I still remember the first action camera I had was an SJCAM SJ4000 and at that time, it was one of the best action cameras in the market.
Fast forward 3 years or so, we not only see action cams, but body cams, gimbals and dashcams made by SJCAM.
Recently, SJCAM has released a new batch of action cams, the SJ8 series, which I have briefly covered about here, but for the sake of those of you who didn’t read that, I’ve decided to quickly summarise it here.
The new SJ8 action cams series consist of 3 action cams, each at a different price point and with a different target audience in mind.
The SJ8 action cams closely resembles the action cams by Yi Technology, which features an entry level model, the SJ8 Air (Yi Lite), the slightly beefier SJ8 Plus (Yi 4K) an finally their flagship model, the SJ8 Pro.
Without further ado, let me give you my honest opinion on the SJ8 Pro!
Contents of Review
What It Comes With
Body Interface & Design (Retina IPS Screen, Type-C Port, Indicator Screen, Battery & Micro-SD
Camera Navigation (Quick Menu, Shooting Modes, Settings)
Unique Features (H265, 5Ghz WiFi, 8x Digital Zoom)
Picture & Video Quality (Audio, Raw Photos)
Comparisons with Other Action Cams (SJ8 Pro Vs Yi 4K+ & Hero 6 Black)
Smartphone App – SJCAM Zone
Best Places To Buy
Verdict – Yay or Nay?
In terms of specs, I find that the SJ8 Pro gives insane value for money because the specs are about the same as the Hero 6 Black which costs almost 2 times more than the SJ8 Pro!
What it Comes With
There are 2 main packages you can purchase, full set & camera only.
The camera only set includes the bare minimum: charging cable, camera and user manual.
For an additional $20, you can get the full set, which includes:
- 1 x Waterproof Housing; 1 x Quick Release Buckle
- 1 x Handlebar Seat Post Mount
- 1 x Curved Adhesive Mount; 1 x Flat Adhesive Mount;
- 2 x 3M Adhesive Tape; 1 x Universal 1/4″ Camera Tripod Mount
- 1 x Tripod Mount Adapter; 1 x Cleaning Cloth; 1 x Type-C Cable
Another cool thing is that it comes with a separate interchangeable touchscreen waterproof (3m) backdoor, similar to the SJ7 Star, which allows you to operate the camera when it’s inside the waterproof case. Thus, this is a good option for protecting the camera.
The main or default backdoor does not work with the touchscreen but it’s still more waterproof (30m) and durable than the one above.
Which Is Better: Full Set or Camera Only?
Personally, I’d go for that full set any day of the week because for that extra $20, you have so many more mounting options, not only limited to the tripod/selfie stick screw thread at the bottom. Even if you don’t decide to use it for your next trip, there will still be many opportunities in the future when you need it, be it snorkelling, scuba diving, etc.
Body Interface and Design
The SJ8 Pro has a rubbery feel to it and upon holding it for the first time, it certainly feels solidly built and very grippy to the touch too.
It also has roughly the same dimensions as other action cams but what is different is the lens position as it’s much higher and further to the right than normal action cams.
2.33” Retina IPS Screen
The SJ8 Pro has a retina touchscreen IPS screen at the back and a 0.96” LED screen in the front.
When I first switched it on, I was honestly quite surprised at the detail and colour accuracy the back screen was able to display, which really resembles ones that you find on monitors and phones.
Because of this, I found that it’s by far one of the best, if not the best screens that I’ve seen on an action cam and I feel this is one of SJ8 Pro’s strength.
USB-Type C Port
From the looks of it, most companies are shifting from Micro-USB to type C ports and it’s obvious that SJCAM is on board when they release 3 different action cams, with all of them utilising the same Type-C port.
Although SJCAM claims that it has a faster transfer rate, etc, it is actually not the case.
If we’re talking about data transfer speed, it’s actually not the type of port (Type-C, micro-USB, etc) that matters but the version of USB (3.1, 3.0, 2.0, etc). Thus, it has nothing to do with the type of port used.
However, the port is reversible, meaning it can be plugged in either side, which makes it more convenient than the normal micro-USB ports, which you have a 50% chance that it’s the right way.
Front Indicator Screen
Although it’s not a common sight amongst action cams, the SJ8 Pro has a 0.96” front screen which acts as a summary screen and is used to show important information such as shooting mode, battery life, time and resolution.
I found it really convenient to have because no matter what orientation it’s in, you’ll still be able to tell whether it’s shooting or not and how long it has been shooting for.
Battery & Micro-SD
At the bottom under the latch, holds the battery and the micro-sd card.
