Again, SJCAM has introduced a camera which will attract various fans of action shootage. Considering the fact, that it’s probably a preproduction piece with several bugs, its price is reasonable. It may not be that interesting in terms of design, because Xiaomi and especially the new GoPro is further, but it certainly doesn’t lag behind, speaking of specs and equipment. The manufacturer chose a very distinguished name for the new camera. SJCAM is now obliged to fulfill their saying. How’d they do? We’ll find that out in a second.
Again, SJCAM has introduced a camera which will attract various fans of action shootage. Considering the fact, that it’s probably a preproduction piece with several bugs, its price is reasonable. It may not be that interesting in terms of design, because Xiaomi and especially the new GoPro is further, but it certainly doesn’t lag behind, speaking of specs and equipment.
The manufacturer chose a very distinguished name for the new camera. SJCAM is now obliged to fulfill their saying. How’d they do? We’ll find that out in a second.
The SJCAM company, which was not that long ago considered as a Chinese plagiarist of the renowned GoPro, is starting to earn some respect among its amateurish fans – whether they like to shoot action sports, holidays or family reunions.
After a few fixed stars in their offer, like SJCAM SJ5000X, SJCAM SJ5000+Wifi or SJCAM SJ4000 WiFi, the company decided to announce another pair of action cameras coming, during the summer. SJCAM SJ6 Legend and SJCAM S7 Star. Both cameras are now heading to the top positions of the SJCAM’s portfolio, so they have to be equipped well. For starters, I can tell you that both handle 4K.
Thanks to our partner Gearbest.com, among the first, we had the opportunity to try the “lower” one from the mentioned pair. SJCAM SJ6 Legend. Legend is interesting in a lot of different aspects, like a touchscreen or the status display on the front side of the camera. We tested the camera in October, when it wasn’t even possible to purchase it yet. Based on that, we can assume that it probably was a preproduction piece. We have to take that into consideration during the examination.
The camera arrived in the known SJCAM packaging and it must be noted that it also came with the anticipated number of accessories. So, what can we actually find in the package? Besides the expected SJ6 Legend which looks at us right from a window of the box in a waterproof case, in two pockets, we can find the following accessories:
- Waterproof housing (attachable to other accessories)
- Spare back cover for the housing
- USB Cable
- Belt mount
- Holder for the camera without the waterproof housing (attachable to other accessories)
- 1000mAh battery (inside the camera) – mind that the camera uses a new battery type
- Adhesive mount
- Rounded adhesive mount
- Rotational adhesive mount
- Rounded rotational adhesive mount
- Spare 3M™ adhesives (both usual and rounded)
- SJCAM cleaning cloth
- Spare mount (for attachment to the adhesives)
- Thread adapter
- Tripod mount adapter
- Long connector rotary by 90°
- Short connector, short connector rotary by 90°
- Frame (attachable to other accessories)
- Lens protector
- Two SJCAM stickers
- English manual
Based on the mentioned list, we can confirm a rich number of accessories. I would personally add a piece or two, eventually exchange a component from the list for another. There’s definitely a lack of a spare accumulator and eventually, a charger. Why? You’ll find that out in the chapter dealing with the battery and its life.
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
The camera got smaller, compared to its predecessors from the line 5xxx. Especially the dimension regarding the thickness has been thinned by third, compared to the older camera types. Speaking in numbers, we have a camera with the dimensions of 59 x 41 x 21 mm (29 mm with lens) here.
The camera is entering the market in three shades, silver (the reviewed one), black and a very popular color these days – rose gold.
However, it’s a shame that the manufacturer didn’t let their imagination go wilder. Design-wise, the camera copies its older siblings and compared to the biggest competitors, like YI Camera from Xiaomi or the leader of this industry Go-Pro, it falls behind.
The build quality is exemplary again. I would even say that it’s the best thing the company has produced so far. The front panel seems aluminous. Maybe it’s really made of aluminium, but I didn’t dare to find that out with some material exam. The torsional rigidity is almost perfect.
The circumference of the camera wasn’t innovated much – the rubberized plastics with structure that allows a good grip remains.
The innovations can be seen somewhere else. The most visible one is certainly the monochromatic OLED display placed on the front side. In case of previous cameras, we would find a power button there. The button moved to a side. By the way, in case of SJ7, it’s at the front again.
