of sight to work so it won't work behind a wall or bookshelf. That's about the only limitation you would experience in this type of application. Positives are that no pairing or setup is needed, so you can use it right away.
Amkov's implementation of their remote control wrist watch is a heck of a lot better than how Zeblaze managed to screw up theirs with illogical key mapping and operation. This one can be used right away with no setup, offers dead simple operation, and is virtually fool proof. This watch is not a gimmick, and Zeblaze should take notes from Amkov because this is exactly how you do it.
It's a simple watch with a Velcro strap making it simple looking and nothing fancy. The watch contains two bright orange buttons, and two red LEDs that light up whenever the buttons are pressed. One button is designated with a camera symbol, and the other with a video record symbol. These are universal symbols and should be easy to interpret for most.
The wrist watch cannot power on or power off the camera. The camera must be powered on for the wrist watch to function.
So simple. So good.
Amkov AMK7000S Software - AMKOV-ICAM WiFi App
The Amkov-icam WiFi app can be found in the Apple App Store for Apple devices, and Google Play Store for Android devices. They should be the same exact application, and the Android version is what I've been using for this review.
A trend I've seen is that Chinese action cameras don't have the best applications. I find they are not as intuitive as they could be, usually basic, and I find that they have bugs in them that causes them to crash during certain or random operations. The Amkov WiFi app is no different but thankfully its slowly improving as the version has been updated from the past ones that I've used, so it's good to see that they are at least trying to update the application over some period of time.
To connect wirelessly to the AMK7000S, follow these steps...it's easy and should take under 1 minute to set up for the first time and then subsequent attempts will take under 15 seconds.
Amkov-icam allows you to have a live video feed of your action camera with your Smartphone or tablet device to do the following...
Since the AMK7000S is just a higher spec model with a similar but higher spec chipset, it's WiFi live feed performance is almost identical to the AMK5000S. WiFi delay lag is virtually non-existent (when the camera is close to the connected device) and compare this to the Zeblaze iShot1 which had a very noticeable 1-2 second delay from whatever happened in real time to when that change was shown on the screen. This is quite the accomplishment to have. It should be noted, that as expected, the farther away you move the camera from your WiFi enabled device, you will receive increased delays, there's no way getting around this with WiFi.
I noticed that the Amkov-icam application has been updated since I last used it so in terms of stability it's better than what I experienced before, yet there are still some bugs and sometimes I do have the occasional freezing or crash of the application. That and some of the words describing some options could have used a better English word.
If you want to know a couple of issues and problems I experienced with the Amkov-icam application, they are pretty much almost identical to what I saw with the AMK5000S so best to read my review of the Amkov AMK5000S action camera here and head over to the same WiFi app section. I do have to point out that I've been experiencing less of the problems than in the past so it's good to see the application is being updated at some stage, means there is some progress being made. My experience with the AMK7000S WiFi stability has been better than what I saw with the AMK5000S.
It's not an issue or problem, but more of a limitation. When using WiFi through the app, the resolutions of 4K and 2K cannot be used, they are not even listed. I don't know for sure, but I would guess this is a limitation of some kind for the Amkov AMK7000S as 4K and 2.7K files are large and likely as the camera doesn't support the latest WiFi standards, it cannot stream the video feed on the fly.
I don't know exactly what happened from the AMK5000S to this AMK7000S I'm reviewing, but this Amkov AMK7000S has taken a step back in terms of still photo quality. The pictures look much worse (especially the interpolated ones) than what I saw with the AMK5000S (admittedly wasn't spectacular either), so I've got to guess they did something in the firmware to cause this massive change as the style of the photo looks massively different. This is strange because both cameras use identical image sensors and very similar chipsets, so apart from firmware and or its lack of optimizations, what else could have caused this regression in picture quality performance? My educated guess would be on software (firmware). The lens is not the culprit because as you'll see in the Video Quality section, that actually improved.
Amkov advertises that the AMK7000S can take 20-megapixel still photos, and while it is possible, the value is grossly exaggerated and is far away from the true native resolution of the OmniVision OV4689 image sensor being only 4-megapixel. If you desire to take a still photo, it is highly advised to do so at 4-MP resolution, which is the camera's native resolution and is by far more realistic and better quality than any of the interpolated resolution photos. The higher the interpolation, the worse the image as you'll see the samples further below.
