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SJCAM M20 test

SJCAM M20 Review - 4K Action Cam

Test report created by Timo A. on July 22, 2016

The SJCAM M20 is currently the smallest and most powerful Action Cam model of the Chinese manufacturer "SJCAM". Despite its compact size, similar to a body cam, the M20 promises many functions, including sophisticated image stabilization using an integrated gyroscope. Find out how the new SJCAM model works in practice in this review of the SJCAM M20.

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7.9
Our rating
Technical data
Overview
Manufacturer

SJCAM

Model

SJCAM M20

Specifications

 Hardware 
Image sensor: Sony IMX206
Image processor: Novatek NTK96660
Wide angle: 166 °
Display: 1.5 inch LCD

 video Resolution 
4K @ 24
2K @ 30
1080p @ 60 / 30
720p @ 120 / 60 / 30
VGA @ 240

 resolution 
16MP
14MP
12MP
8MP
5MP
3MP
2MP
1.3MP
VGA

 other 
* WiFi & App
* Gyro

 General 
Battery: 900mAh
Size: 5.40 x 4.00 x 2.90 cm
Weight: 54g

What's in the box

1x SJCAM M20
1x Waterproof Case
13x mounts / Kelbepads
1x battery
1x charging cable
1x cleaning cloth
2x stickers
1x user manual

First impression of the SJCAM M20

Scope of delivery & certificate

The SJCAM M20 is delivered with all kinds of accessories. In addition to various brackets, with which the Action Cam can be attached to helmets, bicycles or other objects using the enclosed adhesive pads, the scope of delivery also includes a battery required for operation, a USB charging or data cable, a cleaning cloth, SJCAM sticker and a multilingual instruction manual included. A waterproof case (up to 30m) is also included. However, the remote control advertised with the Action Cam must be purchased separately.

I particularly like the included clip holder. This mount is multifunctional and offers two tripod threads as well as a clip, with which the camera can also be used as a body cam.

If you would like to check the authenticity of your SJCAM, the manufacturer has attached a certificate for scratching on the outside of the packaging. The genuineness can then be verified via the SJCAM homepage using the number which has been cleared out. However, fakes of the M20 are not yet known or emerged.

Design and workmanship

With a size of 5.4x4x2.9cm, the SJCAM M20 is one of the most compact action cams on the market. The very low weight of only 55g including the battery is impressive. In comparison, the weight of the SJ5000 model series including battery is around 74g. This makes the SJCAM M20 ideal for model making and especially for quadrocopter pilots, where every gram is crucial.

The M20 is operated upright. On the front there are notification LEDs and the lens with the 166 ° wide-angle lens. The 1.5 inch color display is located on the rear of the case. The camera has a total of four control buttons. On the top of the housing are the power button, as well as the release button and another LED. The buttons for menu navigation and WLAN activation were attached to the side.

The connection options amount to a micro USB socket, which is used for charging and data transfer, and a micro HDMI socket. There is also a micro SD memory card slot below the connections. The 900mAh battery takes up almost the entire underside of the case.

The processing of the SJCAM M20 is successful. The control buttons have a good pressure point and can be very well served by the waterproof housing. The battery compartment is easy to open and closes safely. Also, the display is well embedded and overall, the processing of the case, but also the included accessories are very good.

Commissioning and user interface

With inserted battery and SD memory card, the SJCAM M20 is ready to go. The manual explains the individual functions in great detail.

The SD memory card slot is compatible with 32GB micro SD memory cards (Class 10 or>) as standard. SJCAM also has a compatibility list for 64GB or even 128GB memory cards.

As soon as the action cam is turned on you will be greeted with the SJCAM logo and the live image output will be displayed directly on the display. It can also read the current settings such as the current recording mode, date and time, the battery level, the remaining recording time including available memory, or whether the microphone is turned on. The power button also serves to select the menu. With this one can switch to the photo mode, as well as in the "Setup".

In the so-called “setup”, different recording modes (eg FPV, Car Mode, Motion Detection, Burst Mode, Photo / Video Lapse, Slow Rec etc.) can be selected. Recorded videos and pictures can be output via the playback function on the M20.

The settings are numerous. Here is a list of all choices.

Video settings

  • Resolution (video): 4K @ 24fps (interpolated), 2K @ 30fps, 1080p @ 60 / 30fps, 720p @ 120 / 60 / 30fps, VGA @ 240fps
  • Cyclic recording: Off, 3 Min, 5 Min, 10 Min
  • FOV: Off, Wide, Middle, Narrow
  • WDR: Off, on
  • Gyro Sensor: Off, On
  • Audio: Off, On
  • Volume: 1-10
  • Date Stamp: Off, On
  • TV system: NTSC, PAL
  • OSD Mode: Off, On
  • Video File Format: MP4, MOV
  • Bitrate: High, Medium, Low
  • Double File: Off, On
  • PowerOn Record: Off, On

Photo settings

  • Resolution (photo): 16M, 14M, 12M, 8M, 5M, 3M, 2MHD, 1.3M, VGA
  • Quality: Fine, Normal, Economical
  • Sharpness: Strong, Normal, Soft
  • White balance: car, daylight, cloudy, artificial light, neon light
  • Color: Normal, B / W, Retro, Warm, Cool
  • ISO: Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
  • Exposure: + 0.0, -1 / 3, -2 / 3, -1.0, -4 / 3, -5 / 3
  • RAW: Off, on
  • Distortion Correction: Off, On

 

