SJCAM SJ4000 is by far the most popular action camera that SJCAM produced. Do not let you its price trick you, its feature rich and better then most big-brand cameras. This post will be an ultimate review of this Chinese brand action cam.
Note : Due to problems with fake SJ4000 appearing on the market, here are some links where you can get official product.
The first time I heard that there is a decent under 100$ action camera, I must say I was a bit suspicious. Hearing that it was made by the fairly new company based in China… Well, I am sure you are feeling the same right now. That is why you are reading this article, right?
The SJCAM SJ4000 is a multipurpose action camera which can record video at 1080p x 30 FPS and take photographs. It is also water-resistant up to 30m when used with housing. It is action-packed with lots of additional gadgets. Camera has been released in two variants :
- Non WiFi
- WiFi version
There is no need to mention that the only difference between the two is built in WiFi. I will clarify why you might or might not need a WiFi. Since the version I bought has a built in WiFi this article will cover the SJCAM SJ4000 WiFi version. But I assure you everything said here applies to non WiFi variant as well.
Bellow is a table which shows all the specs of SJ4000 WiFi. Same specs apply for the non WiFi version, except for the WiFi mode obviously.
- Starts at $75.99
- 12 Mega Pixels CMOS Sensor
- Color :Black/White/Silver/Yellow/Blue/Pink/Gold
- Wireless WiFi
- Screen : 1.5" LCD Screen
- Image resolution -12 mp, 4000 x 3000 -8 mp, 3264 x 2448 -5 mp, 2560 x 1920 -3 mp, 2048 x 1536 -2 Megapixel, 1920 x 1080 (recommended) -1.2 Megapixel, 1280 x 720
- Video Resolution -HD 1920 x 1080p / 30 fps HD 1280 x 720p / 60 fps (records each frame twice, so its not real 60 fps!) -848 x 480p / 60 fps 640 x 480 / 60 fps
- H.264 Compression format
- 4X (Digital Zoom)
- LENS 170° Wide Angle Lens f= 2.99mm F= 2.8
- Supports up to 32 GB Micro SD. Minimum Class 6 Micro SD is recommended.
- English/French/Spanish/German/Chinese Simplified/Chinese Traditional/Russian/Japanese/Korean language supported
- Connectors :USB 2.0; HDMI
- Battery Detachable, 900mAh
- Camera Dimensions: 29.8 x 59.2 x 41mm
- Weight :44g (without battery) 58 g (with battery)
The first thought everyone gets after seeing this action cam for the first time is : “Is this a GoPro?”
Enough said. The design is very very similar to a GoPro.
Camera dimensions are 59.3 x 41.1 x 29.3 mm. It weights approx 58g with and 44g without a battery inside.
Cam is pretty lightweight and much smaller then you expect it to be. The first time I opened the box, my first thought was “Wow, can this tiny thing really make videos?”. One thing I particularly like about it is variety of colors to chose. For the SJ4000 model, there are 7 different colors.
Though its not a high end DSLR or expensive camcorder, SJ4000 provides fantastic video for its price which will do more then a good job for most of the users. The wide angle f= 2.99mm F= 2.8 lens enables you to capture large field of view. With this action cam you can shoot high definition video in different modes and resolutions.
Both SJ4000 and SJ4000 WiFi can record videos in the following resolutions :
- Full HD: 1920*1080P 30 fps
- 720P: 1280*720P 60/30 fps (double frame, not true 60fps,records each frame twice)
- 640 x 480P 60fps
- 848*480P 60fps
It should be mentioned that the sj4000 does not support true 60 fps, though it is mentioned in the specification. So if you really need 60 frames per second in your video, you should go with their latest SJ5000 or some other camera such as Sony AS100V. The more frames per second your camera has, the more realistic video looks. The more does not need to mean the better. All Hollywood movies have been recorded in 24 fps for instance, and most of the YouTube videos in 30 fps. All of my videos are done in 30fps as well.
Download Video and photograph samples
In the lengthy video above , you will see my entire review of this camera which includes sample footage. Since YouTube encodes videos and reduces their quality, download these sample videos I have taken to see how original non-encoded videos look.
