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Pick of the Camera Reviews

(Click the pictures for reviews & links) 

ACTION CAMS

Yi 2 - Best Budget 4K 

Gitup Git2 (My Pick)

Xiaomi Yi

Dazzne P2

SJCAM M10+
 
DASH-CAMS (CAR DVRs)
 
A119
DR02 D - Best Budget Dual Cam
Yi

Yi Ultra 2.7K
   
    MINI CAMERAS
Mobius (also works as a Dashcam)
Polaroid Cube+
    HELMET CAMERA
Sena Prism Tube

My favourite USB battery power Pack

This is the excellent USB power pack I use when I travel.

2 x 2.1amp outputs. 8400mAh capacity.

Two digit Led display shows battery level

 

What SD CARD should I buy?

If you want an SD Card for your camera - these are the ones I use and recommend. 

I'd strongly recommend not to buy any SD cards off ebay - I've heard about too many issues with counterfeit cards - often sold on by unwitting resellers. My inbox regularly gets messages from people who bought a £150 camera then cheaped out and bought a £3 memory card on ebay - Then when it doesn't worth they blame the camera! It doesn't make any sense. Good memory is cheaper than it's ever been - see the links above.

A lot of HD cameras will not work properly with cards larger than 32GB (cards over 32GB are usually SDXC rather than the SDHC standard used by 32GB cards. SDXC cards use the ex-FAT system rather than FAT32 - in short they are a different standard). - so don't just buy the biggest card you can afford - read the specs in the manual to see what it accepts.

UK & US LINKS & PRICES BELOW

RECOMMENDED CARDS (for action cams - see dashcams below)

CLASS 10 UHS-1 CARDS (For HD Cameras)

 

U3 CARD (For 4K cameras)

 

 

SPECIAL DASHCAM CARDS

The SD card in a dashcam is re-written over, more frequently than in other types of cameras. Some manufacturers void their guarantee if an SD card was used in a dashcam. So, no surprise, there are special High Endurance SD cards made just for dashcams...here's some.

 

VERY IMPORTANT. These links take you to the product, however Amazon have three different ways of selling. There's Amazon Direct - This means that you are only dealing with Amazon themselves, then there's other sellers that use Amazon's facilities - these show as Fulfilled By Amazon and finally there's Market Place sellers that advertise on Amazon, but operate independently.  I strongly recommend that you only use the first...the Amazon Direct - Sold By Amazon option. Even if it appears that you are paying a couple of £/$ more it is more than likely you are comparing the price of a real item against the price of a fake.

To give you an idea of the extent of the fake goods problem. In a 2016 survey by Apple - 90% of the 'Apple' chargers sold through Amazon - using the other the two methods..which includes the "Fulfilled by Amazon" option -  were found to be counterfeit....90%! 

            

 
« The Rollie Eggmaster Vertical Grill | Main | The Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker »
Sunday
Jun092013

SJ1000 - At last...a good cheap action camera 

After years of fruitless searching and a not inconsiderable amount of money spent, I've finally found a good, cheap, 1080p waterproof action camera.

I get a lot of emails from people asking what action camera I would recommend for occasional use for paint-balling, mountain biking, etc - that costs around £50. Prior to today, my response has been that the cheapest camera I could really recommend was the Liquid Image Ego, but it costs£100.

If your budget doesn't stretch to £100 then there are very few action cameras to choose from. Perhaps the best camera from a very short shortlist is the the RD32II, but it suffers from a substandard mounting system and a non-standard video format. 

The SJ1000 changes everything. For about £60 you can buy a camera that is capable (under the right conditions) of producing video that rivals cameras costing over four times as much. I'm not suggesting that people throw away their GoPro HDHero 3 Black Edition cameras and get this instead...but if you are on a limited budget or don't see the point in spending £200+ on something you only plan on using a couple of times a year then this might well be the camera for you.

You'll have to do a bit of experimenting to get the mounting options to fit your requirements, but it's definitely worth the trouble when you see the video quality that you can get from this small camera. 

 

WANT TO BUY ONE?

