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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)

Hi all

yesterday i started the sj1000 and let it capture movies till battery weak

i set cycling records of 3 minutes

result

40 movies of 3 min each + 1 movie of 1.30 min

so 2 hours before battery is too weak for capturing movies

i also set screen of the cam to "off" position after 1 min

February 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterphiletcha

icooci wite: "On the video you hold the button. Try to press the power button without holding it! My camera works and do the same when i hold the button."

NO! I press the power button and also does not work.
In general it will not turn
Much has already been problems with this model of the web
Nobody can help?

February 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdigit

Hi, recently I have received few emails asking about SJ1000 Lens correction. Here is the link to the video that details how to dismantle the camera and set the lens for the sharpest focus through out the frame.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO0xTf0JwLM
You can watch this video in 2D by sliding the 3D switch to off position in youtube video settings, or can watch it in side by side 3D, or red-blue 3D.
In the video you will hear me telling that you will definitely scratch the body while opening it; actually I meant to say that you might scratch the body.
Other thing important to mention is that you don't need to unscrew the PCB mounting screws found inside, for setting the lens. Just loosen/remove the glue that holds the lens, turn the lens at desired position and re-glue it with hot glue or any such glue.

February 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPinak Oza

I've ordered this camera from Amazon UK, I've paid 52GBP. The tripod screw on the waterproof case has changed, it seems a bit deeper now but still not as deep as a regular camera. The hinge has changed and the case now includes a power button. I received a EU USB adapter, luckily :)

February 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteven Devijver

@Steven Devijver, you have a link for where you ordered it?
Thanks!
I saw this link on Amazon UK for 42GBP
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00ENF3C5S/ref=gno_cart_title_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A32BIBKYR8JIIC

February 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTony P

I ordered this camera from eBay in Germany. It came in a box. On the carton writes it is a 140 ° lens. It came with a new waterproof housing with three buttons. A camera has a 90 ° lens and the image is complete bullshit. I think that this camera is no longer wise to buy because you do not know what you get.

February 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBevcan

To Bevcan: And how could you possibly know, that it is SJ1000 and not just cheap clone? This is to be pretty much expected when buying form eBay, especially this long after the initial release. It´s cheaper for a reason ;-) .

February 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFreeman

Hi,

Has anybody used this for stills? Is it any good?

I'm after something I could use for water sports photography.

February 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter7footFish

@&footfish. Haven't you read my review? Link above. I rate this little pebble highly and last weekend popped it in my pocket (being careful to protect that vulnerable front element) and used it as a stills camera all day long. The barrel distortion and incredibly deep depth of field has to be used for effect, but it really does perform well in low light and the 5mp stills are impressive.

February 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Hello everybody.
Thanks for your answers cos they were very helpfull.

I've spoken to the seller and he suggested a replacement, as you recommend. Besides, I'm going to send only the camera, without battery or accessories. So, I'll send in a little box well-packed.

Does anybody know what company I can use to send the package?
I'm from Europe (Spain)

Thanks for your support :)

February 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnsel

the company you will use to send the camera for repairing is a matter of cost.. the express mail (DHL, Fedex etc) are fast and safe but expensive. i would recommend an EMS with your local national post company..

February 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGiorgos

I bought this camera from FoxOffer. They said it was 140 degrees on the site but it came with a 90 degree lens and the image quality is absolute garbage, the worst of any camera that I have owned. Battery doesn't hold a charge either.

Rubbish product, and when I tried to leave a negative review on FoxOffer they deleted it! Don't believe the fake positive reviews, negative ones are deleted.

February 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLiam

To Liam: Thanks for the info. I will think twice b4 ordering anything from them next time.

February 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFreeman

Liam

maybe they send you a bad copy of the original

mines works fine, hold charge and gives very good images

February 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterphiletcha

Quite instructive, nice pictures - http://www.hagshouse.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=53586&st=60
- disassembly, lens, remote power and control

February 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterfactotum

Hello there.
I have bought one of those cameras (black) directly from Shenzhen China, cost me only $73US with shipping included. I noticed that the time and date are constantly resetting after i turn off and on the camera and the 720p mode produced only patches digitalized image and the rest white patches. The firmware that it come with was 131217V01 and i saw your camera and others that are saying good things have firmware version Y130615 so i thought to give it a try. I did everything as instructed in your tutorial and everything went fine except now the whole screen of the camera is flipped up side down and the buttons are all mixed up, nothing is working as it should.
Any advice about what can be the problem?
I would bet that this camera i bought is not the real SJ1000 that you have. When i connect it with my pc thru usb as webcam the windows is recognizing the camera as J1455 model, whats yours saying when you connect it on the pc?
So should i smack my camera with hammer and go to China to kill a MF Chinese liar for $73, or there is a cleaver way to make my camera useful?
Thanks in advance and best wishes.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersvarc

Hi Svarc, Your camera is properly detected by your PC as J1455. My laptop recognize it as the same. But probably you may have received previously repaired or damaged piece. My two SJ1000s are working fine. I bought from FoxOffer and I personally recommend FoxOffer, instead of buying from somewhere else for cheaper rate. I tried some vendor from Shenzen China and also sent $22+$15 for camera and shipping respectively, but never ever received the camera or any communication.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPinak Oza

tom hardwick, I'd skimmed your (very good!) review, but I've read it more thoroughly now. Many thanks.

