Firstly, to clear any misconception, this is the MGCOOL Explorer Pro and not Elecam Explorer Pro. They are both totally different cameras and shouldn’t be treated as the same.

The reason why is that MGCOOL is a new brand that was reworked from Elecam and thus you can think of this as a second version of Elecam Explorer Pro.

Is it really a 4k camera under 50? Let’s check it out!

Product specs:

Video resolution:

Native Resolution 1080p 60fps/ 720p 120fps

Picture Resolution:

Max 8MP

Chipset:

Allwinner V3 SOC

Image Sensor :

Sony IMX179  (Similar to FireFly 6S)

FOV:

170˚

Card Storage:

Up to 64GB

Battery Life:

1050mAh (100mins on 4K 30fps)

Screen size:

2 Inch

Water resistance:

30m (With waterproof housing )

What It Comes With

mgcool explorer pro accessories

  • 1 x MGCOOL Explorer Pro Action Camera with Waterproof Case
  • 1 x Camera Bracket
  • 1 x Clip
  • 1 x USB Data Cable
  • 1 x Bicycle Handlebar Mount
  • 2 x Helmet Base
  • 1 x T-Connector + Screw
  • 1 x English User Manual

The accessories that come together is lesser than the basic set(3rd party or those that comes sj4000). I felt that they included only the necessary accessories and ignored all the rest.

As for the accessories that it provided, the quality of all of them were generally quite good but the bike handlebar mount provided was a little loose and hence it made it quite inconvenient to correct the camera’s orientation every time the bike jerks a little.

The camera is also compatible with GoPro, third party accessories so if you have any accessories, it is highly likely that it will work fine with the Explorer Pro.

Having said that, as the camera is of a different size than GoPro and SJCAMs, the waterproof housing can’t be used interchangeably.

Other than the accessories, the battery also can be interchanged with the other popular action cameras like GoPro or SJCAMs too.

Waterproof Case Locking Mechanism

The waterproof case was quite well built.

Left: SJCAM SJ4000 Right: MGCOOL Explorer Pro

Having said that, I felt the locking mechanism could be a little better, as sometimes the lock will go crooked and get stuck.

Battery Cover

SJ4000 vs Explorer Pro battery cover
Left: SJ4000 Right: Explorer Pro

The battery cover, on the other hand, was quite a hassle because opening it is quite difficult. You have to kind of dig your nail inside to pull the cover, hence if given a choice, I feel they should have made a pull trigger such as the one in SJCAMs at the bare minimum. Nevertheless, once you get used to opening it, it becomes easier and easier.

Overall, I felt the buttons were generally solid and the whole camera feels sturdy and robust as it has a substantial amount of weight to it and isn’t too light such as the Eken H9R or V3 camera.

Buttons and Controls:

Explorer Pro Interface Review1: Shutter/Select: Press to take video/photo or select in settings

2:  Micro-HDMI: Connect to external display

3: Micro-SD: Memory Card Slot

4: Micro-USB: Charge and data transfer

5: Power/Mode Button: Press and Hold: Switches on/off; Press: Changes Mode (Video –> Capture –> Slow-Mo –> Playback –> Settings)

6: Down Button: Press audio on or off; Press and hold: zoom out

7: Up Button: Press: wifi turn on and off; Press and hold: zoom in

Smartphone App (Explorer Pro)

explorer pro app control

The app (available for both IOS and Android) in general is very stable and has little to no bugs. It is one of the best that I have tested so far because they made an app specially meant for this model of camera and hence it has a very reliable and fast connection.

However, having said that, I still face a problem (not that serious). Whenever the app closes and you try reopening it, it’ll lose the connection and you would have to restart the app in order to reconnect with the camera.

explorer pro app

As far as the app goes, it is nothing out of the extraordinary, and like other camera apps, you can change some basic settings (can be changed in camera as well) and use your phone as a remote control and live stream. However, one thing that sets it apart is that it can film 4K and 2.7K on the app itself, which I feel is quite remarkable.

