Budget 4K Showdown – SJCam SJ7 Star vs Firefly 8s vs ThiEYE T5e vs Xiaomi Mijia 4K

Budget 4K Camera Showdown

All of these cameras are so close and the differences in how they process video are so minimal, that what you should look for while watching is which camera processes exposure more appealingly to you, which camera has the most appealing audio to you and which cameras user interface will work best for you. No matter which you buy you’ll end up with a camera that has decent video quality.

Click here to learn how to update the Mijia to English menus.

Camera links

Firefly 8sAmazon.com || Gearbest International

SJCam SJ7 StarAmazon.com || Canada Amazon || Gearbest International

Thieye T5eAmazon.com || Amazon UK || Gearbest International 

Xiaomi Mijia 4K Gearbest International


Firefly 8S – Real 4K Action Cam Review

Unboxing and First Look

Initial impressions of this camera are very positive, and this camera is fast becoming one of my favorite real 4K cameras I’ve tested to date. The reason I prefer it over competitors such as the SJ7 Star or the ThiEYE T5e, is because it loudly beeps when buttons are pressed, compared to the other cameras, which only have soft beeping that is difficult to hear in the waterproof case. I often use these cameras on my helmet and having a clear audible confirmation that the camera is recording is a huge plus. The video quality is similar to the other cams. The user interface is highly customized and simplified and the stabilization is slightly better than similarly priced competitors. More information about this camera will be released soon with the full review.

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Real Vs Fake 4K Part 3 – SPCA6350 (Akaso, Eken, etc)

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.

The fake 4K cam is available here:
Akaso EK7000 Amazon USA:
Akaso EK7000 Canada
H9R (same thing but cheaper/unbranded)

Cheap real 4K, ThiEYE T5e:
Amazon USA
International (cheaper)

Better real 4K, Firefly 8s International
Firefly 8S Amazon USA


Real Vs. Fake 4K Part 1 – Novatek NT96660

So many cams are based on the NT96660 processor, which results in fake 4K. The results are often less than stellar. The camera I used is the MGCool Explorer 1S (because it has pretty sharp video for Novatek). This is versus the ThiEYE T5e (real 4K). In order to get real 4K you need at least 8MP sensor, and many of these cams are advertised as 12, 14 or 16 but really have more like 4MP. This comparison shows a cam with a real 12 MP sensor. I’ll do another Novatek one with a 4MP cam later.

Links to buy the Thieye T5e:
USA Amazon Link
Cheaper International Gearbest Link

Link to buy MGCool Explorer 1S.


ThiEYE T5e Review


Summary: Despite a few little issues with the stabilization and a slight size difference with other action cams, the T5e is an excellent value, from a pure image quality perspective.


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Viofo A118C2 vs A119

This is a comparison of the Viofo A118C2 and the Viofo A119. These are two wedge shaped cameras and both mount to the windshield with a flat sticky plate.

A118C2 on Amazon | A118C2 Canada | A119 on Amazon | A119 Canada

Design & Build Quality

There’s only a few differences between their body so I’m going to go over the main ones quickly. There is a slight difference is side. The A118 is a little bit thinner and taller whereas the A119 is wider and flatter. On the A118 the USB port is located on the rear of the camera, instead of the side, meaning that if you are not using the A119 with the GPS mount you will need a 90-degree cable adapter to make the camera more streamlined. The GPS mount on the A118 is added by way of cable whereas with the A119 it is actually built into the plate that sticks to the car. The lens on the A118 only goes up/down while on the A119 it also goes side to side, and finally, the buttons on the A119 are more logically laid out, in my opinion.

Video Quality

Now video quality is one of the most important things. So let’s start with daylight video. And, well, if you haven’t already noticed a difference you’d have to be blind. Apart from the difference in video resolution, there is a noticable difference in the way the cameras process colour. The A118 is duller and everything is greyish, whereas the A119 is bright and lively. The A118 seems to favor its exposure towards illuminating the darker parts of its surroundings whereas the A119 has a more balanced exposure and quite frankly the difference is huge. This is the normal angle I have my cameras mounted at, so that you can see just a little bit of the cars interior, and it doesn’t work all that well for the A118C. I imagine this camera would struggle with dark coloured hoods being in the video. The A119, though, wow, god damn does it look good. The added resolution makes the video a bit sharper although it doesn’t really increase license plate readability due to the lenses wider angle. You can see that the A118C2 really struggled due to its angle once we go into an underground parking lot.

At night, video is more or less the same. The A118C2 has a little bit better colour but the A119 is just a little bit brighter. For practical purposes there’s hardly a difference. When trying to read license plates I get more or less the same results: both cameras tend to expose for the surroundings whereas license plates are white and reflective so it is near impossible to read them on either. In some situations, where I am stopped behind other drivers, both cameras rendered readable license plates but these situations are rare. At night the cameras are more for documenting actual driving than keeping a tab on who drives by.

Audio Quality

Audio on these cameras is significantly different. The A118C2 is just garbage compared to the A119. The A118 picks up a lot of road noise and makes everything muffled like the camera is underwater.

Conclusion

Overall, in my opinion, it is worth the extra money for the A119 until Viofo releases a firmware update to improve the exposure rendering of the A118C2 and even then the performance can only be improved so much. The video on the A119 is sharper and it has 1080p60, as well as 1440p.