Like many autocrossers, I’ve been hunting for a solid action camera that will record good, clear video without the pricetag of the GoPro. I’ve been using my own point and shoot for the last couple of years, which takes great video. However, it fails when it comes to sound (wind noise), and in general it’s probably best that I don’t use my normal camera for this kind of activity.
GoPro was never an option for me – not because I couldn’t afford it, but because I didn’t think it was worth it. To get a decent GoPro that had an LCD screen (so I wouldn’t have to use WiFi to figure out where it was looking) and have the right connections would have cost several hundred dollars. So I turned to Amazon’s best seller list to figure out which action camera people were buying – this was a mistake. The first action camera I bought was a GeekPro 2.0 – decent reviews, but the image was so terrible I started wondering if GoPro was really the only option. I promptly returned that camera and began actually researching action cameras to see which cameras would actually provide GoPro like quality – and finally settled on one.
For starters, the SJCam SJ4000+ has a very high quality body and the case. I love the rubberized texture of the camera itself, which feels very grippy. The case was also of much better quality than the GeekPro I had, with a solid release mechanism. Overall, very high quality. The menu is in color and this camera comes with up and down buttons, making navigation intuitive and very easy to use.
The case lens isn’t the clearest (specks I can’t seem to wipe off) but it doesn’t seem to impact the videos in any way. The buttons themselves are a little vague when the camera is in the case, but they always press accurately on the first try. The sound is muffled with the fully waterproof case, but that is perfect for me, as I can still pick up on engine noise and tire squeal with wind noise very well mitigated.
The video quality is fantastic. I’ve been lucky enough to test both light and darker/cloudy scenarios, and the video turns out crisp for both. If anything, the images are on the darker side, but still very clear. I will only be using the camera for autocross, so this is all that matters to me and for this it is more than enough for my needs! Perfect really, with muffled sound and clear/slightly darker video. I think I got through 1/3rd to 1/2 of the battery taking video for two cars, 5 runs a piece including watching the video when reviewing my runs. It does say it records in 2k but I have yet to figure out how to upload that exactly. I take the videos in 2k but per the youtube uploads they are all just 1080p – not sure about how that one works.
My one criticism is that it doesn’t seem to handle interior videos very well – the brighter the day, the worse it gets. Tested this on cloudy and dark days and I guess the light difference is just too much for the camera. However, for me this is fairly minor. Only one car has interior mounting set up and I can still always use my point and shoot for that. If I had a wish list I’d also want a bigger LCD screen on the back, but no big deal at all there.
Overall, this is a solid action camera that fulfills all my needs as an autocrosser – when factoring in the money, it becomes a no brainer! Looking forward to using this camera for the next few years. Sample videos below:
Cloudy day interior:
Sunny day Interior: