Hawkeye Firefly just announced their latest model Firefly 8S, their first native (real) 4K action camera. Actually it is also the first native 4K action camera with optional 90° non-distortion lens. Since I received their Firefly 6S, the company became an insider tip for me. 6S was a great and low priced camera but not many people knew about it. In this article I’d like to give an overview of the new Firefly 8S and show a comparison to the earlier Firefly models.

Content

  1. Firefly 8S Specs
  2. Comparison with previous models
  3. Body, Buttons & Ports
  4. Functions & Features
  5. Firmware Info
  6. Conclusion
  7. Demo Videos & Photos

Let’s start with the first video I did. Since Firefly 6S already had a great image stabilisation, I tested Firefly 8S and compared it with Yi 4K:

 

Firefly 8S Specs

Image Sensor:
Firefly 8S features a 12 MP Sony IMX117 sensor, same model used in GoPro Hero4, SJCAM SJ7 Star or Thieye T5.
The earlier models Firefly 6S and 7S also featured a 12MP Sony sensor, but a different model: IMX078.

Chipset:
Whereas 6S and 7S featured a Novatek chip, the new Firefly 8S offers an Ambarella A12 sensor. Again similar to SJCAM SJ7 Star or Thieye T5.

Lens:
This time from the beginning there will be 2 different versions with different lenses available. A 170° FOV model holding a F/2.8 6 glass, 170° lens. And a non-distortion 90° FOV version with a F/2.8, 11 glass, 90° lens. Notice the slightly larger lens on the right model. Comparison video is at the bottom of the article.

Firefly 8S - 170 degree and 90 degree lens

Firefly 8S – 170° FOV vs 90° FOV version

 

Video Resolution:

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

You can with 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.

Image Stabilization:
According to the product description the Firefly 8S will offer “Six-axis gyro video stabilization that can produce very stable video image without losing any view angle”. I’m not sure by now if the sensor is stabilized or if this is just another term for electronic image stabilization. Based on my tests with Firefly 6S the stabilization of Firefly is very good compared to others.

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

Display:
Firefly 8S offers 2″ live view display on the backside but no data screen on the front side compared to 6S and 7S. (Resolution: 640×480).

Battery:
Battery is stated with 1200 mAh. Whereas Firefly 6S used a battery with the same shape as GoPro Hero3’s battery, Firefly 7S used a battery similar to EKEN’s rounded battery. Firefly 8S also has a rounded battery, but with a larger capacity. (The rounded edges are on the backside and therefore not visible in the image below)

Hawkeye Firefly 8S - 1200 mAh battery

Hawkeye Firefly 8S – 1200 mAh battery

 

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

Connectivity & Ports:
The camera offers wifi to connect via App (NEW 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 8S offers a mini USB port which supports an external microphone as well as A/V output!

Hawkeyes Firefly 8S with remote control and external mic

Hawkeyes Firefly 8S with remote control and external mic (optional extras)

 

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.

Hawkeyes Firefly 8S - included accessories

Hawkeyes Firefly 8S – included accessories

 

Optional Accessories:

  • Spare batteries for Firefly 8S are available. (Looks like new EKEN type with more mAh): 5.04 USD
  • Dual Charger incl. 2 batteries: 15.62 USD
  • If you need an external mic for Firefly 8S: 6.10 USD
  • Remote controller looks like the one from YI Technology: 7.48 USD
  • Also the selfie stick looks like the one from YI: 12.01 USD
  • FPV cable is available if you need it for e.g. drone flying: 6.04 USD

 

Comparison of Firefly 6S vs 7S vs 8S

 Firefly 6SFirefly 7SFirefly 8S
Firefly 6S - 4K Action CameraFirefly 7SHawkeye Firefly 8S
Sensor12 MP Sony
IMX 078
12 MP Sony
IMX 078
12 MP Sony
IMX 117
ChipNovatek 96660Novatek 96660Ambarella A12
available as 90° FOV versionnoYesYes
4K Resolution24 fps
(interpolated)
24 fps
(interpolated)
30 fps
(real)
1080p HD Resolution60 fps60 fps120 fps
RAW photonoyes?
Back Displayno2" live view2" live view
Front Displayyesyesno
Image Stabilizationyesyesyes
Battery1600 mAh
GoPro Hero 3 shape
1050 mAh
EKEN rounded shape
1200 mAh
?
wifiyesyesyes
Bluetooth
(remote control)
nonoyes
USB Portmini USBmicro USBmini USB
A/V out:yesyesyes
Microphone in:nonoyes
Case & Mounts:includedincludedincluded
Price:59.99 USD66.99 USD119.99 USD
coupon code: HTYHF8S

 

Retailer / Price Comparison:

