The SJCAM ION Krypton heads up the new ION range of action cameras which also includes the Totem and Carbon. It’s a powerhouse of features, and although it’s unlikely to have Superman cowering under its cosmic beams it’s still impressive.
4K at 30fps, touchscreen, image stabilisation and an imminent firmware release that will add live streaming through the app to your favourite social network.
While the hardware is pure next generation action camera the waterproof housing is a kickback to the last.
Once encased there’s no access to the large touch screen so you need to resort to using the external springloaded buttons, and these suffer from the usual issue of clogging with mud and crud.
However, with a little foresight, you’d sort the resolution and framerates before you set out for a ride, oh yes you would. This way you’ll only need power on, start and stop.
Out on the trial and the camera puts in a solid performance. 4K video is clear and bright and while 30fps may not be ideal for action it’s perfect for direct to camera stuff and for general video of friends and family it’s well suited.
Drop the resolution to 1080p 60fps and it’s turned into a pure thorough bread action camera. Good quality footage with smooth motion.
The Krypton is a well-designed camera with tonnes going for it, it’s just a shame that it’s housed in a waterproof case that limits its control.
However, if you stick to the framerate and resolution there’s no need to remove it from the case. So, if you need a solid performing camera with heaps of additional features then the SJCAM ION Krypton won’t fail to impress.
SJCAM has already impressed us this year with the SJCAM SJ8 Pro, a neat action camera that blends features, quality and price.
4k video at 30fps is the big-hitting headline feature for this camera, and this is native 4k rather than interpolated.
What’s more, it has a touchscreen, a selection of impressive slow-motion ready resolutions and framerates with an upcoming firmware update will have live streaming added marking this camera out against the competition.
The sleek new design and spec all come together to make the SJCAM ION Krypton one of the most exciting action cameras this year. But, can it live up to the name and really defeat Superman. That might not be the point and before you ask I’ve checked it doesn’t glow green either, but still.
On the front is a 170º field of view lens, typical of action cameras. Looking over the body you have the shutter on top, power on the side and flap to the battery along with a 1/4-inch thread on the base. The entire back is covered by a large 2.33-inch IPS touchscreen which is impressive.
Resolutions and framerates are where this camera really stands out with 4K at 30fps, 1080p at up to 120fps and 720p at up to 240fps, that’s really impressive stuff, especially if it turns out to produce decent footage.
Another big feature is the built-in gyro that offers image stabilisation.
It can also capture ultra high-resolution stills at 16mp, again an impressive spec.
Powering the camera is a 1200mAh battery, this should give you between 60 and 90 minutes of power depending on the resolution, framerate and use of the camera.
Storage wise the camera relies on MicroSD cards with capacities up to 128GB.
Camera and battery weigh in at 85g, which is average for a camera of this type – add the waterproof housing and a card and it all tips the scale at 141g, still a good weight.
Alongside the camera is the app, this is made by SJCAM and is consistent throughout their range of cameras, which I like a lot as it shows a clear upgrade path through their product range.
The feature set of the SJCAM ION Krypton along with with the price means that its a mid-range action camera. Above the entry level but below the likes of the GoPro Hero 7 Balck, Garmin Virb Ultra 30 and Yi 4K+.
At sub £200 it’s all looking rather impressive, the ION isn’t designed as a competitor to the Hero 7 Black, but rather hits the middle ground.
It gives action camera enthusiasts a well priced and highly specified option at over £150 less than the market leaders, and that makes it very exciting.
Build quality and handling
Look at the images of the Krypton and you see a stylish, refined action camera with plenty of promise. Remove it from the packaging and you get that stylish camera but at first, it’s hard to see due to being encased in an old style waterproof housing.
It’s by no means ugly but the design, features and usability don’t match the camera it’s been designed to protect.
Primarily my biggest annoyance is this housing prevents you from using the fantastic touch screen. Ok, you can power on and start and stop recording but you have to pop the back of the housing down if you want to adjust settings.
Inability to access the touch screen is just an annoyance, but then this case provides me with other troubling issues. The old style springloaded buttons got clogged with mud and become unusable in the test, an issue I’ve had many times before with this style of case.