The front display shows the camera mode and eventually the shooting time or the number of taken snaps.
Another innovation awaits us at the back – the main two inch TFT LCD display. Its purpose is to provide a quick access to the settings menu and simplify the whole process. On the other hand, it drains battery very much and together with Wi-Fi, it’s murderous. Data transmission via Wi-Fi is another feature that the camera inherited from the older SJCAM cameras.
At the edges of the camera, we can find three mechanical controlling elements. On the side, it’s the power button and a button with a key mark – the speed dial to the settings menu.
At the upper edge, there’s the traditional button controlling the start and end of recording, eventually working as a trigger, when in the photo taking mode.
On the other, shorter edge, there’s microUSB connectors (allowing the connection of an external mic) and microHDMI accompanied by a slot for a microSD card. Again, there’s no cover. Above them, there’s a group of small gaps intended for sound making and as an internal microphone input.
On the bottom side, there’s a very shallow tripod thread, as well as doors covering the battery space. The battery is removeable. Finally, there’s no threat of losing your data when manipulating with the battery. That’s certainly a step forward.
The notification LEDs can be found next to the two inch LCD display, as well as at the upper edge next to the trigger and also, at the front panel and next to the power button.
The heart of it all is the Novatek NT96660 processor. The most important element, right after the image processing sensor, is the 1/2.33” CMOS Panasonic sensor (MN34120PA) with the resolution of 16.37 MPx. Both foundation stones are known to us because of the older SJCAM’s cameras. We could see the chipset Novatek in case of SJCAM SJ5000X Elite or M20. The Panasonic sensor with the resolution of 16 MPx appeared in the camera SJCAM SJ5000+.
As the manufacturer chose this name for it, maybe we would expect something newer inside. The truth is that the manufacturer tried to merge the two successful models.
At the back, the camera has a two inch touchscreen allowing speed dial to the settings menu and of course, control over the recorded scene using the live preview. The TFT LCD display’s resolution is 240×320 pixels which I find fully adequate, for a display this size.
The lens consists of seven parts with an aspherical adjustment that partly eliminates reflections. The lens speed is f/2.5 and the angle of view is 166°.
High quality and sharp images should be assured by gyroscopic stabilization. Specifically, it’s electronical image stabilization known as EIS. We’ll take a look at its efficiency during testing.
In the action camera, there’s a Wi-Fi module allowing communication with surroundings. One of the situations, when this radio transmission can be used, is when connecting a smartphone or remote control (that’s however not part of the package).
In the camera package, we can find a 1000 mAh battery. It’s important to know, that it’s a new type, so batteries from the older SJCAM’s cameras can not be used. The capacity is so low that I recommend buying a spare battery.
The camera newly supports the connection of an external mic. That can be connected via the microUSB connector from on the side of the camera. Again, it’s an optional addition, that was added to the offer of SJCAM.
CONTROLLING AND SETTINGS MENU
The controlling became much more intuitive, thanks to the touchscreen. However, it’s still far from perfection, if I compare it, for instance, to the smartphones nowadays.
Because the display got so much bigger that it takes up almost the whole back space of the camera, the controlling may not be that comfort for individuals with bigger fingers. The problem may occur when selecting a certain area. I myself selected a wrong option.
Sometimes, the display doesn’t respond as it should, so it’s necessary to repeat the action.
The the unnecessary stuff from menu could be spared. We can set the back arrow as an example. For leaving the menu, it would be enough just to click on the certain subfolder. However, this is only the point of view of mine, some users might find it convenient.
Launching Wi-Fi seems to be the hardest thing to accomplish. We are being informed about its presence on the box, but on the body of the camera, there’s not a single mention about it. Furthermore, there’s no physical button on the camera, that could turn it on, nor is it in the settings menu. A nescient user then might get a feeling that SJCAM is lying about the feature. Nope. Wi-Fi is located in another menu that is accessible only via the touchscreen. To activate it, it’s necessary to swipe from the to to the bottom. Then there’s another selection of modes – WiFi, remote control, the drone mode or activation of the screen lock.
The menu is complicated and disorganized. You can feel that especially when you’re short on time. Then it becomes your enemy. By the time you’ll get the menu customized, you can say goodbye to that awesome action snap. However, this is common among other action cameras too, there could be a possibility of some preset profiles. I believe a lot of users would appreciate this feature.
