UPDATE MAY 23, 2017
Yesterday I received an e-mail from SJCam with an update on this issue. Here’s a portion of the text from that e-mail:
Recently I’ve been reviewing the SJCam SJ7 Star action camera. Part way through testing it became inoperable. How did this happen?
The photo on the right above shows how the front of my SJ7 became warped and distorted, causing the camera to be unusable. Unlike the top, sides and bottom of the camera body, the front is made of plastic, not aluminum.
The front of my SJ7 became deformed some time during 3 hours of use as a dash camera. I was using it with the battery removed and powered by a USB power bank. It was mid-afternoon in Georgia, USA. Outside temperature was about 29°C (85°F) with the A/C running in my vehicle and one stop of about 30 minutes with the windows rolled up. I was recording in 4K.
One can only speculate as to why this happened. Because the camera was mounted on the windshield of my vehicle the sun was shining directly on it. Was the front of the camera unable to withstand the heat of the sun?
Did the internal components of the SJ7 overheat, causing the front to deform? If yes, how did the camera continue to record video without any files being corrupted and why weren’t the circuit boards inside the camera deformed? When I removed the camera face and looked inside I could see no evidence of overheating.
In accordance with the official User’s Manual I had removed the battery before using it as a dash cam. This is addressed on page 18 (VIDEO RECORD – Page 2) of the manual. When I discovered the warping I immediately disconnected the camera from the USB power bank. I’ve since confirmed with SJCam that there’s no prohibition against using a power bank with the SJ7. Afterwards I tried to install the battery but due to deformation it no longer fit in its compartment.
I tried connecting AC and DC adapters and the power bank again but the camera wouldn’t turn on even though Car DV mode was on. (With Car DV mode turned on, the camera should power up and begin recording as soon as a live power source is connected.) I tried using the camera’s power button after connecting to an external power source but because the faceplate was so warped it wouldn’t work. I now have a brick.
In follow-up emails, SJCam strongly advised users to remove the battery from their SJ7 before using it as a dash cam. The SJCam e-mail described it as “an additional layer of safety”. They also said that they were looking into changing the faceplate material, improving ventilation and perhaps modifying firmware.
So, is this a failure of the plastic material used for the camera front? Is it a failure of the protection circuit that shuts down the camera in the event of overheating? Is it a shortcoming in ventilation? Is it some combination of these?
There are tens of thousands of action cameras being used as dash cameras. How many reports of warping and deformation have you heard of? Personally I’ve heard of two including this one. No doubt there are more but surely this isn’t a widespread problem, is it?
I have four other action cameras that I’ve used as dash cams and I’ve never had a problem with them. I’ve used them in higher temperatures for longer periods of time than the SJ7. Indeed, I’ve been using the SJ7’s sibling SJ4000 for 21 months as a dash cam without a hitch.
Until and unless SJCam actually implements the changes they say they’re looking into, I strongly urge anybody thinking about buying an SJ7 to reconsider their choice. Even if I hadn’t had the deformation problem I would not have recommended the SJ7 as I make clear in my abbreviated review.
In the comments below I would like to hear from anyone who has had a problem with their SJ7 action cam regarding deformation, warping or overheating for any reason. I’d like a better understanding of how widespread this problem might be. In the meantime I hope current SJ7 owners will keep a close eye on their cameras to ensure that they don’t have the same issue.
The camera I was testing was provided by SJCam. I was assisting to beta test their firmware and offering other suggestions about the camera, packaging, manuals and website.
Rohit Yadav says
My sj7 star is heating like hell…
It does not record anything due hanging problem and heating issue
I’m from India where outside temperature is always above 40 degree in summers…
What should I do…
I can suggest a few things. First, make sure you have the latest firmware, v1.13. Second, have a look at my SJ7 review for SJCam’s recommended memory cards. Try using one of those and see if it helps. Third, never use the camera with the battery installed while connected to an external power source, i.e., AC or DC adapters or a USB power bank. Finally, try not to use it while it’s exposed to direct sunlight – I know, using it only in the shade, at night or indoors really limits its usefulness. Of course I’m assuming you’ve verified that you have a genuine SJCam camera by checking the authentication code on the side of the box. Beyond that I can offer very little. SJCam told me they’re considering changes to the firmware to address overheating but until that happens, there’s not much current SJ7 owners can do. Of course the most drastic measure you could take would be to return the camera if it’s within the return time frame.
