The Sandberg Active 4K ActionCam is Sandberg’s answer to the action camera market. Think GoPro, but with a much easier blow to your wallet. The Active 4K ActionCam can be bought at prices between £80 and £91, which means it sits comfortably in terms of price, with most of the other budget action cameras on the market.
Sandberg Active 4K ActionCam Review: Product information 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 smart phone 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.
The included accessory pack comes with the following items you would expect to get as standard. It’s also worth pointing out that due to the universal design most action cameras use, this will work with most of the different accessories you can buy, such as a chest strap for example.
Sandberg Active 4K ActionCam Review: Design
At this moment in time, the ActionCam 4K is only available in a black color option. This may change over time or it may not. To me, it doesn’t really matter as I have owned a few white action cameras and they get mucky really easily. For me, the black color is perfect, particularly for the fact the camera is used outside a lot while riding my bike.
The ActionCam 4K is an interesting looking device, that sits in well with other action cameras. While this looks similar to some of the others I have used, it does have an ace up its sleeve, one of which I have yet to come across on other similarly priced action cameras. That ace is the inclusion of a front status screen as well as the 2.0-inch color screen on the back. The small front display gives you information such as the time, current mode and current recording time if recording a video as well as a few other bits of important information when using other modes. This makes keeping an eye on the status much easier if you are recording or taking photos with the camera facing yourself.
Accompanying the small status screen on the front of the camera is a power button that also acts as a mode selection button and of course the wide angle lens for capturing those sporty occasions in all their glory.
On the right-hand side edge (with the lens facing you) is a panel with three different ports. There’s a micro USB port for charging and data transfer purposes, a micro HDMI port for connecting the camera to an external display (cable not included) and a microSD card slot for memory storage (the camera supports microSD cards up to 64GB in size. A card is also required to use the camera. One doesn’t come included). Just above the panel are three small holes, which are actually home to the microphone. On the left-hand side, there’s a small speaker for use when watching recorded videos directly from the camera and two buttons, which act as navigation buttons, volumes buttons and a way of accessing the WiFi mode.
The top of the camera is home to the camera button, which is also used to confirm selections when navigating the settings menu. Next to this button is a light that acts as the camera’s WiFi status light. On the bottom of the camera is the battery door that lifts out to reveal the removable battery. If you require more batteries, you can purchase them at this link. One little downside in regards to the battery is that you only get one in the pack, whereas every other budget priced action camera I have used, came with a spare included.
On the rear side of the camera is a 2.0-inch full-color LCD display. Next to this display are two status lights. The top one is used to indicate whether the camera is recording or in standby mode. The other light is used as a charging status light.
The mid section of the camera is coated with a rubber textured surface that makes gripping the camera extremely easy, which means if you get sweaty hands after doing what you’re doing, you won’t be as likely to drop the camera.
Like most other action cameras this one does come with a few starter accessories, which you’ll of seen listed earlier on in the review. While each accessory can come in handy for different things, the most interesting one by far is the hard shell case, that protects the camera from drops and falls, but even more importantly makes it waterproof, so if like me you live in the U.K, where summer comes for a few days and then disappears, leaving you with mostly rain, you may find you use this a lot. It can also be used for sending the camera into a pool of water for underwater recording. Since the weather is so unpredictable around these parts and I often go riding through mud, I use this all of the time, while out riding my bike. If you intend to use this as a bike camera but don’t want to mount it to your handlebars, you’ll be pleased to know it’s also possible to mount it to your helmet as well using the helmet mounting set.
The included manual has a page that shows you all of the possible mounting positions possible with the accessories in the kit. Not only does it show you, but it also tells you which parts you need to combine to achieve the right mount for your needs.
Sandberg Active 4K ActionCam Review: WiFi mode
WiFi is a feature that some action cameras come with and some don’t, luckily the ActionCam 4K comes with WiFi. This allows you to stream live to your phone by connecting your device to the camera, using your phone’s WiFi and a dedicated application known as XDV. XDV is a widely used application that works with a number of different action cameras, so don’t be surprised if you’ve heard of it before. You can find it here for Android devices and here for Apple devices.
While it would have been nice for Sandberg to develop an application of their own for the camera, there certainly is nothing wrong with XDV. It’s one of the best third-party camera applications I have used.
XDV provides a clean and simple to use interface and is rather easy to set up, although I did have to connect to the camera WiFi connection from within my phone’s settings rather than directly from the application as the application wasn’t letting me connect directly from itself. Once connected you get an instant and quite clear live feed fed directly from the camera to your phone. As you can see from the screenshots below the feed is quite smooth and the same goes for when recording at 4K.
It’s possible to start recording and end recording from your phone as well as snap photos, which means if you are using the camera in a position, where it’s out of view and out of reach, you can control it remotely from your phone.
Sandberg Active 4K ActionCam Review: Image and sound quality
The image quality on this camera is quite good. Of course, it’s nowhere near DSLR standards and instead places itself just above the standards offered by mobile devices. Recording in 4K yields some pretty decent results, in terms of clarity, but if riding on a bike like I have been doing, there can be times of blurriness, when you up the speed a bit. I have also found the quality to be best when the case isn’t on as the case attracts smudges and dirt quite easily, which does show up in the recordings. Check out the video below to get a taste of this camera in action (please also note the case was on during this recording).
You may have noticed the sound wasn’t on during that recording. This is nothing to do with the camera itself. Since I was going downhill for this sample, I would have picked up too much wind, which would be blurring out into your ears, so I disabled the audio for this recording. When not in windy situations such as flying down a hill or maybe even parachuting, the camera audio is great. It’s clear and this shows when playing the video through a PC.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a camera if it couldn’t take photos and there’s no denying this camera can take some beauties. Again not DSLR quality, but just above the quality offered by most smartphones. The images I took this morning on a ride out and about all look stunning, considering this is only a sports camera and isn’t really built for still photo taking. Take a look at the samples below, which were taken on the 16-megapixel setting.
The next two images were taken on a rainy day, so the blurs you see are wet areas on the case protecting the camera.
Sandberg Active 4K ActionCam Review: Overall
The Sandberg Active 4K ActionCam is an incredible camera and certainly an impressive first-time entry into the world of sports recording equipment. It’s a sturdy bit of kit, with a pocket-friendly price tag. For the price you pay, you get decent enough quality for images, videos and sound. Like all products, it does have its flaws, such as the lack of an extra battery and the blurriness at higher speeds amongst other things.
Would I recommend buying it? Yes, I would, particularly if the price tag of GoPro cameras scares you. This is an absolute gem of an action camera and for the price, it’s definitely worth every penny and then some. Overall it’s a 4.5 out of 5 and a recommended product.