Of course, the camera can be controlled the old way using the mechanical buttons too. Traditionally, buttons on the side will help you browse the menu and the trigger button lets you confirm the options.
The waterproof case is unfortunately disastrous. Due to the controlling elements, I was forced to put it aside. I had a hard time actually pressing them. When pressing the trigger button, I had to press it so hard, that in both mods, there was a significant unsolicited movement. That resulted in unnatural startings and endings of footage. In case of the photo mode, the image was always blurry. I had to force other buttons that much too. The menu button didn’t get pressed no matter how hard I tried. Opening of the case is another nail in the coffin. Because of the fuse, the openings of the case became a brain teaser. Sometimes less means more, right, SJCAM?!
APP AND REMOTE CONTROLLING
The camera can also be controlled remotely, thanks to the integrated module allowing wireless communication with a remote control or, for example, your smartphone. In this case, you just have to install the app from Google Play (the link below) or Apple Store. It’s also possible to use the QR code from your box and just scan it with your smart device.
It’s an APP right from SJCAM. It also allows you to enter the fan community.
Using the app, the camera can be controlled and the scene can be watched live. You can store your videos and photos in albums and then share them with other members of the community.
You can also browse through shootage of other members, which might get you inspired. Or just expose your art in order to bring some fun or astonishment to other fans.
However, I struggled a lot with the app. The signal between my smartphone and the camera was unstable. The pairing often didn’t go well too. When it did, a problem with live preview occurred which was absolutely useless due to the freezing. I eventually settled for manual controlling right on the camera cause I found it better than freaking out. And I even haven’t mentioned the energy demands. Turning the Wi-Fi on eats up a half of the battery!
Remote control belongs to the optional accessories that can be bought. It can be placed on one’s wrist, using a strap, like a wristwatch. It contains mechanical buttons that assure basic functions for controlling the camera remotely without having to remove it from some kind of a holder placed beyond the reach of your hands. I can’t tell you more about this, because it wasn’t part of the loan.
THE CAMERA IN REAL
The camera did pretty well and I even consider it as one of the best devices I’ve ever had the chance to test. The sharpness of the optics is brilliant, over almost the entire surface. If i compare it to Eken H8R, we are really dealing with something of a higher class.
After implementing the Panasonic sensor and Novatek chipset, we could expect a cooler output which is being confirmed in videos and photos below. I appreciate the manufacturer for not trying to use some filters which would soften this neutral impression. On the other hand, you can turn these filters on in the settings. However, implementing the software filter WARM wasn’t a success. Instead of softening the colors and giving them a bit of a yellow/brownish color, it adds some green to it.
The CMOS Panasonic sensor is trying its best, but has its limits and one of them is light intensity. With every decrease in light, there’s an increase of unpleasant grain. When completely dark, the videos are getting blurry and the whole image is falling apart. Nothing surprising. Honestly, I don’t know a single action camera that would handle these conditions well. Of course that when there’s enough light, very nice videos can come out.
The camera also knows how to shoot videos in a higher resolution than the traditional HD. However, in case of 4K, it’s interpolated and the highest native resolution is 2K (1440p). And there’s another limiting factor that needs to be taken into consideration. And that’s bitrate. When in 4K mode, the bitrate can be 24 fps maximum and in 2K, we get to 30 fps. While when shooting in HD, the bitrate can be as high as 120 fps!
The camera is also familiar with image straightening, but compared to the proclaimed image settlement, the final effect is insignificant, see the photos below.
The option of saving images in the RAW format is another new thing. With that and appropriate software you would be able to develop the photos on your PC. The advantage is that most of the post-processing can be done from your home.
And while we are talking about photos – the camera can also be used as a spare camera to take with your regular one. When light conditions are favorable, the outcomes can be really interesting. This is enhanced by the wide angle of view reminding of fish-eye lense. However, watch out for getting the lens too close to the recorded object. What you can find sharp in the live preview, can be blurry and then useless in real. Macro is impossible. You won’t fool the limits of optics.
A lot of unpleasant sounds can be heard in videos, like the sound of the controlling buttons. The videos will have no other option than to be postprocessed in appropriate PC or tablet software.
And one more problem, recording in 4K is somehow bugged. The image is deformed weirdly, with some kind of a interfering line across the whole shot. The camera doesn’t do this when recording in 2K.