Click on your Country of Choice ... US UK AUS DE NL

 

Here is a folder of downloadable sample clips

I should mention that I haven't shot many 720p60 clips...and you'll only find 1080p on the bike.

The only thing I think that I forgot to say in the video was that when using it as a car DVR there is no gap between clips (as you expect nowadays)...in fact each clip repeats the last second of the previous one just to be sure.

UPDATE - 10 June 2013 - Answering a few questions.

First some bad news - The 720p60 mode turns out to actually be 720p30 (every frame is shown twice). I should have spotted this earlier, but I had only been testing the 1080p30 mode as that's the one I use. iMovie always converts 720p60 to 720p30 so that's why I didn't notice it before...apologies for that. Here is a link to a fast moving 720p clip I shot today.

Motion Detection mode - When this is on, the camera records 10 seconds of video and then stops until it sees another movement. If a movement occurs during the 10 seconds when it's recording then the timer is reset and it records for another 10 seconds. This way if the movement doesn't stop then the camera doesn't either....hope that makes sense.

The camera should be able to be mounted the right way up in a car if the correct mounts are combined....this is demonstrated in some of the ebay auction photos. 

File Sizes: 10 Minutes of video takes up 1.2GB in 1080p or 1.07GB in 720p modes.

The case floats in water and on it's own weighs 66.7g.

The camera itself is 7cm tall, 4.5cm wide, 3 cm thick at the bottom and 3.5cm thick at the top where the lens makes it deeper.

The timestamp can be switched off. I turned it off for the Night Time Driving clips and show this option on-screen 19:57 into the video.

I think the manufacturer may be a company with the snappy name of Shenzhen Hongfeng Century Technology Co. Ltd.

BATTERY LIFE is 2hrs 15mins (Could be 2hr 30 mins or more with the screen off)

UPDATE 29 August 2013 'NEW' FIRMWARE!

I know a few people have been waiting for this - so finally here is the updated firmware that fixes the screensaver bug. If the fact that the screen didn't automatically blank out wasn't an issue to you, I'd suggest skipping this update. If you want to update the firmware, you can download the file from the Files & Drivers Page. Updating it is very easy, but just in case you are unsure...here's a quick video. Beware, if you somehow kill it, you are on your own.

Update 27 Sept 2013

Here's a link to another review of the camera by Tom Hardwick (he likes it).

Update 28/12/13.

This is a six month old review and a lot has happened since. You'll find the cases are improved, possibly the mounts too..and you now have the ability to turn the camera on when it's inside the case due to a different button arrangement. The current crop seem to have a 90º lens rather than the 140º on my camera. That means no fish-eye - but less FOV. I'm not doing any more videos about camera this but.....PLEASE READ THE COMMENTS...before posting a question that's been asked countless times before, it's the least you could do for all the kind people who have given up their time to elaborate on the features of this camera and posted their findings in the comments.  I'll give you a starter...NO IT DOESN'T DO TIMELAPSE...The way you can tell this is because there is no option for this on the screen when I go through all the menus in the camera...and it's the kind of thing I would have mentioned. I tend not to mention the things a camera doesn't do because we would be here all day....you can't clip your toenails with this camera, it can't be used as a flotation device, it won't take x-rays etc..... 

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Reader Comments (1215)

I've been trying to mount the camera in it's waterproof case on a pole (aluminium broom handle) to film my sailing activities.

However, the supplied pole mount broke while trying to tighten it onto the pole so it didn't slide - but I was never really happy with it anyway as there was no easy way to use the clip on the back of the waterproof case, and the supplied adjustable ball head mount was too flimsy to hold the camera in position (without fiddling with glue etc).

A visit to my local Chinese-run $2 shop produced a $5 mini-tripod with a ball head mount and not only does it lock off and not move, it also has a thread underneath (after removing the legs) which means I can mount it on the end of the pole using the existing hole in the end of the broom connector.

I've also used some foam padding to seat the camera on the screw so that it doesn't have so much play as it would using the rubber washer provided due to the curve in the waterproof housing.

