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Comparison Review: SJCAM SJ8 Pro vs SJCAM SJ8 Plus vs SJCAM SJ8 Air

My Comparison Review of the latest SJCAM action cameras: SJ8 Pro vs SJ8 Plus vs SJ8 Air (including video). All offer external microphone and Pro up to 4K 60fps video!

SJCAM SJ8 Series – introducing 4K EIS and 4K 60fps

SJCAM SJ8 series include 3 models: SJ8 Pro, SJ8 Plus and SJ8 Air. Pro and Plus will feature EIS with 4K resolution and therefore exceed the specs of SJ7 Star. While Sj8 Air seems to be some kind of entry level camera which doesn’t even match the specs of the released SJ6 Legend. Therefor I want to give an overview of the new lineup in contrast of the current SJCAM cameras as well as some competitors before going into detail about their features.

     

    Video Review and Comparison of SJ8 series

     

    SJ8 Pro vs SJ8 Plus vs SJ8 Air Specs


    Image Sensor:

    • SJCAM SJ8 Pro holds the 12 MP Sony IMX377 sensor (1/2.3″ CMOS) known from YI 4K+ and YI 4K action camera.
    • SJCAM SJ8 Plus uses the 12 MP Sony IMX117 also known from SJCAM SJ7 Star, Firefly 8S and GoPro Hero4.
    • SJCAM SJ8 Air holds a different brand sensor, the 14 MP Panasonic MN34112PA. That’s the same sensor used in SJ6 Air, while SJ6 Legend uses a 16 MP Panasonic sensor. This sensor benefits higher resolution photos, but is not capable of 4K resolution video.

    Chipset:

    • SJCAM SJ8 Pro holds the new Ambarella H22 processor. This processor enables 4K 60fps but it is not Ambarella’s top of the line chipset, which is the H2, that is used in YI 4K+.
    • SJCAM SJ8 Plus uses a different brand, the Novatek 96683, that enables EIS in 4K resolution. And that’s the difference compared to SJ7 Star which uses the Ambarella A12 (but as mentioned the same sensor).
    • SJCAM SJ8 Air also uses a Novatek chipset, Novatek 96658, which is inferior to the one used in Plus and the one used in Sj6 Legend.

    Frame Rates:

    • 4K Resolution – SJ8 Pro shoot up to 60 fps, while SJ8 Plus can do 30 fps max. SJ8 Air won’t record 4K video, not even interpolated. SJ7 Star records up to 30fps in 4K while Sj6 Legend only does interpolated 4K at a max of 24fps.
      4K 60fps – The new SJ8 Pro is the new top of the line product offering 60fps in 4K.
    • 2.7K Resolution – is available up to 60fps, same as on SJ8 Pro. SJ8 Air only shoots “2K” – 1296p.
    • HD 1080p – The new SJ8 Pro, same as SJ8 Plus and SJ7 Star can do up to 120fps in 1080p that’s similar to YI 4K+. The only cam I’m aware of that can do better is GoPro Hero6 with an amazing 240fps in 1080p. SJ8 Air can only do 30fps, which is quit disappointing, even SJ6 Legend can do 60fps.
    • HD 720p – While SJ7 Star can only do 200 fps in 720p, the new SJ8 Pro as well as SJ8 Plus can do 240fps – a multiple of 30fps. For Sj8 Air also in 720p resolution only 30fps are available!

    Interestingly you can only choose PAL (25fps and a multiple of that) on SJCAM SJ8 Pro. Even tough SJ8 Plus & SJ8 Air offer a TV mode selection for PAL/NTCS you can’t record 25fps!

    Image Stabilization:
    Both SJ8 Pro and SJ8 Plus will offer EIS in 4K resolution at a max. of 30fps. With SJ7 Star the limit was 1080p resolution and 60fps. While SJ8 Pro has a 6-axis gyro sensor, SJ8 Plus has a 3-axis gyro sensor. SJ8 Air does not offer image stabilization!

    Digital Zoom:
    All SJ8 series cameras offer digital zoom in their highest resolution. Some restrictions apply: It is not available in 4K60 (SJ8 Pro), when distortion correction is turned on or FOV is selected.

    Recording Format:
    In general the format is .mp4; SJ8 Pro and SJ8 Plus offer the new .h265 codec as selection! You can also choose .h264, for SJ8 Air .h264 is the only available codec.

    Photo Resolution:
    Native photo is linked to the effective pixel size of the sensor, therefor SJ8 Pro & Plus, same as SJ7 Star, offer 12 MP sized photos. SJ8 Air tops them in that category due to its 14 MP sensor. But you can select RAW photo on SJ8 Pro & SJ8 Plus, which is not available for SJ8 Air.