Video Time Lapse
While I was playing around with the camera, making videos for my YouTube channel, I realized that I haven’t upgraded firmware. Since my camera was original, I was not afraid to make an upgrade by following instructions on SJCAM website. To my surprise one of the features included in the 20150126 version is video time lapse. This option enables you to create creative videos, just like those in movies.
How SJ4000 time lapse works?
Camera has an option to set time lapse to 3, 5, 10, 30 seconds and a full minute. What does that mean? Basically this is how it works. If you select lets say 10 seconds, this means camera will capture a frame every 10 seconds. If you leave your camera for an hour (60 minutes), camera will take 6 frames per minute or in total 360 frames in hour. Lets say you are recording at 30 fps you will get 360/30 = 12 seconds of video in time lapse.
You probably heard that video and photo do not go well together in one device. Either its a device for photography or video-making. On rare occasions if one gadget can handle both well, its bloody expensive.
With video content becoming more important and widely used then ever before, companies are making models that can do great shoots and video at the same time. Still, if you need this camera just for a sake of taking photos, then I recommend you to go with a digital camera or a DSLR.
While taking shoots with this camera, you will be able to chose between different modes such as color, sepia or black and white. Additionally, changing white balance will make your photos look different as well, which is extremely useful if you want to make your shoots a bit warmer or colder for instance.
Photos taken with SJ4000 are not bad, but they are not fantastic either. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the resolution of the photos. Though the manufacturer claims that the highest photo res is 12mp, few other reviewers confirmed that it is definitely bellow that.
Manufacturer claims that photos can be taken in :
- -12 mp, 4000 x 3000
- -8 mp, 3264 x 2448
- -5 mp, 2560 x 1920
- -3 mp, 2048 x 1536
- -2 Megapixel, 1920 x 1080
- -1.2 Megapixel, 1280 x 720
In the reality 12mp and 8 mp photo look exactly the same as the 5mp ones. When you zoom the photo it quickly blurs and the details are not easy to spot. Bellow are few more photos I have taken with my SJ4000.
As you can see its not Nikon or Cannon, but makes decent shoots that are better an average smartphone. The photos have been resized to load faster, so I recommend you to download original unprocessed photos I have taken. (Download, do not watch them via Dropbox)
On the other hand, on my travels, I find SJ4000 quite handy because of its size and weight. It fits into my pocket, and for quick photos it did great job for me. Also you will not look like a tourist when you carry a device of this size, which decreases the possibility of being pickpocket victim abroad.
SJCAM SJ 4000 equipment
The camera comes packed with enormous amount of mounts and accessories. Here is what you get inside the box (nope, I am not exaggerating, you really get all these) :
- 1x SJ4000 camera with battery
- 1x waterproof housing
- 1x bicycle stand
- 2x base stands
- 1x clip
- 1x fixed base
- 3x switch supporters
- 1x adapter
- 2x helmet base
- 1x bandage
- 3x ribbon
- double coated adhesive tape
- 1x wire rope
- 1x data wire/usb charger
- 1x usb to AC adapter
- 1x manual
- 1x wiper
As you see the list is enormous. Some of these base, bandages and stands may be used in combination with other branded action cameras such as GoPro or Sony. Basically when you combine these, you will be able to put your action camera and create flexible stands for your bicycle, waist or car (in order to be set on a window requires additional car bracket which is sold separately). Illustration above shows how you can set up and combine accessories and mounts.
Additional (optional) equipment
Well you cant get everything with the camera. There are few gadgets that you can purchase additionally on the SJCAM website, which are not included in the box. Here is a list of additional accessories:
- car bracket
- HDMI Outlet line
- waist bandage
- car charger
Both versions of SJ4000 come with a separate waterproof housing which allows your camera to go up to 30m in water making it water-resistant. I haven’t tested the camera in the deep water, since I am not particularly good at diving. I used waterproof housing under a heavy rain taking both videos and photos and my SJ4000 WiFi was completely save.
Additionally the case does not influence the quality of the video or photo significantly but it will make audio sounds really bad. Camera has an option to switch to waterproof mode, which allows better shoots under water.
