Photography is generally an expensive hobby, with many cameras costing thousands of dollars. However, a new kickstarter campaign For him Amkov R5 promises a cost-effective mirrorless camera that makes photography more accessible, especially for beginners. But, we have our doubts.
Amkov Technology Development Co., Ltd. is a Chinese company that has been manufacturing imaging products for nearly 20 years. of the company current product catalog focuses on cameras for kids, but Amkov also makes affordable cameras aimed at older users, including vlogging and action cameras.
The company’s latest camera called the R5 (no relation to Canon) has already surpassed its modest funding goal of $5,120 with 31 days left in the campaign. With 344 backers at press time and nearly $60,000 in funding, the Amkov R5 is scheduled to start shipping later this year. Early backers can get the Amkov R5 for $149, a 40% discount off the final MSRP of $249. That’s remarkably cheap for a camera, so what exactly does the Amkov R5 promise?
Specifications and features offer more questions than answers
The R5’s listed specs are interesting and weird in equal measure. The camera promises 4K/60p video and photos with a 48-megapixel resolution. This is worth a closer look, as a nearly 50-megapixel camera for $150 sounds too good to be true.
Turns out it is. The Sony CMOS image sensor inside the Amkov R5 is the sony imx386 What can be bought for less than $10 and it is tiny. The sensor is 4.96mm x 3.72mm, which is 0.24 inches diagonally. For reference, a full frame image sensor is 36mm x 24mm. Most tellingly, the Sony IMX386 captures 12.2-megapixel images. This means that to achieve the promised “48MP Resolution”, the camera has to pull some software tricks.
It’s also unclear precisely which lens the camera uses. A built-in “2G6P glass lens” promises a 5x optical zoom. The camera also offers 8x digital zoom, but there are no additional specifications listed regarding the lens. Still, looking at an image of the product on Amkov’s website, it appears the lens is f/3.5, at least that’s its fastest aperture; it can be changeable.
“The Amkov R5 mirrorless camera features an autofocus function that automatically blurs the background to emphasize the subject. This makes it easy to capture beautiful artistic photos and improves shooting efficiency for fast-moving action. With precise focus, the AMKOV R5 camera ensures superior quality photos,” Amkov writes.
There are no details on the camera’s autofocus system or close focus distance, though Amkov promises the R5 can capture macro images.
The company also shows “sample” photos with well-blurred backgrounds, but it’s highly unlikely that the camera, given its small sensor and f/3.5 lens, could deliver that kind of bokeh.
Consider the bird image below. It seems unlikely, at best, that the Amkov R5 would be able to capture an image like this.
Also, after finding the picture of the mouse shown below in a Russian forum post from 2019it seems safe to cast doubt on the rest of the sample images Amkov uses in his Kickstarter campaign.
This story isn’t designed to be a hit on the Amkov or Amkov R5, but customers should have realistic expectations of the images they can achieve with a mirrorless camera like this.
There is almost no chance that the Amkov R5 will be able to capture images like the ones featured on the Kickstarter campaign page. It is also fair, therefore, to question video clips that are intermingled with images from the camera itself.
Speaking of video, the Amkov R5 promises 4K/60p video. Considering that smartphones that have used the same image sensor, like the Xiaomi Mi Max 2 released in 2017, record 4K video at just 30p, it’s notable that Amkov claims to have doubled the 4K frame rate of the IMX386 sensor. The Google Pixel 6a also uses the IMX386 for its wide-angle camera, which also caps at 4K/30p video.
Familiar faces on AliExpress
Another standalone camera that uses the IMX386 image sensor, a $54 action camera on AliExpress, it also claims 4K/60p video recording, so perhaps the IMX386 can achieve this feat despite smartphone makers in 2016 and 2017 failing to include it in their smartphones. At this point, enough doubt is being cast on other promised features that everything needs to be treated with a grain of salt.