Other settings

  • License setting
  • Date / time
  • Auto Off: Off, 3 Min, 5 Min, 10 Min
  • Acoustic signal: off, on
  • Light setting: 3, 2, 1, Off
  • Screensavers: 30 Sec, 1 Min, 3 Min, 5 Min, Off
  • Frequency: 50Hz, 60Hz
  • Turn: Off, On
  • LOGO Watermark: Off, On
  • Language: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean
  • WiFi SSID and WiFi password
  • Delete
  • formatting
  • default settings
  • version

 

Hardware

SJCAM combines with the M20 the somewhat older Sony IMX206 image sensor and the Novatek 96660 image processor. The image sensor has a native resolution of 16.35 megapixels and, in combination with the Novatek image processor, enables recordings with a 4K resolution (interpolated). The same image processor is also used in the GitUp Git2 and the first model of the Xiaomi Yi Action Cam.

With the integrated WiFi module, the SJCAM M20 can also be operated via the manufacturer's app. Recordings can be stabilized using the digital gyro stabilization.

Video and image recordings

Video recording with the SJCAM M20

In a nutshell, the SJCAM M20 enables good-looking video recordings. Colors are reproduced naturally and vividly at the same time. Details emerge cleanly and the image noise is also very low. What bothers me, however, and can also be seen very well on the sample video I recorded, is the underexposure at high brightness. A suitable exposure setting should be selected, especially on sunny days. What the SJCAM M20 does very well is through the transition from light to dark. The adaptation is flowing. Pictures in low light can also convince. Only with active gyro stabilization could I see increasing image noise.

SJCAM M20 Action Cam | 1080p @ 60 Footage / Sample (Gyro On / Off)

Gyro stabilization

The gyro stabilization is a nice addition, but in no way replaces a 3-axis gimbal. Still, freehand filmed recordings are generally smoother. The video quality remains largely the same in good lighting conditions, but fine details are still lost and the picture looks a bit muddy overall. Gyro stabilization is not recommended in poor lighting conditions.

sound Quality

The recording quality of the microphone is always such a thing with Action Cams. If you use the camera with the waterproof housing, voices or background noise are barely audible. This affects not only the SJCAM M20, but almost every Action Cam.

 Without the waterproof case, the audio quality is convincing. The ostensible tone is clearly audible. Background noises are adjusted accordingly, but remain audible.

 Here is an interesting comparison of the new and more than twice as expensive Xiaomi Yi II Action Cam with the SJCAM M20. 

Xiaomi Yi 4K (Yi II 2016) VS SJCAM M20 | 1080p @ 50

picture quality

The image function of the SJCAM M20 impresses with its high resolution, clean color reproduction and highlighted details. With the standard settings, the lens distortion can be seen. The image noise is very low in good lighting conditions.

SJCAM app

The SJCAM app is available for Google Android devices in the PlayStore, but also for Apple iOS in the Apple App Store. With an active WiFi function, the SJCAM M20 sets up its own WiFi, which can be connected to a smartphone or tablet. Unfortunately, the app has not been updated since January 2015 (December 2015 SJCAM Zone) and the M20 is not even mentioned in the app description. Nevertheless, the SJCAM app is compatible with the M20. In the settings, however, you can only select a maximum resolution of 2K!

Various camera settings can be made via the app, you can view a live image, start recordings and even share recordings directly with friends. In the test, the app impressed with its simple connection setup and stable image transmission. However, the image is delayed by 1-2 seconds.

Accumulator

SJCAM stays true to its line and also uses a 20mAh battery in the M900. Due to the compact design of the Action Cam, this has an adapted shape, which is why other batteries from the manufacturer are not compatible with the SJCAM M20.

The manufacturer's run time information can be partially adopted. With a resolution of 1080p at 60 frames per second, the targeted 80 minutes of battery life are quite realistic. With a 4K resolution, I got a good 70 minutes runtime. The battery is charged after a good 2 hours. 

Rating
Positive

Good video and picture quality
Compact design
lightness
Clean processing
Numerous setting options
Many shooting modes

Negative

Remote must be purchased separately
Only 900mAh battery
Outdated app

Summary

Particularly surprised me was the SJCAM M20 by their small size and light weight, yet with considerable video and image quality. The camera offers numerous functions and settings and is suitable for many applications.

Complaining is the not yet 100% customized firmware. In order to get the best possible video and picture quality out of the camera, it takes some adjustment skills. An update of the now outdated Android app would be desirable.

7.9
Our rating
Timo Altmeyer Avatar
author

Launched the website techreviewer.de in 2016 and has been an active editor of news and test reports in all areas of technology ever since.

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Overview
Manufacturer

SJCAM

Model

SJCAM M20

Specifications

 Hardware 
Image sensor: Sony IMX206
Image processor: Novatek NTK96660
Wide angle: 166 °
Display: 1.5 inch LCD

 video Resolution 
4K @ 24
2K @ 30
1080p @ 60 / 30
720p @ 120 / 60 / 30
VGA @ 240

 resolution 
16MP
14MP
12MP
8MP
5MP
3MP
2MP
1.3MP
VGA

 other 
* WiFi & App
* Gyro

 General 
Battery: 900mAh
Size: 5.40 x 4.00 x 2.90 cm
Weight: 54g

What's in the box

1x SJCAM M20
1x Waterproof Case
13x mounts / Kelbepads
1x battery
1x charging cable
1x cleaning cloth
2x stickers
1x user manual

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