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Firefly 8SE - Hands on Review

Firefly 8SE - Hands on Review

Firefly 8SE and Firefly 8S are great action cameras that feature 6-axis gyro stabilization and external microphone via mini USB. Here's my review:

Hawkeye Firefly released Firefly 8SE, an update compared to Firefly 8S, as the new camera features a touchscreen. Also the new model is available as 170° lens and 90° lens version. Firefly kept the body design of Firefly 8S, that means also the buttons are still available. That’s a big plus since many other manufacturers removed them on their touchscreen cameras, making them hard to use in an underwater case.


If you prefer watching videos, here's my review comparing Firefly 8S with YI 4K, Xiaomi Mijia and Gopro Hero5.


If you prefer to read, here's my review. First I want to give an overview of Firefly 8SE, then I do a comparison of Firefly 8SE and Firefly 8S, show you the available settings and some Demo photos of the cameras. At the bottom of the article you can find my conclusion with pros and cons of this camera.

 

Firefly 8SE Specs

Image Sensor:
Same as Firefly 8S, the new Firefly 8SE features a 12 MP Sony IMX117 sensor, same model used in GoPro Hero4.

Chipset:
Firefly also sticked with the processor, the Ambarella A12 sensor, similar to SJCAM SJ7 or Thieye T5.

Lens:
Another item that changed on Hawkeye Firefly 8SE compared to Firefly 8S is the lens. The new hardware should reduce purple fringing by 50% – let’s see in the demo photos.
Same with Firefly 8S there will be 2 different versions with different lenses available. A 170° FOV model and a non-distortion 90° FOV version.

Video Resolution:

Specs are the same as for Firefly 8S:

  • 4K – max. 30fps
  • 2.7K – max. 30fps
  • 2.5K – max. 60fps
  • 1080p – max. 120fps (max. 60fps in Super View)
  • 720p – max. 120fps

You can switch to PAL mode for 25fps and a multiple of that. 24fps mode is not available. 30fps is actually 29.97 fps, similar to GoPro an YI Action Camera.

Image Stabilization:
Whereas compatible cameras like YI 4K or Xiaomi Mijia 4K offer a 3-axis gyro sensor for electronic image stabilization, Firefly 8SE uses a 6-axis sensor. Therefore stabilisation is much smoother on Firefly. Based on my tests, the EIS system on Firefly cameras works very well.

Recording Format:
The videos are recorded in .mp4 files, .h264 codec.

Display:
Here you can see the biggest change compared to Firefly 8S: the new Firefly 8SE offers 2″ touchscreen on the backside making settings changes easier and quicker.

Battery:
The battery of Firefly 8SE is the exact same model as fore Firefly 8S which offers 1200 mAh capacity.

Firefly 8SE and Firefly 8S use the same battery

Storage:
microSD card, up to 128 GB are supported, class 10 recommended. U3 cards are needed for 4K resolution videos.

Connectivity & Ports:
The camera offers wifi to connect via App (Firefly App for iOS and Android available),
and Bluetooth for a remote controller. The remote controller of Firefly 8S looks like the one from YI.
Firefly 8SE offers a mini USB port which supports an external microphone (which is included in the standard package!) as well as A/V output!



Dimension & Weight:
59 x 41 x 21 mm; weight: 70g

Included Accessories:
Waterproof Case (20m water resistant), J-shaped Mount, Connectors, Bike Handlebar Mount, 360 Degree Rotation Adapter, Adhesive Mounts, Cleaning Cloth, Frame & Clip and manual. With Firefly 8SE an external mic is included in the standard package!


 

Firefly 8SE vs Firefly 8S

So what are the differences between Firefly 8S and Firefly 8SE?


The new lens should reduce purple fringing by 50%, more on that in the demo photos. While Firefly 8S has a lit logo (green for photo, blue for video) Firefly 8SE has a smaller LED light. I prefer that because the area is smaller and the LED is better visible. The power button of Firefly 8SE is also illuminated. You can change LED settings in the device menu if you want to turn it off. Both cams have the exact same button arrangement, so not only the battery is compatible, also the underwater case:


While many manufacturers offer their touchscreen cameras only with very few buttons I like that you have the option to either choose touchscreen or buttons to change settings on Firefly 8SE. Remember that the 90° lens version models use a different case than the 170° models as the lens is longer in size.