Camera can be easily inserted into the housing. Buttons on the case are really hard to press which was my only problem with this piece of equipment. Though I understand that stiff pressing makes housing safer, it really is annoying sometimes that you have to use full force to turn camera on/off. That can also make your photos shaky a bit until you get used to it. One additional problem when using housing is that it reduces or in some cases completely overkill the sound quality.
Camera without housing is not splash or water resistant, so do not try to use it that way.
Multipurpose Action Cam
This tiny little fella is a definition of multipurpose. I am not sure why, but in addition to its indoor, outdoor and underwater purpose, you can use this camera as :
- Dash-camera (car camera)
- Web cam (for your PC, talking on Skype, etc)
- Home surveillance
Probably the most useful option besides standard ones, is dash-cam option. You can use this camera to record while you are driving your car. It can be pretty useful if God forbid, you find yourself in a situation where you might need a proof for your insurance. In case you are interested in performance and quality of video, check out my YouTube review which has few minutes of recording traffic.
How to activate Dash-cam mode?
To activate SJ4000 car mode, turn on your camera. Once turned on, press the menu/power button two or three times (depending on your firmware) until you enter Settings. Press the down arrow button until you see Settings<Car Mode. Press OK button on your camera and turn car mode ON.
I must admit that I use my SJ4000 WiFi cam as a web camera quite a lot. It became an essential to me since it records so much better then the old Genius i300 I had. Unlike most of the web cameras out there, this one will record in really, really wind angle, so it might be difficult to get used to it at first. Camera has a built in microphone, so basically you do not need an external mic. You can talk on Skype all day long without any issues.
How to setup your SJ4000 as a PC camera?
Unlike the car mode, to activate your SJ4000 as a web cam, you only have to plugin it into your PC with a micro USB cable you received with it. Camera will then automatically turn on. On the camera screen you will see two options : mass storage and PC camera. Mass storage should be selected when you want to access videos you recorded. So, select PC camera and click OK.
If its your first time to plug it into a computer, it may take few seconds for your PC to automatically find a driver for it if you are connected to internet.
A driver is tiny software that allows your PC to recognize and communicate with your camera. For my Windows 7 it took a minute. Depending on your PC operating system, it can be only plug and play. Just make sure you are connected to the internet.
Home Burglar (Motion Detection)
In my opinion this option is something most of us do not need their action camera to do. Personally, if I needed to secure my property, I would not rely on action cameras. I would buy something far more serious. Well, it does not hurt to have additional function, right? Home burglar option enables the camera to turn on and start recording once it detects a movement.
This camera is pretty unreliable when it comes to detecting a motion. Sometimes it will record on a slightest movement and sometimes it wont detect anything even if you come really close to it. My advice, do not use it as a security camera. One idea is to use it for hunting where you can record animals when they move or yourself when skating and you need a b-roll footage.
How to turn on motion detection?
Similar to the web cam option, you can turn on the movement detection by entering Settings<Motion Detection. Select ON and press OK. Just make sure to turn it OFF when you do not need it since your action cam might turn on and drain your battery. That would be a shame, would it?
SJCAM SJ4000 battery and charger
The same battery that is in M10 and SJ5000 is also in SJ4000 camera – Li-ion rechargeable 900mAH. Approximate battery life while recording in 1080p 30 fps with WiFi off is around 100 min which is not bad at all for such camera. This means 100 minutes is the time you can get recording continuously without turning camera on/off. For my needs of taking lots of shorter 2-3 minutes videos in a day, it did the job.
Battery can be powered (camera can be charged) via USB cable plugged into your PC, AV Cable or the car powered adapter. The fastest charging is via AV cable, but this sort of charging. I always used AV cable for charging because I did not want to wait. But USB is much safer way to charge your camera if you have the time. Sometimes you can get an awkward smell when charging this cam via AV.
Original AV charger that you get with your camera can be used for US wall plugs. However most of the sellers will ship small EU converter together with the pack. Make sure to ask them if they have one to send to you. They will do it free of charge most of the times. I got my converter without even asking since they seller saw I live in Europe.
