Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

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internetpilot
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Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by internetpilot » Wed May 28, 2014 7:19 pm

Just a heads-up for anyone looking for a GoPro quality camera without the big price tag -- this one definitely comes the closest I've seen so far.
SJ4000.jpg
SJ4000.jpg (40.1 KiB) Viewed 10327 times
It's called the SJ4000 and is usually only referenced by its model number. Like the Swann Freestyle HD camera that i already own, the SJ4000 comes with a ton of accessories included, but the SJ4000 is also compatible with all GoPro mounts and mount-based accessories (headbands, chestbands, etc.). It also has a lot of aftermarket accessories designed specifically for it (mounts, replacement casings, batteries, etc.) that you can find just by Googling "SJ4000", which is something that's lacking for my Swann camera. The manufacturer also continues to release firmware updates for it, with the latest one being released in mid-May 2014.

They've been sold on the usual Chinese websites for a while, but now that they've made it the usual USA websites, the price has dropped a bit -- instead of being half the price of a GoPro Hero 3, it's now like a 1/4 (or even less). If you can wait a couple weeks for international post, you can buy it from a Chinese eBay'er for $66 shipped. If you want it in days rather than weeks, you're typically going to pay around $100 shipped (Amazon, eBay, etc.). I decided to pick one up, as it looks more refined and better featured than my Swann Freestyle HD, and I've had a few frustrations at times with the Swann camera.

About the only negative that I've seen so far is that it doesn't have a remote control or any type of WiFi feature. Supposedly, the next model they release is supposed to have WiFi and at least an Android app.

Here are a couple of reviews of it on YouTube, including one that directly compares the video/sound/image quality with the GoPro Hero 3.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnHDu-oW7_Y

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGL_kYuzykQ

I'll post more info once I receive mine in a few days and test it out.
-- Chris :thumbleft:
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MallRated
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Re: Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by MallRated » Thu May 29, 2014 9:22 am

I like that and the price. I wonder how durable it is.

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Re: Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by thinkimgonnayak » Thu May 29, 2014 10:15 am

Thanks for this. I'll be looking for your future reviews on this. Been wanting to get a camera for the kayak, but I really don't want to pay the GoPro prices. I know its a great product, but I just can't justify it.
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internetpilot
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Re: Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by internetpilot » Thu May 29, 2014 11:47 am

MallRated wrote:I like that and the price. I wonder how durable it is.
Time will tell! All the reviews I've read so far say don't seem to have a problem with durability and none have reported any problems with the waterproof casing, buttons, etc.
thinkimgonnayak wrote:Thanks for this. I'll be looking for your future reviews on this. Been wanting to get a camera for the kayak, but I really don't want to pay the GoPro prices. I know its a great product, but I just can't justify it.
I'll test the heck out of it and post a review as soon as I receive it. I'm pretty excited at about it. Just by the reviews alone, I've already noticed several HUGE improvements in this camera over my Swann Freestyle HD camera, and (believe it or not) the SJ4000 actually has some features and options that the genuine GoPro doesn't.
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Re: Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by Fish & Paddle » Thu May 29, 2014 5:43 pm

I saw a commercial for the iON Camera today while watching the 2013 Hobie Fishing World Championship on TV. It looks like it could be a good camera to use while fishing. Here is a link:

http://usa.ioncamera.com/ion/iON-AIR-PR ... _Lite.html
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internetpilot
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Re: Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by internetpilot » Fri May 30, 2014 4:54 pm

Wow, that was fast shipping for an eBay seller! I received the SJ4000 camera in the mail today. So far, I'm VERY impressed. Above average (if not approaching excellent) build quality, the firmware/menu systems on it seem more like a legit camera than the usual basic/primitive stuff that I usually see in cheap electronics. The battery was partially charged from the factory, so I messed around with it a little immediately and I like it a lot better than my Swann Freestyle HD camera. Big improvement -- much closer to the real GoPro thing...very close.

Hopefully the weather won't be too bad tomorrow, as I'm going to try to hit Guana Lake in the Scanoe and give the camera a nice field test. It will be good to be in the Scanoe versus my kayak, so I'll have the trolling motor and be able to mess with the camera more. If nothing else, I'll report back with some test footage of the lake, but hopefully I'll be reporting back with videos and pics of personal best trout/reds!
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Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by MallRated » Fri May 30, 2014 9:52 pm

I am interested in your opinion. I may get one for kayaking and 4wheeling in my Jeep

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Re: Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by cobra52 » Sat May 31, 2014 12:31 am

My Swan HD Freestyle was approximately 43 days past it's #1 year warranty, and let me tell you, 'swann will basically tell you to fo fu== your self when it comes to replacing a HD Freestyle sports camera when it's minutes past it's Warranty , they did Not offer a extended Warranty to the camera? my kayak went down, the HD Freestyle was in it's so called Water Proof case, yet, it got moisture in the main head of the "brain" of the Swan camera, the Customer Service Person was basicallly a Richard, you know, polite way for saying Di==K! I'll never buy another Swan , period, it worked awesome, small purchse price, Customer Service toatlly Blows!

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Re: Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by internetpilot » Sat May 31, 2014 6:34 am

I don't expect you'll get any improvement in customer service with this one -- I can't even figure out who the manufacturer is. Haha. I guess if customer service is what you're after, you better open up the wallet wider for the genuine GoPro. I have to say, though, at $400-500, customer service better be STELLAR!

I would expect more from Swann, though. They're not a huge name in the actioncam arena, but they are a significant name in the security camera industry, so you'd think they'd be worried a little about their reputation with consumers.
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Re: Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by Canoelife123 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 8:10 pm

Internet pilot, how's the battery life?

