In a market where action cameras are synonymous with the Hero GoPros, here we have Sandberg, as do other companies, trying to compete in the entry level price range with their own version of a fun, small and practical action/sports camera. Scroll down to see it in … action. Pun intended.
Sandberg states that their brand stands for quality and user-friendliness.
Their ideology “IT is for everybody” is part of everything we do. A Danish firm that since its inception in 1985, private consumers, institutions and companies have benefited from this simple philosophy. Distributors and dealers appreciate the availability, range, simple procedures and the exceptionally low failure rate. Every year over half a million Sandberg products find their way to users in more than 65 countries.
Choosing Sandberg means choosing a safe and conscientious product that meets all applicable regulatory requirements. A product manufactured by subcontractors who are committed to following Sandberg’s Code of Conduct to ensure decent working conditions and reduce the environmental impact of the production and waste disposal.
Price when reviewed
£ 80.24 – via Amazon.co.uk
Don’t forget about the video review as well !
Presentation and Specifications
Sandberg ActionCam 4K is a really clever mini-camera that makes it easy to record your sporting achievements. The pack includes a solid, watertight plastic housing you can attach to your bike, helmet, skis or anything else. Records in top quality, smooth 4K UHD resolution on a memory card (not included) or can be accessed via Wi-Fi from a smartphone or tablet. The entire back consists of an LCD screen for you to check your recordings, and the front includes a useful status screen. Large accessory pack included, enabling you to mount the camera on almost anything.
Now let’s analyse the main specs:
* Lens: 170 HD° Wide-angle lens
* Image sensor: 16 Mega Pixels CMOS
* Image resolution: 16 / 12 / 10 / 8 / 5 / 2 Mega pixels
* Video resolution: 4K 30 fps / 2.7K 30 fps / 1920*1080 60 fps / 1280*720 12 fps / 90 fps
* Video compression format: HD.264
* Video file format: MP4
* Image format: JPG
* Screen: 2.0″ LCD
* Memory card supported: Micro SD up to 64 GB
* Connectors: 1 x MicroUSB for charge, 1 x Micro HDMI for AV out
* Battery capacity: Removable 900 mAh
* Battery life: Approx. 90 minutes depending on resolution
* Warranty: 5 years
* Others: WiFi
Frequency range: 100 Hz – 16 kHz
Impedance: 2200 ohms
Sensitivity: -42 dB
It ticks most of the requirements of what an action camera must have under its belt like wide angle lens, waterproof protection and to be versatile. At least on paper. Let’s continue with the unboxing.
Packaging & Visual inspection
Being designed for outdoor use, we did just that and took it into the wild to see what it is made of !
It comes in an olive and black themed box with a transparent top part so you can see the product. On the front we have the main specs and then on the back the usual multilingual description.
Everything is individually wrapped and nested in a two zone transparent divided tray. As you can see, you get a lot of accessories !
* 1x Sandberg ActionCam 4K
* 1x Waterproof case
* 1x Replacement case screen
* 1x Mounting bracket
* 1x Belt clip
* 1x Bike bracket
* 2x Velcro straps
* 2x Adjustable straps
* 4x Zip ties
* 1x Multifunction clip
* 1x Camera clip
* 2x Helmet mounts with 3M tape
* 1x Rotation bracket adapter
* 1x Cleaning cloth
* 2x 3M stickers
* 1x Security wires
* 1x MicroUSB charging cable 30 cm
* 1x Wall charger
* 2x User guides
The included user guide is very handy because it visually represents all the possible combinations depending on your application.
The accessories are very sturdy, fit perfectly and once adjusted they are not going anywhere.
We will combine and fully test them later on in the review.
And now for the camera itself. Black is the only color option for the frame. It is covered in a gripy and rubbery finish which gives it traction for ease of handling and some protection to scratches. On the front we notice the wide camera lens at 170 degrees field of view with a 16 Mp CMOS sensor, the power/mode button and the secondary info screen with the basic and easy to see information like recording time, battery level, remaining photos to take etc. To open the camera just long press the power button for 3-4 seconds.
On the left side, we have the memory card slot which accepts microSD cards up to 64 GB in capacity. Then the micrUSB port and even a micro HDMI video output port. Those 3 small holes are for the built in microphone.
The bottom house the battery. To access it just slide the latch and then pull out the battery. You can order more batteries using Sandberg’s item no. 430-01 at their website.
Then the right side has two buttons which act as the volume up & down buttons and the top one access the WiFi option. The action camera even has a loudspeaker hence the presence of that grill.
Moving to the top, we have the camera button and a WiFi indicator LED.
And finally, on the rear side, the 2.0″ LCD screen. Notice the two LEDs on the left down side of the screen. The first one indicates the status meaning it will flash in blue while on standby and will illuminate during recording. Then the other ones is the charging indicator. It flashes in red while charging and stays on when fully charged.
The action cam is very small, just take a size perspective from these.
Now let’s have a look at the case which offers full waterproof protection.
All the buttons are spring-loaded and the back cover has a massive rubber white gasket.
The securing latch outside is really tough to slide open, so there is no way you will ever accidentally open the case, even if the the whole camera drops.
