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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)

Maybe zooming in a bit will get rid of the vignette? Not sure how much of a quality issue this would be.

June 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

I haven't got a sj1000 but i wonder if the waterproof case could be modifief to accommodate the wide angled lens by removing the black ring/lens that is held on by screws, shaving./sanding down the casing and then reattaching the lens, thus making the waterproof cases lens closer to the sj1000, just a thoight....

June 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Hi,

Another great review!!

Wonder if you can put the waterproof case (put some dry toilet paper in) into clear water and press it down for 2 minutes (or longer) to see if any waterdrop/moisture is inside?

I tested another sport camera like this and found out it is NOT waterproof at all. Leaking occurred even for GoPro.

Thanks in advance if you have time for that..

June 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

I've moved onto shooting my next reviews now - I'm a very long way behind with them so I've had to draw a line under the SJ1000 review now. All testing on this camera has now ceased and the review has concluded. I've got to stop answering any more questions about this camera, otherwise I'll never get anywhere with the new stuff.

To answer one last question though, I wouldn't trust this case for proper underwater work, but it's useful to keep the rain off.

June 16, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

But it's white, and that always reflects in a car's windscreen. What came into the designer's head? Should I wait for the matt black version?

June 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Tom, no need to wait, various colours are already available - see the ebay sellers for the currently available options.

June 16, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Yup, I now see you can get this camera in all pretty colours. Note to self: check before type.

@ Norman - if you take a still frame and import it into Picasa (a free google download) it'll tell you the entire specification for that shot. What ISO was used, who makes the camera, its frame size, the shutter speed used, the aperture (and often the T stop as well) and so on. For instance: My Extreme cam is made by Sunty, it shoots 2592 x 1944 pixels, flash isn't used, focal length 5mm, aperture f/3.73, auto WB and ISO, center weighted exposure determination, exposure bias -1/3 and so on. I'll do the same for my SJ1000 when it arrives.

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Yup, I now see you can get this camera in all pretty colours. Note to self: check before type.

@ Norman - if you take a still frame and import it into Picasa (a free google download) it'll tell you the entire specification for that shot. What ISO was used, who makes the camera, its frame size, the shutter speed used, the aperture (and often the T stop as well) and so on. For instance: My Extreme cam is made by Sunty, it shoots 2592 x 1944 pixels, flash isn't used, focal length 5mm, aperture f/3.73, auto WB and ISO, center weighted exposure determination, exposure bias -1/3 and so on. I'll do the same for my SJ1000 when it arrives.

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

@ Brian, Norman and Anthony. The vignetting may only be apparent in air. In water the focal length of the lens is increased because of the refractive index of water:air. I'm betting there won't be any vignetting when used under water.

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

you could be correct Tom, but I'd still use the waterproof case in the rain and wouldn't want the case visible in the footage

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

@ Willie,

It's seems to be exactly the same, well except I went for a black one instead of a white one. Even the firmware version is the same.

Re. the box contents, everything is the same except the 2 pin plug was removed and replaced with a UK 3 pin one, and there was also a USB to Micro USB as I mentioned in a previous comment.

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMumbles

@ Pat,

I tried my case underwater. At first I thought it might leak. The clamp that is an absolute swine to take off doesn't seal the back all the way round, however, it does seem to be enough - although I won't like to try it under real pressure, well not within testing without the camera first anyway.

But the toilet paper I used remained dry after being submerged in the sink for several minutes.

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMumbles

@ Mumbles

Glad to hear it is at least waterproof in a bowl of water. Just for the quality of the camera is good enough for this price. I may not use it underwater, but may use it under 1 meter water.

Thanks again and

@ Techmoan

Thanks for this wonderful test review.

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

@ Mumbles

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my question.Glad to hear its the same and that you get a proper plug for the uk, still waiting on mine hopefully it comes soon.

Thanks again

@ Matt

Don't take any notice of the tubes on “You Tube” with the stupid comments,you have a loyal band of followers that respect your opinion on the items you review, and the time and money it must cost you,not to mention the fuel you burn when doing car/bike footage.

Thanks so much for the reviews.

take care.

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwillie

Nice review, thank you.

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan

Dear @Techmoan can you tell me if this camera does time lapse? Thanks in advance!

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBelle

@ Mumbles

Just bought one by Globealibabahk at ebay. They raise 10% already. I order an extra battery for 5 pound too. The shop from England charge extra 10 pound to Germany. Too much!

June 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

@Pat,

Can you give us a link from where did you bought the extra battery?

June 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVgeorge

@ Vgeorge

item no. 121127125654 @ eBay, ask owner Globalalibabahk for extra battery.

June 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

The slop says "TF". Does it take a Trans Flash card or a micro SD card?

June 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTan

The slop says "TF". Does it take a Trans Flash card or a micro SD card?

June 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTan

It's two names for the same thing. TF=MicroSD

June 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hi Matt. I loved your review and have ordered this for my trip to Chamonix in September. I will be doing some testing and will be figuring out some solutions to the mounting issues. I will report back with my findings.

June 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonny P

@Belle It doesn't do interval photography (Timelapse).

June 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hey guys,

Does anyone know what the minimum temperature is this cam can handle? I would like to use it for skiing and snowboarding, so that's quite important.

Cheers

June 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobek

I can conclusively state that - despite comments to the contrary - the window on the front of the waterproof housing *is* glass.

How do I know? The ruddy handlebar mount snapped less than a mile into my first ride, dumping the camera on a busy main road. Thankfully nobody ran over the camera (but it was a close-run thing), but one of the plastic mounting brackets, the handlebar mount, and the *glass* window in the waterproof housing are all broken :(

I wonder what my chances are of sourcing replacements?

June 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichard D

That's not good news...The mounts are definitely the Achilles heel in this package. You might want to ask your eBay supplier if they sell spares.

June 19, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

First of all, thanks for your superb reviews!

I am disappointed finding out it doesnt do 60 FPS only after I ordered it, but stuff happens :).

Like many, I am in to mounting camera's on RC planes and copters, and we have some special requirements. Rolling shutter jello is a big one, perhaps the biggest, which is why 60fps is important. But Im guessing/hoping HDR will actually achieve the same, if it uses 2 exposures per frame (so each frame takes only as long as with 60fps). Is this something you can test?

Put it on your bike with as little vibration dampening as possible, just , run it stationary and gun the throttle and see what happens. If you can test that with and without HDR and at 1080/720 it might tell us a lot. I would also like to see this as a "benchmark" test for future camera's, so we can compare them all under the same circumstances. I do hope your bike vibrates a lot, if not, try your lawn mower or something :)

Second question, does it run without a battery but only USB connected? RC guys are anal about weight, id like to remove the battery and feed it directly through usb.

Thanks!

June 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterveritgo

How do you replay videos ? Instructions say Press & Hold Switching Off; Press Sound Recording Switch. Maybe it means Switch ON...but then It has no Sound Recording Switch...maybe it means Video Recording Switch ?? But that starts Video Recording (as you expect) ?? Pushing the 2 buttons together switches it off.

June 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFrustrated

I'm not following you. You mean on the LCD screen or on your TV?
Either way, press M (The Mode) button until it's in Playback mode (the modes are VIDEO RECORD, PHOTO RECORD, PLAYBACK - the Mode Changes every time you press the M button) them press up and down until you get to the video you want and then press OK.
Just throw the instructions in the bin. You can learn a lot more through trial and error (or watching the review again). Just try pressing buttons to see what happens - you really can't damage it.

June 19, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

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