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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%! 

            

 
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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)

Just got my camera from china. In low and moderate room light the picture isn't very good. There is too much image noise removal artefacts and noise generated in picture. This camera needs alot of light, preferably sunlight. Maybe I just expected more for 60£ after using some genuine 808 keyring cameras. I opened mine and noticed the main chip gets very hot when turned on. Yes, the main chip will burn back of my finger. The image sensor is on separate pcb so the noise is not caused by that. The aluminium front cover of the case comes off very easily, bottom first and then use fingernail for the top. After extended use the aluminium front cover will start to warm up, maybe I'll add something to conduct heat into it. Main chip doesn't have any heatsinking to alumium cover. This camera uses same chip as many car dvr, Novatek NT96650 datasheet can be found with google (datasheet pdf). If you check with the chip number (96650) from youtube you will find many cameras with exact same specs + menus.

June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNAOMHCET

Hello
Thank you very much for one of the best Reviews.

One question, i read in the specification "Shooting Mode: Single Shot / Self-timer (2s/5s/10s) / Continuous Shooting", is this correct the camera will make every 5s a photo?

Can i download the manual of this camera?

What is the fastest way to buy the camera (delivery time)

Sorry for my bad english

Greetings from Austria

June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGerhard

To the best of my knowledge it's not possible to make this camera do interval photography, it's only got a self timer and a three shot burst mode. It cannot be used for making time-lapse video from a series of automated stills.

June 20, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

@NAOMHCET: Could you please share a low light video sample (or stills taken from it), maybe a comparison between sj1000 and a keyring cam? Thanks! for the info

PS: I'm not sure if conducting heat from the chip to the alu cover is a good idea. I suspect in sunny weather the alu cover might cause the chip to overheat.

June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohnny B

The aluminium front cover is a pretty hefty chunk of metal; if it wasn't to be used as a heat sink, why not make it out of much lighter plastic? Odd. The lack of 720/60 isn't that important to me, but I do wish that they'd used either a 120 degree lens or made the window on the (almost obligatory) waterproof housing slightly larger to avoid the vignetting. Still, what should we expect for £60 rather than £200+?

June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichard D

I bought mine from "Electronics Depot" on Amazon, quick delivery, came with a UK plug & a 4 gig card. Video both indoors & out is excellent. Tested the dive case by loaded with a bag of small screws for ballast & leaving submerged in sink for about 4 hours. When I opened the case it had taken in quite a bit of water.to find out where the water got in I filled the case with water & left it laid on its back for a couple of hours on a dry surface. No water leaked out. I then left it front down with the door open, to avoid any partial vacuum keeping the water in. Again no leaks. This makes me think that the most likely culprit is the door seal which may work sometimes & not at others, a smear of silicone grease on the seal will probably be enough to keep rain out on a bike,but I wouldn't take it diving (This is a pity as I had hoped to lower it to the seabed on a piece of string & photograph the Titanic!) Another issue with the dive case is that when putting the camera in the case, the buttons on the top of the camera sometimes foul on the corresponding buttons on the. case It is very easy not to notice this & try to close the door, doing this could deform the door. Neither of the holders for the naked camera will hook into all three location points at the same time, I have resorted to putting a sturdy elastic band around the bottom of camera & clip. I don't think the handlebar mount is fit for purpose at all. I have mounted the dive case to a rucksack shoulder strap using the supplied large plate with the built in clip. (Just hope this doesn't twist the door & let rain in.) You can also buy very cheaply a chest harness from "7 dayshop,com." T his would probably need modifying to fit. All in all I think the video quality & adjustability of the camera just about makes this a worthwhile DIY project.

June 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

If I've know it earlier I would buy it from Amazon too, too late. I must wait for the post from China.
Good to hear the quality in and outdoor were both good. That is important.

June 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

To all mountain bikers: have you tested this camera out on the trails with the stock handlebar mount? If so, PLEASE, share it... I'm a click away from buying, but I would like to see it in real action first.
Cheers and thanks techmoan for the great reviews!

