This is an accurate review of the SJ4000 action cam, a budget waterproof cam you can find for less than 80$. The good thing about this action cam, besides the good quality of the recorded video, is its form factor: as you can see it is in fact exactly the same shape of the GoPro, including the underwater housing. This has an obvious advantage: it is possible to use on SJ4000 GoPro accessories, that are safe, solid and reliable, so you can safely use the SJ4000 securing it on helmets, bicycle, on skis or snowboard for low angle shooting, on gopro chest accessories and many more. Actually, the cam is shipped with a good amount of accessories, which, as we will see later in this article, are sufficient to use the cam in the most ordinary situations, as a bike trip, a downhill, skiing or kayaking . Accessories give a more solid feel than the SJ1000, and allow many more types of hooks.
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The SJ4000, compared to the GoPro models, considering the specifications and the behavior during light changes, has a slightly higher video quality than the GoPro Hero (the basic model). Moreover, the SJ4000 offers an integrated screen and lots of accessories included, all at a price ranging between 53 and 60 $/€. If you want to compare it with the GoPro Hero 3+ Black, the SJ4000 is certainly worst, the Hero 3+ Black has a professional-quality recording up to UltraHD 4K at 15fps, has wifi, remote control, glass and aspherical lenses, superior audio and video quality, but it costs almost 400$, as the new GoPro hero 4 which is great but costs 400$. Do you think you need an action cam so expensive and professional? Will you use it in a semi-professional way or are you gonna use the cam just to record your mountain biking trips or holidays underwater? In this second case, the sj4000 is probably enough for your needs. Anyway, from the beginning of 2015 there are out there a lot of alternatives, see our article about the best action cams of 2017.
In this video you can see the differences between SJ4000 and Hero 3+ Black edition that costs over 400$. As you can see, the GoPro has warmer colors, while SJ4000 has cold and neutral colors, it’s a matter of taste. In any case, it is possible to modify in post production both kind of colors. Talking about fluidity and quality of detail there’s not that much difference to justify a cost 4 times higher. About the audio GoPro is definitely better, although in motion both are disturbed by the noise of the wind.
Let’s take a look to the specifications:
– HD Wide Angle Lens 170 ° diagonal (140 ° horizontal)
– Video: 1080P (1920 * 1080) 30FPS / 720P (1280 * 720) 60FPS
– Video Compression: H.264 MOV
– Photo Resolution: 12M / 8M / 5M (3,5mpx real)
– Sequential shots (time lapse) of 1-5-10-20 sec
– HDR both video and photos
– Storage: Micro SD up to 32GB
– Battery Capacity: 900MAH
– 1080P recording time: About 70 minutes reported (50 real minutes)
– Charging time: about 3.5 hours
– Price: only 55$ on Camfere
– There is also the wifi version that can be controlled via smartphones and streaming video access: Qumox as 97 €
There’s a new wifi version of the SJ4000, the wifi module installed in this new version can connect bidirectionally the cam with a smartphone through a specific application, so you can control the cam with the phone as a remote control, and also you can see live on the phone what you are recording.
Talking about quality, the two cams are identical, having the same sensor and the same image processor. The two versions cost almost the same, so it’s not a matter of price.
Let’s start talking about the price: you can find it at 88$ in U.S.A.,74£ in UK or 85€ in Europe, these prices are affordable for everyone, and it is almost incredible to pay such a small amount for a product of this quality, and most importantly with an underwater housing that allows you to take shots into the sea, while canyoning, kayaking, and practicing all water sports. Moreover recently appeared o the market a new WiFi version that costs just a bit more (116$-85£-100€).
Videos are recorded in Full HD at 30 fps (frames per second) or 720p at 60fps (actually the videos are shot at 30fps and the cam doubles the frames, so it’s not a true 60p but an actual 30p x2) and the recorded videos have an excellent quality in daylight conditions or good lighting, just satisfactory in low light conditions, not good in very low light conditions. The only fault I would point out is that the color in some lighting conditions are a little ‘off’, less alive than the gopro, but in post-production you can safely add saturation to get more natural colors. The lens is an ultra-wide 170 ° diagonal (140 ° horizontally, like the GoPro) making it suitable for shooting cam POV for various sports such as mountain biking, motorcycling, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, as it allows a very large perspective, even greater than the human eye. The camera lens is 3,5mpx, although the cam gives you the opportunity to take photos up to 12mpx, but they are artificially created by interpolation. The cam is suitable for making great videos, but if you are planning to use it just to take pictures, forget it and point to another cam.
The battery does not last long, about 55-60 minutes on average, although the instructions state a duration of 70 minutes, but actually it’s not a big problem as there are replacement batteries on Amazon for only 8 € , with external charger + battery at 15 €, or alternatively simply buy a mobile phone charger as the Anker 3200mAh for 13 €, which allows you to charge the battery for 3-4 times while traveling or while recording (not in the water of course).
