HD DV Sports Camera is a pocket-sized versatile wonder. We fell in love with it after taking it out for a test drive. And a swim. And a hike.
The first thing you'll notice is the slew of mounts, clips, velcro straps and cases included in the box. These allow you to secure it to virtually anything: your belt, backpack strap, helmet, car windshield, bicycle frame, a tripod, or your dog's collar.
As added bonus, the accessories are compatible and interchangeable with those of leading sports cameras in the market. The device itself is tiny and light, which is crucial if you want to wear it on your head as you ski or do backflips on a BMX. There's a microSD card slot, a micro B USB port for charging and data transfer, a mini-HDMI port for tv connectivity. There are four buttons: a mode/power button next to the lens, a shutter/ok button on the top and zoom buttons that double as up and down in menu mode. The 1.5 inch screen is small, but sufficient. The SJ4000 sports a fisheye lens with a 170 degree field of view, and a full-HD resolution matrix.
The image quality is nearly as clear as higher price range cameras, with only some visible grain in low light conditions. Our shots of the neon-bathed Shibuya crossing convey the mood of the city. In daylight action shots, the camera does a great job. The attached waterproof case will let you take it up to 30m deep under water. Despite some mud, our riverbed test came out nicely. Word of caution though - the camera is buoyant when in the case, so you need to secure it somehow, or it will get carried away by the water.
The simple on-screen interface will let you select video resolution and quality, white balance, HDR mode, use continuous recording, or put a time stamp. In car mode, the camera will start recording the moment it's plugged in to a power supply (like the cigarette lighter socket, plug not included) and stop when unplugged. This is for documenting your spotless driving manners, in case there's an accident and a dispute. The videos are in MOV file format, photos in JPEG. The still shots are 4x3 and there's an anti-shake mechanism for still photos. As you connect to your computer via USB, you'll have a choice between Memory Storage and PC Camera mode - another hidden little gem of a feature. Overall, the SJ4000 HD DV Sports camera is a perfect companion for those, whose vacation videos involve splashing around, riding along, jumping up and down or dashing through the snow. Our suggestions: pack a lot of micro-SD cards, a spare battery or two, attach it securely, forget about it and have fun!
PROS: • very affordable • many accessories included • wide angle, fisheye lens • HDR mode • many hidden features and modes
CONS: • anti-shake mode only for stills • battery takes hours to charge, discharges quickly • some grain in low light conditions
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