Friday, July 24, 2020

The action cam you always wanted, at a price you can afford – Akaso Brave 7 LE

 Don’t be misled by the initials — Akaso Brave 7 LE. The LE doesn’t mean it has “Limited” features or functions. Just the opposite, I’m guessing it stands for “Loaded with Extras”. At half the price of a GoPro, you’ll get twice the use from the new Akaso Brave 7 LE action camera. This compact gem is a pleasure to use, tiny enough to take anywhere, and the results are sure to please.

Dual Screens for Stills and Video

The camera is easy to operate – there are only three buttons which do much of the work. On top are a mode button (stills vs video) and the shutter button. On the side is the power button.

Not only does the Brave 7 LE come with a decent sized LCD screen on the rear, it also has a “selfie” screen on the front, next to the lens.  The rear screen is a touch screen and can be used to set various functions, set degrees of digital zoom, and review your shots.

The camera is IPX7 water-resistant to protect against rain and snow. With the protective case, you can go down underwater 131 feet. You can see I used it here to protect against stones or debris as I drove around with it clamped to my car’s driver’s door.

(The PanaVise suction cup and double knuckle mount is not part of the package, but I highly recommend it for outside shots while driving – (check out the video) – but always use a lanyard – just in case it should come loose.)

Choice of still shooting modes

In still mode, you can shoot stills in a variety of megapixel sizes: 2MP, 5MP. 8MP. 10MP, 14 MP, 16MP or 20MP. For each, you can select Low, Medium or High quality. 

ISO ranges can be set to Auto or manually selected between 100 and 1600. EV settings range can be changed: -2, -1, 0, +1, or +2. Metering is either center-weighed or multi-metered.

Shoot standard still, bursts (3, 7, 15, or 30 shots), timelapse (every 3, 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds) for durations of 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 60 minutes or unlimited).  Using the self-timer, you can select delays of 2, 5 or 10 seconds. Using the long exposure mode, you can select durations of 1, 2, 5, 8, 30, or 60 seconds.

When you are done shooting, review your shoot on the screen on the back of the camera.  After you’ve selected your best, set the camera to WiFi mode and it will create a WiFi hotspot that your phone or tablet can connect to and transmit your photos.

Here’s a bonus for everyone that uses Adobe Lightroom to catalog and edit their photos. When shooting in the extra wide mode, which I leave it in most of the time, there will be a certain amount of fisheye-type distortion. I discovered that the Lens Correction profile for a Parrot wide angle drone camera, with a setting of 74 for distortion, works great to straighten out your parallel lines.

Choice of video shooting modes

While shooting video, you have your choice of a plethora of resolutions as well:  4K 30fps, 2.7K 60 fps, 2.7K 30 fps, 1080P 120fps, 1080P60fps, 1080P 30fps, 720P 240fps, 720P 120fps, or 720P 60fps.

EIS 2.0 uses a six-axis gimbal like stabilization that really smoothes your video.  Check the video here of the camera mounted outside the car going over rough pavement.

Other Video options

Other options include Wind Noise Reduction, Auto Low Light, EV adjustment, metering and date stamp.

Loop recording can be set for 1 minute, 3 minutes or 5 minutes

Time Lapse mode is similar to the still Time Lapse mode but creates a video file instead of a pile of JPGs.

SlowMotion creates a video file approximately twice the actual length. Conversely, Fast Motion Movie plays back 2x, 4x, 6x, 10x, or 15x faster.

Image stabilization can be turned on in all but the 120 or 240fps modes.

You’ll need to supply your own Micro SD, SDHC or SDXC card.  It works with up to 64GB cards with a  Class 10 or UHS-1 rating.

Special Settings

Angle of view can be set to Super Wide, Wide, Medium or Narrow.

Diving mode allows for lack of red light underwater in tropical and blue water.  IT can be optimized for use between 10 and 80 feet.

Color effects can be set to Normal, B&W, Natural, Negative, Warm or Brightness Contrast.

Upside down mode flips the image when the camera needs to mounted to the ceiling.

White balance can be set to Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, or Fluourescent.


On the side of the camera, a sliding door gives access to both the HDMI out and the micro USB charging port.

On the bottom of the camera, the larger sliding door reveals the MicroSD card slot and space for the battery.

There’s also a 1/4×20 threaded hole here so you can directly attach the camera to a tripod or selfie stick without the need for the big protective case. I love that.

There’s an app for that

Yep, there’s an app as well (Android or iOS0 that allows you to view and download your photos or video. You can also remotely release the shutter for taking both video and photos.

Also, all the settings which can be made from the LCD rear screen of the camera, can also be set from the mobile app, which in many cases can be quicker and more efficient.

Accessories galore

It comes with a ton of accessories for mounting it just about anywhere. Handle bar mounts, helmet mounts and tripod mounts are just a few of the ones I’ve used so far. Another cool accessory is the remote in the form of a watch band that you wear. It works best when used less than 10 feet away, but is great for selfie sticks.

