Various action cameras from Chinese manufacturers have already earned the title of “Go-Pro Killer” in recent years. Their recipe for success is simple and quick to explain: for a fraction of the purchase prices of the American top dog Go-Pro, products from China deliver comparable quality without having to do without essential functions. Among others, the manufacturer SJCAM has often stood out, which has been present on the market with its cameras for several product generations and has already been able to convince many customers of its quality. The company recently presented its new product line with the abbreviation SJ8, which is intended to appeal to a wide range of buyers with the Air, Plus and Pro variants. With the SJCAM SJ8 Plus model, the medium version with 4K images at 30fps, optical image stabilization and dual display recently found its way into our test lab and has demonstrated its capabilities.
SJcam SJ8 Plus scope of delivery
The SJCAM SJ8 Plus is available in two different versions. One contains only the camera itself and the second contains an extensive accessory set. In the test, we could take a closer look at the “big” version and were very impressed by the amount of accessories. Besides the camera itself you also find:
- waterproof cover
- additional flap for the housing, for operating the touch screen
- microfibre cloth
- lens cover
- various brackets for smooth surfaces and the bicycle steering
- USB-C charging cable
With this long list you can jump straight into your next holiday and film from all possible perspectives. However, if you should still need additional extras, the SJCAM SJ8 Plus is equipped with a tripod thread and the accessories are available with the standard GoPro connections.
Design and build quality
The SJCAM SJ8 Plus feels very high-quality and solid in the hand. The clearances are accurate and even under pressure the rubberized plastic makes no noise. In its design, the SJ8 Plus is reminiscent of the familiar action camera layout: the front accommodates the lens, the monochrome OLED display and two status LEDs. On the rear is the 2.33-inch IPS touch display. The trigger is located on the upper edge and the on/off switch can be found on the right side.
The 1200mAh battery and the slot for the Micro-SD card can be accessed via the flap at the bottom of the camera. To record 4K recordings reliably, we recommend using a fast card with Class 10 U3 certification. Under a rubber cap on the left is also the USB-C(!) connector which serves for data transfer and for charging the battery. Measuring 62.5 x 41 x 28.8 mm and weighing 85g, the SJ8 Plus has dimensions like comparable models. The values increase to 76.8 x 71.9 x 38.2 mm and 141g when the cover is attached.
Operation and app control
The SJCAM SJ8 Plus is almost exclusively operated via the touch screen on the rear panel and still functions well even due to the waterproof cover. Fortunately, the image remains visible even in strong sunlight. The camera’s interface is intuitive. All important settings are easy to find even as a layman, and are not limited by the camera itself.
The corresponding SJCAM app on the smartphone (Android and iOS) can be connected to the SJ8 Plus via WiFi. Settings for the camera can also be made there, the camera image can be viewed in real time and recordings can be stored on the smartphone. The connection was very stable and can optionally be established as 2.4GHz or 5GHz network.
Behind the 170 degree F2.8 lens is a SONY IMX117 image sensor that takes images at a maximum of 12MP and records videos with up to a 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. 2K recordings are possible with 60 images, 1080p with 120 images and 720p with 200 images. A Novatek NT96683 processor processes these signals and stores images in either JPEG or RAW format. Videos go to the memory card in MP4 format (H264 or H265). At the same time, the heat development remains within limits even during prolonged use and never reached temperatures worth considering in the test, even in direct sunlight.
Electronic stabilization (EIS) and a 3-axis gyroscope are available to stabilize the images. Although they do not replace a gimbal, they represent a significant added value compared to cameras that do not have any of the options.
The SJ8 Plus can also be used to create time-lapse videos, slow-mo videos, interval images and continuous shooting. There are various settings that affect the image, such as saturation, sharpness and contrast.
Videos with the SJ8 Plus turn out very well. The colors are strong without over-saturation and also strong shadow play with rapidly changing light conditions at the same time do not bring the camera to its limits. The dynamics are good and can be further enhanced with the HDR setting option, but we have not used them for our test recordings. Even at night, the recordings of the SJ8 Plus remain usable and there is not too much image noise in low light.
Due to the 170 degree angle of the lens, the typical fisheye effect naturally also occurs with the SJ8 Plus, but it also results in an immensely wide viewing angle. If you do not like this, you can reduce the viewing angle in the settings under “FOV”, but the setting can only be made up to 2K recordings.
Due to a maximum of 30 frames per second, the 4K shots are more suitable for less hectic scenarios. For action enthusiasts we recommend 120 pictures at 1080p, as you can capture every detail even in fast movements. For comparison we uploaded videos with both resolutions and switched-on gyroscope.
The SJ8 Plus’ microphone only produces an average sound. If you want to give it a reasonable upgrade, you should have a closer look at the external models of SJCAM, which you can get for about 10$.
Photos are of slightly poorer quality than the video recordings, but still usable. There are enough details and also the dynamics are ok. Colors are hit accurately, making the SJ8 Plus a good smartphone replacement for snapshots. At night, unfortunately, image noise occurs quickly and the photos overdrive quickly in the area of light sources. In addition, we could observe a strange bug: the photos temporarily have an extremely strong red cast. It disappears after a short time, but should be fixed by SJCam as soon as possible. Thanks to the optional lossless RAW format, the images are also suitable for post-processing in Photoshop & Co.
The SJCAM SJ8 Plus is equipped with an average 1.200 mAh battery. The camera’s battery life is also on average: at 4K/30fps, WiFi switched off and gyroscope switched on, the camera switched off after a constant 1:23h of recording.
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