Taking a closer look at the R5’s design, it includes a pop-up flash, or “flashlight” as Amkov calls it, a macro button, zoom controls, a 3-inch tilting screen, a self-timer button, playback buttons, and elimination. , a menu button, focus and shutter release, power switch, USB-C port, battery compartment and tripod socket. The rear screen has a 360 x 640 resolution.
As for storage, the Amkov R5 accepts TransFlash (TF) memory cards up to 128 GB. TF is the original name for microSD and has been out of use for a long time. It’s worth noting that microSD cards are available in capacities greater than 128GB, but the Amkov R5 seems incapable of using cards of that capacity, indicating that the camera can’t accept microSDXC cards.
Questionable Claims and Misleading Comparisons
“The Amkov R5 is a versatile mirrorless camera that combines CC and DV capabilities, but also incorporates a sharp 2G6P lens and Sony CMOS, allowing for sharp stills and videos. What is even more amazing is its macro photography feature, which allows you to easily capture the details of small objects and show the beauty of the microscopic world,” Amkov says in his Kickstarter campaign.
“The autofocus function is also exceptional, capturing moments instantly and making shooting more comfortable and faster. Overall, the Amkov R5 is a super handy camera that can meet your outdoor and travel photography needs.”
That’s very good.
However, Amkov goes on to say: “Most of the mirrorless cameras on the market are expensive, which is not friendly to students or enthusiastic photography enthusiasts on a low income. However, the Amkov R5 is not only affordable, but also capable of capturing sharp images with simple, easy-to-carry operation. Compared to DSLR cameras with the same performance, buying the Amkov R5 is more cost-effective.”
While the Amkov R5 may be a perfectly fine camera for some users, claiming that it offers the “same performance” as any DSLR camera released in the last 15-20 years seems overly ambitious in all respects, except perhaps video resolution. .
Amkov even includes a comparison chart showing how the Amkov R5 beats cameras like the Sony a6000, Panasonic Lumix GX85, and Canon EOS M6 Mark II. The Amkov R5 is cheaper than those cameras, but the “Built-in Macro Effect” and a “2G6P Crystal” lens are not strong selling points.
The promise of the Amkov R5 points towards something valuable
While the Amkov R5 itself may not be the answer to beginning photographers’ prayers, it promises something big. This text from the R5 Kickstarter page is worth a second look:
“Most of the mirrorless cameras on the market are expensive, which is not friendly for low-income students or enthusiastic photo enthusiasts.”
Photography is prohibitively expensive for many. Billions of people on Earth don’t have money burning a hole in their pocket, and some would love to experience the joy of photography for themselves. Even the highest earners may not feel comfortable spending over a thousand dollars on a new camera kit if they have never tried photography before.
It’s easy for photo enthusiasts reading about the latest and greatest new cameras to scoff at something like the Amkov R5 Kickstarter page, but clearly, with nearly 350 people already backing the project, there are people genuinely interested in cameras from low cost.
People shouldn’t be left out of the photography experience just because they don’t have a lot of disposable income. If a camera like the Amkov R5 makes new photographers happy and gives them a chance for a creative outlet, then so much the better, even if there are some pretty significant red flags regarding the camera’s promised features and performance.
That being said, when developing a low-cost camera, it may not make sense to try to cram as many SEO-friendly and notable features into the product description as possible. 4K video, for example, is unnecessary. The same can be said for a flip-up screen, time-lapse shots, and a macro function.
Amkov mentions students in his sales pitch, and that’s a market in desperate need of low-cost alternatives, especially as beginning photography classes at high schools and colleges move away from film cameras, which for They have long been relatively affordable to maintain.
An inexpensive digital camera with no bells and whistles, a manual focus lens to go along with it, and a decently sized image sensor would be a great learning tool for budding photographers. 48-megapixels is overkill, but a tiny sensor, even by modern smartphone standards, is mediocre. Many photography teachers would agree that learning manual photography controls is important. Still, it’s also essential to have the tools to take good photos, something the Amkov R5 may or may not be capable of.
For people looking for a affordable entry point into photographya used entry-level DSLR from a decade ago will probably be a much nicer tool, with better build quality and a wide range of lens options.
Image credits: Amkov