fake or real image sensors?

Fake Image Sensors found in Action Cameras? Read this before buying an Action Camera!

Recently, in the past years, amidst the action cameras industries expanding rapidly, many manufacturers and companies are finding different ways to stay ahead and remain competitive.

One of the ways that they do so is by claiming that their camera is 4K although it’s not true 4K which is explained here.

Another method which I am going to discuss here would be using fake image sensors or chipsets to attract buyers.

How they go about doing it…

action cameras, image sensor upscaling, fake image sensors in action cameras, interpolation

Example of Firefox Icon Interpolating

Most of the time, action cameras would state 12MP in their specifications or sometimes on the body itself but for cheaper action cameras, it is not the case most of the time. This is because it is actually resized or interpolated from a 4MP image sensor. Hence, if you are unsure, you can actually check the sensor datasheet to see the real image output resolution. Another thing you can do it to check the effective pixels of an image sensor. You can also feel free to ask me about the authenticity of the image sensor too.

What are effective pixels?

effective pixels vs total pixels, interpolate

Example of a digital camera specs

Effective pixels, unlike total pixels are actually the pixels the camera can see or is used for the output. Many times, action camera companies use the total number of pixels to falsely advertise for their camera, attracting more people. I can’t say that’s wrong because technically, it’s not.

Let me first explain what total pixels mean. Total pixels is the total pixels the sensor can detect, which includes pixels for both the processing of the image and also for the real output. There are pixels lined at the edge of the sensors that are unused for the capture but are used to process the image. This is there so that the camera has a reference point to an unexposed or black pixel, which then, the effective pixels can use as a reference for capture, the real output.

Hence, now you should understand why I say that using the total pixels to advertise is not technically wrong.

*Also, this is not the main ‘scam’ that companies use. The main scam is still done by interpolation or upsizing images which is mentioned above. *

Examples of these action cameras that are falsely advertised

A normal image sensor found in cameras

Some examples of this would be the SJCAM M10+, Elephone Ele Explorer, F60 4K, Q3H 4K and Amkov AMK7000S 4K, which as the box or specs sheet specifies, has an output image resolution of 12MP and uses an Omnivision OV4689 image sensor. However, when you go and take a look at the sensor specs, you will realise that it is only 4MP and that this camera is falsely advertised to attract buyers to spend their money.


I know this may sound a little sketchy and a little unbelievable when I first knew about it. I also found out that many the companies that falsely advertise are actually from China and hence I can’t really fault them because the competition there is immense and they have to do everything they can to stay ahead of the competition.

Another thing to note is that although the image sensor or chipsets that they specify are false, the manufacturers are in no fault at this as it is the companies who uses these chipsets that falsely advertise.

Last but not least, I feel it is our responsibility to check more thoroughly about the product that we are going to buy before purchasing it because it is our money that we are using at the end of the day.

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Thanks for reading! If you have any queries or comments, please feel free to drop down in the comment box below! Thanks and have a nice day!

4 Responses

  1. Hey Kai,

    I’m not surprised to read that companies play fast and loose with the specs on their cameras and other products. Not sure I would give China a pass for doing it just because of the competition, either. Seems to me, the way to beat the competition, no matter the country, would be to make a superior camera. Period.

    When I buy a camera, I always do a lot of research and comparison shopping. I look very closely at the specs and in the end, what I want is the best bang for the buck That is…
    Not the cheapest
    Not the most expensive
    Not necessarily the most bells and whistles
    But – the best quality camera for the money.

    Thanks for pointing out and explaining the issue with these chips! Good to know some of the pitfalls to look out for.


    1. Hi Hal! I totally agree with what you said that at the end of the day, finding the best bang for your buck in the price point that you have in mind! Anyways, thanks for reading and leaving a comment! Have a nice day!



  2. Thank you for this post. It is very insightful and useful in deciding on a new action camera (or an action camera if buying one for the First time). I used to have a Yi Sports cam and the camera quality was really good, although it was not 4K. I have heard of SJcam and I’m surprised they aren’t 4K. Probably my next Sports cam will have to be the GoPro.

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