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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)

Got another battery to see if it would improve the poor recording time I had with the original (80 mins). Sadly not. Still only getting 85 minutes record time. So must be the camera I have is either using more power than others or the charging/shut off circuit is calibrated differently. Funnily enough the latest battery has 1100mAh on the case. ?however, when you open it up it's just the same 1000mAh cell as the old one. Ho hum ...

August 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlexie

80 minutes with lcd on? If the lcd was on i think that is ok.
I recorded with lcd off and with cycle record on 10 minutes and i got 137 minutes.
So same as the gopro. In my opinion is ok.2 hours with lcd off and 1 hour with lcd on is very ok.
You can put screen saver on 1 minute.

August 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVgeorge

yes, me too. l got 132 mins with the screen off, 10 min clips.

August 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

LCD screen off ... still only 80 mins. In fact Techmoan got 130 mins with the screen on I think so it doesn't seem to make much difference perhaps.

I did a crude discharge test on the original battery alone and concluded it was only around 700 mAh which would almost account for the lack of recording time compared to others. I was surprised the "new" battery has the same problem. Charged (4.16V) and discharged voltages (3.6 V) seem to be correct for a LiPo so either both batteries are down on capacity or the camera is using more power than others. Strange one.

August 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlexie

I finally got my cam (6 weeks n custom delay) and made some test without UWC. Quality is brilliant for the price. UWC can#T film full frame as everyone knew. (too bad!). I did some closeup flower and bee shot, but too closeup, so not very successful. I think maximum 5 inches is better. If you are interested, take a look at the link.

https://secure.flickr.com/photos/pat-lam-photography/with/9432447151/

August 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

I found out if you set AWB then the color is blueish, when set to daylight, it becomes yellowish (warm). Strange !!
Once you set Color Balance of photo (either AWB or daylight), video will follow the same setting.

August 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

I too have found the PebbleCam's auto white balance to be far better than the presets. The 'normal' sharpening is set rather too high, but it really only shows up on a very big TV. I have my exposure set to +1/3rd of a stop as I think this gives the best results overall.

August 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

The SJ1000 camera holder that works with the small indents on the camera body is easier to lock into place by first snapping in the top of the holder to the camera top indent and then pushing the bottom of the camera into the camera holder. It will snap into place much more securely in that manner. You may have to exert a bit of pressure as you push the camera into place, but it snaps in and holds firmly when done in this manner. I have also done a DIY ballcap camera mount modification with the folding stock SJ1000 camera mount, but I am not sure you can link flickr photos in this reply or not.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/a1930ford/9444013727/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/a1930ford/9444013813/

The female nuts to the mounts are tapered at the ends and make tightening the mounts fully sort of challenging at times.

I put a double folded piece of tap onto the back of my camera, just above the screen there. I can push it out of the way when the camera is inside the housing, but it works as a tab to grab the camera with as I remove it. I don't drop the camera out of the housing when I use this tape tab.

August 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCoupe1942

I ordered a second clear housing from Hopezone110, at ebay. I believe it cost me $17 bucks, including shipping. I took my original housing and drilled out a small hole in front of where the microphone is located. I had added a small, round tether stick on and drilled the hole right through it, too. I then removed the back of my stock housing. I hold the camera in place with a small rubber band or a thin Velcro strip. This mod allows for much better audio when I am riding on my motorcycle.

If you don't wish to drill anything on your stock housing to modify it, you can do the same thing to improve the audio by simply leaving the back door cracked open and using a rubber band to go around the housing to prevent the camera from being pushed out. Make sure you secure the hinged latch or it will rattle when you do your filming. Remember, you still have to turn on the camera before inserting it into the housing. Believe me, the audio is much better with this mod or by leaving the housing door cracked open.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/a1930ford/sets/72157634691823964/

August 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCoupe1942

Well I managed to measure the current taken by the camera the other day to try to see why the battery life is poor on my cam and found the following:

Screen ON:
Not recording - 0.4 A
Recording - 0.55 A (average, jumps between 0.5 and 0.6)

Screen OFF - current only dropped by 0.02 A ... which is odd, thought it would have more affect.

The battery is probably close to 1000 mAh but the camera shuts off around 3.6V which is about 85% discharged so you're only getting 850mAh. Based on the above current drain you will only get around 90 mins which is almost all I manage, certainly nowhere near the 140 mins others get. Only thing I can see that might affect power drain is the SD card. Other than that either some have got lucky with good batteries or the camera is draining extra power because of manufacturing problems.

