SJCam makes several excellent cameras, and the SJ8 Pro and SJ8 Plus are no exception. But I only think you should buy one of them, and completely skip the other. Straight to the point, the Pro is the camera to get. Skip the Plus. Let’s talk about why.
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Build Quality and User Interface
From the outside these two cameras look identical. Their body is made from the same high quality, rubberized plastic with no flex or play in the build. These cameras are solid feeling, with a build quality that inspires confidence in performance and longevity. Both cameras are not waterproof without an external case, and only have two buttons, relying almost entirely on a large touch screen for navigation and changing settings.
The user interface is very similar as well. Tap on an icon on screen to navigate through a list of options. Video or photo settings are in one menu, while camera settings are in another. I prefer the way that the Plus has video settings as one list, instead of tapping on resolution and then going into a sub menu for frame rate. The Pro, however, has a setting where you can make the menus into icons, which I highly prefer over lists.
Now, with the two cameras externally being the same, identical included accessories, navigation and user interface is the same… Well, once you look at the internals of both cameras, it starts to become obvious that there are some substantial differences in hardware.
The SJ8 Pro is based on a high end processor from Ambarella that supports Real 4K at 60 frames per second, and Real 4K30 with image stabilization. The Plus, on the other hand, is based on a mid-range Novatek processor that does a good job at 4K30 when the stabilization is turned off. But it is advertised as supporting 4K 30 with stabilization and at that setting it has a skipping issue. The video skips and drops frames and does not look smooth at all! I am not saying the Plus is a terrible camera, but if you bought it expecting true 4K 30 with EIS, then you’re in for a huge disappointment. If you buy the Pro with the same expectations, you are in for a treat.
The skipping issue is not the only problem with the SJ8 Plus video. The way it processes colours can be odd from time to time. As another reviewer put it, using the SJ8 Plus gives you a free makeover because it emphasizes reds and pinks too much at times. It makes it look like I am wearing lipstick! And I never expect these issues to be fixed. It looks like SJCam has all but abandoned development of the Plus, with the last firmware update for the cam being in September 2018. The Pro, on the other has, has had consistent updates, all the way to February 2019.
So with that expectation clearly set, the SJ8 Plus can only reliably do 4K 30 without stabilization or lower, so what is the point of buying it? There are several other cheaper cameras such as the Firefly 8SE which has better audio, better colour, same 4K quality and better 1080p 60. Or there is even the Akaso V50 Pro, which is cheaper and has better real 4K 30 with stabilization, even with a slight trade off a few of the other categories. If you are going to be spending the kind of money that the SJ8 Plus asks, at that point you are best to spend the extra $30 for the Pro, which is a way better camera.
If you’re going to be using 1080p primarily you are probably best served with cheaper cameras. I won’t discourage you from buying the Pro, if you have the money, it is a great camera and worth every penny at its typical price of $200, but I can’t say the same for the Plus. Like, why does this camera even exist? SJCam has some great real 4K without EIS cams already, like the SJ7 Star. And the SJ7 Star has had a firmware update more recently than the Plus!
There is one thing the Plus does better than the Pro, however: audio quality. It’s louder and more clear whereas the Pro kind of sounds like you are talking with a pillow in front of your face. But with both cameras, I would suggest buying an external mic if you are going to do any narration, since the audio is super susceptible to wind noise. Here’s a comparison between the two cams, with both cams set at default mic volume. I have no idea what went wrong with the Pro, here. But it has gotten noticeably better with a recent firmware update.
Where to Buy
Night and low light, the cams are comparable, still images, same, other than the weird colour balance on the Plus. Seriously, though, aside from the audio, the Pro is better in every way. Don’t waste your time, money and energy on the SJ8 Plus. Despite it being a fine camera, it is not a fine value. The SJCam SJ8 Pro is the camera you should buy.