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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 Jim, thought I had the same problem too but put the sides in and then give it an extra hard push on the top and it will click in. I also found it easier after removing the screen protecting film. I then used one of the smaller Velcro straps to wrap around the camera and the mount (theres a couple of slots on the folding one) to make sure it doesn't pop out. Buy_ee will also sort out extra batteries but I've decided to hold off until I need one and see how well the camera holds up over time.

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

Hi,
anybody purchased from that aliexpress seller,
can you confirm it is the same camera?
He called it SI1000, not SJ1000 ??

June 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMiki

@Jim: I got mine yesterday from startfrom2013 and I made exactly the same observations as you did! Also firmware is the same.
My "clip" mounts hold the cam in all 3 points-

June 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSchacho

I got my camera today. It comes with an 8gb class 4 card. May be too low but will do some testing and let you know.

June 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonny P

Okay..I have opened the camera, tried to fix the loud hissing sound from the mic and succeed. The mic cables stuck to the side of the casing and it seems like they are prone to electronic interference that came from the camera's internal.
This is the inside.. http://www.flickr.com/photos/62720308@N02/9149871705/

June 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

I can suggest 2 fixes:

Option 1: Desolder and twist the pair of wires for the microphone and resolder them to the board. Repeat for speaker wires. - Should help a bit but the existing wires might not be long enough so you may need to replace the wire with some longer stuff.

Option 2: Buy some shielded 2 core 24-28 gauge wire - might struggle to fit inside case and the shielding needs to be connected to 0V/GND.

Does the hissing go away if you film with the case open?

June 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

Apologies, not sure why that's posted repeatedly and can't find a way to delete them.

June 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

I got mine from the ebay seller unisex.article
It isn't a fake or anything, and came with all the accessories and an 8gb card (that I probably wont be using), so it's another option for anyone else trying to buy one. It did take 2 weeks to be sent from Hong Kong though, and was 10p shy of £60.
It does have a very very tight fit for the back clips as others have mentioned, but it also came with some handy small velcro straps so I've just been using those to secure the camera in place.
I hope there's a firmware update to the 720p mode running in 'doubled' frames being recorded, as the filesizes for 720p are almost the same as 1080p which is annoying as I was hoping for longer recordings on a 32gb card.

June 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBen

I'll fix it

June 27, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Right, I officially love this little camera! Mounted it to the tank of my bike using the suction cup mount and filmed a short ride and the results are awesome! Had it on HDR and despite being fairly dull due to the weather and time of day it is still perfectly bright. Odd splatter of rain slightly ruins the image occasionally but is quickly moved out the way by the wind due to the convex glass lens. The sound of the rain hitting the case results in pops in the audio but otherwise this is so much more than I had hoped for. Have just ordered an extra battery now that I know this is a keeper. I attached one of the "webbing" mounts to the back of the w/proof case and used the larger velcro strap to tie it to the handlebars as didn't really trust the mount. I was didn't need too as the mount held up great (even at an unspecified high speed - the reason I won't be uploading the clip) and the video was a lot smoother than it was when I attached it directly to the handlebars. I have a naked bike (no fairing or wind visor) and despite thinking the mount was going to be too lose at the ball and socket joint to keep the camera stable it held up at a high speed. Can still be easily moved by hand at the tightest setting but doesn't move on it's own and gives me the option to easily pan the camera left or right to film something else if the mood takes me. Or spin it round for a nice selfie :)

Thank you so much Mat for this find! Will upload footage of my next commute to youtube for others to see.

June 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

emptybee I'm so glad that you are happy. After every review I mostly hear back from people who are somewhat less impressed and that often makes me think that perhaps I may have been too quick to recommend a product. Remember I paid just £54 for mine (one ebayer had underpriced theirs for a few days right at the beginning when these first appeared- they quickly added £10 to bring their prices in line with the others). For that price you need to be ready to live with a few niggles - hopefully all of these were adequately explained in the review. So as long as you go into this with a sensible level of expectation your are very likely to find yourself impressed by the camera's video performance. I've left video responses to this camera open - so anyone can add their own response...there are a few interesting ones there already.

