Week 40, 2015: Buying an SJCAM SJ4000 action camera


Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week 40, 2015

Q. I clipped and kept your article from November of last year about the SJCAM SJ4000 action camera. I think I am ready to buy one but see there is a new model offered as well, the SJ5000. Do you think the SJ5000 is a step up from the SJ4000?

-Al Case, Lino Lakes, MN

I am glad you sent in this question. The gift-giving season is upon us, and the SJCAM SJ4000 action camera was one of my top recommendations last year.

For readers who missed last year’s article, the SJCAM SJ4000 is small action camera that looks like a GoPro. It has a small LCD screen on the back for composing and reviewing videos, interchangeable batteries and records video on SDHC cards. The SJ4000 records video at 1080p/30 frames per second (fps) and the video quality is simply fantastic. The mounting system is compatible with the GoPro mounting system, and lots of useful mounts and a waterproof housing are included with the camera.

The price? A mere $75 or less. A Wi-Fi version is also offered, but I prefer the base model for the longer battery life and simple operation. Speaking of batteries, extra original manufacturer batteries can be purchased for only $10.

Not only is the SJ4000 a great product in its own right, it’s a great way to get started with an action camera. A lot of people buy expensive action cameras, use them a few times, and then put on the shelf to collect dust. With the SJ4000 you can get started inexpensively without sacrificing quality. If you use the camera a lot, you can shop for a high-end model and still have the SJ4000 as a backup or a means to record two angles simultaneously. You can see the SJ4000 at www.sjcam.com. Lots of sample footage can be found on YouTube by searching SJ4000.

The SJCAM SJ4000 has been so successful that it has spawned poor performing, cheap imitations that are sold in identical packaging as “SJ4000 Action Cam.” It’s kind of funny. We have the cheap imitation, and now we have the cheap imitation of the cheap imitation. The online marketplace, including eBay and Amazon, is littered with these counterfeits. To ensure you get a genuine SJCAM SJ4000 I strongly suggest ordering directly from sjcam.com or bhphotovideo.com.

Now, on to your question. The main advantage of the SJ5000 ($109) is it records video at 1080p/60 fps, which will yield smoother motion than the SJ4000’s 1080p/30 fps. This can be useful for an action camera, especially if you plan on creating slow motion effects in software. Unfortunately, reviews report the SJ5000 still has some bugs in it and is in need of a firmware update or two. I’ve never had a problem with the reliability, video quality or motion rendition of my own SJ4000, and simply love it. My recommendation is to stick with the SJ4000 until there is confirmation from multiple sources that the bugs are out of the SJ5000.

At the time I wrote this, the SJ4000 was selling on bhphotovideo.com for $68.90 and at sjcam.com for $75.99. The camera includes one battery that charges when you connect the camera to a USB port or USB wall plug.  I saw something at sjcam.com that I did not see on bhphotovideo.com. At sjcam.com you can buy a dual slot battery charger with two genuine SJCAM batteries for only $19.99. Two original batteries and an external charger for $20 is a no-brainer.

A great action camera, lots of mounts and accessories, and three original manufacturer batteries with an external charger for only $95 total? Sign me up!