$80 SJ1000 Waterproof Sports Camera is a Low Cost Alternative to GoPro Hero Cameras

I’ve recently learned about GoPro action cameras, waterproof cameras with lots of mounting options and a wide angle lense which allows to shot amazing action full HD videos, and the best selling cameras in the world. Since yesterday I wrote about low cost waterproof smartphone, I thought It might be a good idea to write about other waterproof devices, and look at low cost alternatives to the GoPro. The GoPro Hero3 comes in 3 editions: White Edition, Black Edition, and Silver Edition with prices ranging from $199.99 to $399.99. All camera can record @1080p and come with WiFi connectivity. The more expensive model, Gopro Hero3+ Silver Edition, can also record in UHD, and comes with a WiFi remote. The original GoPro still seem to be good values, but if you have a tight budget, SJ1000 action camera (aka F10) offers similar functionalities (1080p30 recording, wide angle, mounting options, waterproofness, but no Wi-Fi) for about $80 on DealExtreme including shipping,  $100 on Amazon, and starts at $72 on Aliexpress.

SJ1000 Camera
SJ1000 Camera

Let’s have a look at the specifications first:

  • Image Sensor – 1/4″ CMOS (5 or 12MP depending where you read) sensor
  • Wide angle (140 degrees)
  • Exposure Compensation – 2.0 5/3 4/310 2/3 1/30 -1/3 -2/3-1-1.333333333-1.666666667-2.0
  • Video Recording – 1080p30, 720p60 (but frames are doubled, so actual 720p30)
  • Camera features – Anti-shake, recording timer: 3 / 5 / 10s, HDR: Off / On.
  • Display – 1.5″ TFT display – Resolution: 272 x 272 pixels
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Storage – microSD card up to 32GB
  • Waterproofness – Up to 30 meters (No mention of the Ingress Protection (IP) rating, which means it may not be certified)
  • Battery – 1110 mAh (3.7V) good for over 2 hours of continuous recording.
  • Dimensions – 7.1 cm x 4.4 cm x 3.6 cm
  • Weight – 104 grams (175g with waterproof case)

SJ1000 sports camera comes with lots of accessories including a waterproof case, a car charger (12~24V/100cm cable, a user’s manual in Chinese & English, 4 Adhesive tapes, a USB, a set of helmet strap (2pcs 15cm-length + 1pcs 40cm-length), 2 helmet mounts, one Tri-glide mount, one back clip for waterproof cover, one stand, a bike mount, one car suction cup mount, 4 ribbons, a 100~240V power adapter, a stand for the waterproof cover, a back clip, a multifunction back clip, a few tools (6 screws + 1 screwdriver + 1 hex wrench), and a cleaning cloth.

SJ1000 Camera and its Accesories
SJ1000 Camera and its Accessories

DealExtreme also sells the waterproof enclosure, and the battery for SJ1000 in case these need to be replaced.

When you buy a camera online, it’s impossible to know the video and picture quality from the specifications, luckily there are lot of user’s reviews (mostly positive), and a very good, and popular (about 150,000 views), video review embedded below. The 26 minutes video starts with some footages taken with the camera, then unboxing and a rather complete review of different features. The reviewers is very happy with the video quality of the device both in 720p and 1080p mode, including video shot in low light conditions, although but still found some issues. First, when the waterproof enclosure is used, it’s impossible to access the power button, so you have to turn on the camera first. This video was shot in June 2013, and the issue is said to have been fixed in newer revisions of the model, but so if you buy now, you most probably won’t have this issue, but you never know. There’s was a bug in the firmware, and the screensaver did not work, but this has been fixed with a firmware upgrade (version Y130615). He was also disappointed with the quality of the mounting accessories, but in his final conclusion he was still very satisfied with the device for this price.

The manufacturer is said to be Shenzhen Hongfeng Century Technology, which indeed has SJ1000 listed in its products pages, but without any information except a YouKu video. A quick look through the strings found in the firmware indicates the camera is likely powered by Novatek NT96650 Hybrid DSC/DV Processor.

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