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SJCAM SJ8 PRO at a Glance

SJCAM, an established action camera manufacturer in the Asian market, has released a new model series for 2018. This includes 3 models from the low budget to the high end segment. In the following review, we will discuss the SJCAM SJ8 PRO, the top model in the series which is equipped with an Ambarella H22 image processor that records 4K video at up to 60 frames per second natively, among other things.

Initial Impressions

Action Cams from SJCAM come with a variety of useful accessories. Next to the waterproof housing are numerous brackets, adhesive pads, spare parts, and a multilingual user manual.

Not included but available for sale separately are an external microphone, spare batteries, hand-held Gimbal stabilizer, and many others.

The SJ8 PRO sports a familiar SJCAM design. A rectangular housing that measures 62 x 41 x 28 mm and weighs in at 85g. Note that, instead of using aluminum in it’s housing construction (as was the case in the previous model), the SJ8 Pro uses plastic with a non-slip rubberized coating.

The touchscreen display on the back of the camera is large, crisp, and exceptionally bright even in bright sunlight. Colors and contrast are equally impressive. The digitizer is very precise and had no problems recognizing swiping and touch gestures.

Hardware

The SJ8 Pro uses an Ambarella H22 image processor which specifically designed for Action Cams. This coupled with a Sony IMX377 image sensor allows the SJCAM SJ8 Pro to natively and effortlessly record videos in 4K at 60 frames per second.

Furthermore, the SJCAM SJ8 Pro features Dual Band Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n), Bluetooth, 6-axis gyroscope for image stabilization, two noise-reducing microphones, and a built-in speaker located on the top of the camera.

Software

Without going into too many details, overall the user interface is pretty standard and fairly intuitive, but still has room for improvement (more on that below). You can switch between different shooting modes quickly and then simply follow on-screen prompts for additional details/options/info. The User Interface is available in several languages ​​including English, Spanish, and even Slovenian. Here’s a summary of UI options:

Shooting Modes:

  • Video – Recording mode for traditional video recordings
  • Video Lapse – Recording mode for time-lapse recordings
  • Slow motion – Recording mode for slow motion shots
  • Photo – Shooting mode for traditional still images
  • Photo Lapse – Capture mode for time-lapse photography
  • Burst Mode – Shooting mode for series photography
  • Video + Photo – Simultaneous recording of video and photo
  • Auto Mode – Capture mode for using the camera as a Dash Cam

Video Mode Settings

Resolution – 4K @ 24 / 25 / 30 / 50 / 60 | 4K Ultra @ 24 / 30 | 2.7K @ 24 / 25 / 30 / 50 / 60 | 1440p @ 24 / 25 / 30 / 50 / 60 | 1080p @ 24 / 35 / 30 / 50 / 60 / 120 | 1080p Ultra @ 50 / 60 | 720p @ 240
Exposure – + 2 to -2 in 0.5 steps
White Balance – Automatic | Daylight | Cloudy | Fluorescent | Submerged
Color – SJCAM | Flat
Measurement Mode – Center | Spot | Average
Gyrosensor – On / Off
Coding – H265 | H264
Volume – 0 to 10
Sharpness – Strong | Normal | Soft
Distortion Correction – On / Off
Loop Recording – On / Off
File Size – 1 to 20 minutes
Quality – Good | Normal | Economy
ISO – MAX 100 to MAX 6400 (100 – 6400)
Audio – On / Off
Timestamp – On / Off

Photo Mode Settings:

Resolution – 12MP | 10MP | 8MP (16: 9 or 4: 3) | 5MP | 3MP | 2MP
Exposure – + 2 to -2 in 0.5 steps
White Balance – Automatic | Daylight | Cloudy | Fluorescent | Submerged
Color – SJCAM | Flat
Measurement Mode – Center | Spot | Average
ISO – Automatic | 100 to 6400
Shutter Speed – Automatic | 1 / 500 | 1 / 240 | 1 / 120 | 1 / 60 | 1 / 30 | 1 / 20 | 1 / 10 | 1 / 5 | 1 / 2 | 2 | 5 | 10 | 15 | 20 | 30 | 60 seconds
Sharpness – Strong | Normal | Soft
Distortion Correction – On / Off
Timestamp – On / Off
RAW – On / Off
Image quality – Good | Normal | Economy

During testing, we found that the user interface still has some problems to overcome. It occasionally crashed during recording and in some instances even froze up completely, requiring the battery to be pulled. We are confident that this is something that will be addressed in future updates but it does lead us to think that the SJ8 was rushed to market a bit too hastily.

SJCAM SJ8 PRO Video Quality

Compression and bitrate

The SJCAM SJ8 Pro shoots 4K natively at up to 60FPS. The Ambarella H22 image processor uses HEVC encoding by default but allows optional encoding in H.264 or H.265. The main advantage of using HEVC is higher compression which results in a smaller file size while maintaining lower albeit consistent quality. The recording format is MP4.

Colors, details and contrast

The Recording quality of the SJCAM SJ8 Pro is comparable to the latest 4K capable GoPros. However, the SJ8 needs a lot of fine tuning to achieve excellent video quality and has to be frequently adjusted depending on the scene and shooting mode. But once set up properly, the camera can produce videos with high level of detail and a impressive sharpness. In terms of color, the SJ8 leans to the warmer side of the color spectrum.

The dynamic Range is limited, but still manages to produce an above-average level of detail in high-contrast scenes. Bright areas do not appear washed out and dark scenes still show details. Exposure changes from light to dark are quick.

Image Stabilization

Videos are stabilized electronically with the help of a 6-Axis Gyros stabilizer. The Electronic Image Stabilization feature can be enabled up to a resolution of 4K30FPS. Though far from being as good as effective as a handheld Gimbal stabilizer, the EIS does an adequate job, even during rapid and bumpy movements. It should be noted however, the EIS feature does shrink the size of the video frame slightly in order to work properly.

Sound Quality

SJCAM SJ8 Pro features Stereo audio recording thanks to it’s two microphones, one on the front and one on the side of the camera housing. The quality is on par with other high-end action cameras. But as with all other cameras of this type, if you use the waterproof housing, the quality is greatly reduced.

Conclusion

Considering the price, very few other action cameras can meet the features and quality of the SJCAM SJ8 PRO. Filming in 4K produces footage that is excellent in all conditions. And when compared to other cameras in the same price range, the SJ8 becomes a top contender. We would recommend the SJCAM SJ8 PRO but also advise users to be patient with firmware updates because it will certainly take more than one to sort out all the bugs.

Click learn more to check availability, latest pricing, and to learn more about the SJCAM SJ8 PRO Action Camera.