I thought it was funny in my Amkov AMK5000S review that there was no 4-megapixel photo resolution option available to choose from when 4-megapixel is the native resolution. Thankfully with this latest AMK7000S the 4-MP option is now given.
In general, the quality of the still photo captures, and especially at any of the interpolated resolutions is far worse than they were on smaller brother AMK5000S. The interpolated photos from the AMK5000S at least look fairly realistic, but the interpolated photos coming from the AMK7000S has completely changed to an artsy pastel painting look. I don't know how they managed to screw this up, but could be they chose a different interpolated algorithm this time around. They should have just stuck to the same exact interpolated algorithm they used on the AMK5000S, now they have taken a step backward.
You are better off either a) taking a still photo capture on the AMK4000S at 4MP resolution, or b) recording video and then taking a screen grab from that video.
Choosing to take photos at any resolution above 4-megapixels will be software interpolated meaning the image has been artificially enlarged and will result in an image that is filled with strange pixels, blockiness, is overly sharpened, and filled with aggressive artifacts which make the photos look really strange, almost like pastel art painting. Any of the interpolated images look horrible and should be avoided.
The last thing to note for photo capture mode is that the FOV (field of view) becomes narrower than the FOV in video recording mode, so for photos the fish eye effect is less pronounced in photos than it is for videos.
One of the problems I experienced with the Amkov AMK5000S was that it had a tendency to be more prone to lens flares in sunny and bright conditions, therefore you would notice various halos and red spots/circles across the image, along with slight chromatic aberrations in photos and videos taken with the AMK5000S. I attributed this to the actual lens unit on the camera. I'm happy to report that the Amkov AMK7000S does a significantly better job with lens flares and how it handles the sun head on, it is much improved overall in this regard.
The Amkov AMK7000S has the following in-camera settings you can change via rear LCD screen...
Settings through Amkov-icam WiFi app...
Amkov should add these options in the still photo settings menu to round out their product in a better way...
While the AMK7000S has taken a step back in terms of its photo quality, the great news is that the opposite is true for its video quality. AMK7000S has taken a step forward in terms of its video quality compared to the AMK5000S I reviewed. How has AMK7000S managed to take a step forward when the image sensor is exactly the same and only the chipset has changed? It could be that the higher spec chipset model has allowed for more bitrate with the introduction of 60 FPS, and some firmware optimizations has helped make the video quality in general better than what I saw with the AMK5000S, but I think this time the bulk of the improvement has more to do with the actual lens unit Amkov chose for AMK7000S, it's simply better and doesn't exhibit some of the issues I saw with the AMK5000S.
Amkov AMK7000S sports OmniVision's 4-megapixel OV4689 CMOS sensor in conjunction with a Sunplus 6350M chipset to record video in H.264 MPEG-4 AVC 4K/10 FPS, 2.7K/15 FPS, and 1080p/60 FPS with a variable video bitrate.
A difference I've spotted between AMK7000S and AMK5000S is the file container for recordings. Where the AMK5000S outputs everything in MOV format, this AMK7000S outputs everything except 4K and 2.7K in the MP4 file container. Both file containers are almost the same thing, but MP4 is in general more widely supported on non-Apple devices, so compatibility using MP4 is arguably more convenient. 4K and 2.7K resolutions on this camera are the only resolutions that are recorded in MOV format; not sure why the difference.
As noted earlier, the FPS for 4K and 2.7K mode's are too slow and basically unusable for most situations. Also 4K and 2.7K on AMK7000S is interpolated as the OV4689 image sensor does not support these resolutions natively, so essentially they are fake 4K and 2.7K. With that said, if you zoom up well past 100% (I used VLC's interactive zoom option) and compare each resolution (720, 1080, 2K, 4K), the sharpest image actually comes at around 2.7K resolution. Considering that 2.7K is interpolated and considering what interpolation does in artificially throwing in fake pixels to the image, it still ends up having technically the sharpest image, but on the flip side, 2.7K is not the cleanest image as you can spot artificial artifacts and other issues so it's not the cleanest image either. A shame it can only do 15 FPS which makes it pretty much useless for most situations.