June 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPedro Diogo

Pedro, I would not trust the stock handlebar mount AT ALL. I'm a roadie, rather than a MTBer, and the mount snapped less than mile from home while riding along a road that isn't smooth, but isn't particularly rough either. If it can't survive that, there's no way it would cope with an off-road trail.

In the meantime (awaiting a new waterproof housing), I have managed to mount the surviving part of the handlebar mount to a K-Edge GoPro handlebar mount - it's not a perfect solution (you need to source some washers and widen the hole in the plastic piece, but it's a lot more solid. And if the camera falls off a second time, I'm buying GoPro and sod the expense.

June 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichard D

Another great review, keep up the good work mate.... My wife can here you talk when I'm watching your reviews, she thinks your the next Richard Attenborough lol

June 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLargey

Thank you very much, Richard. Really appreciate your reply. Did it broke on the tripod hole or anywhere else the mounter itself? I'm seeing this mounters at DX.com: http://dx.com/p/bike-bicycle-motorcycle-clamp-mount-base-holder-for-dv-digital-camera-black-206937#specification Do you think they would help?

June 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPedro Diogo

Having purchased the cycle mount Largey suggests to use my DR32 dashcam as an action cam on my mountainbike I can vouch that it is a very solid construction and holds the camera very solidly as well as having the ability to quick release.

Here is an action video I cobbled together using a combination of said mount and a diy chest mount, the terrain was very rough in places and I think the mount coped well and held the camera very steadily, maybe the only thing lacking is effective anti-shake not being part of the DR32s specs ..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=eED3F4Vz5Dw

https://www.dropbox.com/s/myt9icdacmqk6vy/20130601_144550.jpg

June 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

I meant the mount Pedro suggests, not Largey :-)

June 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

That looks pretty good, Brian! Thank you for the feedback. I just hope this mount works ok with the SJ1000... As techmoan said, it's tripod hole is a bit small so it may not work that well... What matters is that it really is stable and seems to absorb some small vibrations.
Also, does anyone know if it will be possible to upgrade the firmware? Stabilization would be nice, although some videos look weird with it...

June 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPedro Diogo

Time lapse would be a useful upgrade which I guess would be an easy addition to the firmware. I wonder if Miss Ma (the contact at the Shenzhen hongfeng century technology co.,LTD) is reading this blog?

June 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim

I just got mine, and a friend got his. For the RC crowd, you can remove the battery and power it though 5V USB, it will work and you will shed some weight (though not as much as hoped). Nice extra is that it will start recording automatically once you connect the battery. Here is a clip a friend of mine recorded:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMfbTXb8nAM

using a version 0.1 earplug based damper. Even thoough it doesnt do 60FPS, the result is rather excellent for the money if you ask me.

June 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterveritgo

Just received mine from a seller in Hong Kong via ebay. It's come with a newer version number Y130615 and the screen seems to go off to save power at the allocated screensaver time period.
Just an update to my previous comment, as the battery that comes with the camera is around the size of 3 AAA sized batteries, you can in fact just use those batteries to create your own easily enough.
Looks good in red. Only went for that colour because it was cheaper than the others for some daft reason. :)

June 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBen

I'm glad the deliveries are starting to come through now. Hopefully I put together an accurate and fair demonstration. If anyone spots something I missed, please share the details here so that other people can learn about it. Thanks, Mat.

June 24, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

@ Jim. I never bother with the time lapse feature built into my various cameras, much preferring to shoot everything in real time and vary the playback speed on the timeline in post. Best thing is the undo button, something not available to you if you've shot timelapse in camera.

June 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Your review is excellent as always Matt. Wouldn't have bought this if it hadn't been for your video so thanks for that.

