In today’s review, I’ll be taking a look at SJ-DASH, the first ever dash-camera by SJCAM. We announced a release of this car camera a while ago and I’m excited to share my experience with it. First of all, let’s clarify some things about the camera name.
Some retailers call this camera M30, whereas some call it SJ-Dash. If you are a regular here, you know that we covered most of the SJCAM products so far, including a cube-shaped M10 and M10+, together with M20. Official SJCAM website lists this model as SJ-Dash so there are no doubts that that’s the official name for it. SJDASH is not M30, end of story.
What is the difference between an Action Camera and a Dash Camera?
The answer is easy. Action Cams are created to be rugged, waterproof, and be used prevalently in sports situations. However, people also have them for everyday use, as well as on holidays. A Dashcam, on the other hand, is made exclusively for creating car records. It’s main purpose is to record a traffic. Unlike the action cam which is dynamic, dash camera is static, for it is mounted on your windshield and records traffic.
This article has the good explanation on what to expect from a car camera. Furthermore, our friends over at Dashcamtalk have a good resource and a forum where you can get more information on these type of cameras.
In my experience, these cams are meant to record bad drivers, or in the worst situation, use them to keep evidence record of an accident. Here are some examples of what happened to me:
After this little intro, let’s talk about the camera in more detail. I’ll first guide you through the technical specs of the SJ-Dash and we’ll move to unboxing it and showcasing its design. Later we will move on to video, audio and performance testing.
SJCAM SJ-DASH Specifications
- Image sensor
- Size (L x W x H)
- Max native image resolution
- Video resolutions
- Video compression format
- Image format
- Car camera
- Remote controller support
- Video Stabilization
- External Mic Support
- SJCAM SJ-Dash
- SJCAM A7-10 (NTK96658)
- SONY IMX 323
- Weight: 70g
8.40 x 5.20 x 3.20 cm
3.31 x 2.05 x 1.26 inches
- 3" (320x240)
- 1080 FHD 1920*1080 @ 30fps
- H.264 (MOV)
- up to 64GB
- Uses capacitor
To find out what the SJ-Dash package contains, take a look at the unboxing video I made.
As I said, this camera is not an action cam, so it doesn’t need a lot of accessories. It is not built to work underwater or mounted on a helmet, surfboard or a bike. Its main purpose is to stay fixed, looking through the windshield of your car and record. So its few accessories are minimal but functional. What it requires (and what you get with it) is:
- Sucker mount
- 3,5 meters of USB cable
- Double USB car charger (1A + 2.4A)
These few accessories are of great quality. I was a tad skeptical about the sucking mount, but after 10 days under the sun and the rain it is still firmly holding on to my car’s windshield and that’s incredible. It also has a fast mount; just put the camera lens into it and the camera will clip automatically onto this small accessory. Couldn’t be more practical.
Then, there is 3.5m USB cable. This fairly unusual length is there because the cable is meant to be placed behind the car plastics, like in this picture:
The cam’s USB power/charger adapter is fantastic because with the 1A output you can keep the camera powered on and with the 2.4A (fast charge) you can charge your phone, or anything else in the adequate voltage range you might have.
Design and Build quality
Design of the camera and its accessories are incredibly good and, above all, functional. The camera is very light and small. It is elegantly black with chrome edges, like its charger. I also really like the “Reflex like” feature, it is very original!
Fun fact: all the glass around the lens in the middle is just fake – empty plastic.
The screen is wide and very visible, things are easily readable. It works well against direct sunlight.
Under the screen, there are 4 touch buttons. When you view the video screen their functions are:
- Mic – On/Off
- Wifi – On/Off
- Lock – It locks the current file to prevent accidental deletion
Conversely, when you are into the setting section the touch button functions are:
- Back button
- Move Up
- Move Down
On the left side, there is the only button on this camera: the power button. Topside is the USB port and on the right side, there is the SD card slot.