    Connectivity & Ports:
    All new SJ8 Series cameras offer a USB-C port, compared to the mini USB port used in SJ7 Star & SJ6 Legend. In general USB-C is capable of video output and microphone input. Only SJ8 Pro offers an external microphone selection in the menu! On the other hand SJCAM is selling a for the whole SJ8 series!











    SJCAM Short External Microphone for SJ8 Series Action Cameras


    $11.86


    $11.86





    All SJ8 Series cameras as well as SJ7 and SJ6 offer wifi and bluetooth connection and can be remote controlled via phone or remote controller.
    Also all of the mentioned cameras feature a microSD port for cards up to 128 GB storage. Be careful which card you choose, for 4K video U3 cards are needed, if you plan to record 60fps, choose a very fast card.

    Display:
    The backside touch display is larger on all SJ8 series camera as they feature a 2,33″ display. That’s even larger than  YI 4K+ (2,19″) and GoPro Hero6 (2″)! SJ7 Star and SJ6 Legend offer a 2″ touch display.
    SJCAM SJ8 Pro and Sj8 Plus also feature a 0.96″ front display to check the settings, similar to SJ6 Legend.

     

    Battery:
    Another item all SJ8 series cameras have in common, a removable 1200 mAh battery, so battery capacity will be increased from SJ7 Star (1000 mAh) but still be a bit lower compared to YI 4K+ (1400 mAh) and similar compared to GoPro Hero6 (1120 mAh). Great to see this compatibility when you want to upgrade your camera later on.

     


    Accessories:
    All SJ8 series cameras will be available in 2 version: Small Box (only including camera, charging cable & manual) and Full Box including a full set of accessories known from the SJ7 or SJ6 Set, including: Waterproof Housing, Touchscreen backdoor, Quick Release Buckle, Handlebar Mount, Curved Adhesive Mount, Flat Adhesive Mount, 3M Adhesive Tape, Universal 1/4″ Camera Tripod Mount, Tripod Mount Adapter, GoPro Mount Adapters, Cleaning Cloth, USB-C cable and Manual. The full box is 20 USD extra.

    Within the underwater case the camera is 30m waterproof, when using the touch screen door it’s 3m. All SJ8 series cameras use the same underwater case!

     

    Body, Buttons & Ports


    As mentioned, only SJ8 Pro & SJ8 Plus feature a 0,96″ OLED front display that shows the current settings of the camera and indicates recording as well as the time. Compared to some touchscreen cameras (like YI 4K), SJ8 series cameras offer two buttons: Shutter button on the top and a power button on the side. The power button also works as mode switch button where you can conveniently switch between photo and video mode. This is especially necessary when the cam is inside the underwater case. On the other side you find a door that covers the USB-C port. On the bottom there’s a battery door which also holds the micro SD card slot. The body of all SJ8 series cameras is (except the front screen) the same. It has a some kind of rubber finish which seems to be high quality. Interestingly only the shutter button of SJ8 Pro is illuminated in standby (can be turned off in the menu). When recording the shutter button is flashing on all cameras.

     

    Features & Settings

    Homescreen


    As you can see SJ8 Pro shows the most information on the home screen. This screen is displayed when you turn on your camera. In general the menu of SJ8 Plus & SJ8 Air seems more comparable, SJ8 Pro is different in many ways. On all Sj8 series camera you can find the icon of the current mode on the top left, next to it is the available recording time displayed. On the right side is the battery info; on SJ8 Pro the indication if audio recording is enabled. On all SJ8 series cameras digital zoom is available which can be choses with the magnifier icons on the right.

    On SJ8 Plus and SJ8 Air you can access camera & device settings via the rotary icon. Clicking the resolution & frame rate info in the center you get to the mode menu. On the left side you can access the library via the play icon. SJ8 Pro offers more individual menus. The rotary icon gets you to the device settings, whereas the wand icon (?) gets you to the camera settings of the current mode you are in. Clicking the mode in the center gets you to the mode menu. Pressing the resolution and frame rate on the left next to it gets you to the resolution selection. I prefer home screen of SJ8 Pro as you get to the desired settings way quicker. Also the display of time, ISO (and shutter tim in photo mode) is a great info.

     

    Modes

    Not only the mode menu looks different, also the available menus differ among all SJ8 series cameras:


    Whereas SJ8 Pro offers 8 Modes, SJ8 Plus & SJ8 Air offer 9 modes – but they are different.

