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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

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 guys just to let you know I recently bought this camera for £42 from amazon with everything included except micro sd card, chest strap or head mount , it does attach to helmets though with what's provided

June 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLee

We have just returned from vacation in Mexico and we carried this little camera. I thought I would use it only while in the water but I ended up taking it everywhere. Videos, photos and battery life are pretty good and meet my expectations. Display is very hard to see in bright light so it is hard to know if camera is recording. I have made just one big mistake of not testing everything before the trip so all videos where camera is in the waterproof case is are very jiggly because there is too much space inside and I did not notice it before. So if you are using the camera in the case add something to keep it in place.
I need to find the software now to fix it (any recommendations) and then I will post some sample footage.
Photos are distorted according to fisheye effect but I created a lens profile and script to automate fixing it and I will post that soon also.

June 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMilos

We have just returned from vacation in Mexico and we carried this little camera. I thought I would use it only while in the water but I ended up taking it everywhere. Videos, photos and battery life are pretty good and meet my expectations. Display is very hard to see in bright light so it is hard to know if camera is recording. I have made just one big mistake of not testing everything before the trip so all videos where camera is in the waterproof case is are very jiggly because there is too much space inside and I did not notice it before. So if you are using the camera in the case add something to keep it in place.
I need to find the software now to fix it (any recommendations) and then I will post some sample footage.
Photos are distorted according to fisheye effect but I created a lens profile and script to automate fixing it and I will post that soon also.

June 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMilos

Hi all,
I have this camera and all in all, it's great. But I have encountered a problem a few times now.
It records in approx. 35 minute segments, but often the second segment is in an unrecognisable format. I've tried all means to play it, even VLC, which can open virtually anything, can't play it.
Has anyone else had this problem?

Great forum site, thanks for any help.

Chris

June 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris Howard

Hey All,
I've received SJ1000 today and came with Version: 131217V01 ; Although in the manual says that has Portuguese as language in user manual when choosing in the Menu it does not show it.
My question is that if there's any newer firmware rather than the one I have or this one still the newest and if anyone has a review between micro sd class 10 and below if there's a great difference both in photos and video quality.
Please comment, thank you.
RD

June 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRD

There will be no difference in video, audio or photo quality as long as the SD card isn't a fake, but then even fakes are usually only small capacity cards mislabeled to appear as having larger capacities. I run my SJ1k and SJ4k cameras on 16gb Transcend class 4 cards and they both work beautifully.

June 24, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Hi all!

I was made the upgrade on my sj 1000 action camera, and I get a white screen!! Recording is working, but nothing appears on the screen. Before upgrade i have 140411v1 firmware. What can I do?
Thank you for your answers!

June 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTom

@ Peter. You don't know what lens is going to come fitted to your SJ1000, it seems to be pot luck. The 170° will give you more barrel distortion and much more vignetting in the UWH, which you'll be using for water sports. The 150° is a good compromise but the housing still vignettes the image. The 120° doesn't vignette but isn't so good under water. Have you considered the SJ4k?

June 24, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

I have received my second one of these cameras via Amazon. I was so impressed, and still am, by the first one that I bought a second one as back up.

Sadly my luck has run out, the new one is defective, the power button does not work and so the unit refuses to turn on.
The seller has offered to replace the unit by return, so I shall report back on the progress.

July 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris Howard

I have encountered a problem with the camera recording in a format that is unrecognised and unplayable on my Mac, and it is always the second 35 minute segment. Has anyone else had this happen, and if so is there anything I can do about it.
I use my camera for my commute to work on my motorcycle. If an accident happens after 35 minutes, it's useless!

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris Howard

@Chris Howard: maybe you should try to record small clips (maximum length of 3 minutes, there is a menu), 35 minutes seems to me like a big 4 GB file which is something related to the maximum size of the file allowed by the current FAT system of the card. Just give it a try! (maybe your camera reset on this mode). Good luck!

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCata Lin

@Chris Howard: to be more explicit - try loop recording menu from the camera, I think it is set to OFF right now, turn it ON ( chose 3 minutes loops). You will not lose any frames from one clip to another. Also it is more convenient to work with small clips, for instance you can manually lock a single clip (with some interesting images on it) and then the camera will loop record other clips. If one clip is corrupted, still have the rest of them.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCata Lin

After i update with latest firmware my screen cant show text,only blank white screen. But camera function work normaly. If i plug in to hdmi,display shown normaly at my tv. Please help me...

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterfor

You can solve the white screen or another problem installing the 140423v2 from here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/n36nsndlo522d1g/FW96650A.bin

this is the last firmware, not 131218

i'm not responsible for any damage caused by installing this version of firmware.
I hope I`ve been helpful for you

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFTn.