App Overview

Image Quality of Camera

I felt the colours were quite bright and the details of the footages were pretty decent.

Sharkeye 6G Lens (Reduces Fisheye Distortion)

As you can see from the image between normal action cams (SJ4000 in this case) and the explorer pro, the explorer pro has a significantly larger lens so as to reduce the distortion of the image.

sj4000 vs explorer pro sharkeye lens comparison

Hence, if you are wondering whether it was done using software editing, it’s not.

Below you can see the photos taken by the individual cameras each with the different shaped lens. As you can see, the colours are a little brighter and looks sharper overall.

distortion test comparison

Picture Mode

The camera has a native 8MP image sensor which means the 12MP or 16MP options are interpolated and there is really no reason to use it anyways.

You can change various settings in the photo such as exposure, white balance.

Overall, for images, I felt images were clear enough to see and colours are also generally quite accurate and bright.

You can also make a photo timelapse by changing ‘auto’ in the picture settings to the duration to enable your camera to keep shooting non-stop for a certain duration and then stitch it using editing apps afterwards.

Lack of Anti-Shake Image Stabilization

The lack of image stabilization on this camera was quite obvious. Usually, most cams have anti-shake stabilization built into it and thus taking pictures are usually not that blur.

However, for this camera, as there was no stabilization whatsoever, the images tend to be a little blurry and in order to take clear photos, you must consciously put in an effort to not shake the camera.

Taking photos using one hand will cause blurriness

I noticed that when I use 2 hands to take a photo, it will be clear. However, once I use only 1 hand to take (eg. for a selfie), the photo goes all blurry.

Another quick remedy for this is also to use the app, which will prevent the shakiness because the shakiness is mainly due to the pressing of the shutter button.

White Balance:

mgcool explorer pro white balance comparison

Drama Shot (Burst Shot):

Taken at 10 P/S Pictures Per Second)

Picture Settings

‘Resolution’: Maximum is 8MP, so no point to go higher than that as it will just upscale.

‘Timed’: It works the same as the timer in your smartphone, which is basically the duration between the shutter and the pic being taken.

‘Auto’: It is the duration in between in the frames which the camera will keep shooting at. Hence, if you set at 3s, the camera will keep taking photos every 3 seconds. This is useful if you want to make something such as a photo timelapse.

‘Drama Shot’: Simply said, burst shot. Set it to 5p/s, and it will take 5 pictures in one second.

Video Mode

Video Quality

It claims to film 4K but is it real 4K? After researching a little on it, the processor (Allwinner V3) seems to be unable to support 4K but how is it still possible?

The truth is that it is indeed 4K but the frame rate isn’t actually 30fps but I reckon it is about 18-24 fps (have to check more on it) and they insert frames between the original frames, similar to how Eken H9R takes fake 4K.

4K Video Test

As you can see, I am not sure why but the frame seems to lag a little during the pan shot. I feel this camera doesn’t have what it takes to film good 4K videos because of this.

Having said that, for other video modes (2.7K and below), the camera performs quite well.

Sample Videos

However, having said that, the 2.7K and other video res look really smooth and crisp.

However, generally, I realised that the camera isn’t really good in low light (like barely any light, indoor works fine) but this is no exception to other action cams as most action cams aren’t really good as they weren’t meant for low light filming.

Below are some footages I took, comparing the SJ4000 and Explorer Pro as they fall in roughly the same price point.

Video Settings

Most are pretty self-explanatory but I’ll cover some that may stir some confusion.

‘Video Resolution’: The native resolution that it can record at is 1080p 60fps & 720p 120fps.

‘Timelapse’: the duration is the final time-lapse and not the duration of the video recorded. Hence, if you chose 0.5s, it’ll probably take about 5 mins of video to film that.