If this doesn't work, I may invest in this Vivitar VIV-APM-7002 Mounting Bracket which is supposed to work with all action cameras.
http://www.amazon.com/Vivitar-Handlebar-Bracket-Contour-Camcorders/dp/B00DIBZ8N2

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPewit

Did your initial charge of the batteries take a long time? I have been charging for 6-8 hours now and it doesn't seem to work unless it is plugged in.

thanks in advance

IAN

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIan from California

Ian from California,
Mine charged in about a hour, maybe less. When I first got it, it was about 4.07volt.

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterButch777

I just ordered 2 or these cams on ebay from 2 different sellers. I went with a medium price, but good feedback and faster shipping.
The first I bought on June 28 and got it July 9, but the second I bought on July 2 and got it on July 8th. I'm in Ca, USA, near SFO.
Usually HongKong or China shipments can take a month for the cheaper selling price.

Both are Y130615 and seem to turn on ok, but I'm waiting for a SD card.
I have no experience with video cams, so this will be a tuff learning curve.
Thank God you all are here to help, or else, I'd be SOL. Butch

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterButch777

@Richard D. Your UWH was smashed when it hit the road surface and you say the front window *is* made of glass. I haven't unscrewed the 6 fixings that hold it in place but my front 'glass' is visibly distorted at each fixing point, suggesting that it's made of pretty thin plastic.

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

I received my SJ1000 today from China, from an Aliexpress supplier. The very first thing that wouldn't work properly was the battery opening cover. The slider would not fit in the locking hole, I had to use a small knife to enlarge that hole so that the battery cover could be locked into place.

The memory card, I inserted it into the card slot and she works fine, but I can NOT get it out! It's not spring loaded so that it will come out on it's own and I've tried with various sharp objects to get the card out without any success.

The waterproof case, I've removed the black ring and was able to sand away approx 1.5mm of the plastic so that it would move the ring closer to the plastic lens. (mine is not glass as what was reported earlier) This sanding did help with moving the visible porting of the ring closer to the outer edges of the film but they are still present. Therefore I removed the ring again and sanded approx 1mm from the waterproof housing which did move the black ring even more closer.

But I did notice that the inner circle appeared to be smaller than that in the waterproof housing so I used the dremel to enlarge. I'm now at the point where I no longer have the black ring visible in the corners of the videos, but the clear plastic of the waterproof housing is still visible. I want to enlarge that opening also but I'm worried if I remove too much and then the rubber sealing ring can't sit and seal properly.

On the other hand I have no intentions to submerge the camera case but want to use it more for a weather proof case when it's raining.

I'd appreciate any suggestions how to remove the memory card. ( I was planning to card two with me.)

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTuko

@Tuko - You could try to very carefully "superglue" a very thin piece of plastic to the exposed edge of the microSD card, with luck this should allow you to pull it out. I can't suggest why the spring latch is not working though. If you want to carry on using it and not return it to the seller, before you replace the card in the slot, stick a small pice of thin adhesive tape (Sellotape?) to the face of the card to give you a small "handle" to use in future to insert and remove the card. All this need to be done with extreme care as these cards seem very fragile. Good luck.

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBargain Bob

@Bargain Bob,
Thanks for the tips, I continued til finally I got the card out BUT at the expense of the new memory card. It appears that the hole in the side was not properly lined with the card holder in the camera therefore it was locked in place. I've since trimmed the opening so that the spring works as it should. But like I said earlier at the expense of a new Scandisk Ultra 32g card.

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTuko

@ Ben

"It seems some people want to know about extra batteries. Just get 3x AAA rechargables, wire them up and slap them in. It will give more battery life than the size of a 32gb card can handle anyway and they're cheap as chips."

Hmmm ... nice idea ... least it would be if they fitted, which they don't, not unless you used a hammer to get them home.

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlexie

In the manual, it says "Playback", but I don't see it in the menu on the cam.
Can you view playback on the cam?? Thanks, Butch

July 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterButch777

Hi guys!
I've finally got the camera as well!!! My first feeling is Very Positive!!! the model I bought differs a bit with the one reviewed by Techmoan. I got it from foxoffer for 87$ (not the cheapest but it was one of the few offering express shipping to Europe for 19$) so I received it in 2days! Awesome!
I bought it mainly to take videos and pics underwater during holidays because it was definite cheaper than a 300$ gopro!
Mine came with firmware update as stated on the website so its version Y130615.
With my great surprise also the case is different from the one in the review. I was worried about the ON/OFF missing button on the waterproof case, however the one I got has only 3 button corresponding to the ON/OFF one, M one and OK one, which make more sense to me rather than the configuration showed by techmoan.
What case have u got guys?

