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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)

@Pat Thanks, not quite what I'm looking for. Ideally want a 1/4" male to 1/4" female adaptor (may get one made by a friend with a lathe if I can't find one) which I will cut down a bit with a dremel to match depth of the hole in the w/proof case and then araldite into the thread on the bottom of the waterproof case. Cutting down with a dremel will should make the adaptor finish flush with the bottom of the case so more surface for the epoxy to adhere to. Means I can still unscrew the camera from whatever mount I'm using but can use any tripod mount without the washers that Techmoan mentioned.

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

While recording you can capture photo by pressing the power button.


Does anyone know what the key symbol means? When fliming video I press the Mode button and a Key icon pops up next to the mic icon on the screen.

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason E

I imagine it locks some of the buttons to prevent recording being paused/stopped? Jason, which supplier did you buy yours from and what version is the firmware?

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

@emptybee I'm not sure I'm understanding your idea (English is not even my 2nd language), but I would like to see it in action, once installed. :)
I'm still trying to decide beteween this SJ1000 and the Mobius which should be released very soon. For MTB riding, the Mobius looks good with its extremely small size (great to install on the helmet instead of bars), but SJ1000's LCD and HDMI may be worth it...

I fully agree with you on the firmware. Mobius' developer keeps reelasing new firmwares and knowing the success of the 808 #26 camera, I'm sure he will do a great job with the Mobius in the long run. He/she/they DO LISTEN its customers, so new firmwares keeps coming out!
That might compensate for the lack of LCD and HDMI out, in the long run.

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPedro Diogo

The key indicates you have locked the file from being overwritten if the video is set to loop over if the card is full.

June 25, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Welldone Technology Co., Ltd.is the supplier i bought from.

Firmware - Y13061311

Mine did not come with any SD card.


The camera i got has some paint clips off the plastics cover near the M and ok button. does anyone else have this issue? I got the white one sent to me.

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason E

Can we buy spare batterys?

please post link if you find out.

Thanks

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason E

@techmoan Thanks for the correct answer to Jason's question. This is probably the most useful function that I'll use as in the event of an accident I need to make sure I keep the video!

@pedro Mobius looks like it could be great. I jumped at this camera due to the price and immediate availability as I'm getting my new road bike later this week. I would have probably held off to see what the mobius looks like and whether these get any support from the supplier if I had the option. Or buy both and sell this if the mobius comes good? :) I was trying, and failing to explain that I want the tripod thread to be secure and the only way I can see to do this easily is to use an adaptor (short extension piece might be a better description) to give a more secure (full standard length) tripod thread under the camera.

An alternative would be thread a small piece of plate aluminium (thick enough to make sure the tripod thread on the mount doesn't bottom out) with a 1/4-20 BSW (not UNC apparently) and araldite this to the bottom of the case. Apparently the reason the tripod thread isn't secure on the w/proof housing is that the tripods bottom out in the hole. This prevents them binding tightly. Sorry if this still isn't clear. I'm at work and should be working on other engineering projects not cheap chinese cameras ;-) I'll upload a photo of whatever I do in the end for you to look at, should be easier to see what I mean with a picture.

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

Interesting camera too:
TCL® SVC-200 SVC200

http://www.amazon.com/SVC200-Waterproof-Surveillance-FHD1920X1080-Accessories/dp/B00BTWAO0O/ref=sr_1_27?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1372173053&sr=1-27&keywords=full+HD+sports+camera

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

@ Jason E

I ordered my camera from him, plus extra battery.

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

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

I bought one of these.about 2 weeks back.
It took 5 days to arrive from Hong Kong, everything present and correct, and no VAT was charged which was a bonus.
It came with a Kingston-branded 8GB card.
The video quality is very good. I use the camera for recording my cycle commutes mainly. In daylight conditions number plates can be clearly read; at night the shutter speed is too slow to make this possible, although generally speaking low-light performance is good.