June 27, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Will post my video as response to your's then Mat. People are silly, of course there are niggles as it is a cheap camera and you posted the ones you discovered. These are minor in comparison to the quality of the video anyway. It's not going to be suitable for every application people think of but for my needs it is ideal. I paid £68.90 (no patience, had to have it in under 2 days! :)) and another £12 for a 16gb SD card and now an extra £6.75 for a spare battery and I still don't feel ripped off in the slightest. Yeah the mounting isn't great but with a tiny bit of tinkering it can be improved hugely. The cheapest gopro 3 (white version) is £199. I've already saved myself over £110!

Hopefully a few of the niggles will be sorted out with firmware upgrades (the more people who ask for this the more chance of it happening!) and, as with all Chinese made products, buyers experience will vary due to quality issues. I have already recommended this (with the appropriate disclaimer; that it is not easily mounted to a motorbike helmet) to three other biker friends of mine.

One niggle I have noticed is that when playing videos back on the unit it sometimes fails to play the audio and I have to restart it if I want this. How often do you want to watch HD videos back on a tiny non HD screen though? I'll use it to check I got the footage/correct angle and then copy to PC.

Saw some supposed footage of the mobius cam today and have to say I'm not sure I would have gained anything by waiting other than a higher chance of receiving bug fixes. Also think the SJ1000 produced better video, at least my one seems able too.

June 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

@ Mat

I am longing for this camera already for your super review. But I also bought another one for a very cheap price "Cubicam" article 171062817072. The seller offer eBayer for bidding. I got mine for €51 (am extremely happy), and other got it even much cheaper. I wonder how he can make money on this cheap offer, he can't survive very long. I beg!

I test this Cubicam before. Some one (Cyprus, stay away from these people :D) offered it on eBay for €140 as NEW, but it was used. So I claimed my money back through PayPal guarantie, (lot of time going to shop asking for a documents, price suggestion ). But I won... :-D

I once wrote to Chinavasion asking them to send you this for review. Obviously they did not.

Pat

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

@Pat Cubicam looks great, just looked at some footage on youtube which looks impressive I think you got a bargain on that. Are the mounts as good as they look?

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

How odd that the Cubicam designers decided to put the viewfinder LCD on the front face rather than the rear. Is there reason for this beyond strapping it to one's chest?

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

There's another 'Cubicam' here, only this one should produce sharp underwater footage because of it's flat front glass on the under-water housing.

http://www.7dayshop.com/7dayshop-action-cam-extreme-hd-1080p-waterproof-digital-video-camera-with-colour-screen-accessory-kit

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

I don't know why the designer put the LCD at the front. I feel odd too. However the image was super sharp and color is very good. The mount are exactly the same as GoPro. (The shop in Germany offered me GoPro mount to replace Cubicam--the one I bought from Cyprus eBayer) I expect GoPro was not only made in China, also designed in China. GoPro is just a brand name of American company who bought this from Chinese producer and label their own name. American company did all marketing (They are good at and Chinese are weak at)
I had not test underwater because I decided to claim it back from this man/woman, so I can't be bother. They are identical to GoPro but with monitor and all accessory. More important cheap and GOOD. However the time-stamp can't be switch off. I asked Cubicam.eu and they said it can be switched off when you buy from them. :-D
** 7Days offer is not exactly Cubicam, may be a sister. Cubicam has more buttons on top, more square and solid. Certainly look more solid than SJ1000.
I am waiting for both camera now. Hope I can test them soon.

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

If the ebay seller agree to ship to romania, i will buy one of that too.
It look interesting.

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVgeorge

Looking at the youtube footage more closely I don't think the video quality is as good as the SJ1000 but the mount system is clearly superior, especially as you can use GoPro mounts with it. I am happy for the time being with my SJ1000 and will potentially buy a contour roam 2 with the moto pack at a later date if I feel the need. I must correct my earlier statement about the suction mount being stable enough on the bike. It is good enough to deal with wind buffeting but will move if I hit a large enough bump. Thinking of getting the angle correct and then epoxying the ball mount in place.