Although you can use any micro-sd card, I’d recommend you to get a UHS class 3 memory card especially if you’re planning on shooting in 4K because cards than that slower than that are prone to lagging especially in 4K.
Swiping down, you will see 4 quick toggles:
Lock Screen: Locks the screen which prevents any accidental taps while filming.
WiFi: Switches on and off Wifi to connect to your smartphone.
FPV: Allows you to get a live footage with your drone or anything remote controlled. (will be doing a full tutorial on that soon)
There is an optional l SJCAM remote controlthat you can purchase that allows you to fully control the camera from your wrist.
If you swipe up, you’d be able to see the 8 different shooting modes:
Here are the important few:
Photo & Video Lapse: Mainly for timelapse. Photo variation will take photos (up to 12MP) at set interval (up to 20s) while video timelapse will also capture (up to 4K – 8MP) at set interval (up to 30s) but it’ll produce a timelapse video instead of a set of photosC
Video + Photo: Takes a photo timelapse (photo taken at regular interval from 5s to 1 min) while the camera is recording at 1080p.
Car Mode: It will enable loop recording and be switched on automatically when it detects the power is on.
Below are some of the few features offered by the SJ8 Pro, which I feel makes it unique because very few other action cams out there in the market have these features.
H265 Video Encoding Compatibility
H265 encoding is still a relatively new technology and when compared to traditional H264 videos, H265 videos take up way less space, but at the same time not compromising on video quality.
This means you can take more shots without occupying more space!
The only drawback of this is that it uses up more power to record and older operating systems (before Windows 10 & Mac OS High Sierra) may not be able to decode the video.
Quick Test: H265 VS H264
50% “savings” using H265!
2.4G/5G WiFi Connection
2.4G is used for the majority of action cameras to connect to smartphones because it’s easy to implement and doesn’t need much processing power.
However, because there are so many devices operating at 2.4G, it tended to get a little busy and hence signal speed dropped. That’s when a new wave of WiFi, 5GHz, was introduced and it’s especially prevalent in newer routers and modem.
The main difference between the 5GHz band and the 2.4Ghz band is the range and the transfer rate.
5GHz provides faster data transfer rate at a shorter distance whereas 2.4GHz could offer wider coverage but at the expense of transfer speed.
Thus, it made sense to use 5GHz WiFi throughout since it’s not like we’ll ever be far away from our camera when we want to transfer some footage.
Just to be sure that it wasn’t a gimmick, I did a quick test between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz to see which did better and here are the results I found from a video – File Size: 167.8MB
I was genuinely surprised after I saw how fast the transfer took, thus I can say for sure that the 5GHz wifi band is in not any way a gimmick and it works really well.
Many different sources claim that the SJ8 Pro has voice control but after scouring through the settings, I did not manage to find any voice control feature.
I also went forth and check the remote because some action cams require the remote for voice control capability (like the T5 Edge) but I could not find it either, so at least until they release a new firmware or voice-controlled remote, there is no voice control feature on the SJ8 Pro.
8x Digital Zoom
This zooming feature on the SJ8 pro is really a useful feature to have.
Similar to the Hero 6 Black, it uses a digital zoom, meaning the digital image on the sensor is cropped and enlarged as opposed to optical zoom, where the image is
However, the SJ8 Pro has an extra edge as it allows you to toggle the zooming magnitude while filming, which is not possible on the Hero 6 Black.
Picture & Video Quality
The SJ8 Pro is able to film up to 4K 60fps but it’s best to use that resolution only if you have a gimbal as gyro stabilization is not supported at that resolution, hence the video may be a little shaky without a gimbal.
That’s why my go-to, or default resolutions would be either 4K 30fps or 1440p 60fps.
I’m also quite confused as to why they didn’t allow 2.7K shooting because that would make a great bridge between 4K and 1080p.
8x Digital Zoom
Anyhow, in terms of both the image and video quality that you get from the SJ8 Pro, it’s really really good and detailed for something at this price range.
However, I felt it still wasn’t perfect and could be improved particularly in terms of colour saturation and dynamic range.
Ultra Vs Normal Shot
Apart from the normal shooting resolution, the SJ8 Pro is also able to shoot in Ultra, which is a term used in the action cam world to describe wider angled shots.
Take a look at the difference in my screengrab of a video I took.
The SJ8 Pro is able to take up to 12MP (4000×3000 pixels) photos and it’s really clear and colour contrast is also pretty good too. Take a look for yourself here:
New SJCAM Raw Converter Edit Raw Images *Updated 15 Aug (Read update below)
A new raw converter has been released by SJCAM which now works with the SJ8 Pro. Yay!
