Where to Buy
The SJ8 Pro is a premium level action camera from Chinese maker SJCam. Featuring 4K at 60FPS and stabilized 4K30, this camera has all the features a budget pro level camera should offer. The Akaso V50x is from a brand that primarily trades on Amazon and is some of the more popular budget action cams. Offering stabilized 4K30, this camera has decent video quality for the price. So is it worth spending twice as much on the SJ8 Pro?
Build Quality and User Interface
Placed side by side there are a couple differences between these two cameras: the V50x is smaller and has more buttons. The SJ8 Pro has a larger screen, is more hefty and the plastic it is made from feels better in the hands. The build quality on the V50x is still great, mind you, just that if I were to blindly hold the two, I would immediately think the SJ8 Pro was the more premium device.
The SJ8’s lack of buttons is a downside. On the V50x I often found myself using a combination of buttons and touch screen to change settings, while the SJ8 Pro is touch only. And its user interface was often more confusing, with sub menus having small text that can be hard to read. Once the SJ8 Pro camera is in its full waterproof case, better hope that you’ve got your settings right because you aren’t gonna be able to change much.
When it comes to specs, the V50x is based on a HiSilicone chipset, something decidedly mid range. It does stabilized 4K at 30 frames per second as its highest resolution. The SJ8 Pro is based on a mid to high end Amberella chipset, similar to what is used in Premium products like older GoPros. This enables both stabilized 4K at 30 frames per second, as well as 4K at 60 FPS without EIS. So if you want high resolution and high frame rate, between these two cams the SJ8 Pro is the way to go. It’s also worth noting that the SJ8 Pro can use both distortion correction and Image Stabilization at the same time, while with the V50x it is either one or the other.
I think 4K30 with EIS is the best resolution both cameras film in. The SJ8 Pro is notably wider angle and more distorted than the V50x, but it also has more fine detail in things like grass or leaves. In 4K, both cameras are more then adequate and there’s really no right or wrong choice, merely visual preference.
The one place the V50x beats the SJ8 Pro is image stabilization. At least, straight on image stabilization. One reason the V50x has a more narrow field of view is because its image stabilization crops a lot more and is significantly more aggressive than the SJ8 Pro. You’ll notice it as I am riding along, the SJ8 Pro has more bouncing and bumping where the V50x is remarkably smooth. It would be the ideal cam for walking with, whereas I think the SJ8 Pro does overall a little better with hard action because it turns and corners smoother. When I am riding my bike with the camera mounted to my helmet you can see the SJ8 is struggling to keep up with all the shaking, but when I turn the corners, the camera knows what to do and keeps it more or less smooth. The V50x on the other hand seems to prioritize straight on stabilization and kind of freaks out when I turn too fast, causing some jarring stuttering and skipping. This is less noticeable in average use but it is still present and makes it look like the camera is dropping frames if you turn it too quick.
When it comes to colour balance, both cameras process the image in their own way. The V50x tends to have punchy, vibrant colour and high contrast. On the other hand, SJCam tends to make things a little bright for my tastes so I always leave it at -2/3 EV. Colour on the SJCam tends to be more accurate, such as in this scene, even if I do prefer the way the V50x recorded certain scenes.
Hands down, the SJ8 Pro beats the Akaso V50x. The SJ8 has a setting for mic volume, which increases the level. This feature allows you to set a quiet volume for loud settings like concerts so the mic does not crackle, or a loud volume for normal use. The V50x is stuck at one level and it is very muffled, quiet and overall poor.
The current firmware of the V50x also has a microphone sync issue, where if you record for more than 2 minutes the video and audio fall out of line.
Night and low light with these cameras, well, the SJ8 Pro is just a hair better with a little bit less noise and more detail. Small side by sides like this you might notice that the V50x has darker shadows, but otherwise they look pretty similar. In general, I recommend using a 30 FPS mode and turning off image stabilisation at night. You can get pretty usable night footage from both cameras if you have a tripod or a table or somewhere stable to place the cameras.
60 FPS Modes
Higher frame rate modes such as 1080p 60 are the other weaknesses of the V50x. In motion video, compressed down to this small size for side by side both cams will probably look similar, but take a freeze frame of that video and look up close and the difference is stark. The V50x video looks crunchy and blocky and for example looking at the right hand side of this freeze frame, the powerlines are not smooth lines, they are sharp and jagged. The same applies to 2K60 on the V50x. It just does not have the same level of detail as the SJ8 Pro
Stills between the two cameras are remarkably similar during the day. They have very close levels of detail, and just like the video, the V50x tends to be a little higher contrast. At night, the SJ8 Pro really flaunts its prowess with that higher quality sensor and image processing working wonders. It has more detail in shadow and highlights, less noise and the long exposure setting looks phenominal. The V50x tends to push its images towards higher ISO, which means more noise, but that also means it is easier to capture images that are not blurry than the SJ8 pro. When the SJ8 Pro is held steady it has way more detail.
Where to Buy
And that brings me to my final point: the X vs Pro designation. The V50x is really just a simplified version of Akaso’s higher end cameras and it is very effective in making things easy to use for beginners. Its user interface is easy to understand, but in this simplification it does forgo several settings that a Pro designated camera would have: notably the mic gain, a protune flat color mode, bitrate settings, (more needed). The SJ8 Pro, being a Pro camera, has all of these settings and more.
So what camera should you buy? If you are getting your first action cam and you do not care about the mic quality, the V50x is an excellent choice. It has excellent stabilization, good build quality and a low learning curve. Keep the camera in 4K mode and I think you will be more than happy with the video it outputs. The SJ8 Pro on the other hand has much more room to grow. If you want a camera where you will get consistent quality at any resolution it offers and can customize the video in nearly every way, mind you using only the touch screen, this cam is the way to go.