SJ4000 GoPro Clone Action Camera Review

I’ve recorded my training sessions for several years now. This allows me to discover (and hopefully correct) errors in my technique. I also get to see my improvement, and observe things that happened too quickly for myself or my instructors to notice. For example, my Airsoft Glock training pistol had a malfunction during a force on force drill, and I did a tap-rack-bang without realizing it. The camera caught it.

Recently I’ve shot video of my fellow classmates. This helps them learn, too, and if I hand my spare camera over to them they can film me from a different perspective.

I knew I wanted more cameras, more angles, and more footage. I own a few picatinny rail mounts for my GoPro camera, as well as adapters that let me put the camera on traditional tripods. What I didn’t want was to spend a lot more money.

My primary camera is a GoPro Hero 2. It films in 1080p at 30 frames per second. That means that it shoots high definition footage fast enough to allow for decent slow motion special effects. However, a camera that films at 60 frames per second would allow for much smoother and more clear slow motion footage.

GoPro has two newer cameras than mine, the Hero 3 and the Hero 3+. The problem is that buying multiples of these cameras would be super expensive. GoPro has not reduced the price of the GoPro Hero 2, and the 3 and 3+ can run up to $400.

Sure, if you only need to buy one camera and have the extra scratch, the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition is definitely the way to go. The screen on the back, 1080p/60FPS recording, WiFi connectivity, and app support all make it a massive upgrade to the GoPro 2. However, for 1/4th the cost you could pick up the SJ4000 which doesn’t have as many features but comes with a ton of mounts and is plenty capable.

The SJ4000 is less than $100 and has many great features that make it an excellent choice for recording fight-focused training.

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Features

First off, there’s an EXCELLENT, comprehensive review of the SJ4000 by Techmoan. If you’re interested in all the features and performance of the SJ4000 this is a great video. It’s about 23 minutes long and should answer almost all of the basic questions about the SJ4000.

I’m going to do a super brief recap, answer some things not addressed by Techmoan’s review, and discuss how the SJ4000 performs as a camera for recording firearms training.

Dimensionally, the SJ4000 is about the same size as the GoPro. It is also shaped VERY closely to the familiar GoPro 2 design.

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  • Recording capabilities: 1080p @ 30FPS, 720p @ 60FPS (it will also do low def but why bother)
  • Lens angle: wide angle (fisheye) lens at 170 degrees. This is not adjustable, unlike the GoPro
  • Storage: No onboard storage, you will have to buy / provide a MicroSD card. I recommend Class 10 cards for recording 1080p video. The camera is supposedly limited to 32GB cards or less.
  • Battery capacity: 900 mAH
  • USB connection: Micro USB
  • Video out connection: Micro HDMI
  • Various colors: black, blue, gold, pink, silver, white, yellow

What you get

  • SJ4000 camera
  • 1 battery
  • Micro USB to USB cable
  • USB wall chargering adapter (one of mine was for European outlets)
  • 1 waterproof housing
  • 10 different mounting attachments, including adhesive mounts, belt mount, camera tripod mount, and differently lengthed GoPro-style helmet mounts
  • Zip ties
  • 3M heavy duty Velcro adhesive attachments
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Instruction manual
  • Lanyard cable

If you didn’t watch the Techmoan review, one of the biggest benefits to the SJ4000 is that it can use the same mounts (but NOT the same enclosure / housings) as the GoPro line. This meant that I could use the various mounts I already bought for my GoPro Hero 2.

If you don’t have a lot of mounts already, don’t worry. The SJ4000 comes with a shit ton. We use the tripod camera attachment and the low profile clip attachments the most. The SJ4000 is inexpensive enough and comes with so many mounts you can be creative with where you put it and how.

I bought my SJ4000s from FoxOffer, who is an overseas e-tailer of various action cameras and dash cams. At the time I was able to buy extra batteries for $4 each, with a limit of 2 per camera. If you want to buy more batteries or buy batteries later from FoxOffer they are $12 each.

Usage

I describe the SJ4000 to people as a “GoPro Hero 2.5.” The screen on the back is mostly useful, especially inside or in low light conditions. The video seems a little bit more crisp, and the colors more vibrant than the GoPro 2 HD I own. The SJ4000 also has a lot of technological advancements such as using microSD cards and microUSB connection over mini USB. The housing locks down more securely than the GoPro Hero 2, keeping your camera safe inside.

Audio recording

I was surprised at how well the camera’s microphone works inside of the housing. I didn’t expect to hear anything, so I turned sound recording off for the first few weeks I owned the SJ4000. I reset one of my cameras and forgot to turn sound recording off and was shocked that so much sound was coming through.

For recording shooting videos, this means you can hear the firearms going off, and can sometimes hear the instructor / staff speaking. You can also hear yourself pretty well.

Screen

The LCD screen on the back of the SJ4000 is extremely useful when orienting the camera. I’ve wasted several days of recording with the GoPro Hero 2 because my camera was pointed too far down or too far up. If you have a buddy handy, it’s easy to look at the back of the SJ4000 while you’re wearing it to determine if your angle is good.

However, the LCD screen is not bright enough to see in sunny conditions. Since we do almost all of our live fire training outside in daylight, this means the display is not always visible. I often have to bring our pole-mounted SJ4000 close to my body and shield the unit with my hand in order to see if it’s on and recording.

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The SJ4000’s color screen is okay inside, but is often too dim to be much use in bright sunlight.

Feedback / controls

Speaking of recording, one big drawback to the SJ4000 is that there is not an easy way to see if it’s recording aside from looking at the screen. The GoPro cameras have front-mounted lights / indicators. While I can’t see any of these when wearing a head-mounted camera, it’s easy to walk up to another person and ask, “is the big red light flashing on my GoPro?”

