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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

SJ4000 vs GoPro Hero3+: Action camera comparison

For those who wanted to buy a GoPro but felt it is too expensive (Was about 400 USD+ shipping for Hero 3 black edition few months ago when I bought), a Chinese model, SJ4000 which was priced one fourth the price of GoPro was a tempting alternative.  I had a GoPro Hero3 black and got my hands on SJ4000 for a few days earlier this month. I tried comparing these 2 sports action cameras and this post shares my findings.

This comparison is probably irrelevant now, because GoPro has launched a simple version of its camera priced at $129, directly taking on the cheaper rivals. I haven’t tried the new GoPro (called just Hero), so can’t tell if you should buy that or the SJ4000.

Quick findings:
Video quality: I didn’t find any drastical difference in outdoor day time video recordings done in both cameras. SJ4000 gives output in .mov format, while GoPro gives in .mp4. For personal and domestic use, SJ4000’s video quality is adequate. If you’re running a production house or have serious use of the videos, then stick to GoPro.

10 second video was 20MB in SJ4000. In GoPro, it comes to 40MB

Watch the video below: I have shot same subject, first with SJ4000 and next with GoProHero3. I don’t find noticeable difference in the output. (Note that both videos have been processed and uploaded to youtube, during which minor compromise happens on quality. I expect that loss to be proportionate to both videos.)


Photo Quality:
Hero3 takes much better stills- they are wider and have better clarity. As such GoPro is not good enough (compared to DSLR) in capturing colours and light. SJ4000 is a bit worse. But in full day light, difference in photo quality is hard to notice. While GoPro stills cost about 5MB at highest confguration, SJ4000 stills take 1-2MB. This means less storage per pic, which is a good thing, but this comes with a compromise on quality, which is not a good thing if you intend professional usage of the photos

Scorpio: Clicked on GoPro, followed by SJ4000. Notice the missing wide angle in second pic.

At Kanthapara waterfalls, Wayanad- first one is from GoPro- notice the wider coverage

At Phantom rock, Wayanad. First one is from GoPro- notice better light sensing, while the second one clicked from SJ4000 has come darker.


Ease of operation:
SJ4000 is a pain to operate. The buttons are very hard. Some serious pressing is required to operate the camera. Your fingers will ache after sometime. On the other hand, GoPro has so much finesse, operating it is extremely easy. SJ4000 feels like an old Ambassador, while GoPro feels like a Honda City. While GoPro has a mobile app, SJ4000 doesn’t. There’s another variant of SJ4000 which comes with wifi.

Features:
SJ4000 comes with a super small live preview and digital zoom. But I find these practically useless. If you want a camera with zoom and live preview, get a handycam. Action cameras are supposed to be operated without much of human intervention. If I have to use my hands to zoom, eyes to preview, then I won’t be free to do my action. GoPro enables live preview through mobile app and some zoom is possible if you shoot in lower resolutions without wide angle.

Battery:
My GoPro Hero3 batter lasts for about half a day, in an extremely rationed usage (switch off when not in use etc). If I use it continuously, it will drain in couple of hours. However, it has more failproof mechanisms- photos and videos are saved to memory before camera dies due to drained battery. However, on SJ4000, batter lasts for about 40 mins only. If the video is not saved manually before battery dries out, then the video is lost. This can be a big disappointment. Not being able to capture videos long enough is one, losing already shot video because battery went dry while you were doing some adventure is another.

Aftersales support:
Neither of these 2 products have service centres in India. Should it fail, you’re on your own. Some GoPro spares like lens kit can be bought online and you can replace them watching DIY videos on youtube, but otherwise, not much serviceable components inside. Use it while it lasts.

While GoPro atleast has a global website, SJ4000 makers do not seem to have proper presence online. It needs to be bought through various retailers online and we won't know if they are genuine, fake or second hand.

Size: Sj4000 is bigger and bulkier- both camera and its casing. GoPro feels sleek and trendy.

Meanwhile Raju from Techpp writes about another kind ofaction camera from HTC.

Verdict: I do not recommend SJ4000. It is cheaper, takes decent videos, but difficult to operate, has poor battery life and it is unlikely that you’ll return from a trip satisfied with this camera. One and only reason to buy it should be that you can’t afford a better one.  Suggest checking out the new Hero from GoPro which is priced competitively and the successors of SJ4000 to check if they are easier to operate and offer fixes to Sj4000 issues.

4 comments :

Prasad Np said...

Very objective comparison...

SJ4000 Fanatic said...

Time for an alternate audit for an alternate activity cam. This time this audit is for SJCAM's Sports HD DV 1080p cam, the Sj4000. From the get go, this cam looks like the look and feel like a Gopro cam. Numerous accessible activity cams available have taken a signal in configuration and structure from Gopro cams and this cam is the same. Thus, how about we investigate how well this cam measured up and performs.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you'd reviewed a fake sjcam4000 as the real one has sjcam logo in the front .

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Prasad

@Anon: Is it? This one was purchased by my cousin.

@SJ4000 Fanatic: thanks for additional information. Yes, there're many variants.. hope they are close to GoPro in performance