    Same modes on all cameras:

    • Video – for video recording.
    • VideoLaspe – to create a time-lapse with a video file as result.
    • Still – for single photos.
    • PhotoLapse – to create a time-lapse with several individual photos as result.
    • Video / Photo – to take photos within an interval while a video is recording.
    • Car Mode – the camera powers on automatically and loop recording is enabled (when used as dash camera).

    Different modes:

    • SlowRec – for slow motion recording. The camera is recording a higher frame rate and the info already stored within the file to play it at a lower frame rate. SJ8 Pro & SJ8 Plus (SJ8 Air only offers 30fps in all resolutions, hence no slow motion)
    • Photo Burst – for fast consecutive photos. SJ8 Pro & SJ8 Plus
    • Underwater Mode – which corrects colours when diving (this mode is missing on SJ8 Pro, but there is an underwater WB setting). SJ8 Pro & SJ8 Air – SJ8 Pro has white balance settings for diving in the menu!
    • Motion Detection – the camera starts recording when there is motion within the frame; you have to stop manually! Only SJ8 Air.
    • Long Exposure – for shutter settings and long exposure photos. Only SJ8 Air. Don’t worry, SJ8 Pro & SJ8 Plus offer shutter settings in the photo settings.

     

    Mentionable Differences

    Here are some mentionable differences in the settings of SJ8 series cameras.

    NTSC vs PAL
    When selecting resolution and frame rate on SJ8 Pro you also see PAL options (25fps and a multiple of that). Even tough SJ8 Plus and SJ8 Air list a menu item “TV MODE” where you can select PAL, 25 fps are not available. With the latest firmware update, SJ8 Pro now also got a 24fps option.


    Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) – Gyro sensor
    Image stabilisation is enabled via the menu item gyro sensor. This sensor supports stabilisation by recording data on the motion of the camera. Image stabilisation is only available on SJ8 Pro and SJ8 Plus! 

    Distortion Correction
    Built in distortion correction is only available on SJ8 Pro & SJ8 Plus. This is helpful when you don’t like the fisheye effect of the wide angle lens.

    External Microphone
    Even tough an external microphone would be available with an USB-C port, but only SJ8 Pro offers the selection in the menu. I’ll investigate further!

    Battery Charging
    This is one thing I find quite annoying on SJ8 Plus & SJ8 Air. While charging the LCD screen is turned on indicating charging. On SJ8 Plus the front screen as well. On SJ8 Pro there is just a little LED indicating that the camera is charging. I don’t know if charging takes longer while the display is lit, but the camera gets hot and I guess the green will be worn out faster.

     

    Demo Photos

    Photos are unedited, taken in .jpg without distortion correction (not available on SJ8 Air), other settings were set to auto.

    1st SJ8 Pro, 2nd SJ8 Plus, 3rd SJ8 Air

    Here you can see it obvious how Plus, and Air a bit, lighten up the image. Pro comes the closest to the actual situation which was very low light. Actually they all perform very well under these low light circumstances.


    Conclusion

    SJCAM SJ8 Pro is a great camera. It offers the latest tech, got a nice large screen, mic-in option is available,… It really got most things you need from an action camera. I’d say it’s one of the best action cameras you can get behind GoPro Hero7, 6 & 5 – let’s say the best competitor. The comparable 4K 60fps action camera, YI 4K+, ranks in my opinion behind SJ8 Pro. Even tough YI 4K+ offers a more advanced firmware and app, SJ8 Pro’s electronic image stabilization is way better since it offers 6-axis stabilisation, compared to the older tech YI 4K+ that offers 3-axis stabilization. The body of SJ8 Pro feels better, it has a larger screen and a longer runtime.
    SJ8 Plus is not fully convincing me. As you can see in my videos the color balance is off and the red tones make me look like wearing a lipstick. Besides that its a very solid camera that offers EIS in 4K resolution (only 3-axis compared to SJ8 Pro) and many other options. If 4K EIS is not that important to you, take a look at Firefly 8SE. This camera does not offer 4K EIS, but 6-axis stabilization in 1080p at 60fps.
    SJ8 Air is quite disappointing. The colors don’t look nice, it got a relatively small sensor and has little video options.











    Original SJCAM SJ8 Pro 4K 60fps WiFi Action Camera


    $200.02


    $200.02















    SJCAM SJ8 Plus Native Dual Screen WiFi Action Camera


    $157.81


    $157.81















    SJCAM SJ8 Air Native 1296P Touch Screen WiFi Action Camera


    $118.92


    $118.92





    • # SJCAM
    • # SJCAM SJ8 Pro
    • # SJCAM SJ8 Plus
    • # Action Camera
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