If you prefer charging via car adapter, you´ll have to purchase, since its not included in the original package. On manufacturers site, you can get car charger + car mount for only 9.99$. If you still haven’t bought the cam and need a spare battery, SJ4000 + battery pack is good thing for you.
In case you read this article from the top, you are already aware about two types of SJCAM SJ4000 WiFi and non-WiFi. Since I already said that the only difference between the two is built in WiFi, it is time to clarify what that means to you and what are the benefits of having WiFi in your camera.
The WiFi in your camera enables you to connect and control your camera remotely from your Android or iPhone. The range for the WiFi is around 10-20m.
In my case, since I am using my cam for taking lots of B-roll footage, having a remote control is essential. I have one SJ4000 on a tripod really high, and it would be really hard to turn it on/off by pressing button on it. In addition to remote with WiFi you can look videos or photos from your smartphone device and download it from there without a USB cable. This however means that transferring will be slower then when using a cable. To use all the WiFi functions, you need to have an app installed. Lets now talk more about the SJCAM HD app in bellow.
Free SJCAMHD APP
SJCAMHD is an official app. You might be asked to update your camera to latest firmware.
Turn on the WiFi on your smartphone. Turn the camera on and press UP arrow on the right side of the camera. Now if you done everything right, you will see orange light flashing above the OK button. LCD Screen will also show some info about WiFi. Press UP once again. You will need to enter a password to connect both devices. Password by default is 12345678 (check in settings). Now the devices are pared, enter the SJCAMHD app and click connect your camera. If you have having troubles connecting, watch this video.
The app enables you to : Control your video from a smartphone. Record, take photos, change all possible settings, import/export. Do not forget to turn off WiFi when you are not using it, as it drains the battery. Orange light flashing means WiFi is on.
One thing you should always be careful with this camera is upgrading the firmware. Make sure to install firmware which appears only on official SJCAM website. Read the installation instruction carefully. Firmware upgrade crash can mean that you did not install it properly, the firmware does not apply to your version of camera or that your camera is not genuine one.
New software upgrade can bring improvements to your video, photo, app functions and introduce some new features (like time lapse).
On this link you can download latest firmwares for SJ4000 and SJ4000 WiFi. For now, SJCAM releases firmware updates regularly.
Best Memory card for SJCAM SJ4000?
By default, camera supports Micro SD memory cards that have capabilities no bigger than 32 GB. SJCAM recommends to use reliable, big brand MicroSD cards to get most out of your video. Believe it or not, the quality and the speed of that tiny thing card memory card can have a influence on your video. It is highly recommended to use Class 10 card.
I tried these 3 Micro SD cards, and two of them worked :
- Sony 16GB High Speed microSDHC Class 10 (worked perfectly)
- Transcend 8GB MicroSDHC Class 10 (worked perfectly)
- Sony 64GB (Did not work for obvious reason – it has 64 GB!)
Some smart guys at RC forum can help you out with making your larger size memory card working as well. There is also a list of other cards that worked well. Since I tested only these 3, I do not guarantee their suggestions will work.
If you would like to know more on memory cards and their speed, quality etc, guys at Techfunology made a nice article.
Where to buy SJCAM SJ4000 WiFi?
Weather you decided to buy a WiFi or non WiFi version, you should be aware that there are lots of fake copies of SJ4000. The reason for this is because the earliest release of the product was not patented. To learn dirty tricks on how to recognize a fake vs real read this in depth post.
Note : Due to problems with fake SJ4000 appearing on the market, here are some links where you can get official product.
Your experience with this camera? Do you have one or intend to buy it?
I hope you found this review useful and that it helped you decide weather this action cam is right for you or not. If you are the owner of this camera, please let me know in the comments bellow. I would really like to hear your experience with it. For any additional questions, feel free to ask, I will do my best to reply to each and every comment.
You can also check comparison of this camera vs later SJ5000 model. or the full review of SJ4000+ (Plus) version which is an upgraded model of this one. Also make sure to check all SJCAM models compared side by side to determine which one suits you the best.