SJCAM is one of the leading manufacturers of action cameras. Although, their cameras are also commonly referred to as SJCAM. Being that SJCAM is a Chinese manufacturer who produces action cameras that work very similarly to a GoPro, the brands are often compared. The former is almost always accused of “copying” the latter.
The funny thing is, and most people might not know this, is that there are fake SJCAM cameras out there. Some might say: “Wow, so what? There is a copy of a copy? Isn’t SJCAM a copycat of a GoPro?”
What is an SJCAM?
This Chinese company might have similarities with GoPro in terms of design, but they never really infringed copyrights of GoPro. They use their own software, lenses, logo, etc.
And does it say GoPro on them? No. So stop saying it’s a GoPro copy!
After all, when a brand comes up with an idea that sells, it is evident that others will try to use it. This is how the tech market works–DVD, DVIX, iPhone, to name a few. All of these products got re-invented one way or another.
When a company invents something profitable, smaller companies try to find a hole in it and satisfy the demand of customers. SJCAM found a hole in GoPro–price.
For some people (including myself) the big brand camera was way over my budget, so I tried a cheaper version, and guess what? I loved it. For the sake of argument, here’s a brief comparison between the two.
SJCAM vs GoPro
With regards to video quality, GoPro used to be the clear winner. However, more recently, even the GoPro Hero 6 falls short of the new SJ8 PRO’s video quality. Most importantly, a GoPro Hero 6 can cost you twice the price of an SJCAM.
During an actual video recording, GoPro’s advanced video stabilization features used to undermine SJCAM’s lack thereof. However, recent models of the latter are now equipped with a Gyro stabilization mechanism that strongly competes with GoPro’s stabilization performance.
Take a look at some of these SJCAM models and see how they can easily be some of the best budget-friendly action cam alternatives.
SJCAM 5000x Elite
The fifth version from the SJ5000 series is the first model to feature Sony’s IMX078CQK 12MP image sensor. It is also equipped with a 7 glass wide-angle lens, video stabilization feature, Novatek NTK96660 processor, and a 2-inch LCD screen. It is powered by a 900mah Li-Ion battery and supports a 32GB memory card.
Other interesting features of this model that are not found in the older versions include the underwater mode, slow-motion, and long exposure.
SJCAM SJ6 Legend
This is the first model of SJCAM to feature a 2-inch touchscreen display. It is equipped with a Novatek 96660 chipset and a Panasonic MN34120PA 16MP image sensor. It is powered by a 1000mah battery and supports up to 128GB of an external SD card.
There are nine shooting modes to choose from which includes car mode, underwater mode, photo and video time lapse, and many others.
How to connect SJCAM to computer?
This one’s pretty simple. All you need is the USB cable that comes with the camera or the SD card you’re using. So, you either connect the camera directly to the computer via the cable or take out the SD card from the camera and insert it into a memory card reader before installing it in your computer.
While most people find these features not as impressive as that of a GoPro, that’s beside the point. So if you are here just to moan about SJCAM and its similarities with other brands, then I am sorry, but this post is not for you. You can leave right away.
We are here to talk about a serious issue. It can be called a scam or a deception.
SJCAM SJ4000 Action Camera: Real vs Fake
If you ever wanted to purchase SJ4000, you probably saw many items listed. At first glance, they all look the same.
You are wrong. They are not. Few companies are trying to deceive people by copying SJCAM cameras, especially the SJ4000 model.
Let me give you an example. Take a look at the picture above.
Nice bunch of action cameras. It appears that all of these are SJ4000? Even though the title in the site you’re looking at says “SJ4000”, it’s not. This whole lot is fake or SJSCAM as I like to call it.
Pirate cameras will malfunction in most of the cases and offer inferior video quality and overall experience. Keep reading if you do not like wasting money on crappy products.
SJCAM SJ4000 Features
Although this model is not the most advanced among the SJCAM cameras, it is undeniably a decent alternative to the more expensive GoPro.
At first glance, it does look like a GoPro Hero Black. However, it actually comes in seven different colors and two variants: Wifi and Non-Wifi versions. Some of the notable features of this model include a 12MP CMOS Sensor, 1.5″ LCD Screen, the usual shooting modes plus additional settings that allow you to use it as a dash cam, webcam, and surveillance cam.
Although the photo and video quality of the SJ4000 is not as impressive as a GoPro, it still offers a decent performance for its price.
SJCAM Review: How can I know if my SJCAM is original or fake?
To be completely safe when buying your new SJCAM, you should be aware of the things that might be different. Things that the original camera has and a pirate copy does not have or imitates it in a pretty bad way.
- front of the camera
- waterproof case
- UI (User Interface)
Front view of an SJCAM
You should know that even the most shameless copycats will not (in most cases) copy a brands name on their camera. So do not buy models that do not have the company logo on it. In this case, you can be quite confident that your SJCAM is real if it has an SJCAM logo in the bottom left corner. This works with nearly all SJCAM models from SJ1000 to SJ5000.
There is a catch with the SJ4000 model though.
In case you do not know SJCAM changed their name in 2014. Previously they produced cameras under Shenzhen Hongfeng Century Technology Co name. You would agree that this lengthy name is not memorable nor eye-catching, so they had to re-brand to SJCAM.
One of the main reason the name got changed was to make things harder for pirate firms copying their products and to be able to take legal action against them. The first release of SJ4000 did not have SJCAM logo on the front, even though it was an original.
