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, the slightly beefier
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?
|Image Sensor||12MP Sony IMX377 (Similar To Yi 4K+)|
|Chipset (Processor)||Ambarella H22 S85|
|Video Resolution||4K 60fps|
|Field of View||170˚|
|Display||2.33” IPS touchscreen + 0.96” OLED|
|Video Format||H264, H265|
|Image Stabilization||6 Axis EIS Up To 4K 30fps|
|Battery Life||90 mins at 4K 60fps|
| Best Buy:
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 touchscreenIPS 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 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 on either sides, 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:
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
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 :
File Size: 167.8MB
|Frequency||Duration To Transfer|
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.
Anyhow, in terms of both the image and video quality that you get from the SJ8 Pro, I found it to be 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 screen grab 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:
Raw Photos (Does not Work)
The SJ8 Pro and Plus are “capable” of taking RAW photos.
RAW photos are essentially unedited photos taken right from the image sensor so all the details remain and is not loss through compression (JPG).
However, sadly, after I tried opening the RAW photo, similar to the Explorer K, it simply displayed a grey image. I’ve contacted the support team and once I get a reply from them, I’ll update it here.
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 lie 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.
|Features||SJ8 Pro||Yi 4K+|
|Video Resolution|| 4K - 60, 50, 30, 25 fps
1440p - 60, 50, 30, 25f ps
| 4K - 60, 50, 48, 30, 25, 24 fps
2.7K - 60, 50, 48, 30, 25, 24 fps
|Waterproof Index||30M With A Waterproof Housing||40M With A Waterproof Housing|
|Display||2.33” IPS Touchscreen + 0.96” OLED Front Screen||2.19” LCD Touchscreen|
|Raw Photo||(Currently Has Error)|
|Video Format||H264, H265||H264|
|Battery life||90 mins||88 mins|
|Price||$300 (Camera Only Set)|
The specs are really similar to be honest but I feel the main differences is 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+ is 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
|Features||SJ8 Pro||GoPro Hero 6 Black|
|Video Resolution|| 4K - 60, 50, 30, 25 fps
1440p - 60, 50, 30, 25f ps
| 4K - 60, 50, 30, 25, 24 fps
2.7K - 120, 100, 60, 50, 30, 25, 24 fps
|Waterproof Index||30M With A Waterproof Housing||10M Without Waterproof, 60M With A Waterproof|
|Display||2.33” IPS Touchscreen + 0.96” OLED Front Screen||2” LCD Touchscreen|
|Video Format||H264, H265||H264, H265|
|Battery life||90 mins||70 mins|
|Best Buy:||$399 (Camera Only Set)|
It may not seem fair at first how we are comparing a $500 action cam to a $280 one.
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 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
Another thing unique to the SJ8 series is the addition of the live streaming feature. This will especially benefit you if you’re a social junkie who likes to share your holiday with your friends and family!
I’m not sure if it’s just the sample that I’ve got or whether this applies to other batches as well but I found the software to be a little glitchy as during my the period of my testing: it froze a couple of times, screen didn’t turn on some of the times and duration of recording were not consistent.
Unfortunately, as of now there aren’t any firmware updates available for the SJ8 action cams as it’s just a very early phase of release but I hope and am sure that they’ll fix this soon as it’s quite troublesome to have it freeze every now and then.
These are some of the notable issues I found:
- External mic feature doesn’t work
- When keypad tone is switched to off, the audio gets cut off too
- Video duration not consistent (something like: 1—-23—-456)
- Not able to update using the phone app to V1.2 (maybe update’s not avail yet but it was there).
Best Places To Get It
For now, during the duration of my testing, it’s extremely buggy and I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m currently holding onto a prototype (SJCAM sent me the cam right after the release) or the firmware isn’t that evolved yet. Thus, I felt it was a little rushed by SJCAM.
However, if we leave that glitchiness and consider every other aspect, I’d have to say that it’s truly great value for money, the video and image quality both proved to be amazing.
The only problem I had with was the audio, which I did not have much expectation in the beginning to start with (action cams suck in audio quality). However, this is really unusable, so you might want to go for the Yi 4K+ if you really care about audio quality.
As for the hardware, the screen is one of the best I’ve seen, it’s big, bright and very detailed. The navigation is also really intuitive and easy.
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.
However, at the same time, it needs some polishing in terms of its stability because there are glitches everywhere and it freezes quite frequently. Moreover, SJCAM also made false promises, particularly with the live streaming and raw photo function, which I couldn’t make to work.
Therefore, it’s the first time I’m really unsure whether or not I should recommend you to buy this. It certainly has a strong future with its powerful hardware and processor strength. But until they fix the bugs and firmware glitches that lies deep within the system, I’d say to go for the Yi 4K+, unless you want to wait for SJCAM to fix this critical issue, which I hope is soon.
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 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 and for you who sticked with me till the end!
Till next time, have a great one!
SJCAM SJ8 Pro269 USD
Video/Image Quality9.8 /10
Build Quality9.5 /10
User Experience9.5 /10
Bang For Your Money9.0 /10
Audio Quality6.0 /10
Smartphone App8.5 /10
- Solid Build Quality
- Sharp Image Quality
- Great Value For Money
- Fast 5GHz Transfer Speed
- Good Quality Accessories
- Sharp Retina Touchscreen
- User-friendly Interface
- Buggy Firmware (Often crash)
- Raw Photo Doesn't Work
- Poor Audio Quality