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SJCAM SJ7 Star Test Review

SJCAM SJ7 Star Review - Action Cam with native 4K!

Test report prepared by Timo on April 6, 2018

The SJCAM SJ7 Star is the top 2017 released top model of the Chinese Action Cam manufacturer "SJCAM". Equipped with up-to-date hardware and numerous functions, SJCAM tries to shake up the competition. If that succeeds, more about this in this review.

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7.6
Our rating
Specifications
Overview
Manufacturer

SJCAM

Model

SJCAM SJ7 Star

Specifications

 Hardware 
Image processor: Ambarella A12LS75
Image sensor: Sony IMX117
* Wide angle: 166 °
* Aperture: F2.5

Display: 2.0 inch LCD
* 320x240
* touch screen

Connections: Mini-USB, Micro HDMI
SD card: SDHC / SDXC up to 128 GB
Battery: 1000mAh

 video Resolution 
3840x2160 @ 30p @ 25p - 16: 9 / SuperView
[email protected] - 4:3
[email protected] - 4:3
2704x1520 @ 30p - 16: 9 / SuperView
[email protected]@30p - 16:9
1920x1080 @ 120p @ 100p @ 60p @ 30p - 16: 9 / SuperView
[email protected]@[email protected]
[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected] -16:9 / SuperView

 resolution 
16M (4608x3456 - 4: 3)
14M (4254x3264 - 4: 3)
12M (4000x3000 - 4: 3)
8.3M (3840x2160 - 16: 9)
5M (2560x1920 - 4: 3)
3M (2048x1536 - 4: 3)

 other 
* WiFi and App
*Time lapse
* Self-timer
* Loop Recording
* App-Control
* Motion Detection
*ICE CREAM
*PIP

What's in the box

1x SJCAM SJ7 Star
12x mounts
2x adhesive pads
1x housing
1x housing cover
1x lens cover
1x battery
1x charging cable
1x cleaning cloth
1x user manual

Foreword: SJCAM SJ7 Star - "Reach for the Stars"

When it comes to cheap action cams from China, "SJCAM" is one of the best-known manufacturers. The company gained notoriety primarily through the box office hit "SJCAM SJ4000", an action cam that is considered the origin of the GoPro clones and has even been copied many times. With the appearance of the successor models of the SJ5000 and SJ M series, it became quiet about the manufacturer. Due to the steadily growing and changing market, the hype about the good and cheap SJCAM action cams faded. With the SJCAM SJ7 Star, the manufacturer is now daring to look ahead again and is trying to keep up with the competition with a functional hardware configuration.

First impression of the SJCAM SJ7 Star

Scope of delivery and accessories

The scope of delivery for the SJCAM SJ7 Star is generous. The Action Cam is delivered including a waterproof housing, numerous brackets and adhesive pads, a cleaning cloth, a lens cover, a Mini-B USB cable, an additional cover for the waterproof housing, a battery and a user manual.

The additional housing cover, which can alternatively be attached to the waterproof housing, is extremely interesting. This cover is equipped with a resistive surface, which means that the Action Cam can also be inserted into the housing and operated via the touchscreen. The fact that the manufacturer only includes a single battery is the norm these days, but it's still a shame. Batteries of the older models are no longer compatible due to changes in size.

SJCAM SJ7 Star Scope of delivery

Additional and separately available accessories for the SJCAM SJ7 Star are special lens filters, a lavalier microphone, a wristwatch-like remote control and a transport case. All accessories can be obtained from the manufacturer's official shop.

Design and workmanship

 The design and workmanship of the SJ7 Star are right. The 60 x 41 x 24.7 mm action cam consists of a matt black plastic front that houses the lens, the power button, another setting button and two status LEDs in between.

SJCAM Action Cam front view

The housing frame of the 74g Action Cam is instead made of brushed aluminum, which gives the Action Cam an extremely high-quality look. The release button is located on the top of the housing frame. The connection options are all located on one of the sides of the housing. These amount to a Mini-B USB socket, a Micro-HDMI socket and a Micro-SD memory card slot. The criticism here is that all sockets are exposed and are not protected by any cover or rubber caps. It is also questionable why SJCAM opted for the outdated Mini-B USB connection. A USB-C, or at least a micro-USB socket, would have been much more appropriate.