Best of luck and cheers. 🙂
Thank you for exposing this issue! This is very alarming. I left a comment in the support forums asking for clarification and plans to rectify this problem (I linked your article). The comment was promptly deleted. Do you have any replies from them in response to your review?
I did get a response from SJCam. As you can imagine they weren’t too pleased with the review and companion article. As I mentioned in both articles, SJCam is planning to issue a new version of the firmware. They recently indicated that this is forthcoming soon. They provided a change log listing all the changes. It addresses a number of issues including some that I identified specifically. Also as I mentioned, they’re looking at changing the material used for the camera faceplate as well as improvements to ventilation, though I don’t have any updates beyond that for now. I told SJCam that if and when I receive a camera that is equipped with the final hardware configuration; the final version of the firmware; and the final issue of the User’s Manual and Quick Start Guide that I’ll gladly review the camera again. I told them I’ll do so once they confirm that I have the final versions of all these things.
Don’t expect the firmware will solve such issue.
The chipset is too close to the front panel, and hard to add any heat sink on the chipset.
i have just purchased the sjcam 7 star and when using as a dash cam . it overheats and stops recording.then i am unable to switch it off.
I didn’t know about removing the battery when using an external power source , so i will try it tomorrow.
It worked fine on the way to work in the morning but driving home in the afternoon for 20 mins @ 25 degrees it stopped recording after ten mins.
SJCam has recently made some internal changes to the SJ7. You might have one of the defective ones from earlier production runs but I don’t know for sure. I’ve suggested to SJCam that they provide serial numbers with every camera so that they can keep track of which batches are defective but so far the suggestion has fallen on deaf ears. I can only suggest that if the camera is within the seller’s refund period you could return it. You can try contacting SJCam directly at the e-mail address listed on their website and see if they’re willing to replace the camera at no charge. Failing that you could send it to them for service under warranty but the fact is, given the lousy terms and conditions of the SJCam warranty, it could be prohibitively expensive. Beyond that I’m afraid I don’t have any suggestions.
I used my sjcam 7 star yesterday at a family party due to the UK being 28 degrees and great sunny day. Out in the garden with limited shade three times the camera wouldn’t switch on due to the casing being too hot to touch.
I had to take the camera inside remove the battery and place the camera on the metal sink to cool down then it would work again. I have the latest firmware and the camera was mounted on a handheld tripod in the skeleton frame. My gopro hero 2 worked all day. I am off to the Maldives in 2 weeks fingers crossed the 7 star will stay cool underwater. I hope SJCAM find a fix for the overheating problem.
Ive bought a sj7 only just last week, August 2017. Still over heating, mine has not shut off but i have not used it longer than 12mins.
It gets so hot that you cant hold it in your hand. No help from SJCAM. I was in their live chat support asking about memory cards and they were prompt to reply, when i asked about over heating i didnt get a response. I then again in the same chat window asked a different question about mass storage devices, got a reply.. so i thought i would again ask the question about over heating to only get ignored.
I wish i didnt waste my money on this camera. Even though i thought i did enough research looking at reviews turns out nobody mentions the overheating on the youtub. Maybe all these positive reviews are not as biased as the reviewer states, who knows. But i have the latest firmware, the recommended micro sd card i removed the battery when in the car.. hot as hell.
I hope people stop buying this product so they fix it! I dont have any hope of a refund or swap, this company seems to profit from quick high volume sales of cheaply made products.. not building a solid reputation.
Hi mr.bla. Sorry to hear about your troubles. It’s possible you got one of the defective SJ7 cameras that overheats. Unfortunately SJCam cameras lack serial numbers so it’s impossible to know if your camera came from a known defective batch or is simply a one-off. In my experience many action cams can get very hot, sometimes too hot to touch, but continue to function well, though if it gets that hot after only 12 minutes then I certainly share your concern.
If you bought the SJ7 from a store or online seller and you’re still within the return period then simply returning the camera to them might be the easiest solution. You could continue to press SJCam and ask to send it to them for warranty repair but, if you carefully read the terms of the SJCam warranty, it’s almost like writing them a blank check. I hope you’re at least getting good videos and photos with the SJ7.
My sj 7 star refused to power on after an overheating issue while charging. I contacted sj support but since i imported the unit its not possible for me to get local support. I used only around 4 months. I had no warping or any deformation but it just won’t power on. Can i get a replacement,if yes how. Its a genuine unit. I imported it to india via aliexpress.