In the next days I'll do some swimming pool test to verify the case and maybe in the weekend take it to the seaside.

July 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternando

@Ian from California
Thanks for sharing this issue. I have the same situation here. It took holly 3 weeks to get my order delivered to my address in Melbourne from the cheapest retailer on AliExpress. To my disappointment the camera can't be turned on unless its connected to the usb cable. I believe the battery is fully charged as I feel by my tongue. I bit the malfunction is in the camera chip. Unfortunately the only thing I can do is to return it back. I have ordered another one just now thanks to your recommendation Tuko. It cost me about $30 more, but at least it is gonna arrive within 5 days and most importantly have power button on the waterproof case. Hope it will proves good for my kitesurfing sport.

Keep on the good work guys. Thanks to our great guide and mentor, TechnoMan :)

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHattem

Excellent reviews, your experience and insights make them more worthwhile than pretty much any others I've found. Thanks for your investment of thought, time, and probably not insignificant money!

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAl

@Hattem

Hi Hattem

I brought my for kitesurfing in melb as well....st kilda/altona/rosebud but it a bit cold right now...lol.

got it from buy_ee http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/121123002853 took 3 day delivery.... but lack on/off on the waterproof case... where do i get the only the waterproof case????????

Problem: STUCK on welcome screen...need to leave battery out overnite to reset..abit of a problem....happen often...any solution?

July 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermelbourne

Using a mobile phone usb battery pack for extra power and when sdcard is full its cycle/re-read space...so don't need to format/empty sdcard

July 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermelbourne

@Melbourne
Mine actually doesn't turn on at all when unplugged, so I have opened a dispute on AliExpress. If yours get stuck quite often why didn't you return it back before putting it in use?!

Anyway, this seems to happen even in fancy cameras. I have seen heaps of similar complaints for GoPro Hero3 besides complaints of its short battery life (less than 90 minutes). I suggest you try it with higher quality SDHC cards, Class 10 and see if the problem disappears. Btw, How long can yours record for when fully charged?

The lack of power button on the waterproof is a killer for your as a kitesurfer. I ordered in the last minute yesterday from FoxOffer shop. They were really responsive to confirm that the waterproof case in their store has 3 buttons, one for power function. They were also helpful to post it express in the last hour of the last business day of the week!

Anyway, where do you get it mounted? It seems easy to mount on the kite strut but impossible to mount on lines.
I never felt cold with my 5/4/3 wetsuit, boots and gloves. Next week looks promising in Rosebud & I plan to camp over there. Hope to catch up with you later.

July 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHattem

@hattem


Thanks will give a new sdcard try.

-> How long can yours record for when fully charged?

Not tried.. using battery pack for cycling...not sure. Mounted on handlebar.

-> where do you get it mounted?
lol... tooo cold... thinking bike helmet cam on kitesurfing? lol..look noobie
POST up your kitesurf vids on Seabreeze... like to see how well the cam handles kitesurfing.
http://www.seabreeze.com.au/forums/Kitesurfing/

July 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermelbourne

@Tom - the window on my UWH was *definitely* glass. It was pretty thin glass (about 1mm), but glass all the same. It broke into several large pieces and lots of smaller shards, with sharp edges, an although I didn't perform any refractive tests on it, I am utterly convinced that it was glass. The same stuff is in the replacement UWH I've received. Which is the standard "no access to power button" one.

July 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichard D

Thanks for the confirmation Richard. My assumption that my UWH has a plastic lens window comes about because if I look at the light reflecting off it I can see that it's definitely not flat and had been distorted by the fixing screws. I would have expected even thin glass to shatter if subjected to the fixing pressures that cause the ripples in its surface flatness.