SJCAM Action Cam connections

As expected, the battery compartment is located on the underside of the case and is opened using a folding mechanism. There is no way to connect a tripod directly to the camera due to the lack of a tripod thread. Finally, the SJ7 Star has a 2-inch LCD touch display on the back. There are two more status LEDs to the left of the display.

SJCAM action cam bottom

Display and touch screen

An action cam without a display is hard to imagine today. Neither does an action cam without a touchscreen. In line with the market, the SJCAM SJ7 Star is also equipped with a 2-inch LCD touch display on the back. The display resolution is 320 x 240 pixels, which corresponds to a point density of 200 PPI.

The display primarily impresses with its extremely high display brightness, which makes it easy to read even in strong light. Due to the high display brightness, however, the contrast is also rather modest. The color representation looks extremely pale. The touchscreen was convincing. All swipe and touch gestures are recognized without any problems. If you want to use the touchscreen through the waterproof housing, an additional housing cover with a resistive surface is included, as already mentioned. In spite of the waterproof housing, the Action Cam can be operated without any problems. An extensive operation purely via the physical control buttons is also possible as an alternative.

Hardware

The hardware of the SJ7 Star amounts to an Ambarella A12S75 image processor and a 12 megapixel Sony IMX117 image sensor. An identical hardware combination of image processor and image sensor is also included in the  ThiEYE T5e  and the  Hawkeye Firefly 8S  to find. The Sony IMX 117 image sensor was already used in the GoPro HERO 4 Black. The Action Cam also offers a WiFi module, which enables remote control via app or remote.

Commissioning and user interface

According to SJCAM, the Action Cam can be guaranteed to be used with any 32GB Micro-SDHC memory card. Micro-SDXC memory cards with memory sizes of 64GB and 128GB are also supported, but compatibility problems may arise depending on the type and manufacturer. The one we used in the test  Samsung EVO Plus Micro SDXC  with a memory size of 64GB was recognized without any problems. A memory card with a UHS-4 interface is recommended for high-resolution 3K video recordings. 

The commissioning does not differ from other action cams. Insert memory card and battery, switch on SJ7 Star and start filming. The user interface is available in several languages ​​including German.

 Firmware updates can be downloaded directly from the manufacturer's website. There is no automatic update function via the SJCAM app. The following steps must be observed when installing an update:

  1. Format memory card in file system FAT32.
  2. Copy firmware in .BIN format to the root directory.
  3. Insert a memory card into the Action Cam.
  4. Check if the Action Cam battery is charged / connected to the power source.
  5. Insert memory card and turn Action Cam on.
  6. The installation starts automatically! Alternatively: Touch the firmware version in Settings and confirm the update.
  7. Run update.
  8. Update status recognizable by LEDs.
  9. Remove and format the memory card.
  10. Use Action Cam as usual.

The user interface is clearly structured. After switching on you are on the start screen. This provides information on the recording mode, recording resolution, WiFi, battery, date and time as well as the remaining recording time, both at the top and at the bottom. A quick selection opens by swiping from top to bottom. This can be used to switch to the photo and video gallery, connect the SJCAM Remote and switch the WiFi on or off. A swipe from bottom to top opens the selection of the individual recording modes. You can switch between video and photo mode with a swipe to the side. The speed of the menu navigation is acceptable, but does not come close to one YI 4K + or GoPro Hero 5. 

Here is an overview of all recording modes and setting options.

shooting

The SJCAM SJ7 Star offers a total of 6 recording modes. Here is an overview:

  • Photo mode
  • Photo Timer (Delayed Recording)
  • Burst mode (multiple recording)
  • video mode
  • Time-Lapse Video (Time Lapse Recording)
  • Time-lapse photo (time-lapse shot with photos)