One way around the battery life problem is to power it through the USB from a phone backup LiPo pack. This gives hours of record time (packs typically 5000 mAh) and also allows you to switch the recording on and off remotely via the car recorder function by switching the power supply.

August 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlexie

@ Tom

I made a test on Light Balance, and found out when set on "Cloudy" it is actually daylight (color is naturally nice), "daylight" is PERHAPS cloudy. I filmed in the shadow and color very warm and yellowish.

August 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

Can someone let me know, how can i tell that it is fully charged?

August 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPantelis

On this mount, I found that the camera housing does not sit properly to allow the back door to open and close correctly. It also didn't allow the thumbscrew to be tightened fully against the clear case housing at the bottom. I solved this issue by going to my local hardware store and in the plumbing department obtaining a small-sized toilet cone washer. I didn't have the mount with me at the time, so I got one that was a bit too tight to fit well onto the mount bolt. I took it to my garage and reamed the center hole out with a 1/4" drill bit. I removed the white rubber shim that was inserted into the plastic thumbscrew and put on my cone washer to replace it. The cone washer cushions the camera house, as did the white rubber washer, but it additionally sits the camera housing up high enough to allow the back door to close and the hosing to be elevated enough to allow the plastic thumbscrew to be fully tightened. No shake for the camera when this cushioning cone washer is added and the camera housing locks into place very securely on the mount.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/a1930ford/9451223073/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/a1930ford/9451223155/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/a1930ford/9451223229/

Hope this tip works for someone.
Huey

August 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCoupe1942

Here are some pics of a really cheap camera tripod-style mount that I made up for my SJ1000 camera. I took the flat mount supplied that had the female fitting anchored at the bottom of the mount. I went to Lowe's or Home Depot and picked up a standard rebar end cap for less than $3.00, each. I drilled out a 1/4" hole through the center of the bottom of the end cap. (There is metal to the inside of this cap, so you have to drill through both plastic and metal). I can now thread a flat head 1/4 X 20" bolt that is approximately 3 to 3 1/4" long through the end cap and attach it to that stock flat surfaced mount that came with the SJ1000 camera. I additionally cut away some of the plastic surrounding the bottom of the end cap so that any bolt did not stick out and make the bottom surface uneven. This mount locks down securely and the end cap base makes for a neat little tripod mount that is not too big and won't rock over easily. This is a very easy and cheap accessory mod for this camera. It frees up my hands and allows me to film things close, especially if I am working in confined areas such as beneath my motorcycle.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/a1930ford/9452694245/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/a1930ford/9452694331/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/a1930ford/9452694393/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/a1930ford/9452694451/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/a1930ford/9452694559/

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCoupe1942

any good after market mount for this actioncam?

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason

hi, thanks for the review, I have a couple of other cams in my car but was after something better for my wife's car than the current cheap ebay cams. One thing I want to ask is what's the low light capability? The one's I have in my car had a rather dim f2.4 lens (like a webcam lens), fortunately I managed to cut the glue, unscrew the lens and fit an f1.2 lens, so I get a decent image even driving at night (with headlights and street lighting). How does the SJ1000 fair in this respect?
Thanks

August 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeeB

seems most of them use avi for a video format, but yours is mov, what is the difference ?

August 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergary

@LeeB, and from a previous post of mine: The lens' focal length isn't given (probably in the region of 2 mm). It has a very wide angle of view, easily seeing both my A pillars when stuck to the top of my car's windscreen. It is sharp corner to corner, but the barrel distortion is severe and Photoshop can only partially remove it. It works well in low light - noticeably better than my Crocolis with it's f/3.4 max aperture. It has a fast f/1.6 maximum aperture but *everything* is shot at f/1.8. The multi-coating is very impressive indeed and you have to shoot right into the sun to get flare in your shot. Mov files are Apple wrappers, the MP4 is still H264 encoded. Much more of a problem is that this camera only shots at 30fps, unlike the Crocolis that will shoot at a true 25fps and therefore renders every frame useable inn the timeline.

August 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

I modified my SJ1000 mount to work on my helmet. It is shown in this flickr set. I have not tested it out to see how it reacts when riding, but it seems pretty secure so far. No video with it just yet. At least on this helmet it can be installed with no real problem. Not sure what other helmets may allow for the adaptation though.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/organize/?start_tab=one_set72157634691823964

August 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCoupe1942

Ben, from your June 24 reply to this thread: Those small clips that hold the camera into the holder are best used by snapping the top one to the camera first and then pressing the camera into the holder. Once it is done in that manner, the camera locks in pretty securely to the mounts. I always recommend the use of a tether for any camera of value, so I use a small rubber band that I put over at the top of the holder and set it at just below the lens. It holds the camera securely in that manner.