July 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

got mine today and it will only power on when connected to power, is this an option I am missing?
Its like its stuck in car dvr mode, thanks for any help

July 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdvdmike

My USB socket broke loose inside the camera today, after about 3 weeks use. I know others have had the same problem & have opened up the case. Can anybody tell me how to get into the camera I can get the back off OK but can't see how to go any further. I overcame the power switch access in the dive case problem by drilling a 6mm hole in the case in line with the switch. Through this hole you can press the switch using the end of a pen or matchstick etc. To keep the wet out I have simply stuck e piece of insulating tape over the hole, this can be peeled back & re-fixed several times before it needs replacing.

July 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

@Steve, to get to the usb port you need to get the back cover off, then the front cover, then comes the tricky part: since the usb port is under the top circuit board, you need to remove it. For that you have to carefully remove the chip from the top part of the camera, which will come off with the circuit board. While slowly removing it in small steps try to pull the camera lens out too (slowly) since it also needs to come out with the circuit board. Good luck and please post back if you manage to fix the port and what method you used.

July 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohnny B

hi just bought this after your review

... great camera..

one thing you didn't mention is there is a zoom and it records video and stills.

use the up/down on the side..

dom

July 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdom

Hello

Any news for us timelapse user ?

Have a good time

Gerhard

July 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGerhard

@ dom and quite a few others. l sometimes wonder why you don't bother to watch Mat's videos and read his words before you comment here on all the things he 'missed'.

July 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Guys I got some underwater footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=d_1DghNVgsg

unfortunatelly the camera stopped working after some minutes recording. I discovered now that droplets are leaking from the case buttons. My behavior now is like the one of Adrian.
I've put the camera also in the rice to try suck some umidity, we'll see, I'll keep u posted.
I have contacted also my seller to see what are the options.

Did somebody try to go underwater with success? :)

July 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternando

@nando
I used the camera in DVR-auto mode. So it it did not get wet at all. I made a test with the tissue in the water case and saw that some water got it so I had no plans to use it under water until the case was sealed somehow. I am sure that it can be made water closed with some silicone. During the records you did the mic work OK. I had some interferences on mine then it died.
@Steve the front is from metal. Be carefully .. I understand the the mic connection brake easily. I did not open mine since the seller offered a replace. It is always to pay with PayPal. Trying to self fix it is always a last resort for me.

July 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian

@Adrian yes i know u didnt put into water but I was just saying mine now works like your: no LCD but redlight when try charging and blue light when pressing power button but nothing else

July 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternando

I have just received my SJ1000 from Globalalibabahk (Ebay), it has only taken 7 days to get here (UK). I reckon that's pretty good for what was the cheapest seller on Ebay at the time. No customs duty or VAT to pay and it had been "customs declared" as a gift by the sender.
I did order a spare battery at the same time and that hasn't yet arrived so am awaiting a reply to an Ebay message on that issue.
My camera is running the Y130615 firmware.
I thought some of you may like to know that the underwater housing has now changed from "Mat's" model. It now has a single button over the power switch and NO buttons over the "Up-Down" or "Menu" switches.
So three buttons altogether, the two on top for OK and MODE and one on the side for POWER. Looks like the makers have taken your comments on board Mat. I'm not sure at this stage how much of a drawback it will be not to have "Menu" and "UP/Down" available once it's in the housing?
I wouldn't like to say what the UWH lens is but I suspect it's plastic.
Having an initial play around with it now. Wary of what others have already said, I can see that the micro USB connector supplied is a very tight fit and would soon damage the socket, so am using a Nokia phone lead straight away.
Now to take some video!!

July 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBargain Bob

@BargainBob - good to get your input.. Mine arrived just last week from the same vendor yet took twice as long to get to me (duty free as it was a 'toy worth $5). My firmware is Y13061311 and my UWH is the old design having no on/off switch, so things change rapidly. I'm guessing you have the same instruction book though with its inaccuracies and iffy pictures. I wonder - with the redesign that has resulted in a change of tooling - has the circular window been increased in size to avoid the image vignetting? My window is 22 mm diameter.

July 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

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