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

@ emptybee

Due to the HDR (quality) on the SJ1000, I agreed with you totally.
I am longing for mine too.

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

This HDR mode - has anyone figured out what's *actually* happening when switched to this mode? Is it just a softening of the contrast so that shadows don't block up or is the ISO changing in some way? Are there any instances when HDR off is better?

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Just to add a point, the camera came with a class 4 8gb micro SD card. I tried some test footage and most of it grand but one of the clips was a bit jerky. I have found a sourced for a 64gb class 10 one. Do you know if there are any restrictions on how much memory you can use?

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonny P

I think its 32gb. Get a Samsung class 6 as they are well priced and unlikely to be fakes. In my experience the fakes seem to target class 10. Similar to how high nomination currency is likely to be forged.

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

@ emptybee

What about Sandisk SDHC class 10, are they fake?

http://www.ebay.de/itm/SANDISK-MICRO-SDHC-32-GB-MOBILE-ULTRA-32GB-SPEICHERKARTE-CLASS-10-MIT-ADAPTER-/380639618480?pt=DE_Foto_Camcorder_Speicherkarten&hash=item589fe3a5b0

** HDR

According to Mat's video, HDR does bring up more detail in dark area. Not sure about softness.

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

Its difficult to say but if you look at the fact the rrp is between £50-69 that can give you a clue if something is too cheap. Compare the price to your local camera/electronics store. Sure you can get bargains but if it looks too good to be true it usually is.

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

how do i unmute it?

mine has a slightly bigger battery (4.07Wh)

anyone know where spare batteries can be sourced?

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJack

I have just bought an SJ1000 for AU$96 from an Australian eBayer. My plan is to mount it on a pole from the stern of my Weta Trimaran (www.wetamarine.com) using a fishing rod holder clamped to the transom to avoid drilling holes.

1. Extending Power
I'm going to be using the camera in the waterproof housing and I find the clasp impossible to undo without a screwdriver (or similar) so I'd rather not have to open it out on the water to turn it on. It did occur to me that if I put it into photo mode it will use less power than in video mode - thus I can leave it on but switch to video when I want to use it. Can anyone confirm that it uses less power in photo mode?

2. Creating a power switch button for the housing
There's space above the on/off switch for a button but of course there isn't one supplied. Can anyone confirm that it's feasible to add a waterproof plunger button for the on/off switch, like the ones for the other switches and if so, can you provide a source for the buttons?
I have found this one but there must be others
http://www.ikelite.com/web_pages/control_parts.html

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPewit

Germany retail price seems much cheaper than yours.

https://geizhals.at/de/?fs=Micro+SDHC+Sandisk+32gb+class+10&in=

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

More questions

Pole/Handlebar mount using waterproof clip
Has anyone found an adjustable pole/handlebar mount for the waterproof housing (or modified one of the mounts supplied) that uses the Perspex slide clip on the back of it instead of using the shallow screw thread on the bottom which I don't feel is very secure?

Waterproof housing clip
Anyone found a way of making the clip easier to open without ripping off a fingernail and without having to carry tools

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPewit

@jack look back in the posts for the email to globalibaba something. Drop him a line and he will sort you out, that's where I ordered mine for £6.50 delivered (in 20-30days).

@pewit I don't think photo mode standby will use any less battery than video mode standby. If you're handy with tools and adhesives I'm sure it is possible to add a power button to the case. I'm holding off doing this as I'm sure the manufacturer will release a new case sometime as it is such an annoying bug! I don't trust the current housing for watersports due to the terrible sealing around the back. It's more water resistant than proof. The clamp puts pressure on the side and acts like a lever to push the middle out. This is improved if you press the middle before clicking the clamp shut. If I decide to take mine sailing I will probably use something else to hold the case shut as well or use a load of white grease around the seal. Definitely test it empty (with tissue or something) before trying it out with the camera as people have had varying degrees of success with this and you'll have a fair amount of force from spray and the occasional nosedive :)

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

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