A Cheaper GoPro? – Apeman TRAWO Action Cam Review

The market for small action cams has become highly competitive these days, with a lot of Chinese manufacturers competing with a very low price against the leader – GoPro. And here’s another new contender from China – Apeman TRAWO.

Apeman TRAWO Action Cam – a GoPro contender?

Impressive Specs and Body Looks Like a GoPro

When I looked at the specs of the new Apeman TRAWO cam, it caught my attention as it lists an f1.8 lens and a Panasonic image sensor. Which is quite different to most other action cams which typically use an f2.8 lens and a Sony image sensor.

It shoots up to 4k30p (no 24p or 25p mode), 2.7k30p, 1080p60 and 720p120.

Note: on the Apeman website the cam claims to have a 2.7k60 and a 1080p120 mode, which is not available on the model I tested (A100 with the V2.1.0.1-A firmware) – I asked Apeman via email and they confirmed my finding – apologizing for this error. I do not know if those modes will be included in the future.

Apeman TRAWO Findings

Hence, I took it for a spin on a sunny afternoon in Vienna. Here are my findings:

  • OK build quality, lots of accessories included
  • needs a waterproof housing (included), which typically destroys audio quality
  • 4k30 mode is very detailed and nice
  • quite contrasty image, no „flat“ look available
  • all other modes lack detail, e.g. the 1080p60 mode doesn’t look like full HD at all
  • electronic image stabilization works quite well, but it crops the image significantly (20%)
  • audio is as good or bad as with other action cams
  • battery life is so so. After 30mins of shooting the battery symbol turned red

GoPro Hero 6 Black Comparison

Of course this is an unfair comparison, as the GoPro Hero 6 costs 430€ (~515USD), which is four times as expensive as the TRAWO. However, I wanted to see how close the TRAWO gets to the leader of the pack feature and image wise:

GoPro Hero 6 Black:

  • wider field of view than Trawo, but both have fisheye lenses (which I personally do not like)
  • comparing the lenses, I am not so sure if the f1.8 claim of the TRAWO is true – the GoPro (with an f2.8 lens) shows much less motion blur at the same setting, indicating a higher shutter speed (hence a faster lens) → should be the other way round actually.
  • build quality is so much better on GoPro, also has a touch screen
  • no waterproof housing needed → better audio quality
  • offers much more framerate options, including 4k60, 2.7k120 and 1080p 240 frames per second
  • electronic image stabilization works phenomenally, and crops the image by only 12%
  • much better image overall, having a protune „flat“ mode which retains highlights much better
  • battery was still at 50% when TRAWO battery symbol turned „red“, indicating a near shutdown

Aliasing in the 1080p60 modes between GoPro Hero 6 and APEMAN Trawo compared.

Regarding resolution and dynamic range, the below image shows a much better highlight handling of the GoPro, and the image detail as well as resolution in the 1080p60 mode is also way better.

Last but not least, for me an action cam should also provide a detailed high framerate mode. The maximum offered by the TRAWO is a 720p 120 frames per second mode. The next higher resolution offered is a 1080p60 mode. Here the GoPro shines with its 2.7k120 and 1080p240 modes.

Conclusion – not a GoPro, but very Attractive Pricing

All in all, the TRAWO offers quite good value for the money, also considering all the accessories which are included. I am still amazed how far technology has progressed – getting a 4k cam for about 100€ is mind blowing. Their Indiegogo campaign only just started, but it is refreshing to see an existing product already – the one we tested was definitely a finished product and not unfinished crowd funding hype (as happens so often)

At the end of the day however, what counts for me in the action cam market is the image quality and the offered framerates. And here the clear winner is the GoPro Hero 6 Black.

What do you think about the Apeman TRAWO? Have you been looking for a budget action cam lately, and is this camera for you? Let us know in the comments below.

Music Credit:

Band: Lathé Swing
Song: Swing 39
(Creative Commons License)

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