GoPro has become the market standard in the action camera segment. It is almost a generic name for any action camera. You could have a GoPro, or a GoPro look-alike, or a GoPro knock off, or any other way the product relates to a GoPro.
Even if it is a better product, it will still be compared to a GoPro. This cuts both ways. On one hand, it makes things easier for the consumer. They can compare the products easily. But on the other hand, it is unfair to other brands that do a good job, only to be labelled GoPro-something.
One such brand that has been putting out great products year to year is SJCAM. One could argue that SJCAM has in fact done a better job in creating products for a variety of segment than GoPro have.
However, the focus of this article is not to delve into the entire portfolio of these two brands but to compare the action cameras from these two brands: The SJ4000 and GoPro Hero cameras.
The SJ4000 from SJCAM looks strikingly similar to a GoPro Hero Camera. If anyone who hasn’t heard a word about action cameras was to tell them apart, they may fail spectacularly. In this sense, however, the designers of GoPro cameras can pride themselves.
But a well-seasoned consumer would know that the devil resides in the details. It is the minor differences in features that win or lose a comparison.
The SJ4000 comes with a 16-megapixel sensor. The sensor is capable of producing some impressive colors. The sensor is good for shooting crisp photos and recording amazing 4K and 1080P videos.
The SJCAM SJ4000 with high precision super wide-angle lens provides superb image quality with vivid colors. The camera has a 170-degree wide-angle lens, that lets you capture a whole lot of the horizon.
The camera also has a Wide dynamic range feature, this lets the camera capture the contrasts in your wide footage well.
The battery can power your camera for recording 90 minutes of footage. Of course, your standby time is going to affect how much you get from the camera. There is a Wi-Fi version as well. And this is very useful for checking your footage on other screens.
The SJCAM is physically more exciting than older versions of GoPro cameras. You can choose from eight different shades. So, pick one that you like.
The camera is also waterproof with the case. You can dive up to 90 feet with your action camera and capture some underwater action. The waterproof case is sturdy, and you do not need to worry about any water getting in, it also protects the camera from any other impact that may cause damage.
The SJCAM SJ4000 can fit inside your front pocket comfortably. It weighs around 60 grams and is one of the most compact action cameras on the market.
Within this small camera, SJCAM has managed to put an HDMI-out as well. The camera, with its Novatek 96650 processor, can also detect motion and sharpen those moments so that your videos do not look blurry. The interface of the camera is a 2.0” LTPS LCD screen. It is not a touchscreen interface.
What we love about the SJ4000 is the accessories, and if you have used an action camera before, you’ll know that it is the accessories that determine how your camera use experience is going to be.
You will get a standard waterproof case, a stand you can use on a bicycle, a frame mount, a backdoor for audio, a couple of fixed supports and a fixed base, a mounting base, and a helmet mount and a band. Phew!
The camera body has a USB port, Mic and a MicroSD slot on one side and speaker and scroll buttons on the other. The top has a shutter button and a light indicator.
The bottom has the door for the battery. There is a light indicator and battery indicator on the side of the display as well. The power button, which doubles as a mode switch as well, is on the front.
These specifications are stellar and the camera is honestly easy to use but the real question is, as we move into a new decade of action cams are these specs still worth talking about? We will answer that question after we discuss GoPro’s famous Hero of the action camera saga.
The Hero 9 Black has a lot more to offer in terms of how the camera will be used. One of the most notable features is the front-facing screen that lets you frame your shot. This is how the timer display from Hero 7 and Hero 8 have evolved.
The GoPro Hero 9 Black boasts a higher video resolution. The camera sensor is 23.6 megapixels. This sensor will deliver 20-megapixel photos and 5K videos.
The rear touchscreen is larger than other GoPro models. The touch screen with touch zoom on Hero 9 Black makes for intuitive camera control.
The Hypersmooth feature on GoPro Hero cameras has evolved through models 7, 8 and finally, by they got to Hero 9 they have made a compelling technology that stabilizes your footage.
The camera is rugged as well, and this is true for all models. You won’t need any mercy for your camera when you’re shooting. The camera is also waterproof down to 33 feet right out of the box. This is without the waterproof casing. Older models will need a waterproof casing.
The Hero 8 has a much lower resolution at 12 megapixels. It can also shoot 4K videos at 60 frames per second. The rear screen on the camera is a touch interface. With GoPro cameras, you can get a GoPro subscription to upload your content to the cloud.
The GoPro also comes with a wide range of accessories, and we love the handgrip that is essential for action cameras. However, you will have to buy this separately. And as expected, the accessories are also more expensive.
With GoPro Hero 9 Black you can also use remote control. The remote uses Bluetooth. It features a large high-resolution display to glance over your camera status and other controls.
The battery performance on the GoPro camera is around 100 minutes, which is a claim that is slightly more than SJ4000. However, this will not make a huge difference in the real-world scenario. GoPro cameras are not known for their battery performance, you will need to buy extra batteries.
GoPro Hero Action Cam vs SJ4000 – How do the cameras compare?
Finally, to compare these great cameras, we need to talk about price – and this will change the conversation. By now you have read through what both these brands offer. The SJCAM SJ4000 offers the bare necessities, while the GoPro offers a little more ‘nice’sities.
The GoPro Hero 9 Black retails around $350, add some to that price tag for essential accessories. The SJ4000 retails for much less at around $60, and this includes almost all the accessories that you would need, save a spare battery. Now, the game is different.
With Hero 9 boasting a higher resolution, it seems GoPro is just catching with something SJCAM has been offering already. The front camera and the lens mods are a welcome addition, but there are too many dollar bills between them for it to be justifiable.
The GoPro has been historically pricier, and it is obvious that they are selling the brand as well as the camera. With SJCAM you pay for the camera and get the camera.
The video resolutions on SJCAM are comparable to Hero 8 and Hero 7, but if you’re looking at the latest Hero 9 Black, the GoPro is the winner. Another area where GoPro excels is the touch-enabled user interface on the cameras.
While SJ4000 is easy to navigate with its shutter and scroll button, the interface on the GoPro camera’s touch screen is intuitive, and we are sure that this will become the standard in action cameras of the future.
If you are looking to produce content, then you will be better off with a few SJ4000 shooting your action from different actions. In the post-production phase, it is the footage that matters and SJ4000 can give you everything that you would want.
What it will not give is the ease when shooting that can come from things like voice commands, and remote control on the GoPro. But for that, your pocket needs to be deep. The SJCAM SJ4000, as advertised is light on your pocket, it costs less in dollars than the number of grams it weighs.
The final decision is yours. The way we see it, you need to decide what matter the most for you. If you are looking for a future proof feature-laden camera, and you can afford to spend some money then go for GoPro. If it is the essentials, you are looking for, and would happily hold onto your cash, then SJ4000 is a good bargain.