The Quelima SQ11 and SQ12 are two of the cheapest cameras on the market. What are the differences? How do they compare to each other? Well it turns out that for the price they do a pretty good job, just don’t expect any professional level footage from them.
Hardware and Unboxing
The SJCam SJ360+ has a decent design with a form factor that doesn’t require a mobile phone – but that’s about all it has going for it. Unfortunately SJCam chose internal hardware that is only capable of low quality 360 videos, and the result is an output that looks similar to a early 2000s cellphone. In anything but the best light, aggressive noise reduction kicks in and removes any detail. Still photos suffer similarly.
Overall the SJ360+ feels rushed to market and unfinished. I highly recommend a minimum of 4K for 360-degree video, with 8K being the ideal. I have not tested it yet but video samples from other reviewers make the Mijia 3.5K Panorama Camera seem like a promising budget choice.
A couple times a year there are big holidays in China which mean massive sales from Chinese sellers. Later this week is 11.11, also known as singles day, which is basically China’s equivalent of Black Friday sales. It is the biggest sale day of the year so this will likely be the cheapest prices on import tech until 2018 and Chinese New Year.
In honor of the sale I decided to make a quick video with a few tips for buying from overseas sellers. Hopefully this will help you get a great deal when buying from overseas and not get ripped off.
1) Do your research:
The most important thing is to do your research about any product you buy. For example, with action cams I recommend only buying cameras if they are a well-known brand name, or explicitly state what sensor and processor is in them because otherwise you’ll get the cheapest possible. It is important to do your research because if you get a bad product and want a refund, chances are the seller will require you to return the product to them, and shipping costs back to China often exceed the cost of the item in the first place.
Since returning items is often out of the question, it is imperative to know exactly what you’re buying and why you’re buying it beforehand.
2) Buy from a reliable source:
Aliexpress has pretty solid buyer protection and you can use PayPal on both Gearbest and eBay. I have found from personal experience that you’re most likely to get a fake product from eBay and from 3rd party overseas sellers on Amazon. AliExpress has a strict policy against selling fakes so they are more rare. I don’t recommend buying from eBay unless you are very confident in the seller.
3) Buy with buyer protection:
The problem with buying cheap tech is that quality control isn’t always as good, and there’s always the possibility of getting a product that doesn’t function properly. So look for sellers with a good policy on this. I’ve dealt with Quality Control issues after buying things on AliExpress a few times and almost every time the issue was resolved in my favor. I’ve also dealt with Gearbest’s Dead on Arrival policy before with success. Although it might take a little pressure sometimes, don’t be afraid to push for customer service. When in doubt, buy with Paypal, which has a good claim system for buyers.
4) Warranty may not apply:
If you buy a product from an overseas seller and it is not a well-known brand name, the chances of getting warranty support if the item dies after a few months are slim. You may be required to send it to China for repair. A quadcopter I bought had the camera die for example, and I sent a few e-mails to the brand name’s “support” and never heard back. Even on Amazon, there are so many trash 3rd party products. This is why I recommend buying products from 1st party brands like SJCam, Gitup, Viofo, Eken. Any brand that has a moderately active social media presence will usually have more responsive customer service and warranty.
5) Be careful of scams:
It is a good idea to act like everyone is out to scam you – if the price is too good to be true, chances are you’re going to get an inferior item. Some sellers like to increase prices in the weeks before sales to make it seem like the items are a huge discount. Be wary of fake products from unreliable sellers.
6) Be ready for long shipping times and customs fees:
Depending on your country, shipping can take forever, and there can be customs fees upon import. If you ship any of the faster carriers, like DHL, you will almost certainly be charged customs fees if the value of the item exceeds the minimum threshold for your country. In Canada, that threshold is $20 Canadian, and shipping carriers will charge a minimum $25 fee, which can make a cheap item suddenly more expensive and not worthwhile. Usually, if you choose standard and slow shipping it avoids customs fees.
7) Do not trust reviews:
Overseas sellers are not bound by the code of ethics and advertising laws that domestic sellers have to abide by, and many of them prune negative reviews on their site to make their products seem better than they are. Reviews from independent 3rd parties are usually more reliable, but this isn’t always the case. Due diligence is necessary to separate the shills from the legitimate reviews.
Now, if that didn’t scare you off, you can save a ton of money buying stuff from overseas. Just make sure you do your homework first and buy from a reliable source. Hopefully this helps you have a positive shopping experience and save a bit of money on 11.11.
If you are uncomfortable with buying from overseas sellers, black friday sales are almost here. Check it out on Amazon:
The Veckle Mini Dashcam intrigued me since it offered dual 1080p streams at a budget price (under $150 USD). Previously, dual true 1080p was only available on cameras $300+. I made a video in the past about how dual lens dash cams were not necessarily worthwhile – but the Mini 0906 may have changed my opinion. Watch the video to find out more! Full written review coming soon.
Unboxing and First Impressions
English menus are now available on the Xiaomi Mijia 4K action camera, but there are no clear instructions on how to update. Since I don’t speak Chinese it was difficult to navigate the menus and find the right options, so I have written it out in a (hopefully) concise list. This is how to update the firmware. Update camera firmware at your own risk:
- Download the firmware file (firmware.bin) and put it into the root directory of an empty high-speed memory card.
- Verify that the camera battery is full. Power off the camera. Put the memory card back into the camera.
- Turn on the camera. The camera will boot to a prompt screen in Chinese. Touch the button on the right to confirm the firmware update.
- The camera will power off and flash its lights for 1 – 2 minutes. Once the firmware update is complete, the camera will reset.
- Once the camera has reset, swipe downwards from the top of the screen.
- Tap on the settings icon.
- Scroll all the way to the bottom of the settings menu.
- The language selection is the third option from the bottom of the list.
- Select English.
- Your camera is now in English. Enjoy!
I got my copy of the camera from Gearbest. A full review with video samples is coming soon.
The SPCA 6350 / OV4689 Processor and sensor combo does a decent job faking 4K. Some Youtubers even claim (incorrectly) that it’s better than GoPro 4K! You might not be able to tell the difference on a smaller screen… But it is only 1/2 the resolution of real 4K, and since it uses MJPG instead of H.264 for 4K mode, there is a lot of compression artifacts. It is also only 25FPS instead of 30, making it jittery at times. Some shots even got corrupted. This was filmed with an H9R clone (same cam as Akaso EK7000, but unbranded). It is also found in Eken H9 and a bunch of other cams around $50 – 60 on Amazon/Gearbest/AliExpress/etc.
Unboxing and First Look
While this camera may not have the best video quality of all the cams I’ve tested recently, it certainly has some of the best hardware, with a metal front plate and handsome orange accents. The camera feels well built in comparison to other cheap action cameras. Since this cam is based on the OV4689 4MP image sensor, it is not capable of real 4K. 1080p at 60 FPS will likely be its best format. It also features interchangeable filters, that make it unique among the rush of generic action cameras that have hit the market recently. This review will be updated as more footage is captured.
Video Samples and Comparisons
More coming soon.
I don’t expect a $30 cam to match a $100 camera for quality, but if they advertise 4K they should AT LEAST get something close, not … this … mess …
I decided to give the V3 + IMX179 platform another shot to see if it had improved. Spoiler alert: it has not. Don’t buy these cheap trash cams. The “1080p” video looks like an old VHS tape or a kid drawing with crayons. The 1440p video is OK, but it has issues too (see the shot after the credit clip for a “fun” example).
Long story short, don’t buy these cheap cameras.