Settings

The settings menu is divided into two categories. There is a sub-item for each "Shooting Mode" and "General Settings". Here is an overview of the settings options:

video mode

  • Resolution - 4K @ 30 / 25 | 2160p @ 30 | 2.7K @ 30 | 2.5K @ 60 / 30 | 1440p @ 60 / 30 | 1080 @ 120 / 60 / 30 | 960p @ 120 / 60 / 30 | 720 @ 240 / 120 / 60 / 30
  • Video quality - Normal / Fine / Super Fine
  • FOV - Near / Middle / Far
  • Slow Motion
  • Auto Low Light - On / Off
  • Gyro Sensor - On / Off
  • Detection - Off / Low / Medium / High
  • Duplicate File - On / Off
  • Video Timestamp - Date / Time / Date and Time
  • Timelapse Video - 1 / 2 / 5 / 10 / 30 / 60 seconds
  • Loop recording - Off / 1 / 2 / 3 / 5 minutes
  • Car DV - On / Off
  • Microphone Volume - Off / 50% / 60% / 70% / 80% / 90% / 100%
  • Sharpness - Gentle / Normal / Strong
  • Auto White Balance - Auto / Glowing / D4000 / D5000 / Daylight / Cloudy / D9000 / D10000 / Flash / Fluorescent / Water / Outdoor
  • Exposure - + 2 to -2 in 0.3 steps
  • ISO - Automatic | 100 | 200 | 400 | 800 | 1600
  • Metering Mode (Measurement for Exposure) - Multi | Center | commercial

Photo mode

  • Resolution - 16MP | 14MP | 12MP | 8.3MP | 5MP | 3MP
  • Photo quality - Normal / Fine / Super Fine
  • Shutter speed - Off | 1 / 30 | 1 | 2 | 5 | 10 | 30 | 60 seconds
  • Photo Timestamp - Date / Time / Date and Time
  • Self-timer - 2 / 3 / 5 / 10 / 30 / 60 seconds
  • Burst - 3P / 5P / 10P second
  • Timelapse Photo - 3 / 5 / 10 / 30 / 60 seconds
  • Sharpness - Gentle / Normal / Strong
  • Auto White Balance - Auto / Glowing / D4000 / D5000 / Daylight / Cloudy / D9000 / D10000 / Flash / Fluorescent / Water / Outdoor
  • Exposure - + 2 to -2 in 0.3 steps
  • ISO - Automatic | 100 | 200 | 400 | 800 | 1600
  • Metering Mode (Measurement for Exposure) - Multi | Center | commercial

General Settings

  • Quick Capture - On / Off
  • Delay Off
  • FPV - On / Off
  • TV mode - NTSC / PAL
  • Refresh Rate - Auto / 50 / 60 Hz
  • Image Rotation - On / Off
  • Watermark - On / Off
  • Auto Shutdown - Off / 3 / 5 / 10 minutes
  • Display Off - Off / 30S / 1 / 3 / 5 minutes
  • Status LED - Off / 1 / 2 / 3
  • WiFI LED - On / Off
  • Sound - On / Off
  • Date
  • Time of day
  • Date format - Y / M / D | D / M / Y | M / D / Y
  • Language
  • WiFi - On / Off | SSID | password
  • format
  • default settings
  • firmware

"SJCAM Zone" App

The remote control of the SJ7 Star can be done either via the wristwatch-like remote control or via the "SJCAM Zone" app. The app is free and can be downloaded from the Google PlayStore or Apple AppStore for the respective mobile device. The connection between the Action Cam and the mobile device is established via WiFi. The SJ7 Star sets up its own 2.4 GHz WLAN for this purpose.

The app offers the same options that can be done directly via the camera. In addition to live image output, it is also possible to access the inserted memory card via a gallery and transfer recordings, but also share them directly on social media. The app also offers its own video and photo editor. All recording and camera settings can also be made remotely via the SJCAM Zone app.

 Establishing the connection was not a problem in the test. The stability of the connection is not objectionable. However, individual image artifacts can occur. The delay in signal transmission is around 2 seconds, depending on the stability of the connection. The data transfer speed when accessing the SD memory card is average.

recording quality

Video quality of the SJCAM SJ7 Star

In terms of hardware, the SJCAM SJ7 Star is well positioned, even if it cannot quite keep up with the current market leaders from Sony, GoPro or YI Technology. The combination of the Ambarella A12S75 image processor and Sony IMX117 image sensor allows the Action Cam to record videos natively in 4K at 30 frames per second. The recording format is MP4, encoded in H.264.

