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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
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)

@Marlo : sounds like your card is to slow.What is the class of your card ? Should be class 4 or higher.The faster cards aren`t really more expensive so i bought a class 10 for my SJ1000 and it works fine.
Maybe your card should be formatted again...

May 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIngo

@Marlo : sounds like your card is to slow.What is the class of your card ? Should be class 4 or higher.The faster cards aren`t really more expensive so i bought a class 10 for my SJ1000 and it works fine.
Maybe your card should be formatted again...

May 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIngo

@Tom
I simply placed a piece of paper in front of the camera with the degrees drawn on it.
The box said 140° indeed. I won't take the camera apart tot replace it with another one.
Thanks for the reply.I will just live with sharp video's with a 90° fov.

May 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRower

Hello,
It is annoying that date & time is being reset, when you put in a new battery.

Is is possible to read and store the current date & time on the SD card?

Thanks

Klaus

May 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKlaus

@Klaus : change the battery while the power supply is connected.

May 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIngo

@Ingo
Sir, I have class 10 sandisk, I also change the card with class 10 sandisk extreme which I borrowed from my friend to check if the card is the problem, but still my cam hangs up..
I really dont know what happen, my cam didnt fall or hit something hard..
any idea what the cause?

do you know where I can get the original firmware of SJ1000? maybe its system is the problem, maybe if I reset it to its original firmware, it will be normal again..
thanks..

May 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarlo

Mine arrived today with firmware 131217V01

What I have noticed so far that this is not true loop recording as it just records bunch of 3 minute clips, and probable deletes old ones. I had true loop recording on some old casio camera where it records everything in one buffer, so even if you run it for an hour you will have just last x seconds saved so you don't have to look through bunch of uninteresting clips to find the one one where something happened.

Even with 32GB SD card it tells me that I have only 3 hours left with blank card. I tried formating it on pc as FAT and also exFAT, and tried formating on the camera with the same result. Any idea what to do about it?

Advertised optical zoom is really just digital zoom. Sound is almost none when camera is in case and I was hopping I could protect camera on the beach with it and have recognizable sound.

Overall it is good for the price.

May 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMilo

Please help. After upgrade firmware my screen is white. Cant see anything. But camera function is ok. What can i do now??? Please help.

May 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSJ1000 Brick

I just bought one- awesome little camera and minimal distortion from lens. Coped well with varying light levels going under bridges and not quite under lorries. A variety of clamps and brackets, perhaps a bit over complicated, I rejigged them a bit to get an simpler handlebar fixing.
Easy to set up and operate but only major downside the worst battery life since I stuck a couple of pennies in a lemon in primary school- charged all night and managed about twenty minutes and it was down to one bar on the battery level indicator- on charge all day at work and it has just cracked two bars on the battery level indicator (out of three).
If you're prepared to chance it on the battery life then totally recommend it and the waterproof case is great for filming the dishes in the kitchen sink or diving on the Barrier Reef (before it disappears under the mining companies' sludge of course). To be fair the battery may just need a couple of full cycle charges? If so I'll be back and let you all know

May 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStefan

Some hints:

in some cases the battery will never have 3 bars. Nevertheless it can record around 2 hours.
try to use your cam until it will shut down before saying it will not last long.

To see what Lens you have there are a lot of lens angle calculator for the ones who cant calculate.

Format the SD-card only in the cam. Never with windows.

And use a class 4 or higher SD.

For a record loop, you can set the time and other things in the Settings.

After you update your camera, delete the update files from the sd card.

We haven't got a repair lens or a lens that will work instead of the 90° one. If you have one, let it know.

next to the micro-usb port is a led. It will be red if its loading, and will in some cases green? or switches off if the battery is full. read the first hint if you haven't all three bars on display.

May 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdk

Round two on the battery life! When I got it at the end of last week the battery was on its knees after twenty minutes but now after a series of long charges and nearly total flattenings it's working fine- according to an email from the supplier the battery is supposed to give two hours- not convinced yet but less doubtful. Other than that the image quality is excellent, menus easy to navigate and the waterproof case is a real tie breaker.... yesterday's torrential rain on the way home proved how effective it was- how about a windscreen wiper on the next model?

Stefan

May 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStefan

I would highly recommend not buying these cameras - I cannot charge mine, spare battery wont work, external battery charger wont work, different usb leads wont work. A complete waste of money. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!

May 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDayle

@Dayle : i think that something is not ok with your camera.I charge the batterys with the camera and an external charger and it works fine.
If this camera is thrash why are there so many satisfied users around ? Send the camera back to and get another one.

May 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIngo

I have a problem with webcam feature of this camera. As long as it works the results are very nice but there is this problem, it seems that it's using some kind of motion detection for webcam even tho I have motion detection disabled in options of cam. This makes it totally useless as webcam as there must be constant movement and that is from pretty close distance, it doesn't even notice me moving on my chair or waving hands until i do it right in front of it. It seems to happen less in better lighting conditions than I usually have in my room but it still happens. For the test I even put it in other room full of daylight coming through the windows but the issue was still there. I have bought sj1000 in the first place because of the included webcam feature but now I am totally disappointed and hopeless. Does anyone else have this problem?