Just another few points I'd add. On mine there seems to be a little red light shining through, when it's plugged in and being powered externally, right behind the usb socket. Also when plugged into a pc it gives a menu onscreen for a choice of mass storage, or use as a webcam. That one's always a popular question it seems. ;)

For the price you got it spot on, seems to be a great little camera. Was surprised at how heavy the package containing all the parts was to be honest. That's a lot of accessories. I also got an allegedly 8gb Kingson card with mine, a UK adapter plug, a little instruction manual, which says it should record in avi, but it records in mov.

Oh and the plastic bits that form fit and hold the camera in most the mounts doesnt seem to want to clipin so tape will be required on mine I think for a sturdy hold.

June 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBen

One thing Mat. This particular camera has a very wide angle lens to be sure, but it also has a lens that comes complete with gobs of barrel distortion, bending all straight lines that don't pass through the centre of the frame. This is fine for a lot of applications but it can be somewhat undesirable in others. So just a thought, could you do a 'standard test', a quick reference shot of the side of your house, say, standing in the same position, perpendicular to the wall each time you test a new camera? This would give a good comparison as to the angle of view each camera sees, as well as the amount of barrel distortion you get given.

June 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Tested the waterproof casing by submerging it in my bathroom sink for a few hours. It came out with one big drop of water in it, possibly from condensation but it seemed a bit much. Looks like it should be good enough for heacy rain or in shallow water for brief periods of time, but I wouldnt trust it to go scuba diving :)

June 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterveritgo

Not sure if it's a bug or not but in 1080p mode it says I have just 2hrs 56mins recording time on a 32gb microsd card. Yet when I put it into 720p or any other resolution it shows I only have 1hr 28mins recording time.
Anyone else getting this please?

June 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBen

I've bought this to mount to my helmet when cycling and to my motorbike whilst commuting. Mat, I know you're busy with other reviews right now but if you could tell me how you mounted it to your motorbike I would be really grateful. Was thinking about mounting it to my motorbike helmet occasionally as well, is there a suitable mount in the pack or could anyone recommend one sturdy enough?

Thanks for the review, the footage looks great and I've got mine coming on Weds :)

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

I just received it from the ebay seller mentioned. Bad news is that mine came with hissing sound when playing back the file, probably from a bad mic. Also I noticed that mine produced an over sharpened video outcome.
Does anyone know where and how to upgrade the firmware? Mine came with version 130507.

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterfrank

@frank was the seller buy_ee? Sorry to hear you have problems with it. I should get mine tomorrow and will upload some test footage. Is there any chance you can upload some footage to a public dropbox so that I can see the oversharpening (before youtube does any conversion)?

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

Emptybee I mounted it to my bike by attaching the tripod screw to the Sony mount, in the location shown in the video on the following post.
http://www.techmoan.com/blog/2013/5/17/revisiting-the-sony-action-camera.html

It was a very shoddy job, didn't fit well, needed a couple of washers on the tripod screw as spacers and I'm surprised it didn't fall off. Not a solution I'd recommend, but I just needed it to work for one journey.

June 25, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Thanks for the reply Mat. I've decided to buy the mount that Pedro referred to and will mod the housing if required to take a longer thread by gluing something similar to (but not!) this in: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001BPCMRW

Also going to make sure that there is a lanyard attached to whatever I'm mounting it to so that if the worst does happen I won't lose the camera. It's highly irritating that there are firmware changes coming though but there is nowhere that I can find to download them but I guess this is what we expect with a cheap camera. Going to email the supplier after I've received mine about this anyway and will update if there's a decent response.

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

what exposure is best for this camera?

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason E

@ emptybee

What about this.

http://www.ebay.de/itm/Profi-Stativ-1-4-20-Gewinde-Blitzschuh-Tripod-screw-to-Flash-Hot-Shoe-Adapter/140898971754?_trksid=p5197.m1992&_trkparms=aid%3D111000%26algo%3DREC.CURRENT%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D14%26meid%3D8628054753188224277%26pid%3D100015%26prg%3D1006%26rk%3D1%26sd%3D171062817072%26

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

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