When it comes to the best action cameras on the market, it takes a lot to draw attention away from GoPro – but SJCAM thinks that the dual-lens setup and night vision capabilities of its new SJ20 model has enough about it to be a serious GoPro challenger.
One of the two lenses (f/2.0) is specifically for daytime shooting and the other (f/1.3) is for night, which SJCAM says ensures high-quality results no matter what time you’re recording. Video recording goes up to 4K, and image capture tops out at 20 megapixels.
There’s a 6-axis gyroscope built in here too, intended to ensure ultra-stable footage in any scenario, from kayaking to cycling. Clearly we can’t comment until we’ve reviewed the SJ20, but the demo footage certainly looks impressive.
SJCAM says the battery life is around 7 hours between charges, while you can extend that by buying an external battery pack and a rechargeable camera grip. The camera has been specifically designed with a modular interface to make attaching accessories easier.
Video modes and dual displays
Other specs and features you’ll want to know about are waterproofing up to depths of 16 feet (that’s nearly 5 meters), motion detection, pre-recording and slow-motion capabilities, and continuous shooting and timelapse modes.
As well as the dual camera lenses there are two screens: a 1.3-inch display on the front and a 2.29-inch touch-enabled display on the back. If you think all of this sounds very promising, the camera is available now for $229 / £179.
It’s been a few years since we’ve had a close look at an SJCAM model, but our SJCAM SJ8 Pro review awarded 4.5 stars to the device. There was lots of praise for the quality of the 4K video, and the number of shooting options on board.
The GoPro Hero 12 Black review is the sort of competition that the SJ20 is going to be going up against – though it’s worth bearing in mind that the pricier Hero 12 Black retails for $399.99 / £399.99 / AU$649.95.
Analysis: Could the SJ20 be the new low light champion?
Until our full review of the SJ20, all we have to go on regarding its night vision capabilities is the f/1.3 aperture lens that lets in more light than the f/2 daytime lens, and sample videos shot at night, shared on the SJCam website, that pits the SJ20 against the GoPro Hero 12 Black. In this comparison test, the SJ20 video looks brighter and punchier, but we have no information as to how that test was conducted.
We also don’t know what image sensors are used in the SJ20 – is there a sensor for each lens and if so how different are they? And the video comparison is only against the market leading GoPro Hero 12 Black action cam, whose low light capabilities are outshone by the DJI Osmo Action 4, another excellent action camera with a physically largely sensor than the GoPro Hero 12 Black.
Put simply these are more questions that answers, and the price of the SJ20 feels too good to be true as a true GoPro and DJI challenger. For now, the SJ20 has grabbed our attention and we’re excited to give it a full test. It offers something a little different and at a much lower price than the market leading models.
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