Photos in full resolution are here.
What to say about the battery without repeating myself. Simply and briefly, you’re gonna need a spare one. Only one won’t be sufficient, unless you want to keep running from the recorded scenes to a cable intended for charging. Yeah, everything can be avoided using an external battery (power bank), but it’s a pretty clumsy solution. So, when buying this product, consider adding at least two spare batteries with an external charger to the shopping cart. A tiny investment will save you time, nerves and will add the most important thing, mobility.
The battery of 1000 mAh is standard, but two displays with Wi-Fi activated is too much for it to handle.
The battery life will be long if you deactivate this stuff. However, if you belong to the people who tend to have everything under control, you won’t get along without it and there won’t be any other solution than to have a couple of precharged accumulators at hand. SJCAM SJ6 Legend will tell you the level of battery drainage via a sound signal, indication on the displays and LED notification.
Furthermore, don’t forget that the battery’s lifespan decreases as the temperature of the surroundings is getting lower.
The time spent charging got shorter, but not very much. It takes 2 and a half hours. Another argument for having more accumulators.
Battery life depends on the conditions you’re shooting under. From 30 minutes to 90 minutes. When the climate conditions are fine, the stuff mentioned above is turned off (display and Wi-Fi), the camera is able to shoot for even one hour and half.
And some other warnings about SJCAM’s batteries, the first one is that they are new types that differ from the older cameras in the connector construction. The second is that SJ6 Legend and SJ7 Star are different from each other in the placing of the connector. In case of SJ6, it’s on the right, while SJ7 has it on the left. What’s the point?
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, it’s possible to buy some additional accessories like an external mic, selfie stick, battery (pay attention to the type) and an external charger. However, that’s not it. Other various straps and holders helping you to place the camera basically anywhere can be found online.
Again, SJCAM has introduced a camera which will attract various action shootage fans. Considering the fact, that it’s probably a preproduction piece with several bugs, its price is reasonable. It may not be that interesting in terms of design, because Xiaomi and especially the new GoPro is further, but it certainly doesn’t lag behind, speaking of specs and equipment. I wouldn’t worry about the bugs. SJCAM is well-known for taking care of their products so I believe that the upcoming updates will fix it.
The camera will be appreciated by potential users of all kind. The possibilities are limitless, thanks to the number of accessories. Just let your imagination go and I’m sure you’ll think of various ways of utilizing the camera.
The optics is probably the best I could rate in this category. Outcoming videos are very sharp. The colors might be too insignificant, but I appreciate the manufacturer for choosing a more neutral color balance. However, beware of the WARM settings which will make the whole image greener, instead of giving it a warmer shade. If you are looking for a warmer outcome, I recommend you to take a look at its more expensive brother – SJCAM SJ7 Star. There’s the Sony IMX117 sensor and the Ambarella A12S75 chipset inside.
On the other hand, the camera doesn’t like direct light very much. The low dynamic range is hurting the image cause the highlights are often blown out. I’ve encountered something similar when testing a phone with dual camera promising interesting effects using the dual optics, but on the other hand, it couldn’t handle the dynamic range at all. In this case, the functions of the camera depend on the amount of light.
And my subjective feeling. When the camera got into my hands, I was thinking to myself that I’d finally found the right one, which I would even buy. The specs almost fulfilled my expectations, but after examining its sibling SJ7 Star, I hesitated again because I belong to the group of users who prefer pleasing warmer outcomes. Therefore, I sure hope I’ll get the chance to reexamine it so I could compare the two products and choose the right one.
So, what is the answer to the question in the headline? To rank it amongst the legends, I would expect a bit more. It’s basically some kind of a merge of the two well-known types, SJCAM SJ5000+ and SJCAM SJ5000 Elite. The manufacturer wants to replace the older highest line offered with this model, without any significant internal innovations. Will it really become a legend? Let the fans decide. However, it’s possible that the doors to the hall of fame will open to another model, like SJCAM SJ7 Star.
- 2-inch touchscreen with live preview
- Wi-Fi module
- Good build quality
- High quality optics
- A rich number of accessories included in the package
- Very good image outcome
- Dynamic range
- Not very good orientation in the settings menu
- The camera can’t be controlled very well when in the waterproof case