‘Loop Recording’: Maximum duration of each video. Once longer than set duration, a new video is created and the last video will ‘flow’ over to the next video.

‘Slow motion’: there are two options, 1080p 60fps and 720p 120fps. The slow motion mode will already slow the video down for you so you do not need any additional processing.

Pros Vs Cons:

Pros:Cons:
Good 1080p Action CamFilms 4K at laggy frame rate
Stable and reliable appNot very user-friendly battery cover
8MP Native Picture Resolution No Image Stabilization
Sharkeye lens to reduce fisheye distortionSome of the mounts' quality not very good

Best Buys:

Banggood – 32 USD

Gearbest – 39 USD

GeekBuying – 40 USD

** As each retailer has limited stocks, I have put up multiple links in case it runs out for one. **

Verdict:

This camera really provides tremendous value for your buck. If you were to ask me to guess the price just by seeing what it offers, I’d be really guessing it is in the $70+ range!

Overall, despite the lack of certain features (stabilization), it is super easy to use, feels sturdy and reliable, and has an app built specially for it, you must bear in mind that it’s all for $40!

If you are still considering getting a budget action camera for yourself or as a gift to your friends or family, I really feel this is one of the best cheapest action cameras out there in the market and you are considering to get it, you should really get it before it runs out of stock.

That’s all there is to this review.

If you have any questions, comments, or anything related to action cams at all, please feel free to contact me through the comments below! I’ll really appreciate it!

Lastly, thanks for dropping by and have a nice day!


–> Click here to check out the best action cams under a 100!<–

–> Click here if you wish to check out another similar cam, the Eken H9R!<–

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11 Comments

  1. I love photography, but I have missed out on the action camera scene – thanks for getting me up to speed with this in-depth review.
    Stabilization is a very important function it would seem, since you are recording while in action.
    If I had twice the budget, what action camera would be your first recommendation?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi James! I have actually written a post about top action cams below 100 here! However, for now if you wanted to get something about twice the price and for a general use, I’d recommend the Git2P (80 USD) with code: BGGitup2 ). In my opinion, that is the best and something that will not go wrong due to their customer support and product quality.

  2. Great review!
    I’ve just bought it and find your post via Google – and you showed me how to zoom – thanks a lot! 🙂

  3. This is a very detailed review of the MGCOOL Explorer Pro camera. It sounds like it has all the necessary bells and whistles and then some. As far as action cameras go, the MGCOOL sounds as good as any of them. Really good price, too.

    I have a Canon 6D, but it’s a bit big and heavy to carry around as an action camera. I’ll look into your recommendation further.

    1. Totally agree with you! 

  4. Hey Kai!

    I didn’t know the MGCOOL brand, I was looking for a camera to record decently during the summer, you know, at the beach, kayaking, and that kind of stuff.

    And I don’t have the budget to get a GoPro, so I’m checking out this similar fellas, which I know will give me less quality but at least you got a cheap gear 😉

    I’ve also seen the GITUP, what do you think about that one?

    Thanks for the review!

    1. Hi Israel! Regarding Gitup, the Gitup Git2 is actually a really good camera for its price in my opinion. 

      Feel free to check out my review on it here!

  5. Excellent review! Congratulations!

    Could you tell me which MGCOOL Explorer Pro battery model? Is PG1050 – rounded corners?

    I bought one before seeing your review, but for USD 28 I think it was a good deal, what do you think?

    Thanks!

  6. Hi, Thanks for the interesting review.
    Can the camera be used on a computer or laptop in the same way as android and iphone?

    1. Yes, you mean as a web cam right? If so, wouldn’t be a problem!

  7. hola, quisiera saber que hacer?? con la mg cool explorer pro, despues de desconectar su cable usb y descargarla en pc, se ha bloqueado, enciende bien pero se queda congelada la imagen en pantalla de mgcool no inicia su funcionamiento y solo la puedo apagar manteniendo pulsado el onoff durante unos 10 sg

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