PROS / This camera boasts a much higher level of performance than its price would suggest.
CONS / Short battery life means limited recording unless you pack extra batteries.
VERDICT / For most people, The SJCAM's best shooting combination of 1080p at 30 frames per second is enough. Those who value image quality and editing options, however, will likely feel limited. The SJ4000 is well suited for simple shooting and editing, but don't expect anything spectacular.
Resolution and framerate are typically the two largest factors that cause an action camera to stand out from the rest. Offering a higher resolution or faster framerates improves the quality of your footage and gives you more freedom to be creative with your shots. The SJCAM SJ4000, however, stands out from the rest for a different reason: price. Although its image quality and shooting options are only average, its cost is far lower than the competitors that we reviewed. For this reason, it's an option well worth considering.
As is the case with most action camcorders, the maximum shooting resolution for the SJ4000 is 1080p. While 2.7k and 4k are becoming more commonplace, 1080p remains the standard for high-definition consumer video and more than adequate for most users. Furthermore, cameras that offer 2.7 and 4K typically cost $300 to $400 more than the SJCAM.
When it comes to framerates, the offerings are again nothing more than standard for action cameras. It'll capture up to 30 frames per second in 1080p and 60 frames per second in 720p. Thirty frames per second is the standard framerate for footage at normal speed; doubling it at 60 allows limited slow motion shooting. The best action cameras can capture up to 120 fps for even slower and smoother slow motion video.
The SJCAM has the shortest battery life of any action cam that we reviewed, offering just 70 minutes per charge. That's 50 minutes below average and 20 minutes shorter than a typical GoPro. On the upside, however, SJCAM offers replacement batteries and external chargers at less than half the price of most competing models.
You can use this action cam with or without its waterproof case. Within its included waterproof housing, it can be used at depths down to 98 feet. While this isn't exactly record breaking, it's better than most and far exceeds our category average of about 73 feet.
Since this is the least expensive item on our lineup, we weren't exactly surprised to find that support was limited. Although there is a support site that offers troubleshooting ideas for common problems, other than filling out a message box on the company's website, there's no way to directly contact SJCAM with questions or concerns. Fortunately, we received responses to questions submitted here within a few days.
The SJ4000 is a simple action camera that is designed to be inexpensive above all else. Despite its low cost, we found that it offers consistently good performance. It doesn't have any flashy or revolutionary features and modes but instead offers what the vast majority of consumers will use the vast majority of the time. If you need the best-looking footage at the highest resolutions or fastest framerates, this camera is not for you. However, if you're looking to simply document an event or use your camera as a dash-cam, there's really no reason to shell out the extra money for the industry's top features.