- ✓Sturdy metal body
- ✓Underwater touchscreen
- ✕Slow response when connected to app
- ✕Settings difficult to change when in housing
The SJ7 Star action camera is a Chinese-manufactured GoPro clone, built to really high standards. It has metal body and a 2-inch touch screen. It's smaller than the DBPower 4K camera and the same size as the Mgcool Explorer 1S. Even though it only weighs 74g, it feels solid and well built.
The $159 camera has a 166-degree HD wide field of view. Its CMOS image sensor is Sony IMX 117, with a resolution from VGA 640 x 480 pixels ranging up to to 12-megapixel (4032 x 3024 pixels). The camera has a photo burst mode and a time lapse mode in addition to long exposure, size, and photo-quality settings.
It shoots MP4 video at 4K at 30fps, but this setting can be customized to 2K at 60fps, 1080p at 120fps or 30fps and 720p at 200fps, 60fps, or 30fps. Video quality and field of view can also be customized through the touchscreen.
It will shoot slow motion and time lapse video, and there is a setting to compensate for low light. There's also a motion-detection feature and a reasonable in-built microphone. Other settings include white balance, sharpness, and ISO.
You can even use the camera in car mode when plugged into the lighter socket. It will switch itself on when the ignition is started and record video whilst the car is moving.
There is a huge range of clips and accessories inside the box: A waterproof housing, handlebar seat post mount, quick-release buckle, frame mount, j-hook buckle, tripod mount, adhesive tape, mount adapter, USB cable, and 1,000mAh lithium ion battery.
The underwater housing for the camera is waterproof to 30m (100ft). There is also an alternative rear screen for the housing that enables touch and is waterproof to 3m (10ft).
This is a really useful feature for snorkelers who want to change their settings whilst underwater. Unfortunately, I had no dive trips during the time I tested this, so I could not try these features out. I did find the settings very hard to change when the camera was inside the waterproof housing.
To connect to a mobile, download the SJCam Zone software from your device's app store. You can then connect the camera and control it via Wi-Fi.
From the app you can then change image and video resolution, take timed images, and remotely control the camera. The app is well written and easy to understand. However, the connection to the phone was really slow across my office Wi-Fi.
The SJ7 is easy to use, the settings are intuitive, and the image quality is good. It is good in low-light environments and the motion detection works well. The housing is robust and sturdy, and the camera itself survived being accidentally dropped several times.
This is a nice camera to own if you feel that the GoPro is too expensive for your action camera budget.
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