Since the advent of the tiny, do it all action camera it’s not just the main players hogging the market anymore. Other models provide similar features and at different price points. Here we will look at the Goolsky Hawkeye Firefly 8SE 4K Action Camera to see if it not only measures up to the rest but also the best bang for your buck.
Un-boxing the camera there are a host of accessories including a waterproof housing, charge cables, stereo mic, manuals and a bunch of mounts for attaching the camera as a dash cam or on a bike. There’s also a few provided cable ties and adhesive strips for secure mounting. There’s even a tiny little lens hood.
The dimensions of the camera are the standard GoPro influenced design, with the Hawkeye’s own take on functionality. On the rear is a 2-inch touchscreen which will access most of the functionality within, a tiny play button and a MicroSD card slot. The front of the camera houses the wide-angle lens, the on/off button, a small selfie mirror and an LED to indicate Wi-Fi connection. On the top is an ‘OK button’ which will glow when the camera is switched on. Lastly, there are two ports on the side for micro USB and micro HDMI and on the other arrow keys.
Internally, there is a Sony IMX117 12 megapixel 1/2.3” WDR CMOS sensor powered by Ambarella a12S75 chip providing 4K video and 16 megapixels stills with the option of RAW files.
As the Hawkeye Firefly 8SE is a lower cost solution than something like a GoPro Hero, you would expect a lesser build quality. This is kind of true as the unit doesn’t feel as good as a GoPro, but it is still built of light aluminum with a rubberized coating. The outer shell is not waterproofed, but it does come with a waterproof housing.
Power comes in the form of a 1200 mAh 3.85 V rechargeable battery, which is stated to give you 90 minutes of shooting time at 4K/30 fps. There’s also an AC cable and USB mini cable for charging from an AC power outlet.
The rear touchscreen display shows everything functionality wise, but it’s not the most responsive. Using a 2-inch screen as a touch device isn’t the best way of working in the best of scenarios, so at least you can pair the Hawkeye Firefly 8SE via Bluetooth to an optional remote or use their smartphone App as a control device. The interface and screen functionality isn’t the most intuitive in the world and will take some practice getting used to. There are at least features like a Quick menu, which can also be accessed via the right arrow button and on-screen.
The camera has some nice features such as Motion Detection – detecting any movement in its field of view, with the ‘High’ setting being the most sensitive. A gyro sensor stabilizes movement and can be switched on and off and Dual files – handy for things like live streaming. Video-lapse Recording is included for timelapse video, Loop Recording for continuous footage, great for dash cam use, Car DV mode which kicks the camera into life and starts recording as soon as your car starts and Slow motion video but only at 1080p/120 fps. Up to now, the camera is at a budget price, but has a lot of features under the hood for the money.
As with all small sensor cameras, low light operation is usually a downside. The Hawkeye Firefly 8SE is okay in low light conditions, but it does suffer from extra noise in the footage. There is an Auto low light mode which will increase exposure time, but this could also introduce unwanted blur due to slower shutter speeds.
The camera does make up for lowlight functionality with great quality video footage. There are three settings – Normal, Fine, and Super Fine and in 4K mode, the footage is very pleasing. There is a Field of View (FOV) setting in the highest video modes, but this just crops the frame most of the time, especially with action footage where you want wide-angle as standard. With 120 fps at hand, slow-motion footage looks fantastic, with other lower resolutions if needed. Video is encoded in H.264 and MP4.
Still images come in at 16 megapixels/4608 x 3456 pixels with S.Fine, Fine and Normal settings. RAW and jpeg files are pretty good in quality, but it’s really video that is the Hawkeye Firefly 8SE’s forte. However, you do have access to some reasonable manual control with settings for different shutter speeds, burst mode, Photo Lapse for a series of images over time, EV Value or exposure compensation with 2.0 EV in both directions, ISO values from 100-1600 and Center, Multi point and spot metering modes. Not too bad for an action cam at this price point.
|Hawkeye Firefly 8SE||GoPro Hero 7|
|Video||4K 120FPS||4K 60FPS|
You have to consider the Hawkeye Firefly 8SE for what you get at this price point. As an entry-level, 4K action camera you’re provided with loads of functionality, great quality footage (as long as there’s reasonable lighting) and stills. This would be a great solution for online to post to any video platform and show off great quality footage. High frame rates with slow-motion look good and ticks all the boxes for if you’re on a budget.
The addition of raw files with still images is a great bonus and along with an external mic, tips the scales against similarly priced cameras. Bluetooth connectivity is also a box to tick over its competitors, but it can be a little fiddly to set up. The interface isn’t the greatest, but if you consider everything you’re getting for roughly $150-160, this could be a good entry-level option.
Can the Hawkeye Firefly 8SE compete against a GoPro? Not really, as a GoPro is a step up across the board, but that’s not really the point here as the Hawkeye is at a completely different price point. The SJCam SJ7 Star is a possible alternative, but doesn’t have Bluetooth and the Hawkeye Firefly 8SE is a better all-round proposition.