The cam records video in a micro SD card to be bought separately, read this article to find out which micro sd is more suitable for the SJ4000. A video of about 35 minutes occupies 4GB, so for example with a 32GB card, you can record about a 4,5h movie. If the card is formatted as Fat the maximum file size is just 35min (4GB) and then the cam starts to record to a new file, if you want a giant single movie just format the SD in exFAT following the instructions in this video. Theoretically the cam supports up to 32GB, but some user say’s he’s using 64Gb cards formatted in exFAT.
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Updating the firmware on SJ4000 you can use the webcam with several features: Webcam: connecting the SJ4000 to a computer with the microUSB cable provided, you are asked if you want to use the webcam as an external disk to access the contents of the microSD or as a webcam. Timelapse: You can set the cam so that automatically takes a photo every 3, 5, 10, or 20 seconds, then pictures can be mounted in succession to a video. You can for instance make a movie of clouds moving quickly across the sky. Security Cam: in this mode the Cam is activated only if it detects movements, for example, in case of intrusion. Just hide it in your house or shop to keep an eye on every move. Dash Cam: ideal for shooting in the car. Connecting to the cigarette lighter socket power, the cam turns on automatically whenever it receives power, i.e. turning on the car and starst shooting, and turns off by itself when you turn off the vehicle.
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Let’s take a look at some videos that show the quality of the cam, a detailed review of sj4000 where you can see how to use the cam and at the end of review you can see some videos taken with the SJ4000 under various conditions of light (bear in mind that the video on youtube are compressed, so the actual quality is even better):
Here you can find some video samples taken with the SJ4000, you can download them in Full HD (do not stream them, download instead).
And now a video where we can see the full compatibility of the SJ4000 with GoPro accessories:
As you can see the video quality is very good, and the cam behaves well in changing light conditions thanks to good management of the exposure, thus making it possible to record dynamic video such as running, cycling, or downhill skiing. The display turns off automatically after a few minutes of recording time to save more battery power. However, we recommend to purchase replacement batteries, that can be found on Amazon for just 8 €, or 15 € charger + battery or charger only for 7 €.
This is a wifi version, you can view on your phone what you are recording in real time and control the cam, thanks to a special app. The lighting is very fast and the cam is soon operational, managing to take pictures / videos of events without missing a moment. In addition to the video is in fact possible to take pictures up to 12Mpx as indicated, although actually the sensor is 3,5mpx. Therefore I can say that the cam gives the best of himself shooting videos, which are certainly of better quality than the still pictures.
You can do time lapse, or shots of photos in sequence of 5-10-20 seconds. It is possible to set the rotation of the video if for some reason it is necessary to rotate the cam 180 °, for example, if the top is fixed to the windshield. The cam also has the HDR mode to improve the exposure in difficult lighting.
The cam comes with a large range of accessories, enough for the most common uses, such as a sticker flat for bike helmet, ski helmet, strap, hook for bike handlebars. There are not curved stickers for helmet and other less common accessories as the harness, but as mentioned, you can use the GoPro ones found on Amazon or at any electronics store.
The use of the cam is very simple, on its front side you will find the power button and access to the menu, on the right side UP and DOWN buttons to scroll through the menu options, and on the top the OK button to start the recording, take pictures, select the desired menu item. In the menu you have these settings: Size, Loop Recording, HDR, Motion Detection, Recording, Date, Photo Resolution, Continuous Shooting, Quality, Sharpness, White Balance, Color, ISO, Exposure, Face Detection, Stabilization, Quick Look, language, Date / Time, Auto Power Off, Buzzer, Screensavers, Frequency, Car Mode, Delete, Format, Default, Version.
This is a great budget CAM that records in Full HD with a very good video quality, it’s worth every money spent to buy it. You cn use it in any situation thanks to the accessories supplied and the wide angle pushed to 170 ° which allows a wide field of view. It can also be used in water and snow thanks to the waterproof case included. It also allows you to take pictures up to a resolution of 12 megapixels (although as I said the real one is 3.5mpx). At this price you can not ask for more, you cn compare its quality to action cams that costs over 200 $.
– Good Quality/Price ratio
– Full HD
– Underwater Cover
– Display to see what you are recording and review photos / videos
– HDR and continuous shooting mode
– Optimal behavior in the changes of light and exposure
– Lots of accessories included
– Compatibility with Go Pro accessories
– In low light the video quality goes down creating a little grain, but who wants to buy an action cam to use it in the dark? In addition, using the HDR the situation improves slightly
– The picture quality is not great, much better videos
– No stabilization
– Images as not as sharp as SJ5000+ and Xiaomi Yi
– It’s a bit outdated
Where to find it:
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SJ4000+ (2k at 30fps, gyro stabilization): Amazon US