SJCAM SJ7 Star Review / Test | 4K @ 30 Sample Footage

The video quality hardly differs from the one we tested just a few months ago  ThiEYE T5e . Video recordings impress with their pleasant sharpness, a high level of detail and natural color reproduction. However, the sound recording quality is not convincing. It is recorded in mono with a 128 kBit / s bit rate and a sampling rate of 48 kHz. Even without a waterproof housing, the sound recorded by the Action Cam's microphone is hardly usable. The sound is captured too quietly and is hardly understandable due to the strong background noise. If you record the sound again via the SJCAM Lavalier microphone, you get one of the best sound recording qualities that an action cam has to offer.

An additional feature of the SJ7 Star is the electronic image stabilization (EIS). However, this is only available up to a resolution of 1080p at 60 frames per second. The image stabilization delivers acceptable results.

 Sound recording without waterproof housing 

 Sound recording with waterproof housing 

 Sound recording with SJCAM lavalier microphone 

Photo quality of the SJCAM SJ7 Star

The maximum resolution for photos is interpolated 16 megapixels. The native maximum resolution of the image sensor is 12 megapixels. The photo quality is convincing, like the video quality, with a high level of detail and good color rendering. Despite the many setting options for exposure, white balance or ISO, the photo mode lacks the ability to digitally correct the curvature of the lens.

Accumulator

The capacity of the battery is 1000 mAh. The battery life measured in the test, with a resolution of 4K, was 60 minutes. If you also activate WiFi, the runtime is reduced to around 45 minutes. The recording time at 1080p is around 75 minutes. The charging time is heavily dependent on the charger. If you charge the battery directly via the Action Cam, the charging time is just under 3 hours. With the help of a special battery charger, the charging time can be reduced to about 1 ½ hours.

SJCAM SJ7 Star with battery

rating
Positive

High quality design
Very good build quality
High display brightness
Precise touchscreen
Native 4K recording possibility
Good video and photo quality
JPG + RAW
Extensive setting options
Good app
External microphone

Negative

No connector cover
No tripod thread
Mini-B USB connection
No 5 GHz WiFi
Image stabilization only up to 1080p
Weak microphone with noise
Battery life

Summary

Although the SJCAM SJ7 Star can not compete with the current market leaders, it offers a good overall package in the 150 € price range. In terms of recording quality, the Action Cam impresses with particularly sharp, detailed and color-true video and photo recordings. There are deviations in the sound quality, which is very much affected by noise without external microphone.

Thanks to the touch screen, the SJ7 Star offers a comfortable operating option. At the same time, the display provides an outstanding display brightness, which makes it very easy to read even in bright sunshine. To criticize are in turn the abandonment of a tripod thread, the outdated Mini-B connection and the relatively low battery capacity.

7.6
Our rating
Overview
Manufacturer

SJCAM

Model

SJCAM SJ7 Star

Specifications

 Hardware 
Image processor: Ambarella A12LS75
Image sensor: Sony IMX117
* Wide angle: 166 °
* Aperture: F2.5

Display: 2.0 inch LCD
* 320x240
* touch screen

Connections: Mini-USB, Micro HDMI
SD card: SDHC / SDXC up to 128 GB
Battery: 1000mAh

 video Resolution 
3840x2160 @ 30p @ 25p - 16: 9 / SuperView
[email protected] - 4:3
[email protected] - 4:3
2704x1520 @ 30p - 16: 9 / SuperView
[email protected]@30p - 16:9
1920x1080 @ 120p @ 100p @ 60p @ 30p - 16: 9 / SuperView
[email protected]@[email protected]
[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected] -16:9 / SuperView

 resolution 
16M (4608x3456 - 4: 3)
14M (4254x3264 - 4: 3)
12M (4000x3000 - 4: 3)
8.3M (3840x2160 - 16: 9)
5M (2560x1920 - 4: 3)
3M (2048x1536 - 4: 3)

 other 
* WiFi and App
*Time lapse
* Self-timer
* Loop Recording
* App-Control
* Motion Detection
*ICE CREAM
*PIP

What's in the box

1x SJCAM SJ7 Star
12x mounts
2x adhesive pads
1x housing
1x housing cover
1x lens cover
1x battery
1x charging cable
1x cleaning cloth
1x user manual

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