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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 to let you all know that I've just purchased the Mobius. I was excited to see how well the SJ1000 performs, but I thought I could give the Mobius a test too. I hope it doesn't turns out to be worst than SJ1000. Yeah it lacks the LCD and HDMI, but if the 720p @ 60fps turns out to be as good as I expect them to be, I won't mind.
One thing clearly is missing in these Chinese low cost "action camera" is a good water and dustproof case and good mounters. Why don't they make it compatible with GoPro mounts?! I would, if I was the developer...

Anyway, It will probably take around 3 weeks to get it, but I promise I'll share some raw videos one I get it. In the meantime, keep posting your SJ100 videos. ;) Still waiting for a proper MTB video eheh

Cheers!

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPedro Diogo

I was interested to know what sort of battery run time people are getting with this camera. I don't seem to be able to get more than 80 minutes or so recording continuously in 720 or 1080 mode. This is with the screen saver working, i.e. screen goes off. Seems significantly worse than the 130 minutes Techmoan found with the screen on. Battery voltage when charge shuts off (4.14V) seems to indicate fully charged but the camera icon on the screen almost immediately drops a bar to show 2 bars only. I'm wondering if the battery charge detection is faulty in my case. I did notice the battery icon flashes away forever regardless of how long you charge for ... should go green or something surely ? I also noticed there is a hidden red led inside the case near the usb socket that I think is a charge indicator and this does go out eventually when charging (the battery icon however continues to flash !). Having pulled the battery apart the cell inside the box cover does have 1000 mAh stamped on it so does seem to be the size claimed on the outside cover 1050 mAh ... pretty close anyway.

The video and sound quality this camera produces is very nice indeed. However, the firmware needs a bit of work along the lines of:

1) Option to turn off car mode ... just plain irritating having to stop it auto recording every time you charge it.

2) Don't really get the logic of the Cyclic recording. If set to OFF why doesn't it automatically start another 4 GB file when this limit is reached ? Instead it just stops recording, you have to manually restart it. Otherwise you have to plump for loads of 10 min clips.

3) No Time lapse option seems odd as it's normally a standard feature on cameras like this.

4) Seems to lose the date setting if you remove the battery but keeps all the other settings ... weird.

5) Anyone worked out what gravity sensing does ?

The mounts aren't brilliant but there are so many of them you can chop and change bits from one to add to another until you come up with something that works.

Oh and a lanyard hole would have been good, save you losing it when the mounts break. I resorted to looping something around the battery door hinge which works well.

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlexie

@Alexie I unscrewed the rear mount from the webbing attachment and used a length of high quality steel wire with an m6 bolt, nut and spring washers to make a lanyard. I disassembled the ball joint and put a blob of rtv in the bottom of it so it stays in one place when clamped down (wait for rtv to fully set before reassembling). I then use the suction mount on the tank of my motorbike and attach the lanyard to the back of the w/proof case and to my handle bars with a small carabiner clipped back onto the wire.

Found this which is interesting: http://sjhf.en.alibaba.com/product/880391939-218358479/Car_Rearview_Mirror_DVR_SJ1000.html

If more products come out using the same core the higher chance of firmware updates being released.

June 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

emptybee, can u upload some pictures please? everything u typed here seems interesting. Thanks.

June 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbassyee

I need a small waterproof cam for watching the job site, campsite, etc where I can put it into a hollowed out 4x4 post or a couple of 2x4 wood cut offs, etc so no one will notice it, to see whats going on behind my back.
If its in motion detection mode and there's not much motion to set it off, I wonder how long the batt will last?
Will it not drain much power if it just sits there and no one walks by most the day?
Thanks for any feedback, Butch

June 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterButch777

tom hardwick, have you found out what aperture the camera uses? You'd have to use a night video to make sure the camera is using the widest aperture. Thanks.

June 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

tom hardwick, have you found out what aperture the camera uses? You'd have to use a night video to make sure the camera is using the widest aperture. Thanks.