Couple of strange things I've noticed, which I assume are firmware-related.
The camera will only take 4GB of video before shutting off in non-cyclical mode.
In cyclical mode it doesn't use the full 8GB available on the card before deleting the first clip. So even though you could fit nearly an hour's video into the 8GB, the camera seems capable of using rather less than that. My guess is it is putting a temporary file on the card.
In cyclical mode it doesn't overwrite files that are already on the card when you start the recording. I guess that makes some sort of sense, but it does mean you need to remember to delete everything on the card before you start recording, if you want to use the full capacity of the card.
Today something strange happened. The camera started out in cyclical mode, dropping files every 5 minutes. But then after 2 files, it seemed to switch to non-cyclical mode, and recorded 4GB before shutting off. Wierd.
Anyone else noticed similar problems?

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJimbo

Not sure about the final bug. I haven't got mine yet but can the camera be in cyclical and motion detection mode at the same time? The first bug is probably a standard fileformat issue (see http://www.winability.com/why-cant-i-copy-large-files-over-4gb-to-my-usb-flash-drive/). The lower capacity of the card is probably due to this http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=39768.0 but could equally be a fake kingston card in which the card tricks the camera/computer/phone/etc into thinking it has a larger size than it actually does. This tends to result in missing or corrupt files. The bugs that people are having are one of the reasons I'm quite nervous about the firmware not being available for update.

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

@Techmoan Thank you for all your reviews, you do a great job for all of us - customers!

I found this cam on DX.com. They have it as "F10" instead of "SJ1000" for $88.
Can somebody confirm this is the same cam?
http://dx.com/p/f10-1-5-ltps-1080p-5-0mp-cmos-sport-waterproof-dvr-camcorder-w-sd-blue-221075

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterQuip

@emptybee I got it from ebay seller, startfrom2013. This is the sampe I took this morning. https://www.dropbox.com/s/sn97j9is45hgg44/07010001.MOV
Notice the cables above and the fences below, jaggies galore. Also notice the sound. When i took the video, it was very quiet but when I played back the video, the hissing sound or maybe static sound is quite loud.

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

@jimbo It can only take 4gb of video per file because of the Fat32 format restriction. Also from 8gb Card, there's +/- 7gb of free space, it's common.

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Is there a work around for the non-accessible on/off switch whilst in the waterproof case?

i'm just about to drill a hole in mine and insert a spare button assembly from an old go pro case!

All the best, N

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternikos

@emptybee,
Thank you. That was what I was somewhat imagining. :p Good luck and please share some pics when everything is worked out.

@Quip,
I've seen that model name F10 on aliexpresss in the past as well and the title was something like F10/SJ1000 which means they might be the same thing. Not 100% sure, though. You can always e-mail DX asking to confirm it when providing the official site of the product.

If anyone manages to know IF it is even possible to update the firmware, please share with the rest of us.

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPedro Diogo

@Frank Thanks for posting the video, I can see what you are talking about now. I think (/hope) that this will not be so evident when the footage is filmed whilst moving as you won't have the time to spot the sharpness and it should even make moving video better as it won't seem so washed out. This is obviously only an improvement if you plan to use it for action type videos. I received my camera this morning. Have plugged it in to charge and will have a play at lunch time. Haven't checked the firmware yet as don't want to be disappointed if I can't use the screensaver function...

Just another thought I had last night. If you want to improve the way the camera is held by any tripod type mounts; rather than gluing something in as per my original idea simply cut the thread down on the tripod you are mounting too so that it is unable to bottom out in the hole in the w/proof case. This should help but I haven't had a chance to try it out on a cheap mount yet, do please don't blame me if you ruin a perfectly good tripod!

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

So mine came from buy_ee which wasn't the cheapest on ebay but ordered 11pm Mon and it came by 10am Weds so fantastically fast delivery. Also has the latter Y130615 firmware which I'm pleased about. Tricky to get the TF/SD card to go in and stay in, had to press pretty hard and push it further than I thought I would until it clicked. Got it in black and it looks pretty good, can't see any flaking or chipping of paint on it. The paint is metallic flaked, my view is it would have been better moulded with black plastic/aluminium than painted. No sd card was bundled (wasn't expecting one as not included in ebay listing) so the price seems even steeper (£69.80) but not fussed as would have ended up buying a 16gb card anyway. Bought this one (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0058TUDGE) as used samsung cards before and they've always been great. Also don't seem to be as widely faked as sandisk cards. Also went for class 6 to make sure it is fast enough. Could probably have got away with a class 4 but not worth the risk in my view.