Then there’s the dual release lever lock. If the weather’s cold it’s impossible to open, my fingers just aren’t that small. It’s fiddly and annoying.
Then there’s the lens, it’s almost flat but not quite. There’s a slight mud catching bevel around the edge which means that try as you might you just can’t wipe it clean with the palm of your hand, a t-shirt or item of clothing is required.
Waterproof housings have been refined considerably since GoPro last used one on the Hero 4, so there’s really no excuse.
The biggest issue is that the case hides the camera inside and frustrates its use.
There is a remote that you can use and of course the app, but there’s nothing like being able to quickly operate and change camera settings directly with the touch screen.
However, the housing does an excellent job of protecting the camera. As long as you’ve selected the options you want before you set out then the housing aside from when it’s muddy works well, power on or off, start or stop recording.
Out of the housing and that touch screen is a joy to use, it’s fast and responsive enabling you to find and update the settings and options you want with ease.
As ever with SJCAM the interface is expertly designed and makes the handling of this camera exceptionally easy.
On the base of the camera is a 1/4-inch thread which can be used to directly mount the camera on to a selfie stick. Once done the camera is transformed when it comes to usability.
Like the Yi 4k+ and Hero 7 Black the touch screen of the ION Krypton is excellent and really can’t be faulted in use when recording or reviewing footage.
As with the rest of the ION range, the Krypton is based around the box style similar to GoPro and features GoPro compatible mounts on the base of the housing.
This means it’s fully compatible with the majority of GoPro mounts and is easy and quick to fit for when you’re taking part in action sports.
Out of the waterproof housing, you also have the 1/4-inch thread which can be easily attached to a selfie stick or other mount, although you will of course lose the waterproofing.
Out in the field as long as the resolutions and framerates are set prior to install the camera in the housing, the actual operation is easy enough in most conditions.
I did have a few issues with the case clogging with mud that prevented me from stopping recording, but that’s a common issue with this style of case.
I also found that it was difficult to wipe mud from the lens without creating a smear due to the slight bevel. The biggest issue with this is that those smears obviously affect image quality and enhanced the flaring effect of the housing lens in bright conditions.
The inclusion of a gyro means that the camera can capture smooth action footage. In use it works well, it’s not Hypersmooth but does make a real difference to the quality of the footage especially if used handheld.
Even used on the trail the stabilisation took out some of the vibrations and definitely improved the overall quality.
At present, the App is a little limited but there are more features coming including Live streaming so will update this as soon as the updates appear.
Looking at the quality of the footage and I have to say I’m impressed. The picture at 4K is clear and bright if slightly oversaturated, a common trait rather than issue with action cameras.
At 4K the image is crisp with plenty of tone and detail. Looking around the frame and the edge-to-edge sharpness is excellent. There are signs of the typical fish-eye distortion but it’s well controlled and not over exaggerated.
Vignette and chromatic aberration is also well controlled, although in bright conditions and filming into the sun there is some flare. This is inevitably caused by the case rather than the camera itself.
As with the handling of the camera the image quality is somewhat limited by the style of the case.
The SJCAM ION Krypton is a high-quality camera at a decent price. It’s packed with features and from recent announcements from SJCAM, it looks like those features are set to expand.
The quality of the camera hardware is high, this is a solid and true action camera. It will provide any level of user with the features and quality that they would expect.
The big features of the camera are found at 1080p with the ability to shoot high-quality footage at 30fps, smooth clear motion video at 60fps and impressive dramatic slow-mo at 120fps.
At £200 the SJCAM ION Krypton is one of the best action cameras available for the price. It can hold it’s own against the competition and if SJCAM could release a housing that has been properly designed for the excellent hardware within, then at £200 this camera would be one of the best on the market.
As it is, the camera is excellent, well balanced with a tonne of features that make it appealing. The housing is a negative, but more of a niggling annoyance than a reason not to buy.
If you’re looking for a solid performing camera this summer then at this price there is nothing better on the market with this feature set at this price.