Firmware 140423v2 doesn`t work,the screen stays white and no USB connection.

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIngo

Hi. I have problem with camera display, anyone have the same problem ? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=si-Js8uAqUo

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMrBig

dk "The first time you charge the SJ1000, connect it in the evening and remove it in the morning. After the first empty battery the indicator is working and will be green if the battery is full or red if its loading."
When i connect with empty battery the indicator is already green and never red. I disconnect after 2,5 h but don't know if battery is fully charged. Something wrong?

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFranco

There is an LED in the USB socket,it lights red while charging.If the LED is off when you connect the camera with the PC or the charger the battery is full.The display always shows the green battery,no matter if the camera is charging or not.That should be changed with the next firmware update...

July 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIngo

I didn't realise you had a website to go along with your youtube channel that I spwnd too much time watching lol looking at picking up my first action camera and this looks like a great shout.

Id previously been looking at the range on amazon uk that look similar to the go pro's, seem to come with alot of kit/mounting hardware for their sub £50 price tag, are the units themselves pretty naff then?

Also looking through youe videos the only action cam I can see you've reviewed with a external mic input was the WDV500, do you know of any other cams out there with this option? Preferable sub £100.

Thanks in advance

Kenny Watson

July 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKenny Watson

The SVC200 has a mic in - as do all the Sony Action Cams and the DXG Action camera http://www.techmoan.com/blog/2013/9/22/time-lapse-fun-with-the-dxg-dvs-5k8-action-camera.html
that is sold under lots of names and with or without wifi. Aldi rebrand this one with the Tevion name.

July 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

The Extreme Cam (Crocolis) also has an external mic input and is supplied with a tiny tie-clip mic which works very well.

July 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

3D video shot by hand held SJ1000s.

http://youtu.be/adW_BiKhVi8

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPinak Oza

I watched it in 3D and very good it is too, especially the waving flag and the tree branches that come close to you as you pass. Amazingly barrel distortion seems all but invisible - so maybe your two matched SJ1ks both have 90° lenses.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Hello Tom,

Thanks for your feedback. It was your website that provided me the necessary details and inspiration for this camera.
Also it was you who provided me with the 35mm equivalent of SJ1000 lens. It helped me lots in calculating stereo base
for shooting 3D videos using this camera. I am considering 17mm as its 35mm equivalent focal length as you suggested
earlier. But I am still not clear with the type of lens my cameras have! If you think I need additional information about it's
lenses, please let me know. Thanks a lot, I appreciate...

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPinak Oza

@pinaka. My SJ1000 equates almost exactly to a 17mm lens on a full frame camera, but the SJ4000 I'm testing now equates to a 17.6mm lens (or 11mm on a Canon APSc 1.6x crop chip). It's interesting to compare the very cheap but very good lens on the SJ4k with an expensive 11mm Tokina on my Canon 60D. The SJ has loads of electronic sharpening added, but the Tokina suffers far more chromatic aberration in an effort to remove the barrel distortion.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say you're not clear what type of lens your SJ has. Well, it's a fixed focus (18cm to infinity) Novatek f/1.6 prime lens of about 4mm focal length. There's no diaphragm, all the pictures are taken at maximum aperture (T 1.8).

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Sorry, change that. The SJ uses a 2.4mm lens feeding a 1/3rd inch (6mm) chip.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

@Tom. Thanks for the very useful information about the lens.

By saying what type of lens, I mean that I am not sure about the FOV for my SJ1000. Whether it's 90 degree or 140! I always thought it is 140 degree as advertised when I bought them. I have never taken any extra efforts to find it out the correct figure. In your comment on my 3D video, you wrote "maybe your two matched...have 90 degree lenses"

I am bit confused between 90 & 140 degrees for my SJ1ks :-)

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPinak Oza

Hey guys

I've got an issue with that spring of the sd card slot.
If I insert the sd card it bounces back every time.
If I hold it down it works but in the second i let it go it bounces back like I said.

Can someone give me a advise what to do ?

Regards,

Felix

July 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFelix

I have tested camera photo capability and it seems photos are heavily interpolated.
I took 1080p photo and stretched it to size of camera's 12MP. The stretched 1080p photo look better to me. I have uploaded comparison result at
http://milosparipovic.com/index.php/sj1000-camera-review/

July 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMilos

We bought two SJ1000 Sports HD DV cameras for under £45 each from a china ebay site.
One went wrong after a couple of weeks, emailed the company. They requested that we return the unit to them.
They refunded us the return postage to china and sent another out within a week. Excellent service.

Has anyone worked out how to turn off the on screen display info when playing back on a TV via the HDMI socket?

July 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAde N

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