The camera also comes with two batteries and a charger that charges both simultaneously via USB.

Currently the Akaso Brave 7 LE is selling for just $142.99 on Amazon with free Prime shipping. If you’re budget conscious and looking for features, I don’t know what else I’d recommend but this complete package. Just add an SD card and you’re ready for what ever life sends your way.

Biography for Doug Bardwell - Blogger - Writer - Photographer

Disclosure: Akaso provided us with this Brave 7 LE so we could create this review. Opinions expressed however, are always our own.

Originally published on 7/23/20

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Try birdwatching while you shelter in place during the Coronavirus


If you are like many, you may already be looking for things to do during your coronavirus lockdown. If you’ve played I-spy with your children way too many times already, try turning your attention outside.


Birdwatching is something that can be done anytime you’ve got a view of the outdoors. You don’t even need to go out. Eight of the ten photos above were shot from a window in our home.

With the weather getting warmer, most people under “stay at home” coronavirus warnings are still allowed to go for walks – just not in groups. Being able to walk in a park or around a pond will give you ample opportunities to look for birds.

To make it more of a family challenge, download a bird app for your phone so you can identify the ones you’ve found. The Audubon Bird Guide is free for Android or iOS and is a great one to use. Try to spot at least a couple new bird species each week by visiting and walking in different areas.

An alternative to coronavirus stress

Now is a perfect time to start birdwatching as the trees aren’t covered with leaves, so bird spotting is easier. When the leaves start coming out, you might have to identify the birds by their sounds. Luckily there’s help here too.

My daughter turned me onto this great infographic from AAA State of Play. Click on any bird to hear their call and see if you recognize them when you are out in the field. (Click the graphic for a larger version.)

50 Bird Species and the Sounds They Make - - Infographic

Trust me, this can get addicting once you start. Best of all, everyone can be a bird spotter, and often kids can find them more easily than their parents. Give it a try.

If you’d like some suggestions about bird photography, leave a comment, and I’ll follow up with some recommendations for gear you might want to consider.

Author bio for Doug Bardwell
Originally published on  3/27/20

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

iRig Video Creator Bundle + your gear = exceptional video content

 If you’ve got talent, all you need is the proper gear, and your content can shine on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook or the web. Unfortunately, while most people have the prerequisite cellphone, they don’t have flattering lighting and quality audio. 

That’s where IK Multimedia comes to the rescue with their new Creators Series of gear designed to make you look and sound your best. You’ll get a quality microphone, and camera phone tripod with remote control and an adjustable lighting ring to make you look your best.


I had the chance to try out their iRig Video Creator Bundle and I’ve got to say, it’s a compact bundle of goodness like I’ve never seen before.  Forget expensive lightboxes and studio booms to make you look good.  This small, six-inch ring light will light up just you or a whole room if you need it to.

It comes with an inline control that adjusts color temperature and brightness of the light, so you can match it to the ambient light around you.

Use any USB battery pack or your computer to provide the power for the light.  With its LED lights, it runs for hours on my battery pack.

Camera phone tripod

The camera phone holder, iKlip Grip Pro, expands to accept any current cellphone available and holds it securely in place.  Mine works even with a rather bulky case surrounding it, so I don’t have to remove the phone from the case before I start filming.

The tripod is compact enough to fit in a standard camera bag, yet it can be twisted open to reveal four extensions enabling the camera to be elevated up to 24 inches above your desktop. Shoot standing up or sitting down, whichever works for your broadcasting style.

A Bluetooth remote clips on and off the tripod, so you can start or stop your recording from across the room.

The legs of the tripod also fold into a compact monopod that can be used as a selfie stick or a handhold extender to get the camera phone up above a crowd.


The third component is a quality lavalier microphone, the iRig Mic Lav,  that can be clipped to your shirt or jacket.  Sound quality is excellent and you have more freedom to move with the lav clipped to your clothing.

An included inline attachment lets you plug in your microphone and a headphone to monitor recording OR you can plug in a second microphone and record both simultaneously, without losing the monitoring capability of the headphones. A foam windshield is also included to slip over the microphone.

Video creators agree that one of the biggest turn-offs in the video world is audio that is hard to hear. People will just click off and go elsewhere.   

Putting it all together

For compactness sake, I chose the iRig Video Creator Bundle, but there’s a big brother if you need more light or prefer a handheld microphone (the Video Creator HD Bundle.)  Whichever you choose, I’m sure you are going to appreciate the improvement in your video productions.

One caution: My only problem when testing this unit is that I needed to slightly tilt my eyeglasses to avoid reflections of the ring light in the glasses. Since the light is just slightly above your camera phone lense, the opportunity to see a reflection is a distinct possibility. Tilting your glasses removes the issue.

Disclosure: IK Multimedia provided a Video Creator bundle for me to test for this review. Opinions stated, however, are and always have been strictly my own.

Author bio for Doug Bardwell
Originally posted on  1/14/20
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