All you’ve got to do is download the software, select the folder your images are in, click convert and BAM!
It worked perfectly and really glad that they fixed this issue!
Sadly, for those Mac users out there, the software won’t be available anytime soon so you’ve to find a Windows PC be it from a local library or from your workplace.
Other raw samples and comparisons coming soon so stay tuned!
SJ8 Pro Vs Hero 6 Black – Video Quality
Take a look at this quick comparison by Zi Reviews Tech.
As you can see, the main difference between these 2 cams lies in their dynamic colour range.
The Hero 6 does a better job in this regard than the SJ8 Pro as it has brighter and darker colours whereas the one on the SJ8 Pro wasn’t as dark nor as light as the Hero 6.
Comparisons with Other Action Cams
Let’s first talk about the Yi 4K+and SJ8 Pro.
These 2 action cams, in my opinion, are the closest to each other in terms of specs and price (though 4K+ is more costly).
Here’s a quick comparison in terms of specs.
1440p - 60, 50, 30, 25f ps
1440p - 60, 50, 30, 25f ps
1440p - 60, 50, 30, 25f ps
The specs are really similar, to be honest but I feel the main differences are the features they provide.
For now, even without the SJ8 Pro failing to keep their promise with the live streaming and raw photos, Yi 4K+still offers slightly more features, with the ones mentioned before and also some slightly more minute features such as lock ISO and more importantly voice control.
Because of this, I feel that the Yi 4K+ currently still has better value for money despite its biggest limitation which is the lack of accessories and a slightly more expensive price point.
SJ8 Pro Vs GoPro Hero 6 Black
2.7K - 120fps
2.7K - 120fps
Since the prices are roughly the same, let’s take a look at what you can get from each of these!
But, if you look close enough, they are really similar in terms of specs and features and it’s SJCAM showing us how well of a job they can shave the price off while at the same time keeping all the important features in.
Sure, the Hero 6 has a wider dynamic range, and even has better editing software (Quik). However, we need to bear in mind we are paying nearly twice the price of the SJ8 Pro to get these features.
So at the end of the day, is it worth it? For some, it may seem reasonable, but for me, I don’t really see the point of spending twice just for a tad bit of better video quality and slightly better support.
Smartphone App (SJCAM Zone)
There’s nothing that stands out from its competitors as far as the app goes.
Using the app, you can pretty much do what many other apps can, such as remotely control the camera, editing the footage, sharing to the SJCAM community and live viewing of your footage.
Settings & Album
Latest Firmware Update (1.2.4) – Last Updated On 14 Aug
Just to give an update, the newest firmware improves and fixes quite a lot of bugs and glitches that I’ve originally experienced when doing this review prior so it’s really great that many of it are fixed.
Best Places To Get It
- 【Newest 4K/60fps Camera 】Equipped with a powerful Ambarella H22 chipset and 1200mAh...
- 【Impressed Image Stabilization】Built-in Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) delivers...
- 【Long Battery Life 】1200mAh high capacity battery supports video recording at 4K /...
- 【Dual screen 】2.33 inch HD IPS touchscreen at the back for easily preview videos and...
- 【DUAL UI INTERFACE】SJ8 PRO brings innovation on hardware, software as well as new...
Verdict (Aug Update)
So after maybe 3 months after their release of the SJ8 Pro, I’ve come back to re-evaluate this camera.
After their recent update, the whole firmware feels way more stable and easier to use as well and as a result, the camera feels way more pleasing to use and I’ve got a whole new level of confidence when using this now.
Moreover, the implementation of new technology such as 5GHz WiFi band, H265 video encoding and use of reversible Type-C ports leads me to think that this camera is out of the world because not only is it new but it’s also set at a very attractive price point.
All in all, I felt especially after the SJCAM firmware update, it certainly feels like the best action camera in terms of bang for buck. The image quality is AMAZING and certainly feels and looks great to use.
And because of this whether you’re using it for your next vacation, beach trips or a quick road trip off work, I’d definitely recommend this to anyone looking for an action cam with great build, image quality and not to mention bang for buck, but don’t require the other fancier bells and whistles that more costly action cams have (voice control, GPS, built-in waterproofness etc).
That’s all for my review on the newest SJ8 Pro. Reviews on the other SJ8 Series action cams such as the SJ8 Air and SJ8 Plus is coming soon so stay tuned by joining our list to get updated action cam news and more!
I’d also like to thank SJCAM for sending me this sample to review & you who stuck with me till the end!
Till next time, have a great one!