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Re: Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by internetpilot » Mon Jun 02, 2014 11:34 pm

Alrighty, folks. I took the new little SJ4000 GoPro knock-off fishing with me in my Scanoe last Saturday. The verdict: I love it.

If you want to know the image/video quality, check out the YouTube links I posted in the first post, as the first one put the camera through a nice series of tests under different conditions, and the second one provided a really nice side-by-side comparison of the SJ4000 and GoPro Hero 3. I mean, if you want, I can post videos of me motoring around Guana Lake, and even some selfies of me holding an enormous 14" redfish or a huge 16" gator trout ( :roll: ), but I can assure you, that just like the two YouTube videos show, this camera takes great pics and shoots incredibly nice 1080p HD video.

I don't now, nor have I ever (or likely will ever) own a genuine GoPro, so the main thing I'll be comparing the SJ4000 to is my Swann Freestyle HD actioncam (another inexpensive GoPro-ish knock-off). There were a couple of things that annoyed me about the Swann Freestyle HD camera from the beginning, but overall I really like the Swann camera. I like the SJ4000 a LOT more, though.

Upgrading the firmware was relatively painless (just download file, copy it to an SD card, put it in the camera, and turn on the camera). However, I found out the hard way that there are technically two different versions of the SJ4000 camera available with their model numbers being v01 and v02. Supposedly, the only difference between the two is that a different LCD screen was used, so different drivers are required. If you install firmware for the v02 camera in a v01 camera, the screen won't work (it will either be all white or all black). Just know what version your camera is and make sure you download the correct firmware and everything works fine.

Pros
- Video quality is excellent, still photo quality is very good to excellent.
- You have access to all buttons/functions when the camera is in the waterproof casing (not so with the Swann Freestyle), including the power button.
- Includes a built-in 1.5" LCD screen on the back (which even the real GoPro doesn't have). The screen is built-in (not an add-on like the Swann Freestyle and GoPro cameras), so you can use it even when in its waterproof casing. You can set the screen to turn off as soon as after 1 min of use to save battery. This screen is probably the best feature of this camera, because not only can you use it for more accurately framing the shot, but also for changing settings and viewing the pics/videos on the fly (important if you're using the camera for CPR tournament).
- I believe this camera has been out for about 6 months now and they've already released 3 upgrades to the firmware. That's pretty good for cheap camera. All the firmware updates have been fixes and/or additional features, so this clearly is not a dump it to the consumer and walk away product.
- 8 pages of menus for settings/configuration, which is also pretty impressive for a cheap camera.
- 4x digital zoom. Yes, it's just a digital rather than an optical zoom, but it's really nice for those times that you may not want such a wide angle view. It also lessens the distortion of the extreme wide angle lens, which can come in handy for taking better bumpboard pics in a CPR tournament.
- Has a continuous still shot mode where it will keep taking a pic every 5, 10, 15, or 20 seconds, which doubles as a nice timer feature for self-pics.
- Has a cyclical recording setting where you can set it to continuously record to separate video files for 3, 5, or 10 min periods of time. When your memory card is full, it will automatically delete the oldest video file and continue recording.
- Does NOT have the full memory card file closing issue. A lot of cheap video cameras (including my Swann Freestyle) have a problem where if you're recording a video and the memory card fills up, the camera will not close the file correctly so it basically deletes the entire video file.
- Has a car mode where it can be used as an always-on dash cam.
- Comes with a several included mounts and the mounting system is virtually identical to GoPro so anything mount related made for GoPro (OEM or 3rd party) will work for this camera as well. There are also a lot accessories and replacement parts available specifically for the SJ4000 camera.

Cons
- No remote control (although, honestly, I don't miss it like I thought I would since my Swann Freestyle had one)
- The continuous still shot mode setting will not remain activated if the camera shuts itself off or you turn off the camera. I wish it would stay activated for easy selfies without having to go back into the menu system and turning it back on each time.
- Battery life for constant 1080p video recording is rated at 70 minutes, which is about 20 mins less than the GoPro advertises. However, extra batteries for this camera are relatively cheap -- $15 for two batteries on Amazon and only $4 per battery on eBay.

That's about all I can think of for now. If you have any specific question, let me know. Hopefully, I'll post some quality fishing footage in the Fishing Reports forum one of these days...
Last edited by internetpilot on Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by Canoelife123 » Tue Jun 03, 2014 7:10 am

Awesome report! I think il get one!

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Re: Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by Dreads0518 » Tue Jun 03, 2014 8:35 am

I don't know about any of those cameras, and probably wont, because I have no need for a camera...
I have IslandSpeed............. :smoke:

BUT!!!! I just seen this one on FB.....
http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=1 ... 1&format=2

How is it??? HellifIknow......There's reviews/videos on the page....... :cool:
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Re: Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by thinkimgonnayak » Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:30 am

Thanks for the detailed review. May have to invest in one of these.
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Re: Nice GoPro Alternative (Inexpensive)

Post by internetpilot » Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:47 am

Dreads0518 wrote:I don't know about any of those cameras, and probably wont, because I have no need for a camera...
I have IslandSpeed............. :smoke:

BUT!!!! I just seen this one on FB.....
http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=1 ... 1&format=2

How is it??? HellifIknow......There's reviews/videos on the page....... :cool:
Smart move just using Jerry, Keith! Didn't he just install a DirecTV satellite broadcast system on his PA that streams directly to the JKF website? ;)

I'm sure that camera is just as good as all the other knockoffs, but I personally won't buy another kayak camera that doesn't have a built-in LCD screen like the SJ4000. It really helps when you can see what you're doing, otherwise you're just hoping you've aimed the camera at what you wanted.
-- Chris :thumbleft:
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