Will probably wait until my better mount comes (the one Pedro linked in his comment) until I try it out in anger but if I can attach it to my motorbike with a lanyard as well as the included bike mount (in way that I feel comfortable with and am confident that I won't lose the camera if the mount breaks) I will try to get some footage filmed sooner.

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

Excellent review (and find) as always...

Testing an underwater performance of ANY action cam is a must. A small fish tank would be sufficient with some Lego items in it.

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergeezerpl

Here is some underwater footage I took with it. Please note it was a grey day, no sunshine and late afternoon. I did enable HDR for this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncEoFD0DvuE

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVertigo

@frank Mine has the same over sharpening as yours. Not sure if it's a firmware issue but as I said earlier, I'm hoping it isn't as obvious when moving.

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

Richard D, if you're still following this. Where did the bicycle mount break? Can you upload a photo of the broken clamp please?

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

Bummer, I was hoping that the refractive index of air to water would remove the vignetting when the camera was submerged in water, but the fish tank YT video has shattered my hopes. So it looks as if I'll have make a 'Go Pro 2' mod to the housing, to replace the current window with a bigger one.

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Just another thing. They seem to have changed the metal mount clamp to a smaller design. Doesn't stick as far out but has less adjustment.

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

Regarding firmware updates I emailed the seller (and I urge you to do the same to your seller as they will then badger the manufacturer) and got this response:

"For update information, We haven't got any reply from our supplier, But we will key eyes on this issue.
If there will, we will update in our ads."

Therefore keep an eye on buy_ee's listing to see if the firmware updates are mentioned in the future.

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

Thanks for the replies.
I'm aware of the 4GB limit on FAT, and also that 8GB cards give just short of 8 actual GB. While my card may not be bona-fide, it does give close to 8GB actual space. What happened with my previous camera (a Kodak) is it would drop 4GB files, and then when there was <4GB left on the card, it would drop a smaller file to use the available space. With the SP1000, it seems to discard the current file if the card becomes full before you end the recording. It is possible to work around this to an extent by using the cyclical recording. Anyway, I have a 16GB card I'm gonna try to see if it makes any difference.

The camera came from ebay seller startfrom2013 by the way.

@Quip - As to the F10, it certainly looks the same as the SP1000 and the box contents check out against what I have. Whether the camera innards are the same is another question, as Techmoan noted.

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJimbo

@ Mat

Watch out this:

Stylish Flytecam action camera is attractive in more ways than one

http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2013/06/26/stylish-flytecam-action-camera-is-attractive-in-more-ways-than-one

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

Just received my white SP1000 from ebay seller buy-ee (version Y13061311) and have made the following observations.
- The supplied UK mains adaptor trips a menu asking to select between "mass storage" or "PC camera" when it is connected to the camera via the USB cable. If I use a HTC phone mains adaptor with the cable this does not happen - the camera starts recording in the same way as with the car adaptor.
- The supplied mounts are slightly too small - the top clip does not reach the indent in the case so the camera is only held on the sides - I would not trust the mount like this!
- No head strap supplied - but I did get 4 cable ties!
- The screen off timer works but the setting does not "stick" - if the camera is switched off and back on it always reverts to the 10 seconds setting.
- Sound seems to be fine and I am very impressed with the video quality.
Do others have mounts that actually hold the camera on all 3 points? If so I might contact supplier and see if they can supply replacements - or it could be time to break out the duck/gaffer tape.

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim

$10 USD Extra battery. $8 if you buy the camera too.

contact

wang xiaojuan

globalalibaba.cn@gmail.com

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason E

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