So I managed to get my hands on a cheap $20 action cam from Amazon. This is the identical internal hardware for those “1080p” action cams that go for anywhere from $15-$20 on eBay. I thought I was buying a slightly better cheap action camera and this was a good deal – but the listing was misleading and I ended up with a piece of garbage. Skip to 2:00 in the video if you just want to see samples.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
-Me and I’m sure countless other people who bought this cam
So I was looking to buy a cheap action cam for my sister and I ended up grabbing a ‘good deal’ from Amazon. The seller images and description were for a SJ7000, a knockoff of the SJcam SJ4000 that actually has acceptable video quality, but I thought the price was a little too good to be true. Hint: it was. So that brings me to this video: what exactly does $20 get you in terms of an action cam?
This thing takes…1080p video. Ooh, Wi-fi. Apparently has a Novatek processor (that’s a lie). 2″ screen.. It comes with all the standard accessories, and they are of standard quality. And from the outside it actually looks pretty good. The differences between this camera and the one in the listing are subtle on first glance. It’s only missing these little notches down below the power button. Build quality seems fine… until you press the buttons.
Ho-ly- *beep*. That power button feels like pressing my finger into warm butter. There’s no feedback to it at all. The camera turns on though, that’s a good sign… You can’t really see it in the video, but the screen flickers noticably. Here’s what the menus look like.. Do you.. do you hear that?! The camera is making an audible click noise, as if it is trying to trick me into thinking the buttons themselves are clicking! Oh my God!. Image quality high, that’s cute. ISO maxes at 200, this thing is gonna suck in low light! Also this battery door is the worst thing ever. The release latch is too close to the actual door and I can’t get my fingers into it. I had to use a knife…
Ok so I’ve been putting this off because I really don’t want to see…but… Let’s take a look at video quality.
It supposedly shoots in … 1080p. And yeah, the video is 1080p, but it’s AVI compression. And if you know ANYTHING about video, you’ll know just how bad AVI is. Take a look at the sky. See how the gradient in color isn’t smooth? Look at how the video brightness appears to jump and skip as I change locations. It’s just plain awful. There’s actually an OK amount of detail and the entire frame appears to be in focus, until I start to move, then everything just gets lost in compression. Gross. Also, I notice that when you’re looking at the screen from an angle, the orange dot that indicates not recording turns red, so the camera wasn’t even recording for a good chunk of the time I thought it was! This is made worse by the fact that this camera doesn’t beep or have any front indicator lights to tell you when it’s recording.
Maybe still image quality will be this cameras saving grace. NOPE.
This is literally the worst still image I’ve seen from a camera since 2007, and I had the ORIGINAL iPHONE. There’s no resolution at all. It looks like someone rubbed chili peppers in my eyes!
What about sound? Can you hear me?? NOPE.
So, if you’re watching this video and wondering whether those cheap sub $30 action cams that film in AVI are worth it, hopefully this has been enlightening. I wouldn’t even want to give this to my enemy. Spending $10 more on a camera will give you significantly better hardware so don’t cheap out THIS much. And always pay attention to what you buy, otherwise you might end up getting screwed.