This camera has very few menu options and it’s quite easy-to-use. There is just the main settings and nothing more. You can reach it with the button on the screen:
The menu is divided into two parts, Playback and Setup (Settings):
In the Playback section you can access all the videos made:
In the Setup section there are these settings:
- Loop Recording – Off/3min/5min/10min
- WDR – On/Off (WDR stands for Wide Dynamic Range)
- Motion Detection – On/Off
- Time Stamp – On/Off
- Gravity Sensing – Low/Medium/High
- Languages – English /Dutch /French /Italian /German /Spanish /Portuguese /Chinese/Japanese /Russian /Romanian /Czech /Polish /Slovenian /Hungarian /Danish /Turkish and some other languages which, to me, belong in the “incomprehensible” class.
- Keypad Tone – On/Off
- Screensaver – 30s/1min/3min/5min/Off
- WiFi SSID
- WiFi Password
- License Nr Set
- Default Setting
I like to say that this camera is Plug&Play because there are no particular settings, just one resolution, and no shooting the photos. You just mount and use it 2 minutes after pulling it out of the box. It’s quite user-friendly and easy to navigate.
The video quality is good. Thanks to the wide angle of view (140°) you have a great vista of what’s in front of you. This camera has just one resolution, 1920 x 1080 at 30fps. The quality is good but not quite the best, because it has pretty low bitrate of 15.000kbps and, to make a fast comparison, the usual action cameras have around 30.000kbps.
For this camera, it means low details. Taking into account that the camera has a small sensor (only 2Mp), it does a great job.
I was amazed of how good this camera can handle difficult light! It’s just incredible how good it manages light and colors with the sun directly into the lens.
In an average daylight situation, this is the result:
It would have been better if there was a stabilizer on this camera, like SJCAM’s usual gyro. Sometimes it shakes quite badly, in part just because Italian roads are horrible. Still, the problem exists, and at times very notably so.
In the night this sensor can pull out its best, because it captures a lot of light for a clear view of everything:
As it was also a rainy night, so I think this camera solved it better than many other.
I have just one little thing to report:
On the video margins there is a little bit of “motion blur”. Somewhat hard to explain, but it probably comes from the relative object speed at the edges of the wide field of view. A photo can help you see what I mean:
In other words, this camera is good for its price. Maybe it could do even better by dint of some clever twists in its next firmware?
The audio quality is not quite the best. It’s enough to record a conversation, but not if you want to record something in high quality. Audio record sounds like listening through a pillow. This is an example of conversation:
And this is an example of high volume music:
At least it doesn’t distort the sound, but high frequencies are missing and everything seems muffled.
I also noticed that it can capture too much wind noise when high speeds are reached, and this is an example:
I was driving between 70 and 80km/h then, not that it was overly high speed, but you can still hear it.
Sj-dash WiFi and App
Yes, this camera has the WiFi, but the app is minimal – just like the menu. It consists of 3 pages:
Would you need something more than a HUGE button in the middle on the screen to start the recording?
Jokes aside, the App (as all other Sjcam apps) is perfectly stabile and very fast. Nothing to grumble about. It works just how every app should work, and that’s good.
This camera has no battery, it has a capacitor, which is standard for a dash camera. Capacitors are more durable and can withstand longer periods of recording without getting overheated. This means that camera can’t operate when disconnected from the power supply; in fact, you have to attach the charging cable for power. By the way, with a 32Gb SD card, you can record about 5 hours of videos.
This camera is one good camera, and for the price can’t ask for much more. Its accessories are simply great. Its design is beautiful. Everything works well. I wouldn’t say no to a better video quality, or maybe just a 60fps resolution, it would surely considerably increase the marks and the pleasure of using this camera every day.
SJCAM: if you are reading this, consider it a tip for your future models!
The rest of the camera is great as it is. This is one good product for all who want to try a Dashcam for the first time. Even though we don’t review dash cameras much on this website, it was interesting to experience for a change.
I hope I’ll have a chance to try other Dash cameras, so as to be able to make a comparison.
- Very affordable dashcam
- Great design and build quality
- Easy to mount and easy to use
- Great quality accessories
- Not the best audio quality
- Video quality is a little bit low but acceptable for this price
- Absence of the Gyro (or another kind of stabilization)
Where to buy it?
Here are some stores where you can buy this car camera if you decided it’s right for you.