This was heaven for copycats. As a result, the market was flooded with fake SJ4000. The company did not brand their action cam so that everyone could have copied it shamelessly. There were more fakes than real ones.
That’s why the second release (or later batch as people call it) of SJ4000 included SJCAM brand on the front of the camera. All the later models like SJ4000 WiFi, SJ5000, SJ5000+, SJ6 Legend have an SJCAM logo on the front of the camera. (You can take a look at all SJCAM models on this link)
My advice is to buy the second batch only, as the first one is too risky. You can’ t know if it’s real or not until you get it. So to avoid unnecessary expenses and stress, avoid all cameras that do not have SJCAM imprinted on the front of the camera.
Different size of a waterproof case
I will continue to give SJ4000 as an example since this is the only product that flooded the market and got copied. The original version of the waterproof case or housing is, and it has silver screws on it. The fake waterproof housing has similar, but not the same dimensions, and has black screws on the housing. Also, these may not be as safe to use for those underwater selfies.
The difference in User Interface or the menu you use to navigate through your camera is different. However, there is a difference in menu design even among original SJ400 first and second release (the one that included SJCAM logo on it).
The boxes in which cameras are packed differ. Most obvious way to see this is to take a quick glance. You will laugh. There are tons of spelling mistakes. One of the most visible is “water-resistant” sign on the front of the box.
Crazy I know. A spelling mistake. But it can give you a pretty good clue on whether or not you are about to buy a fake.
Software and App
The most reliable way to check if your action camera is genuine is to test if its compatible with the SJCAM firmware. There is no chance that a fake camera will work with SJCAM firmware. If it’s not real, it won’t work.
If it does, then you made a good choice. If you do not want to mess up with firmware, there is an easier way to make a comparison if you have a WiFi model. Just install the SJCAM App on your device (Android or Mac) and try to connect your camera with it. If you are connected, then your camera is absolutely the real one.
SJ4000 – COMPARISON CHART
Since the SJ4000 model is one that is really hard to make a difference between real and copied one, here is a little comparison table which should sum every difference. I included the SJ4000, “SJ4000 pirate version, replica”SJ4000 WiFi version, AT200, and TourSport.
Security check on the manufacturer’s website
After the problems with counterfeit SJ4000 camera, SJCAM decided to fight the copycats, by adding a security code on all of their cameras. They also redesigned the package for this purpose.
To help customers distinguish real or fake cameras, producer of these action cams, introduced a feature called Security Check on their website. Here is a link to it.
In theory, newer batches of cameras will have a serial code which you can enter to check if your model is original or not. Be aware that this is far from perfect solution, and that it will not work on older batches which did not have a serial. However if your camera has a serial and the security check confirms its real, then you can be pretty sure your camera is genuine.
The sealed code on the newer models looks like this.
So to confirm the authenticity of your camera, you have to enter the numerical values onto the SJCAM website.
Luckily SJCAM learned from their experienced, and all later produced cameras (including the SJ4000+ Plus) have the security screech code on the boxes.
Summary of how you can detect a real SJ4000
If you do not want to read this whole guide and prefer everything summarized here is how you can detect a real SJ4000 :
- SJCAM logo on front (the first version of SJCAM does not have a logo and its original, still to be sure, buy the one with a logo).
- Silver screws on a housing
- The user interface looks like the one bellow
- The box does not have spelling errors and looks like the one bellow
- Software and APP compatible (you can check this only when you already purchase a cam)
- Security check (does not work with all cameras)
One thing you should be aware of is that these copycats make progress and it is getting harder and harder to make a difference between real and fake action camera.
Here are some quick tips that will work when buying anything online :
- follow your gut
- do not be afraid to ask seller a question
- buy from sellers with good feedback
- buy from reputable websites that have a refund policy
- pay with PayPal or Credit Card (since this will enable you to open a dispute and get your money back if a problem occurs)
Where to buy original SJCAM?
You buy SJCAM action cameras pretty much everywhere online. There are a bunch of websites, but to minimize the risk, stick with reputable ones. Here is a list of recommended stores and sellers which sell original SJCAM cameras.
- GearBest – verified retailer – link to the store
- Banggod – verified retailer – link to store
- SJCAM Official Amazon Store – link to the store
- SJCAM AliExpress Authorized Reseller – link to the seller
Since the original guide had been written in 2014, it has now been updated. Few things happened over the years, and today, it is much safer to find if an SJCAM camera is original or fake. Here are some facts.
So far the only proven model to be faked is SJ4000.
Recently the manufacturer upgraded the package of all SJCAM cameras. The package now has a scratch and enter the security code which you can enter on the official website to check if your camera is real or not. Be aware that sometimes even though the camera is real, codes might not work. In this case contact SJCAM directly for the assistance.
In case your camera does not have a security code, it might be an older batch. Older and newer batches have no difference in product quality, only in package design, so do not panic. In that case, follow this guide, check for imperfections on the package and little things we showed here.
If you want some coupons and discounts on original cameras, check out our deals and coupons page where you can find plenty of coupons from reputable stores which sell original items.
Final Thoughts on SJCAM Action Cameras
Do you plan to get an SJCAM or you already have one? Feel free to share your experience or tell me a story if you had any problems with replicas and fake action cams. Found a fake that is not listed here? Share it, and I will gladly update the post with more info. For more info on SJ4000 camera, check out my in-depth review.
Please understand that I am not able to evaluate single links and tell you if your specific camera is real or not. Just follow this guide, and you will be on a right way to get a real deal, no worries.
Last update on 2021-12-12 at 04:27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API