At 4K you end up seeing what interpolation does to an image, which is artificially throw in pixels and artifacts to the real image, so at 4K resolution you'll end up seeing strange colors that aren't in the other resolutions, jaggies and aliasing issues, dirty artifacts, compression, and the picture is more washed out in colors and somewhat blurry than usual. You see all these things with 2.7K, but less pronounced. Again, with the frame rates of 10 and 15 FPS, I don't see any scenario where these resolutions are of any real benefit.
The only benefit I can take out of having 4K on this camera is if you use it as substitute for the crappy interpolated still photos. So essentially you can use 4K video in place of taking a 20-megapixel still photo. So record in 4K video and then take a screen grab of that 4K video and you end up with an image size of 3840 x 2160 (8.3-megapixels) and that is a lot better than what any of the interpolated camera photos end up looking like.
This is the second action camera that I've tested that does NOT have a fixed video bitrate. I've seen video bitrates in this range for the AMK7000S making it the best action camera I've tested so far based on video bitrate. This makes a noticeable difference in video quality....
In terms of file size for different resolution recordings...
Note: File size for the AMK7000S is a big jump up compared to the other action cameras that have been tested that can only do 1080p/30 FPS, with the Amkov AMK5000S 5 minute file being 635 MB, the Zeblaze iShot1 being 469 MB, and Polaroid CUBE being 290 MB.
The Amkov AMK7000S allows you to choose in the camera settings menu the length of your video file, it uses the name as "seamless" in the camera settings menu or you can record for "unlimited" length of time which is considered 20 minutes to the camera, so once past 20 minutes the camera will automatically create and record to a new file and recording is uninterrupted. Depending on what length you choose, some resolutions such as 2.7K and 4K will be disabled, but enabled when unlimited file length is chosen.
The difference for file size is based on the variable video bitrate support and because of the added 1080p/60 FPS support, you will see the file size change depending on the type of scene. I'd suggest getting a larger micro SD card for the Amkov AMK7000S because footage takes up more space.
Video quality coming from the Amkov AMK7000S is an upgrade from the AMK5000S I reviewed before it, and seems we're continuing the trend saying this is the best action camera we've tested so far (as of February 2016) and its clearly evident when looking at the video footage. There are noticeable improvements over AMK5000S and it's not just from the addition of 60 FPS. I see better overall sharpness of the image through the whole frame, the lens is sharp and not soft like other action cameras I've tested. Color rendition is slightly more appealing, motion is flat out better at 1080p/60 FPS, and the lens unit on this AMK7000S handles lens flares much better than AMK5000S so the anti-reflective coating is better on this.
Color rendition on the AMK7000S is good and pleasing in general. Colors are a tad better than AMK5000S and a better coated lens can be the reason why the colors appear different. But overall the colors are still not 100% accurate as the AMK7000S doesn't pick the same color as you would notice with your own eyes. The shade of color tends to be slightly darker or duller than the color you see with your own eyes, this comes down to the image sensor and its limitation. I noticed the same thing with the AMK5000S, it's as if the color gamut doesn't seem to be very wide for this image sensor/chipset combination, but I will say the colors are a tad more vibrant on the AMK7000S and looks more crisp from frame end to frame end, something I attribute to the actual lens unit being better on this AMK7000S than the lower end AMK5000S. On automatic white balance mode, the camera usually chooses a slightly colder color cast, so take note. I would have liked if Amkov can please add in an option to be able to select a custom Kelvin temperature, that would be fantastic to have.
Dynamic range is virtually identical to AMK5000S, I didn't notice any difference. So you still have the same amount of blown highlights and the contrast looks about the same so there's no real difference in this department. Though brightness seems to be a tiny bit more than what AMK5000S so that is a decent improvement. Low light footage is fairly average but remains one of the best areas where AMK7000S excels over any Chinese action cameras I've tested up to this point in February 2016. Having a much higher variable video bitrate helps the AMK7000S be better in darker situations, though like I said it's just average overall in low light. With that said, night time footage is a little bit cleaner and showcases less artifacts and grains, with the detail remaining solid even when the lighting is less than adequate. I detect a little more brightness in low light than I did with the AMK5000S, so this likely comes down to better lens. I still wish the AMK7000S had some sort of HDR mode as that would have helped its low light capability even further.