Firefly 8S – 170° Lens Version

Firefly 8S – 90° Lens Version

  • Banggood: n/a
  • Gearbest: 127.99 USD
    • Coupon Code: F8S9IT
  • Geekbuying: n/a
  • TomTop: 130.99 USD
    • Coupon Code: HTYHF8S
  • Aliexpress: n/a

 

Firefly 8S – Body, Buttons & Ports

Hawkeye Firefly 8S - 170° lens version - front- and backside

Hawkeye Firefly 8S – 170° lens version – front- and backside

On the front of Firefly 8S you will find the Power/Mode Button. Long press it to power the camera on, short press it to change between Video and Photo Mode. To enter the settings you need to press the arrow buttons on the side. What looks like a silver button on the front is actually small mirror which you can use to frame your selfies. The Firefly 8S logo is light up. When it’s blue the camera is in video mode, when it’s green, the camera is in photo mode.

On top you’ll find the shutter button that also acts as selection button when you navigate within the menu. As mentioned on one side of the camera you will find 2 arrow buttons to navigate the menu. 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″ screen (640 x 480 px), 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 (indicated with the blue or green logo on the front). 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 8S - Video Modes

Hawkeye Firefly 8S – Video Modes

  • Video Mode (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 8S - Photo Modes

Hawkeye Firefly 8S – Photo Modes

  • Photo (Single Picture according to settings)
  • 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:

Hawkeye Firefly 8S - Video Settings

Hawkeye Firefly 8S – Video Settings

 

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)

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

Photo Settings

The following photo settings are available:

Hawkeye Firefly 8S - Photo Settings

Hawkeye Firefly 8S – Photo Settings

 

Photo Size

  • 16 MP (4608 x 3456 4:3)
  • 14 MP (4352 x 3264 4:3)
  • 12 MP (4000 x 3000 4:3)
  • 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.

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.

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.

Timelapse Photo
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.

Hawkeye Firefly 8S - Device Settings

Hawkeye Firefly 8S – Device Settings

 

Firmware Update

Since its release (V30) there have been some updates of the Firefly 8S Firmware. Here’s how to update:

How to update Firefly 8S Firmware

  1. Download the latest Firmware (V37): https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4bi9KTHbteFMnlDdE55VmQ4VVE
  2. Delete all the files on your microSD card and then copy the file onto the card (FIREFLY_FWUPDATE.bin).
  3. Put the microSD card into your camera and power on.
  4. Go to settings, and click on the Firmware version displayed.
  5. Press OK button to check the update firmware. The cam displays “check Version”. If detected firmware is ok, select “yes” to update.
  6. Once confirmed, camera will update automatically.
  7. It will take 1-2 minutes to update. When update finish, it will power on, and then will reboot.
  8. Delete firmware files from the micro SD card or format the microSD card.
  9. Update the newest firmware is completed.

Firefly 8S Firmware Change Log:

V31 Change Log
Add bluetooth “connect fucntion” when press OK key for 2 sec. Make sure the bluetooth has been paired.

V33 Change Log
Add FOV function, not available at 1080P 60/30 and superview mode.
Solve the problem that when turn on WiFi within 1.5 sec while machine power on, the machine will no resposne.
Solve the problem that it can’t playback when micro sd card full.

V34 Change Log
Auto low light could be turn on even on 30fps mode.
Screen saver default ON.

V37 Change Log
Add file transfer mode (WiFi speed faster), app need to update, in transfer mode, you could press playback key for 2 seconds to exit
Stop the camera to power on when battery is low.

 

Conclusion

Based on the specs Firefly 8S seems to be similar to Thieye T5, Andoer C5 and EKEN H8 Plus. In contrast to mentioned cameras Firefly 8s offers mic-in via USB, Thieye T5 has a 2,5mm port. In comparison to these cameras I think Firefly 8s has the best image stabilization. It’s even better than the higher priced YI 4K Action Camera. Similar to them EIS is not available in 4K, only YI 4K+ can do so. In the “a little over 100 USD” range to me Firefly 8S took the lead.

Great Price

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

 2 lens options available

Excellent Image stabilisation

 Mic-in via USB

waterproof only in case

no touch screen

no RAW photo

Add column content here…

 

Check out the Hawkeye Firefly User Group on Facebook for the latest infos (Hawkeye is posting there as well).

 

Retailer / Price Comparison:

Firefly 8S – 170° Lens Version

Firefly 8S – 90° Lens Version

  • Banggood: n/a
  • Gearbest: 127.99 USD
    • Coupon Code: F8S9IT
  • Geekbuying: n/a
  • TomTop: 130.99 USD
    • Coupon Code: HTYHF8S
  • Aliexpress: n/a

 

Demo Video

Below you find some videos published on YouTube. My videos are coming soon.

Here’s a comparison of 170° and 90° lens version:

 

and a first review and unboxing:

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