What was I thinking???

Discussion in 'SJ7 Star' started by RBEmerson, Jun 10, 2017.

  1. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson Humbled by events

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    At the moment, I regret buying this camera. It has been little more than an annoyance.

    This is firmware rev. 1.13.

    I just finished a three hour time lapse run. Oops, no file, no response to setup button, no response to anything. Time to pull the battery yet again. File lost even on laptop.

    So far I've managed one 14 second 4K video (looked nice). And that's it.

    The quick start manual is virtually worthless. There's nothing that can't be guessed at or explained in better detail on YouTube. Fortunately, I downloaded the 1.15 OM, which is more helpful.

    Why are there four LED's? One is for charging, one is for the WiFi, what the rest do escapes me.

    What is the largest SD card accepted by the SJ7? 128G (yes 128G can be formatted to FAT32)? 64G (ditto)? 32G? It's not documented in the Products pages, not in the QS, and not in the OM. It's simply not documented in a way that's easy to find.

    The app... too bad BT doesn't carry the data and leave the phone connected to the Internet (would make firmware updates easier). Otherwise, the UI is... well, the app didn't get 3.1 stars for nothing.

    I like the build. Except the lens is unprotected. There's no slightly raised ring to protect the lens if the camera is set face down on a flat surface.

    I understand electronics. I've run computer centers, I've taught at the university level, and, heck, I hold a ham radio license.

    I'm stuck with the camera for now. If I hadn't used Amazon, I'd be in the store, returning the thing.
     
  2. Troy

    Troy Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi @RBEmerson
    I like that your post is both a rant and a feedback at the same time :)
    Can you tell me what memory card brand and model it is you have on there? There's actually an ongoing list of supported memory cards that users have contributed to build. The problem with memory cards is that there's so many manufacturers, ratings, capacities to actually list all of them down in one place. Not to mention the numerous knock-offs that are getting quite good at being that: knock-offs. Unfortunately, even a lot of resellers can't tell the difference between a real one and the fakes. In any case, there's a free program you can use to analyze the cards to get an understanding of whether they're authentic or not. Search for H2TestW, and use that to investigate your existing cards. I did that on mine, 5 out of my 12 fairly-new cards aren't exactly spec-correct and they're now used on my kids' tablets.

    The new firmware is also out, you may find it HERE, best time to update your SJ7. The downloadable manual too is also updated and can be found HERE.

    I, too, like the build and quality of this thing, it's not exactly what I expected when mine arrived in the mail, it was a ton better. Haha.
    I have to agree with you on the lens part being unprotected though, I guess it's so that there wouldn't be any obstruction given the camera's field of view as it is really wide. I don't think there's a way to do that without having the lens bulging past the outer lens assembly part.

    I am interested to know what went wrong with your timelapse, maybe you can let us in on some details?

    Btw, nice to know another fellow ham is here. :)
    73 de DU1OSU
    --... ...--
     
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  3. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson Humbled by events

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    I've calmed down some, but I still cannot recommend it.

    The quick start booklet remains in need of a full-on re-write, not revision.

    All of the following applies to Rev. 1.15

    It appears that all of the crashes occurred while using 4K. I can't tell if the crashes were brought on by the SD (last test was SanDisk Ultra SDHC UHS-1 32G) or...? Overall, the experience was like dealing with an early alpha version. That portion of the camera is, at least here, non-op.

    Shifting to 1080 for either time lapse (30 fps) or motion (60 fps), the camera is now at least stable - no crashes.

    The camera can't survive a brief interruption of external power. Instead of relying on the battery until the external power returns, the camera shuts down.

    The touchscreen is only marginally functioning. Horizontal sweeps usually change from photo to video or vice versa, as specified. A center screen tap functions with less than 50% of attempts. The setup button works reliably.

    The sweep up (for camera modes) is effective for about 50% of tries. Sweep down is closer to 30% effective. Taps on the setup menu are generally about 70% effective, except for binary choices (e.g., format). Tapping the white "brick" works about 40% of the time.

    I've tried slow and fast sweeps. Firm and light touches. None of that seems to matter.

    The remote works reliably (after the "Pairing" white OK brick finally responded).

    At this point, the camera has come off my "not even a good paperweight" list and onto my "paid full price, didn't get a full camera" list. Still not a good place to be. NTL the SJ7 experience remains one of my all-time worst "out of the box" experiences.

    - - - - -
    Regarding the time lapse, I have no idea about what happened. All I got was the final (non-) result. This was at 4K; call it more of the 4K "feels like early alpha" syndrome.

    I forgot about H2TestW - I'll use it with the collection of chips.

    With 170 deg. FOV, a raised rim could be a problem. A scratched lens is a far worse problem. Pick one problem and only one. [/grin]

    DU1 as in the Manila area? Now that's some DX! [/wink]

    73 de KC3DOO
     
  4. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson Humbled by events

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    The camera is going back, for a refund, to Amazon. Even under 1080p the camera locked up one time too many.

    It may be this particular camera is defective but I simply do not have the time, between now and when I fly to Germany, to work my way through whether it's this camera or who knows what. [/stupid remarks dropped]

    - - - -

    The camera really is going back. I can't get very excited about having Amazon banking my $200. If I thought Amazon could respond quickly, I'd try to work out an exchange. The flight out is on 29 June. Not a lot of maneuvering room here.