The SJ4000 doesn’t have such an indicator. There is a VERY tiny LED on top of the camera. That’s not readily visible when the camera is mounted. If I could change a few things about the SJ4000, the recording indicator would be one of them.

Another thing I don’t like about the SJ4000 is that the audio indicator is too quiet. If the camera is outside of its housing you can hear it beep when you start / stop recording, change modes, etc. However if the camera is inside of the housing and ESPECIALLY if it’s loud (like, you know, at a firearms training class) the beep is impossible to hear. The GoPro Hero 2 is much better in this regard.

Batteries and battery life

The other thing I would change is that the batteries, while almost identical in size and shape to the new GoPro 3 batteries, are NOT compatible. The polarity of the batteries are opposite, which means you won’t be able to charge the SJ4000 batteries in a GoPro 3 charger, nor swap batteries around.

Battery life is much better than I expected, and better than my GoPro Hero 2 HD. If I am careful about shutting the unit off during lectures / break time, I will use one full battery and most of a secondary battery during an 8 hour training class. I shot almost 11GB of video last rifle class, which amounted to 71 files and 97  minutes of footage.

The SJ4000’s battery life indicator is not very good. The battery indicates being full, rapidly goes from 2/3rd charged to 1/3rd charged, and then stays at 1/3rd charged for a very long time. This makes it hard to estimate when to swap the battery out, and if you’re not careful the camera may die in the middle of filming. I missed a fellow student’s drill this way.

When I bought my SJ4000s there was no way to charge the battery outside of the camera. I wound up using a universal battery charger that came with an aftermarket battery for an old cell phone I have. You’re going to want to buy something like this in case you get extra batteries. Batteries take about 3 hours to charge.

Memory

Recording 1080p video will require more storage and better memory card recording performance than the lower 720 resolution. I recommend Class 10 cards for recording speed.

I used to buy the biggest memory card I could, but after recording video for the last two seasons I noticed I never filled the card. I recorded a TON of footage at the last basic rifle class, but even then I didn’t fill the 16GB card. If I were just filming my own drills then 16GB would be more than enough.

I now recommend you buy the fastest card you can, and the most appropriate capacity. Speed over size! You can buy a name brand, quality Class 10 16GB micro SD card for about $10 – $15 these days. Of course, if you have the extra $$$ and want to buy a bigger card that’s up to you. However, if you’re buying multiple cameras like I did then every amount of money saved adds up.

Conclusion

Overall, for less than $100 before extra batteries and memory card I think the SJ4000 is an excellent camera. True, it doesn’t have WiFi capabilities or multiple camera control like the GoPro 3, but it’s also 1/4th the cost. The biggest thing I wish the SJ4000 had was 1080@60FPS recording for better slow motion, but I still think this is pretty good:

I strongly recommend the SJ4000 if you’re interested in filming your training. It is inexpensive, easy to use, and comes with so many mounts that you’ll be able to find great ways to film yourself and your fellow students.

Where to get the SJ4000

I bought my SJ4000 cameras from FoxOffer. They are located overseas and shipping is free. This was the only place, aside from eBay, that you could buy the SJ4000 from at the time. Shipping took about 3 weeks from Singapore.

The SJ4000 is now available through various sellers on Amazon, some of which are Prime eligible. This is good for two reasons:

  1. You can get the camera in 2 – 3 days instead of 3 weeks
  2. If you have a problem you can just send the camera back to Amazon. A dashcam I bought from FoxOffer doesn’t work 100%. The thought of shipping a camera back to Singapore for an exchange seemed like such a hassle. I just made do.

If you’re interested in buying an SJ4000 please consider doing so from the Camera, Video and Audio section of my Amazon Affiliate store, or by clicking on any of the links below. I get Amazon credit for referral purchases, and every little bit helps.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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9 Comments on "SJ4000 GoPro Clone Action Camera Review"

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  1. Shawn Smith says:

    By chance can the SJ4000 run while plugged into an external power source?

  2. MK says:

    I bought one of these and the very first time I inserted the USB cable into it, the USB slot fell straight into the casing. A known issue apparently. This thing is a great camera housed in a junk enclosure. Just get a gopro and be done with it.

  3. Alex says:

    Your SJ4000 you are showing is a fake rip off of the real one. It should say SJC4M on the front or Its a fake. SJCAM is the company who made the SJ4000 and quite a few Chinese companies rip them off. The front should say SJC4M and it should say it on boot screen. They are the same price I’m just warning you to not buy the ripoff as you aren’t covered under warranty unless its genuine.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Hi there — I understand there are many SJ4000 rip off out there (usually a larger body, but looks the same without a comparison). However, the SJ4000 as reviewed by TechMoan does not have the logo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnHDu-oW7_Y

      TechMoan is considered one of the authorities on the SJ4000 and one of the first to review it. He got it directly from an SJCAM from FoxOffer, who is an official and authorized retailer of legit SJ cameras.

      Maybe there is a newer SJ4000 model w/ the logo? I know that the WiFi edition has a logo on the front, but mine isn’t the WiFi version.

      Thanks for being concerned, though!

  4. Tom says:

    does the charging indicator turn of when it if fully charged? It does not say in the manual.

  5. David says:

    I can echo what has been said about the questionable identity of the reviewed “SJCAM”. All SJCAMs have the logo on the camera’s front panel. They also have a six page setup screen with the last item showing the SJCAM version and model. Also, when turned on, the initial splash screen will read SJCAM., Followed by a second screen showing the model number. All genuine SJCAMs have a lock on the battery compartment while most copies just have a pry off cover.

    I bought a SJCAM 4000 from a reputable dealer who advertized it with a photo of a logoed SJCAM. What I got was a Chinese copy which I immediately returned. I then bought a SJCAM 4000 directly from SJCAM.

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