The camera sits comfortably and it is secured inside by these 4 pads. There is some slack but not that much for the minicam to scratch or affect the recording.
Finally, with the presentation out of the way, let’s see what it can do … or not.
To spice things up we will compare some results with two other 16 megapixels devices: A Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphone that also has 4K recording capability and a Sony DSC-WX50 compact camera.
Then we will test the waterproof protection, the battery endurance and overall video bit-rate quality and fluidity.
First, let’s see the WiFi feature and the remote control operation via a smartphone.
Step 1: Download and install the XDV app from your Android/Apple store.
Step 2: Press the UP button to activate the WiFi on the action camera. There you will have the password for the camera to start parring the WiFi.
Step 3: Pair the smartphone tot the camera through the phone’s WiFi manager, not the XVD app (!). I noticed that it is much faster and sometimes through the app it doesn’t even connect. Future updates to the Google Store my fix this.
Step 4: Done ! You can now fully remote control the action camera ! And here is the interface.
As you can see, it offers you full control over the settings and immediately it is ready to point and shoot.
Then if you turn the phone to landscape mode, the app will automatically use the whole screen as a view finder !
And here is a quick picture sample taken remotely.
So you can imagine how handy this feature can be !
While we are talking about features, here is the menu how it looks like on the action cam. Each button will have a different result in different circumstances but everything is really easy to figure out. Power button long press to open the camera, then short press will cycle through the menu and camera features. The record button will be the selection button and the volume up an down, to go up and down in the menu.
Next, let’s take some pictures. All of the test samples are set to their maximum resolution and quality.
The Sandberg Active:
The Samsung Note 4:
The Sony WX50:
Unfortunately no auto-focus is present on the action cam, but still photography isn’t what the camera was built for.
Now for the fun parts. Let’s put it on the bike. But I soon discovered that the bracket it is too small to fully grip my MTB handlebars. Mine could be extra thick but a letdown nonetheless.
So let move to the next test. Let’s assemble the bike helmet support. Select the necessary parts.
And voila ! No more problems this time.
The bracket has 3M self-adhesive tape on it but for extra security I added the adjustable strap.
And this is how it looks on you. I mean me. I mean will look on you. Maybe.
The sample from the camera’s angle. Notice that you can also add timestamps to the pictures and videos.
Now let’s put it on the car ! Again, another letdown because there are no suction cups provided. But that didn’t stop me ! I used one of my smaller tripods and Jerry-rigged it to the rollover bars of my car. Then secured it via the adjustable straps.
So here we have the test drive. I have let the sound on but later in the video there was a lot of wind so it recorded that as well. The video quality at 1080p @ 60 fps is pretty good with a very constant bitrate. Sound quality at least at the beginning of the video and the end (aka no wind), is decent as well.
But at 4K recording, the sensor can’t cope with too much movement. Still, the video is quite acceptable regarding overall quality. The trouble is with the variable bitrate.
As for slow motion, this is always fun. What you see is the 720p by 120 frames per second option.
Now for a video comparison between all 3 devices. As a static device, the quality is very good. All devices can record 1080p at 60 fps.
And the best for last, the waterproof test. Yup, there she goes into the water !
As you can see, you still have audio and it picks up surprisingly almost everything considering how well insulated it is by the case. And of course no water got it whatsoever ! Perfect score here.
Impressions and feedback
Ok let’s do this bulletin points style.
– Photo quality – decent; no auto focus and no wide / 16:10 aspect ratio.
– 4K 30 FPS – good, but only as a static environment. As you move the camera and/or the scenery the sensor has some trouble to keep up.
– 1080p 60 FPS – very good. The best main feature and the recommended mode to use the camera in.
– Slow motion 720p 120 FPS – great
– Recording sound quality – good. Avoid the wind though.
– Underwater protection – perfect !
– Ease of use – excellent. All the accessories are easy to combine and adjust
– Sun screen eligibility – decent.
– WiFi & Ability to Remote control – cool bonus points
This is Sandberg’s first action sports camera. The build quality, features and the bundle are really good. The waterproof case is very sturdy and fully protects the camera and we had a lot of fun using it and shooting videos. It fully delivers at 1080p60fps mode and the slow motion as well is really neat. The pictures are adequate but you don’t buy this for still photography and the 4K recordings are decent. Really easy to set up and configure and for this price if you want something to slap on your bike, helmet, kayak etc and have some good fun, the Sandberg Active will do the job !
+ Great build quality
+ Waterproof design
+ A lot of included accessories for various circumstances
+ 5 Years warranty
+ Decent battery life
+ Ability to use it as a webcam
+ WiFi and Smartphone control are very handy
+ Removable battery
– The 4K video bit-rate is to low and the sensor can’t keep up if it any major movement occurs
– No Auto-focus nor optical video stabilization
– No extra batteries included
– No suction cups included to mount them on your car
– The included bicycle bracket is too small to fully grip the handlebars of a premium MTB
But, given the price when compared to a £400 GoPro, the Sandberg Active at just 80 pounds, you can forgive some of its letdowns. Thus it gets our:
Glob3trotters “Good Value” Award 4 out of 5