The AMK7000S has a stabilization option, but in my experience it does absolutely nothing. I see no differences with stabilization on compared to it being shut off so with such a small camera, shakiness becomes a problem even when standing still. This is a problem on most action cameras, I wonder what can be done to fix this...we shall see...(hint look for my future review).
Another option that seemed to do nothing was Low Light Mode. I enabled this option in the camera settings menu and found no discernable difference with it on. Low light footage remained exactly the same, if it did make a difference it was hardly noticeable.
The AMK7000S can do time lapse video at 1, 3, or 5 second intervals for durations of 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 60 minutes or unlimited time length. Time lapse video cannot be done at 4K or 2.7K resolutions as these options are grayed out. Time lapse only works at 1080p and below resolutions.
I still wish Amkov would give more higher end options in the menu so we can modify values such as sharpness levels, contrast, and brightness, but these options still haven't been offered.
You should just stick with 1080p/60 FPS and get all of the benefits of higher video bitrate, it's 2016 so I wouldn't use 720p at all unless you want to do slow motion as on the AMK7000S it is only possible at 720 resolution. 720p video in general has too much degradation.
One oversight I found was there's no file looping option, which means AMK7000S isn't the ideal platform for car dash-cam footage, even though it is technically possible to use as a dash-cam as it has the image rotate option. Without the file looping option, eventually the camera stops recording when the memory card is full. On cameras that have the file looping option, such as the Zeblaze iShot1 I reviewed, it has this option (called Cyclic Recording) so when the memory card becomes full, the camera automatically deletes the oldest file on the card and continues recording a new file. Essentially with this option you never run out of memory space. Another reason why this isn't the ideal car dash-cam camera is that it doesn't have an instant record feature when the action camera is turned on, again a feature that the Zeblaze iShot1 has.
Amkov should add these options in the video settings menu to help round out their product...
4K, 2.7K, 1080p/60fps, Slow Motion, Time Lapse, Compilation Samples (Uploaded to YouTube)
The smaller brother Amkov AMK5000S I reviewed before had the best audio recording of any action camera I've tested to date, it was just great and had some low end fullness and higher end crispness to the sound, and more importantly the sound was realistic. The audio gain was set higher than normal so audio levels were loud during video playback which is always good.
But...(what in the world happened?)
The Amkov AMK7000S on the other hand has gone backwards in the audio department. With a nice solid improvement in video performance, it's a shame AMK7000S does not have the audio to match. So frustrating to see a potentially great product falter like this.
The audio gain from AMK7000S is magnitudes weaker than AMK5000S was, so audio isn't as loud or being picked up very well, even when outside of the waterproof casing. It sounds nothing like the fullness that audio coming from AMK5000S provided, AMK7000S sounds very tiny in comparison and is almost purely treble focusing only on high end frequency. The lows are pretty much missing from AMK7000S audio and it's a crying shame that audio with AMK7000S isn't remotely pleasing to what AMK5000S achieved.
Why the regression in audio quality? I don't know what Amkov were thinking, but it makes no sense.
For AMK5000S the audio codec was uncompressed lossless 44,000 kHz 16-bit PCM and had a bitrate between 700 - 850 kbps. This is for 1080p/30 FPS video. This is a big deal as PCM is uncompressed audio. And 700 - 850 kbps is a very healthy audio bitrate range to use, especially on an action camera.
All of a sudden for the AMK7000S I'm reviewing today, Amkov decides to change and go backwards using the AAC audio codec. That alone is one major reason why audio is completely different and worse off. AAC is a lossy format meaning it is compressed. So AMK7000S is using 48,000 kHz MPEG AAC with a bitrate of between 127 - 148 kbps (observed at 1080p), this is a big difference from the smaller brother AMK5000S.
