It’s no secret that the GoPro HERO has become a legend in itself, but can the far more affordable SJ6 Legend put up a worthy fight?
Since it was first introduced back in 2005, adrenaline junkies devoured it like bacon from an all-you-can-eat breakfast menu. GoPro, with the HERO action camera, allowed amateur filmmakers and photographers to capture their adventurous lifestyle, with its rugged design and compact size. As the years have progressed, so have their cameras – which can now provide crisp quality with modern features that surpass even high-end DSLRs in some cases. The latest GoPro on the market is the HERO5 Black, which retails for around Rs. 31,000 online.
Included in the price is a small camera, which is capable of delivering video footage in real 4K at 30fps. The HERO5 has a 12-megapixel sensor for still images. Right out of the box, it’s designed to be waterproof up to 10m even without a case. Additionally, it has image stabilisation, a touchscreen at the back, three inbuilt mics with wind noise reduction and the ability to geotag your files. In fact, it can even shoot slow-motion up to 120fps at 1080p. This camera has become the norm and a must-have for adventure seekers and filmmakers alike on a tight budget – allowing everyone to have cinematic or photographic evidence of their wild journeys and memories.
But, no matter how ground-breaking a product is, there will always be a product from China that will undercut the price and deliver virtually the same results. Enter stage right is the SJCAM SJ6 Legend, an action camera that’s capable of delivering similar results to the GoPro on paper – and that too at a price of just Rs.13,900.
So, for less than half the price, one would expect that it would be built to half the quality levels, with half the features and deliver half the results. So, we decided to find out if the HERO5 is still king, despite being twice the price. Or, can the SJ6 Legend really can be a quality substitute?
At first glance of the spec sheet, the SJ6 puts up a very good fight – as it has a 16-megapixel sensor and is capable of shooting 4K at 24fps, comes with a 2-inch touchscreen at the back, has image stabilisation and app controllability. The edge it has over the HERO5 is that the SJ6 is lighter, can be used with an external mic.
However, digging deeper will reveal a somewhat different story. The HERO5 is waterproof right out of the box, while the SJ6 needs a waterproof casing – which means that the touchscreen can only be accessed by removing the waterproof case. The touchscreen on the SJ6 itself isn’t as intuitive as the HERO5, and is prone to hanging when paired with a mobile device. The GoPro also has the advantage, with a 1220mAh battery against the 1000mAh in the SJ6.
While the HERO5 can shoot real 4K footage, the SJ6 shoots interpolated 4K – which is why it can’t deliver the same amount of detail and video quality. Additionally, the GoPro can shoot at 120fps slow-mo at 1080p, with the SJ6 you need to drop down to 720p for the same frame rate. The GoPro also provides a slightly wider field of view in all its settings, while its ‘superview’ feature in 1080p is nearly impossible to beat. However, the warping in both cameras in wider field of views is noticeable, but it can be corrected in post-production. Both cameras feature inbuilt microphones, which provide half decent quality. For what it’s worth, the GoPro still delivers ever so slightly better sound quality and the wind noise cancellation is an added advantage. It’s a similar story with the image stabilisation in both cameras. Both deliver similar results, but again the GoPro has the edge as the footage is slightly smoother. As far as image quality is concerned, the HERO5 provides very good colouring and can be set to a natural look to provide better colour grading freedom in post-production with its superior dynamic range, but the SJ6 isn’t far behind.
When it comes to build quality, the GoPro HERO5 is rock solid and looks elegant. The waterproof sealing gives it a good uni-body like finish and its rugged design seems like it can take the kind of beating that an adrenaline junkie would put it through. The SJ6’s design is similar to the discontinued HERO4 Silver, but maybe not as rugged. But with the waterproof housing, the SJ6 performs fairly well and remains well protected.
In addition to all the features, there are some additional goodies that both cameras come with inside the box. For someone who would predominantly use the camera on their helmet, the HERO5 comes with sufficient mounts for the purpose. But all other mounts are offered as accessories, which can be purchased separately – and they’re slightly on the pricier side. However, the SJCAM comes with a box filled with the same set of mounts as the GoPro, in addition to four other mounts that allow for more flexibility – although the plastic quality of the mounts offered with the SJ6 are not as good as the GoPro. Meanwhile, if you wish to mount these cameras on a selfie stick or a gorilla pod, you can screw them in directly to the body of the SJ6, while you will need an additional mount for the HERO5.
There’s no denying that the GoPro is a superior product. And if you need 4K resolution footage, it’s the only way to go. But the SJ6 Legend provides virtually the same results (if 4K isn’t necessity) at a much more affordable price – which is what GoPro initially set out to do in the first place. Sure, there are compromises to be made – but the benefits of owning an SJ6 Legend seem to outweigh the cons at the given price. But, in the world of adventure filmmaking, the term “action camera” has been replaced by the name “GoPro” – which goes to show you that not only does GoPro produce a hero, but also a legend in its own right.