August 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCoupe1942

Thank you for the great review. I just bought two of them (SJ1000 Action Cam) and had a minor problem with one of them. It was slightly out of focus at the right side of the picture. After opening the cam and adjusting the lens (which is secured with glue) it works fine now.
I was wondering if anyone had a driver for the webcam function and possibly a firmware upgrade?
I have ver. Y130615 .
Thanks and best regards
Robert.

August 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrobert

Beware of the "waterproof" housing that came with the camera!!
We have been swimming/boarding this afternoon and I, being paranoid, kept checking to see if there was an water getting in.
After a while I didn't bother to check. When I got out I found there was a leak, the case was quarter full with water. I know the snaplock seal was OK but after dunking it in a tall glass vase I could see bubbles coming from the top left button.
The camera is dead after trying to dry out the internals. I also had a problem with it not able to access the Menu. All in all this has not been a good camera.
My EGO camera is now playing up, it has now been recharging for past 3 hours when it normally takes an hour. Battery is shown as fully charged - I suspect another termination is on its way!

August 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Matt,
Thanks for doing the reviews - I've bought the SJ1000 for my own eye witness in my Transit and for a bit of fun on my bike(CB1300). I'm not a tech bloke at all and have only got the camera to work for a couple of occasions, I've bought a 32gb mini sd and card reader from Maplins and have downloaded Quicktime to play back the video. Can anyone on here explain why the video is jerky? Like its not smooth running? Its a class 10 mini sd - and how do I 'glue' all the clips together to make a seamless video of the duration of the journey(I'm thinking bike here, not van). Also, will you be on the Simoncelli rideout in September? Rumours of approx 400 bikes, should be cool......

August 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAl

Al - 1) Ensure you Codecs on your PC are up-to-date by installing the K-lite codec pack.
2) Make sure your PC is upto the task of playing back 1080p files - it takes a surprising amount of oomph.
3) I use a Mac and edit in iMovie - I'm not familiar with any other packages.
4) I only ride solo - I enjoy the time on my own.

August 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Is the silicone grease mentioned here the same as dielectric grease?

August 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCoupe1942

@Coupe1942
Dielectric grease is made of silicon grease but i don't if you can use it for the same purposes.
I saw your helmet mount and i was wondering if you unscrew the handle screw it would fit the gopro j-hook.

August 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBMelro

I have two different helmets with the J-hook attached at the chin piece. One of them is zip tied to the helmet through the slots in the chin area. The second one is adhering with just the sticky tape that came with the mount. Unfortunately, the second one was the one I just started to check to answer your question. Darn! On of the arms broke on the mount. First time I have had that happen, but I have heard several folk complain of such in the past. Looks like I will have to epoxy that mount into place on the helmet. I seldom use it though, as I have fallen in love with magnetic mounts that have the GoPro tripod adaptor to them or the super clamp-style mounts. In looking at the GoPro J-mount clip piece, you could probably drill it out large enough to make the stock helmet screw hold it in place, but the GoPro J-mount clip is angled as the J curves, so I am not so sure as to how solid it may be and what that would look like. I am not overly impressed with many of the GoPro mounts, myself. The base to that j-HOOK is a flat mount and if you drill a hole into it, that middle track would likely interfere in some manner. I like the location on the chin mount on the helmet for my GoPro cameras. Hope that answers your question.

Thanks for the info about the dielectric grease. I am going to check out some scuba gear places tomorrow. Radio Shack and the local camera store employees only laughed when I said the word grease. Knuckleheads running those places though. :-)

August 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCoupe1942

sorry to hear about j hook breaking.
thanks for the info.

August 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBMelro

Battery Life:

I tested the battery, and found out it can shoot more than 2 hours (more than 120 minutes) continously. It is fantastic for the price and performance.
For White Balance: Cloudy is exactly Day light. Be aware !!

August 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

@Coupe1942 yes better a scuba shop, that's where I found it!
@Peter yes I said some posts earlier case is not waterproof out of the box, you have to work on it.

I came back from 7days holiday at the sea, with my SJ1000, I'm pretty satisfied with the results, however it needs a lot of car, you can't just drop it in water for hours and that's it (like for every camera). Furthermore sea water is very aggressive! ;)

August 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternando

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