Is It Waterproof?
I didn't have a proper way to verify if the waterproof case could do 40 meters, however, I did submerge it into a swimming pool. An accessory I will be reviewing next, made it easier to achieve this underwater footage, I'll use the submerged video footage for that other review and possibly update this review later on with the same footage. AMK7000S waterproof case passed without issue and no water entered inside the action camera.
The locking mechanism is as tight as the waterproof case for the AMK5000S was. The seal around the housing door is thick and the amount of force needed to open and close the locking latch mechanism really makes it water tight. I don't think you'll have any issues with water as long as its inside the waterproof housing.
Edit: Here's the waterproof testing footage of the Amkov AMK7000S inside the wateproof case and in a swimming session.
The AMK7000S comes with a 1150mAh capacity Lithium-Ion battery. I like how this camera has a smart charging circuit, in that no matter what kind of USB charge adapter you use to recharge the action camera, it charges slowly and correctly. For example, no matter if I used a 500mA, 750mA, 1000mA, or 2000mA USB charge adapter, the AMK7000S always started its charge at 0.40A and then made its way down to 0.3mA for a good chunk of time, and then down even further when the charge termination was closing in on completion. This tells me the action camera has a proper charging circuit and over charging which would be a big detriment to the battery itself. I'd rather stick with a slower charge like this because it helps the battery life span and in terms of recording times.
The very first time I charged the AMK7000S from depleted state, it only managed 876mAh according to my USB charge doctor device. A full charge took around 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete. Thankfully on the second and subsequent attempts, battery capacity slowly increased until I got a best of 937mAh according to my USB charge doctor device. So the battery isn't exactly offering 1150mAh as rated, it comes up short than advertised, could be the battery for this review isn't up to par, I won't know for sure, your mileage may vary.
Amkov claims that AMK7000S can record up to 2.5 hours, but doesn't specify in what way this number was formulated, however if I am to guess, they probably tested with the LCD off and at 1080p instead of any higher resolution. We'll see if I'm correct.
For comparison sake, both the Amkov AMK5000S (which has no rear LCD) and Zeblaze iShot1 action cameras managed a best of 2 hours, 3 minutes to 2 hours, 5 minutes before their batteries depleted at 1080p 30 FPS.
Since I don't view the (interpolated) 4K and 2.7K resolutions in the AMK7000S as useable since they can only do 10 FPS and 15 FPS respectively, I decided to use 1080p 60 FPS for battery runtime testing as that is the highest native resolution supported by the camera.
With the LCD display turned on for the whole duration of the video recording at 1080p/60 FPS, I observed a battery life of 1 hour, 25 minutes before the AMK7000S battery completely exhausted and shut down.
With the LCD display turned OFF after 1 minute of recording and off for the duration of the test, at 1080p/60FPS, I observed a battery life of 1 hour, 38 minutes before the AMK7000S battery completely exhausted and shut down. So not that much difference with the LCD off. Therefore, AMK7000S did not meet the claimed 2.5 hour battery runtime at 1080p 60 FPS, and did not meet the 2 hour runtime that both Amkov AMK5000S and Zeblaze iShot1 had achieved.
Could be this specific sample's battery I'm testing, but as I mentioned earlier, the rated 1150mAh battery only saw an actual battery capacity of 937mAh according to my USB charge doctor device, so about 237mAh short of claimed 1150mAh.
Edit: At the request of Amkov, I conducted the same test at 1080p/30 FPS, and with the LCD off (set to 1 minute power down), the AMK7000S lasted 2 hours flat. So at this resolution, the battery life is pretty much identical to the AMK5000S (no rear LCD) and Zeblaze iShot1 (with rear LCD) I tested before. Still could not reach the manufacture claimed 2.5 hour battery runtime however.
Where Can I Buy One? And For How Much?
The Amkov AMK7000S HD Action Camera can be purchased right now on sale through Amazon (USA) for $103.99 USD + free shipping! It ships out from a third party and is fulfilled by Amazon, however, you still have Amazon's protection and peace of mind.
Editors Note: Just my luck, as soon I post this review the price of $103.99 disappears. Now you'll have to settle (or wait) for $113.99 USD.
