SJCAM is a relatively youthful company with a lot to offer in the field of action cameras and photography accessories. The Hong Kong company differentiates itself from its competitors by designing and assembling the majority of its own hardware. They also focus on providing proactive service and after-sales support.
Among other things, SJCAM is known for its continual efforts to upgrade and modernize its firmware. This is pretty convenient for those seeking tools that deliver increased capabilities at an affordable price point. Here are some of the products that really make SJCAM worth keeping an eye on.
SJCAM Action Cameras
As of Spring 2016, SJCAM’s camera product lines were divided into three well-established, independent families. These were the SJ4000 Series, the SJ5000 Series, and the M10 Series.
Getting to Know the SJ4000 Series
The SJ4000 SJCAM series includes three compact devices, the SJ4000, SJ4000 WiFi and SJ4000+. Each model features 170º wide-angle optics and a rugged outer body design. They also have a nice choice of bright colors to pick from. We’re especially big fans of the unobtrusive port connections, which are less likely to get knocked out, tangled up in gear or otherwise in the way when you’re out creating awesome visual content on the go.
These cameras’ image sensors can deliver up to 12 megapixels of 4032×3024 resolution. They also support a range of intermediate still modes. When it comes to capturing motion, the SJ4000, and the SJ4000 WiFi both support full HD 1920×1080 video, but upgrading to the SJ4000+ gets you 2K, 2560×1440 video at 30 fps. This model also supports a greater number of frame rates at lower resolutions, like WVGA and 720p, but the lower end SJ4000 models are by no means lacking in that regard.
One of the coolest things about the SJ4000 series is that SJCAM clearly didn’t hold out the best features for later designs. These devices include a range of active perks that vary by model, but depending on which one you pick, you can enjoy things like slow motion up to 1/8th speed, WiFi, gyro stabilization, self-timers, HDMI out and anti-shake technology.
Each camera is compatible with storage media that holds up to 32GB, and all three include USB connections and 4x zoom capability. You can also automate time lapses without needing any external editing software, and with a built-in speaker, it’s pretty easy to review your results right after you create them in real time.
Upgrading to the SJ5000 Series
This line includes the SJ5000, SJ5000 WiFi, SJ5000+ and SJ500X models. While they all represent an upward price shift from the SJ4000 series, it’s easy to justify the increased cost when you examine their capabilities up close.
Unique Precision Features
The SJ5000 series builds on its predecessors’ hefty 900 mAh batteries, 32 GB storage capacity and 170º wide angle optics. It retains many similar features, such as its solid, rectangular body, but it also differentiates itself by throwing some interesting perks into the mix.
Improvements include beefier image sensors that deliver resolutions as high as the whopping 16 MP 4608 x 3456 available with the SJ5000+. For photographers who prefer the 4:3 look, this is a definite standout among the action camera industry. The SJ5000X lets you pick your choice of four different wide-angle viewing degree settings, and it can even shoot in 24fps 4K.
These cameras also bump up the available zoom with optics that support 6x magnification. One of the biggest differences you might notice, however, is the addition of a larger rear-mounted, LCD screen. While the SJ4000 does include a smaller screen, moving up will most likely make it easier to check out your work.
The Diminutive M10 Series
Although the SJ4000 and SJ5000 lines are already compact, the M10 Series clearly focuses on a minimal footprint. These tiny action cameras offer similar optics as the SJ4000 devices and still include the 1.5″ rear screens, but their cube-shaped profiles can fit even more snugly into a pocket. This is probably what we’d pick if we needed something like an unobtrusive dash cam or bicycle helmet cam to get us through aggressive traffic.
One again, SJCAM excels by not sacrificing functionality, convenience or operability for novelty or appearance. Unlike many action camera manufacturers, the company seems more committed to creating stable platforms that can be used in a broader range of real-world applications.
The Fresh-Faced SJCAM M20
The new M20 Camera was only available in one variant at the time this article was written. It appears to follow a similar game plan as the M10 by focusing on a smaller size and feature set.
The M20 records in 4K at 24 fps and it handles most lower-resolution video modes with ease. Its image sensor supports still resolutions of up to 16 megapixels, and the software enables native time-lapse video and photo.
True, features like motion detection and loop recording aren’t unique among SJCAM offerings, but one interesting way the M20 is different is that it comes with native SJ-Remote support. SJ-Remote is a radio remote control system that can be obtained in a wristwatch or selfie stick form factor. While this is pretty cool as it is, we’re keeping our eyes open to see how SJCAM fleshes out the rest of the M20 line like they did with earlier series.
SJCAM buyers favor the brand because it pretty much comes with everything. In addition to a waterproof case, each model found at FireFold includes a frame mount, straps, buckles and adapters. Naturally, they’re also packed with cables, adhesive strips, cleaning gear and other goodies.
For most fans, the combination of high-quality Sony, Panasonic and other image sensors, complete accessories and durable housing makes buying SJCAM products an obvious choice. This is especially true for entry-level buyers. There’s nothing worse than blowing your budget on an action camera only to discover you lack the rig or support equipment required to actually create usable images and footage.
Working With SJCAM Products
While there are plenty of great hardware-related reasons to buy an SJCAM, their usability is justification in itself. In addition to receiving regular updates, these devices’ software has been described as straightforward and largely intuitive. Considering the fact that most action cameras don’t grant you much screen real estate, it’s nice to be able to navigate menus and change settings easily. Compatibility with Windows and Mac OS is also a huge advantage.
When recording video and taking pictures, the rubberized aluminum alloy exterior ensures that handling is simple. While your usage habits definitely make a difference, you can expect to get around 90 minutes of continuous shooting time before needing a charge with most models. It’s also worth noting that different models include different USB port configurations, so you can pick something you’re already comfy with.
Could an SJCAM be a good match for your action cinematography or photography habits? While they’re not the perfect solution for every user, we’re definitely big fans of their numerous benefits. Learn more about your favorite new SJCAM by checking out the offerings in the FireFold shop today.