The menu of Firefly 8SE is now white and as you can see in the menu there are less reflections. Besides that the arrangement is the same, but now you can select by tapping the screen. Only the expressions of the modes was slightly changed. Other features of the touchscreen are: swiping left/right to change between onto and video mode. Swipe up to enter the mode selection.

  

Firefly 8SE – Body, Buttons & Ports

 

On the front of Firefly 8SE you will find the Power/Mode Button, which is – compared to Firefly 8S, illuminated. Long press it to power the camera on, short press it to change between Video and Photo Mode. Instead of a lit Firefly logo there is now just a LED light that indicates photo (green) or video (blue) mode. To enter the settings you need to press the arrow buttons on the side or tap tap the screen. What looks like a silver button on the front is actually small mirror which you can use to frame your selfies.

On top you’ll find the shutter button that also acts as selection button when you navigate within the menu. On one side of the camera you will find 2 arrow buttons to navigate the menu, great that this was kept with the touchscreen model. When you press the forward button for 3 sec, you can activate wifi. On the other side there are mini USB port (which also acts as A/V output or microphone input) and a micro HDMI Port.

On the backside you’ll find the 2″ touchscreen, the slot for your microSD card and a small play button. The button is used to enter the library or to switch between camera settings & device settings.

On the bottom you will find the battery door as well as a 1/4″ standard photo tripod thread.

 

Features & Settings

As already mention, the power button also acts as mode switch button between photo and video modes but with the touchscreen 8SE you can also swipe left or right to switch. When pressing the arrow buttons on the side of the camera, you enter the menu to define which of the photo or videos modes you want to use. The selected mode is indicated with the icon on the top left of the display. The following modes are available:

Video Modes

Hawkeye Firefly 8SE – Video Modes

  • Record (video recording according to settings)
  • Video Time-Lapse (Resultat is a video file)
  • Playback (Video Library)
  • Car Mode (for use as dash camera)
  • Slow Motion (Slow motion video can be played from camera)

Photo Modes

Hawkeye Firefly 8SE – Photo Modes

  • Capture (Single Picture)
  • Burst (up to 10 pictures per second)
  • Playback (Photo Library)
  • Photo Time-lapse (Result is several individual photos)
  • Long Exposure (long exposure from 1/30 sec up to 60sec.)

The settings menu is the same for each of the video modes and each of the photo modes. So it does not depend which of the video modes you are in, all options will be displayed. The second tab shows general device settings. You can switch by pressing the play button on the back of the camera.

 

Video Settings

The following video settings are available:

Video Resolution
The following resolutions & frame rates are available:

  • 4K – 16:9 – 30 / 25 fps
  • 4K – SuperView – 25 fps
  • 2160p – 4:3 – 30 / 25 fps
  • 2.7K – 4:3 – 30 / 25 fps
  • 2.7K – SuperView – 30 / 25 fps
  • 2.7K – 16:9 – 30 / 25 fps
  • 2.5K – 16:9 – 60 / 50 / 30 / 25 fps
  • 1440p – 4:3 – 60 / 50 / 30 / 25 fps
  • 1080p – 16:9 – 120 / 100 / 60 / 50 / 30 / 25 fps
  • 1080p – SuperView – 60 / 50 / 30 / 25 fps
  • 960p – 4:3 – 120 / 100 / 60 / 50 / 30 / 25 fps
  • 720p – 16:9 – 240 / 200 / 120 / 100 / 60 / 50 / 30 / 25 fps
  • 720p – SuperView – 120 / 100 / 30 / 25 fps

Superview is a stretched 16:9 image using the full 4:3 sensor.

Video Quality
influences the bitrate of the video. You can select S.Fine, Fine and Normal.

FOV (Field of View)
You can select wide, medium and narrow field of view.

Auto Low Light
The camera reduces the frame rate automatically in low light situations.

Gyro Sensor
You can turn on/off electronic image stabilisation. This feature is available up to 1080p and 60fps.

Motion Detect
The camera will start recording automatically when motion is detected. You have to turn it off manually.

Dual File
Firefly 8S will record two files, one in high and one in low resolution.

Video Stamp
You can display date and/or time stamp in your recordings.