Why do I like Amazon? They are fast, reliable, honest, and return policy is great. I actually got money refunded back to my account after Amazon overcharged me on duty costs, talk about being an honest company, most others would keep the money and not say anything!
If you are thinking of purchasing the Amkov AMK7000S Action Camera, or anything else for that matter, please use our Amazon link above, it will help us out greatly.
If you are an overseas reader living outside of North America, you can purchase the Amkov AMK5000S action camera through Aliexpress and the Official Amkov Global Flagship Store for $99.88 USD and there's an $8 coupon to bring that down.
Some Amazon Deals That May Interest You!
The Amkov AMK7000S presents a serious value in the action camera market especially as it sits under the $105 USD price bracket. It records in a plethora of resolutions including 4K and 2.7K (interpolated), 1080p 60/30 FPS, 720p 120/60/30, does slow motion and time lapse, offers WiFi connectivity, has a fantastic useful remote control wrist watch, and contains a rear 2.0" LCD screen making it more intuitive. Amkov AMK7000S offers satisfying video performance overall and is improved upon smaller brother AMK5000S in the video department.
The Amkov AMK7000S almost ended up being a great all round action camera, but took a step backward when it came to audio recording performance in comparison to little brother AMK5000S and it is such a shame this happened. Amkov made the wrong choice steering away from what made the AMK5000S audio great going from uncompressed higher bitrate PCM audio in the AMK5000S, to compressed lossy AAC format with lower bitrate making the audio performance suffer drastically. Not only that, the audio gain is nothing like it was on smaller brother AMK5000S and AMK7000S audio does not have even have half of the same fullness and realism of the audio found with smaller brother AMK5000S. Big brother AMK7000S audio sounds flat like a pancake. Showcasing polar opposite is what AMK7000S has done, great video performance, but without the audio to match. This was a huge mistake on Amkov's part.
A bit smaller in the grand scheme of things, the user interface could have been easier to navigate, only having three buttons to navigate, and with no dedicated up and down button made it somewhat confusing to move around menus having to rely on the WiFi button as the lone navigation button. This causes wasted time to get simple things done, because with the way its set up, the user will end up skipping their desired option by accident and having to be re-cycle through the whole menu again just to get to that point and this is what happened to me on numerous occasions. Just could have been easier, but overall still manageable, just need to take some extra time.
The battery performance, at least on my Amkov AMK7000S review unit, also took a step backward and was not able to reach the claimed 2.5 hour battery life figure and could not reach the 2 hour runtime that smaller brother and LCD-less AMK5000S was able to achieve, even with the AMK7000S LCD turned off for 99% of the entire test. This was tested at 1080p / 60 FPS.
Edit: At the request of Amkov, I conducted the same battery test at 1080p/30 FPS, and with the LCD off (set to 1 minute power down), the AMK7000S lasted 2 hours flat. So at this resolution, the battery life is pretty much the same (off by around 5 minutes) to the AMK5000S (no rear LCD) and Zeblaze iShot1 (with rear LCD) I tested before. Still could not reach the manufacture claimed 2.5 hour battery runtime however.
As I found, the battery came up 237mAh short of its rated 1150mAh battery capacity. Though as I mentioned, your mileage may vary from unit to unit, it could be I came across a inferior battery, but you could experience better. I imagine if the battery was better and closer to the 1150mAh figure, the AMK7000S would have been able to muster out better results.
Further negatives are smaller in nature and consist of Amkov removing two items that were bundled with the AMK5000S, specifically the ventilated back cover for the waterproof case and USB charge adapter were excluded from the AMK7000S bundle.
This is a hard one to judge because of the step back in audio, photos, and other negatives taken into consideration. I would have rated it as great if the audio performance was just as good as smaller brother AMK5000S, however, that was not the case.
Overall, I still can recommend the Amkov AMK7000S as it does manage to improve on the video aspect and is something I weigh more than anything else. I'm just still disappointed with the audio performance which would have made it great all round. As it stands now, AMK7000S is just good.It is up to you to decide if you can live with the drawbacks and what you value more.