    I really don't like being backed into Sena's 720@60 or 1080@30. But the unit that's going back is close to being a DOA. Do I buy another and hope that's any better?

    OTOH, if SJCam is listening and wants to rescue a very negative experience, please PM for my contact info.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
  5. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson Humbled by events

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    At some point I was asked about the SD's. There's a handy SD checker called H2TestW. All of the chips I used verify as being 100% reliable. I found one marginal 128G chip but it's from another project and never met the SJ7.
     
  6. Troy

    Troy Administrator Staff Member

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    @RBEmerson

    Well, it could be that your unit may have some defects, mine never had those problems, except perhaps some heat felt on the metal body which is kind of expected. The body acts as a heatsink to dissipate heat from all that processing the chipset has to do. I know they did a lot of performance upgrades on the latest firmware too.
    I don't hear a lot of people with issues on the touchscreen response, I wonder why yours acts weird. In any case, the Ambarella chipset does work great, but with 4K, it's almost a given to have some hiccups, but mostly about the supporting hardware like, memory cards.
    Amazingly, my Kingston Class10 U1 32GB card can take the 4K abuse, and with flying colors. I should get more of these.
    BTW, not stopping you from returning yours back to Amazon, as they might offer you an exchange.

    Troy

    Yes, DU1 from the Manila area. :) I don't know how to send QSL cards now that there's email and chat, even with rare DXs! (How's the weather up there in KC3?) HIHI
     
  7. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson Humbled by events

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    Any rumors that I like self-inflicted pain are only partly true. The camera is almost 100% DOA. When even 1080p crashed, the remote wasn't commanding the SJ7 all the time, and some lesser oddities... yes, DOA.

    The camera will go back to Amazon. If I had time, I'd ask for an exchange, but their processing time is ridiculously long. So...

    I have another SJ7coming this Wed. There are two vendors on Amazon; picked the other vendor. That may not matter as the order is "fulfilled by Amazon". It may well be the only difference is who gets the money from Amazon. We'll see... Anyway, Amazon gets to hold $200 for me until the first camera arrives on their doorstep. Feh.

    All of the reviews show working SJ7's but this one distinctly really was a poor $200 paperweight.

    I don't care for the GP "Lego block" mounting stuff, by that's not SJCam's fault. I understand why they opted to be compatible with GP stuff.

    - - - -
    Sorry - I don't QSL, but only because almost all of my activity is with PACTOR, moving email when we're cruising the Bahamas on our boat (then I get to be KC3DOO/C2). The shore stations are all robo-stations. I have a small 2m handheld, but rarely use it. Although the last contact I had was rather special. We visited the site where Marconi made his first DX QSO to Ireland. Rather nice to stand where the towers used to be and raise someone, if only 10+ km away. HIHI indeed.
    73 de KC3DOO
     
  8. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson Humbled by events

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    The camera arrived as promised. 4K still seems to cause some problems, but I suspect it's the SD's fault as much as anything. Video to the chips I have at the moment probably can't keep up. [/shrug] It's just a guess, though.

    Time lapse with 4K works - less continuous bandwidth needed. Anyway, no crashes with 1.13 or 1.15

    1080p@60 fps doesn't crash, either. It seems to be behaving itself. Yea!

    I'll try it out with my motorcycle and see what good things happen.

    The touchscreen remains a continuing point of frustration. A quick swipe seems to work best, but calibrating the swipe speed either side of optimum remains an annoyance.

    The bottom line is the previous camera was indeed DOA.
     
  9. Troy

    Troy Administrator Staff Member

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    @RBEmerson
    That's awesome!
    So now that you've had your new SJ7 Star for a couple of days, how's it been so far? I mean, aside from the swipe and all.
    Maybe you can show us your motorcycle video, we love videos on this side of the interwebz. :)
     
  10. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson Humbled by events

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    I just finished a 4 hour 4K video time lapse run. The main test goal was "will the camera crash?". The answer is "no". I found all of the data, and it could be viewed. The content is watching clouds go by. Nothing I'd put up on YouTube.

    Another test was how well my 50k mAh battery pack did with the load and how well the camera battery did with the external power. From a full charge, I was down to (according to the pack's numeric LED display) 84%. My assumption is this (relatively) heavy use is due to working in 4K.

    Looking at the images in freeze frame, they're artifact free. Not too bad.

    No bike rides until Saturday morning when I head to my BMW dealer 50 mi / 80 km from here (there's a closer dealer, but I much prefer Hermy's). I'll let the camera run for the trip, and edit it down a bit. I'm looking forward (well, duh) to seeing the results of 1080p @ 60fps.

    In the meantime, this is a sample of the Sena shooting 1080p @ 30 fps. Freeze the video and there are ton of artifacts and pixilation (watch the GPS on the throttle side) because of YouTube's compression. The raw footage is, of course, much better, but even so, it's easy enough to see where the electronics weren't up to the job. Too bad there isn't a place to post uncompressed video. Sigh...



    This video was edited with Blackmagic's Resolve. It's pro-grade editing; there's a free version that has some stuff (lens correction is one) cut out. And, yes, the camera's aimed too low. Sure would have been nice to be able to check framing before riding... [/grin]
     
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