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenternaq

I just had my new camera and its great. Its recording in mov format,,how can i upload videos on facebook or should i convert it first to mp4? Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

May 24, 2014 | Unregistered Commentern.i..

Hi,
I can't seem to insert the microSD card into the SJ1000. It goes in but does not stay in. It springs back out. Can you give me any advice?
Rick

May 24, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Video shot in really awful conditions, the colours are actually quite realistic, it was really this damp. Camera coped well with both the gloomy weather and the movement, as I was riding motorcycle on a racetrack.

May 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFreeman

I have one of these excellent cameras, I use it on my motorcycle commute every day. Does anyone know if the mounts are available separately, mine has got a bit loose.

May 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris Howard

I bought an SJ1000 and like most people here, found that the image was vignetted when the camera was used in the UWH, above or below water. The lens was stated to have a 140 degree angle of view.

Not wanting my films to be vignetted I splashed out on the SJ4000 and it's been interesting to test them side-by-side. The SJ4000's box tells me it's fitted with a 170 degree fov lens and sure enough, the image isn't vignetted when it's fitted into its UWH.

But a side-by-side comparison shows that the 140 degree lens of the 1000 sees a noticeably wider view than the 4000's 170 degree lens, so there are some strange focal length comparisons going on at camera HQ. Both cameras are equally sharp and for all intents and purposes they're the same camera in different boxes. The 4000's image is less distorted, but that really only because it doesn't see as wide.

May 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

SJ1000 Anti-shake upgrade
Photos
Result

May 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjybronto

Just got this a day ago. The box says it's got the 140 angle lens but i don't know/care about checking that. The firmware is version 140411V011 and it came with the new 3 button case.

You really do get a whole load of mounts and adapters i don't even know what some of them do or what they are for but it's better to have them and not need them then the alternative.

Put simply the picture quality, functions and audio is far far better then it should be for £42. It's hard to be disappointed.

The only negative is the handlebar mount is very wobbly even when tightened to breaking point and the camera rattles a bit in the waterproof case. But i fixed that by shoving some cotton wool in the corners.

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDan

For all you SJ1000 owners out there that might be considering an upgrade ... I've just done a side-by-side test between the SJ1000 and the SJ4000 in the gloom of this room. I have always been pretty impressed with the SJ1k's performance in low light, but the SJ4k trounces it. I fed both cameras USB into my PC so I was looking at the pictures on a decent 24" monitor and the 4k is at least a stop brighter than the 1k, meaning it'll give the same quality of picture in just half the light.

Both were pretty grainy in the gloom but that's to be expected. As I looked into the room I could honestly say that the 4k saw everything pretty much as my eyes saw it, whereas the 1k just had black,shadows where my eyes could still see details.

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Which software do you use to correct distortion for images and videos?
I have tried lens correction in Photoshop but distortion is not linear so the horizon is always a bit wavy.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMilo

@Milo. I use Photoshop CS3 for stills, but you have to take two bites at the cherry because the barrel distortion is way beyond anything Adobe imagined you'd be wanting to correct. so you do max correction, save the file, reimport it and give max correction again. Of course you'll inevitably lose a lot of picture information, but you'll straighten out those lines a lot.

For video correction, look at Mecalli's website.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Hi - It seems the newest sj1000 come with a different plastic UWH where the side button operates the ON/OFF button.
Is that correct ?
One more question about 90-120-140-170 degrees.
How does one know what lens will be on the sj1000.
What's the best lens for outdoor watersports like Surfing, kitesurfing, Stand Up Paddling ? 120 - 140 or 170 ?

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Heirman

QUIERO COMPRAR UNA CAMARA SJ 1.000 EN ESPAÑA DONDE PUEDO DIRIGIRME
ATENTAMENT MARIANO SILVELA

June 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMariano Silvela

Mariano yo soy español y compré una en enero a china. Creo que en tienda fisica no las venden.Te dejo mi email y ya te digo como lo hice.
Ansel_san@hotmail.com

June 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteranselmo

I thought this camera would be great, but since I first got it I haven't been able to use it. The battery lasts 10 seconds MAX before the "low battery" popup appears. No matter how long you charge it or what you charge it with the same stupid message appears. I have tried everything from formatting the card, trying different software, removing the battery for a few hours, charging it on/off. NOTHING. WORKS. Numerous posts from people with the same problem are out there, yet never has anybody found a fix.

How can I get the camera to charge?

Also, I do notice sometimes after charging the battery, the camera turns on for half a second and the battery meter is full. However it suddenly shuts down and when I open it up again the battery meter is empty.

June 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

Are you using a 1 Amp or greater charger? A USB port on a laptop is often insufficient.

June 11, 2014 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

I've used:
-provided usb charger with laptop
-provided usb charger in mains
-my phone's usb charger with laptop
-my phone's usb charger with mains

None have worked. I read about checking the contacts but I don't understand how to check them.
Thanks for trying to help though.

June 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

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