I've also been looking at the examples in the link above. The images are very crisp but the fish eye effect caused by the wide angle lens would bug me, and at only 5mp, if I cropped the image there wouldn't be much left.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter7footFish

Thanks Pinak Oza for the reply. I returned my camera to the previous 131217V01 firmware version that i downloaded from FoxOffer and now its working as it was in the beginning still 720p is not working. Yup i think your right that i have bought a repaired one or maybe the newer versions from this camera (the one with less wide lens) have this problem. my camera have button for the power button on the plastic box. btw guys i bet there is a way to modify the firmware to make it able to take at least photo time lapse, i will try to research more about this and post the findings here asap.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersvarc

I wanted to know which camera would be better cost / benefit sj1000 or sj4000, seeing that I'll use a lot for the practice of surf and skate, tnx

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commentervictor

As they both give the same quality pictures I'd go for the cheapest.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

I want to know if someone has experience to replace the lens of the SJ1000.
I have a 90 degrees sample of the SJ1000 from Foxoffer and I want to replace the lens for a 120 degrees sample.
I have seen a lot of options for a replacement, but I am not sure if the waterproof housing still fits after the replacement.

I think it must be a lens for a 1/4" image with 2.5 mm focal lenght, dimensions M12x0,5mm and a front of 14mm, but usable total lenght and back focal lenght are unknown for me.
If someone has experience, can you please give some hints for it? (shop, dimensions enz)

February 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterelinx

Hi Everyone. Firstly may I say a big thank you to Techmoan for the excellent work and everyone for their input.
Having watched the reviews of the various action cams I wanted to buy the TLC SVC200 for a ski trip at the end of January. However that was not available anywhere at the beginning of January so I opted for this on (SJ1000).
I bought mine via ebay from neostore £58 all in incl. delivery on 7th January this year. Although it is a Chinese seller, they said this camera was in the UK. After a lot of to and throw I did order it and it did indeed come from Birmingham within 4 days of ordering. They must have someone holding stock and sending them out for them.
Anyway I also had the problem with the camera not charging or connecting to the PC, turned out it was the (low quality) USB cable. They did send me a replacement one out within a few days.
My unit came with the 131209V01 firmware and the modified housing and narrower lens, not sure if it is 90, 100 or 110 deg, but it certainly isn't 140 deg as stated on the packaging.
Bought a third party cheap chinese gopro-alike chest harness and modified this so I can have the action cam chest mounted, as I didn't fancy having it stuck to the top of my helmet.
It all works perfectly for me at the moment, albeit the auto white balance struggling in the snow. Footage is all very blue but I'll correct that with a video editing software, once I get one that works ok with my ageing PC.
Just thought I'd share my experience with everyone. Thanks again.

February 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHovo

I`m a bit further with trying to get a replacement wide angle lens for a reasonable price.
I did some calculations and I think the original narrow lens is a 2.8mm one.
If I want a wider angle a 2.1mm lens is more suitable.
There are a lot of M12 lenses to find, but most don't have an IR cut filter.
The lenses that have this filter are also the expensive ones.
What I thought it would be an easy job, looks now an mission impossible.
I hope someone comes up with some hints and tips.

March 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterelinx

@ Liam

I also ordered my SJ1000 at FoxOffer 2 months ago and I did receive a 140 dgr version with excellent picture quality. So they did ship originals but maybe the next batch is imitation?

@svarc

I had the same problem with firmware Y130615, so i flashed it back to 131217V01 and it works fine.

March 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Got it a couple of days ago, happy with the build quality but having some issues with memory cards, software etc.
First off i always have at least one corrupt file when I transfer the files onto my computer and now there is a "custer size wrong" error whenever i attempt to video anything. The cards a fairly crap and cheap but should that matter? should i ask for a refund on the cards and buy better quality for more money?
Then there is the battery. Having charged it overnight you would assume its fully charged but it only has two bars out of three of juice so I Don't know what to do about that? Also there is no indication of when it is fully charged so how do you know? there is a red light somewhere inside of it when it charges but that doesn't stay on forever.
Would be great if someone could let me know what is going on.

March 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDan

@Dan. When your camera shows 2 bars on the battery display, how long will it run the camera (screen off) in the 1080 full HD mode? If it's a couple of hours plus then it's the display that's faulty, and not the battery. Have you checked that the contacts in the camera are making good contact with the battery contacts? And lastly, it's much more likely that you have a cloned SDHC card than a cloned SJ1000. It's a lot cheaper, faster, easier and more profitable for a manufacturer to clone cards than it is to clone cameras.

March 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Hello.I ordered my SJ1000 from the link in this article.Which version should I expect to get? They sell a lot from this seller,he must be correct. In the description,it says 90 degrees. People that ordered from him,which type did you receive? 140 or 90 degrees,and how is the quality of both?

March 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTihomir

@ Dan

mine has only 2 blue stripes when full charged and lasts for 2 hours, just like tom hardwick says, display screen default and not battery default

March 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterphiletcha

Yeah thanks guys, battery's is fine, actually get more than 2 hours which is great!
Do you suggest that good quality cards will fix my file corruption issue? Planning on taking it on a once in a lifetime trip so cannot risk losing files.
Thanks again, Dan

March 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDan

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