$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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10 Replies to “$80 SJ1000 Waterproof Sports Camera is a Low Cost Alternative to GoPro Hero Cameras”

  1. You haven’t mentioned that the new version of the camera, as well as having the on/off button on the outside of the waterproof housing, also has a reduced field of view to 120 deg which removes the vignetting which occurred when using the waterproof case as the original FOV was 140 deg.

    The latest version has “Full HD 1080p” printed on the front of the camera (original had just “HD 1080p”) and the microphone holes have been increased to slots.

    There is also a new waterproof case which has a larger latch which can be locked in place – the original was much smaller, hard to undo and had no lock.

  2. Hello there.
    I recently bought one of those cameras and i have some problems with the battery display (its never true even after being on charger for whole night when i turn it on shows 2 bars full only) and 720p doesnt work, the first 720p try made half digitized and half white patches video and the second time whole camera just blocked and only the power button was working so i shut it off then when i turn it again showed me a message “Please insert card”, burned my memory card. the video in 1080p that my camera is making is way more blurred and more noisy than the video samples presented in that youtube video. it come with firmware version 131217V01 and i can see that your and the version presented on the youtube video is Y130615, maybe the seller from which i bought the camera updated and messed up the firmware or my camera its maybe a lame copy of the original. how can i know if i have original SJ1000 or a copy? and as i read online while in photo mode if you set 2s in capture mode after you press the OK button the camera will record photos every 2 seconds, useful for recording timelapse, is this true? cause when i do this only one photo is taken after i press the OK button and the camera stops.

  3. I find that I lose a lot of footage for no apparent reason. I think I’m recording but when I get home it shows nothing recorded. Also I get an error message on my computer saying that Quicktime can’t read the file. But sometimes it does. All in all I’ve only been able to record about 25% of what I set out to record. The rest is a frustrating disappointment. I also find that the attachments for mounting are very fragile, the battery doesn’t last more than an hour if I’m lucky, and when I order replacements for these things it takes about a month to get them from China. If the battery runs out of power while I’m recording I lose everything. If I remove the battery to replace it with a fresh one I lose everything. When I charge the battery it only shows three quarters full even if I charge it for two days straight. The camera rattles around inside the case so you have to stuff tissues in there to keep the rattling sound from driving you nuts on playback. The little threaded metal thing that is inserted in the case was put in there in such a position that I can never really tighten the attachment fully without risking breaking it, and getting the metal thingy out of there to reposition it it impossible. Finally, I’ve had the sticky pads weaken and the whole thing fall off my helmet while on the highway with my motorcycle. I guess I got a lemon.

  4. @Tom B
    I also bought one finally. It’s quite difficult to exactly know when it’s recording if you can’t see the display or check the light. Once I thought I recorded for 30 minutes but nothing. It may also depend on the settings. If you’ve enabled motion sensing it will start each time something move, and they also have option to start every X seconds. So it can get confusing. I don’t use it very often at all, and I mainly used it once for water gun fights in Thailand, I fitted it on the water gun, and it was mostly OK.

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