June 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

On/off - no problem - I have modified the underwater case with a plunger switch salvaged from a go pro case!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/68606154@N00/sets/72157634389656360/

I'm not sure how waterproof it will be - I in tend to mount this on my motorcycle.....

June 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternikos

@ Norman. My cam hasn't arrived yet but without a doubt the camera *always* shoots at maximum aperture and the exposure is controlled by varying the ISO and shutter speed. It's probably an f/2.8 lens with a focal length in the 5 mm range, but I'll let you know the accurate figures next week.

June 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

@Butch777 You sound creepy...

@bassyee I need to make some changes as the ball joint still isn't quite stiff enough to deal with the largest bumps in the road and the caribiner flapped around and I'm worries it might chip the paint. Removed the caribiner and now the lanyard is attached to the key ring. Will post some photos this afternoon if I get a chance.

June 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

In my bid to make a secure pole/handlebar mount when using the waterproof housing I have now decided the best way is to remove the clip from the belt mount and then bolt this to the supplied handlebar mount by drilling a hole though one side of the camera clip-on and using rubber washers to lock it in place.

This means the camera clip can still be used (by removing the bolt of the housing clip) but also it means the modified handlebar mount can articulate in 2 planes to make it easier to line up the camera correctly.

It probably requires removing one of the central guide lugs on the camera clip but that doesn't matter.

I've also added a thin cable tie loop through the latch which (a) makes it easier to open with cold hands and (b) gives a securing point for a safety lanyard.

Unless anyone has any better ideas?

June 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPewit

I improved the waterproof housing clip by shaving a small amount off the outside of the clip (makes it easier to get a fingernail under), and shaving a small amount of the detentes inside the clip.

As to longevity, I'm worried.

My *second* bicycle ride saw the camera hit the road AGAIN, due to ANOTHER failure in the plastic mounting kits. I had used some spare plastic to fashion a replacement for the glass window that was wrecked in the first fall. This time, one of the buttons on top of the waterproof housing was pushed into the camera, destroying the "OK" button. The camera still turns on, but there's no way to start or stop a recording, so it's scrap.

The plastic bracket that screws into the tripod mount on the bottom failed, with the screw remaining in the waterproof housing but pulling through the plastic. There are two of these pieces supplied with the camera - BOTH of mine have failed in the same way. It's an obvious design flaw.

I have no idea what my chances are of getting a replacement out of the eBay seller. But a UK-based seller would be getting the camera back as "not fit for purpose". The camera itself may be as good as a GoPro, but the mounting system is cheap crap. Either use a lanyard (I didn't) or expect it to fail.

June 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichard D

You really think it's as 'good as a GoPro', Richard? How do the 1920 bit-rates compare? Try as I might I haven't been able to get any info out of GoPro as the the lens' aperture, but I do fee3l the GP has less barrel distortion in the image.

June 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Actually I've never used a GoPro, so I'm not qualified to say whether the SJ1000 is as good as a GoPro or not in terms of image quality. and i cannot now upload the footage that i took today, as the darned thing is bust. I suspect that at least some of the £250 price difference will be down to the GoPro having mounting hardware that doesn't fall apart

June 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichard D

Richard D, since you think it's busted, you might as well open up the camera and tell us what's inside. Some people are saying it might have the same hardware as the LS300W and I want to know too. Thanks.

June 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

Richard D, since you think it's busted, you might as well open up the camera and tell us what's inside. Some people are saying it might have the same hardware as the LS300W and I want to know too. Thanks.

June 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

Also, has anybody tried if there's vignetting with the housing at 720p? Thanks.

June 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

I saw this question here earlier, but didn't see a direct answer.
On several seller sites, it says sd and others sdhc.
Does the manual give the correct answer?
Thanks, Butch


Quote
"I can't find out if it will accept a micro sdhc or micro sd card only or what class of card, 4 or 10 etc."