Logo Watermark
You can display the logo in your recordings

Timelapse Video
You can set the interval for your video time-lapse: 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s, 30s, 60s. Time-lapse video will automatically create a video file. You have to select video time-lapse mode first before you can change & activate settings.

Loop Recording
You’ve got off, 1min, 2min, 3min or 5min. It represents the duration of a video clip and the oldest will be overwritten once the card is full. This feature is useful when using Firefly 8S as dash camera.

Microphone Volume
The mic sensitivity can be set. Off for no audio recording or 50% – 100%.

Sharpness
You can set sharpness to Strong, Normal or Soft. If you do color correction in post production set it to normal or soft.

AWB (Auto White Balance)
White balance can be set manually to match the light temperature. There is also a setting for water to correct the red tone.

EV Value
You can correct exposure up to +/-2.0 steps.

Metering
Available settings are center, multi or spot and it defines where exposure will be measured in the frame.

 

Photo Settings

The following photo settings are available:

Photo Size

  • 16 MP (4608 x 3456 4:3)
  • 14 MP (4352 x 3264 4:3)
  • 12 MP (4000 x 3000 4:3) = native sensor resolution
  • 8.3 MP (3820 x 2160 16:9)
  • 5 MP (2560 x 1920 4:3)
  • 3 MP (2048 x 1536 4:3)

Since sensor is 12 MP 4:3 I recommend using this setting and do all adjustments in post production.

Photo Quality
You can choose S.Fine, Fine or Normal. It will influence quality, hence file size.

RAW Photo
Firefly 8SE offers RAW photo from the beginning, this was added later on for Firefly 8S.

Long Exposure
Available settings are 1/30 s, 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s, 30s, 60s for long exposure night shots. Remember to set Photo Mode to Long Exposure to use these settings.

Photo Stamp
You can choose date and/or time to be displayed in your photos.

Logo Watermark
Similar compared to video you can display a logo in your recordings.

Self Timer
You can choose off, 1s, 2s, 3s, 5s, 10s, 30s, 60s and it will take affect in every photo mode.

Photo Burst
3, 5 or 10 photos per second are available.

Photo Lapse
You can set the interval for your photo time-lapse: 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s, 30s, 60s. Photo time-lapse will save individual photos.

Sharpness
You can set sharpness to Strong, Normal or Soft.

Sharpness
You can set sharpness to Strong, Normal or Soft. If you do color correction in post production set it to normal or soft.

AWB (Auto White Balance)
White balance can be set manually to match the light temperature. There is also a setting for water to correct the red tone.

EV Value
You can correct exposure up to +/-2.0 steps.

ISO
You also got the option to manually set ISO (sensor sensitivity) from 100 to 1600. The higher ISO, the more noise is in your recordings.

Metering
Available settings are center, multi or spot and it defines where exposure will be measured in the frame.

 

Device Settings

The following device settings are available. Remember you can switch by pressing the play button on the backside of the camera.


Among many other settings for e.g. wifi, screen brightness and auto shutdown time, the most important are:

TV Mode
To switch between NTSC (30fps and a multiple of that) and PAL (25fps and a multiple of that).

Distortion Correction
To correct the image if you don’t like the fisheye effect of the wide angle lens.

 

Demo Photos

The following photos are taken with Firefly 8S & Firefly 8SE. They are straight out of the camera, not edited. All settings on auto. 

Photo taken with Firefly 8S:

Photo taken with Firefly 8SE


When you take a look at the details you can see that Firefly 8SE has less purple fringing and the image is a bit sharper:



Conclusion

Nice to see that Firefly 8S was optimised and got a better lens as well as a touchscreen, which makes it easier to change settings. But still, the buttons are kept so you can also operate the camera very well when placed inside the underwater case. A lot of competitors removed buttons which makes it a bit harder.

Pros:

 2 lens options available (170° & 90°)

 Excellent Image stabilisation

 Real (native) 4K 30fps recording and 1080p 120fps

 2″ Touchscreen

 Mic-in via USB

Cons:

only waterproof within case












Hawkeye Firefly 8SE 4K Touch Screen Action Camera


$141.46


$115.99














HawKeye Firefly 8S 4K WiFi Sports Camera 170 Degree FOV


$133.16


$116.71





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