If you want to capture your moves in stunning HD to share with the world, there are no shortage of small, lightweight, impact resistant video cameras claiming offer every feature you might need.

The king of the sports action camera has to be the GoPro. This was the first brand to really capture the market and offer a device which was not only very sturdy but also with image quality and frame rates to rival more serious camera equipment. Great though they are, the go-pro comes at a price and while there are basic versions available, a half decent Hero 3+ Black or Hero 4 will set you back at least £250.

Take a quick look on ebay and you’ll be presented with hundreds of cheap go pro alternatives, some for as little as a tenner. However once you look past the appealing headlines, the technical spec tends to be a little less desirable and one would be advised to steer well clear.

One manufacturer which stands out from the crowd is SJCAM. They have created a range of cameras which bear a remarkable similarity to the Go-Pro, but without the hefty price tag. Their flagship product is the SJ5000+ which is based on the same Digital Signal Processor (DSP) made by Ambrella as is used in the go pro. This makes it directly comparable to the Hero 4 silver and offers all the same features minus the touch screen and 4k recording.

For many this wont be an issue as the touch screen is inaccessible through the waterproof case and 4K screens are still owned by a minority. The SJ5000+ can record a maximum of 60fps @ 1080p  or 120fps at 720p which is perfect for creating slow motion video of high speed action. It can also take 16MP photos and manage up to 1 hour on a single charge. The mount on the bottom of the case is interchangeable with GoPro accessories which is helpful when purchasing add-ons.

The waterproof case is rated to 30m and the combination of up/down buttons and simple menu on the rear LCD makes changing settings quickly easy. The camera also supports wifi and comes with an app for Android and iPhone. Unfortunately no app for windows phone yet but that was not really a surprise.

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Pros

  • Based upon tried and tested Ambrella DSP chip
  • Good build quality
  • Up to 1hr battery life depending on settings and useage
  • Wifi Control via Phone App
  • Built in colour screen for recording and playback
  • Easy to use menu system
  • Compatible with GoPro Accessories
  • Max 1920×1080 @ 60fps or 1280 x 720 @ 120fps
  • 16Megapixel Photos
  • Waterproof to 30m
  • Available brand new and delivered for £120

Cons

  • Poor screen brightness – Difficult to see in bright sunlight.
  • Few UK Distributors
  • Chinese based company so repairs might be costly and time consuming due to postage.
  • Lots of fake copies around which look similar but do not have the build quality.
    If in doubt order from the official site: http://www.sjcam.com/

sjcam5000plus

Summary

If you want a quality, go anywhere sports action camera on a budget you won’t go far wrong with this. At just over £100 it is a bargain for what you get and if your budget won’t stretch that far, SJCam offer a range of cameras with the same great build quality but slightly lower spec and a lower price accordingly.