June 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterButch777

SDHC is just SD High Capacity (SD Cards with more storage capacity). When you get beyond a certain size of card they are all SDHC. So if you ever find a device that will accept a 32GB card it will automatically have to take SDHC as there are no non SDHC cards of this size.

June 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hi!

Anyone know if its possible to mount this camera on the barrel on a shotgun so the camera is "beside the barrel" not on top of it..
and not upside down.. so I not have to convert the video after... :)

Perhaps other mountingdevices that can be bought somewhere?

June 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwibroy

This is the link to my video. http://m.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DyfzN-LyYxAo%26feature%3Dyoutube_gdata_player&h=ZAQHM55Oi&s=1.

Mounted the camera with those clamp type mount for mobile phone.. i think it reduces much of the vibration... any comments?

June 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbassyee

Video is very good in this low light condition (dusk) ! Really nice color too.

June 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

Here is some video I took. If you see my other videos you can see it mounted to my motorcycle and bicycle helmets. I'm really impressed but as others has said I don't trust the mounts one bit and will be getting some better ones soon.


http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cZamHY_n_fw&feature=plcp

June 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

For those that find the suction cup mount ball joint to be loose, I found that if you apply a layer of superglue to the ball (remove it from the socket!) And let it try, when you reassemble the ball and socket The ball becomes thick enough that stays in place when the lock but is done up tight yet still allows movement when you want it. I tried this at speeds in excess of 80mph where before it would have layer horizontal. The mount now survives bumps on the road without moving as well. Search Google for fixing ball and socket joint.
Some people use loctite as a temporary message but I prefer the superglue method :)
If its still too loose after 1 layer, just add another...1 did it for me though

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJack

emptybee,
You said:
@Butch777 You sound creepy...

So if using a cam to see if anyone is stealing things, sounds "creepy", does that mean you think stealing is no big deal??

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterButch777

@ emptybee

Nice test. I saw much worse test video of other sport camera (vibration). Your setup is very good for such a small camera. It would be good if the w/proof case wide enough for this fish-eye lense. Obviously there are room to be improved like other DSLR too. Thanks for sharing

One question: RTV 3140 ? Is it this kind of glue?
http://www.google.de/search?q=RTV+3140&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.48572450,d.Yms&biw=1366&bih=659&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=de&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=tC7RUZxah-2zBvLlgegL

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

Here is another sound test of SJ1000. Good suggestion from him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUPsbnI5jJA

@ Mat

At the end he mentioned about the wave of the video because of the Micro SDHC card speed (Class 10 16GB). He seems recommend a faster writing speed card than class 10? What is your opinion?

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

Oh, the jelly-wobble (is that what you mean by the 'wave of the video'? - very noticeable as you reverse the bike out at the start of the video. This has nothing to do with the card or its class, and all to do with the CMOS chip and the way the info is read out from the chip. Some after-market programs such as Mercalli might be able to reduce that somewhat, but I've never tried.

So the U/W case forms quite an effective wind shield for the mic. Would have been good to hear your voice as another check. Great shame the image is vignetted by the U/W case - can anything be done about that at shooting stage rather than in post on the timeline?

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

@Pat Yeah that's the one but if I were you I'd go for Jack's method of using superglue. The RTV helped but not enough as big bumps would still knock it about so I araldited it in the optimum position in the end.

@Butch777 Not at all, the hidden camera at campsite bit sounded creepy though. Not sure what problems you're having at work but there are better ways to sort them out than to film your employees/colleagues, even if they are stealing from you. Can you imagine the reaction you'll get if they find out you've been secretly recording them before you get any proof that they're taking tools etc.? Why not suggest that all tools are logged and signed out when people need them. They're then the person responsible for ensuring it is returned at the end of the job?

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremptybee

The only way to get rid the vignetting issue with waterproof case is to use the digital zoom up to 1.2x. The quality will be degraded a bit tho.

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

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