Rated 5 out of 5 by Danny78 Extremely Satisfied
Ok, I have no idea why everyone is bashing this camera so I'm going to try to write an honest review about it. I've had the camera for 2-3 months and so far I have taken it mountain biking, zip lining, snorkeling, scuba diving and cave exploring. I probably have recorded 10-15 hours of video in total. This is my first action camera and I am by no means a video/photography professional. I am more tech savvy than most, however.
--Looks and Form--
I think the form has pros and cons depending on what you want to use it for. For helmet mounting, I think this form factor is ideal. You can place it on the side of your helmet/mask and record everything from eye level. If you want to mount it on your chest, its possible, but it'll look funky and stick out awkwardly. I think the white color is really nice, does a good job of not absorbing heat as I read the older black models do. Buttons are easy to press, I like the locking feature on the record button so it is not accidentally pressed. I also think its pretty light (the weight, not the color). When I side mount it on my mountain bike helmet, it does make the helmet a little lopsided (the helmet is very light, however) but this is easily solved by taping some sort of counterweight to the other side (a flashlight, small multi-tool, etc). This could look goofy, but I think its worth having the video come out more level. I've seen people with mounted GoPros and I always think they look silly with their camera mounted so high, but I guess that's just personal preference.
--Accessories and Functionality--
I bought the deep underwater housing (MPK-AS3 I believe), and the helmet mounting kit (BLT-UHM1 I think). I scuba dive and mountain bike, so I thought these were essential. Both underwater housings (the 15ft one that is included and the 197ft one that I bought) work perfectly. I have absolutely no problems filming underwater and I have gone as far down as 80ft so far. I have snorkeled and SCUBA dived. My jaw hit the floor when I saw the underwater footage (more on video quality later). FYI, I have not found the need to use those moisture absorbing cloths they sell on here. But I do place the camera in its housing while still in my house, and not out on the ocean where there is a lot of moisture in the air. The yellow clips used to attach the camera work very well and are made from a heavy duty plastic that solidly clicks into place. I don't think they're difficult to unclip, once you learn how to grip it and press. Takes a few tries to get the hang of it.
--Video Quality and Features--
As I stated at the beginning of this review, I am absolutely not a video/photography expert. I am just someone that understands technology more than the average person. I think I'm gonna start by saying that the video stabilization on this little camera is absolutely AMAZING. I went off-roading in a Jeep and I was bouncing all over the seats. I am a 200lb man, so for the ride to make me fly across the seats means it was rough! I was borderline disappointed when I watched the footage because the stabilization made it look so calm! I could not believe how well it worked. When I mountain bike and go over some rocky or rooty sections, the camera is also able to cancel out a lot of the movement and jitter. Is it 100% perfectly still, no. But it still blew my mind what a little $300 camera could do.
Because I record with stabilization on, the field of view is cut down from 170 deg to 120 deg (don't quote me on the numbers). Watching my videos, I do not feel like I am missing out on anything. I think this narrower FOV also combats the fish lens problem, which I have noted to be more pronounced when recording with 170 deg FOV.
I record in 1920x1080x60 on the XAVC-S Mode (considered "pro mode"). On a SanDisk 64GB card, the camera says I can record 2h40m of video with these settings. I also have Vivid mode enabled. The video quality from this camera is truly stunning. The greens of the trees when I go mountain biking, the blues of the ocean when I go diving and all the colors I captured when I went zip lining just blew me away. Recording in 60fps is smooth as butter and is the only way to go, in my opinion. I think I have only noticed skips or stuttering once, maybe twice, in 10-15 hours of recording.
I like how the camera can connect to a smartphone and act as a viewfinder. When taking photos, it is possible to save the photos to the smartphone, but this is not possible when recording video (could be the high recording settings I'm using, haven't tried any other settings though). There is very mild lag between the camera and smartphone. Speaking about the photos, they're pretty good, but not on par with the video. Fish lens is also much more pronounced on photos than videos.
Audio is also surprisingly good. With no case it sounds great, like a regular video camera. Inside the 15ft underwater case only slightly muffles the sound, but it is still very clear and understandable. Even inside the 197ft underwater case, voices and sounds are still able to be heard, much better than what I was expecting from such a sealed case. Way to go Sony.
I have three batteries for this camera. The stock one that came with the camera and two third party batteries that I bought online. I believe I was able to record 52 min of video straight, waited about 20-30 minutes (camera was off) then recorded another ~15 minutes of video before the camera died. I can't remember any other specific cases of my battery usage, but I don't find myself upset when the battery does get low or dies on me. I have also noticed no difference between the stock battery and the third party ones I bought online. I would never spend $50 on an extra stock Sony battery, that's absurd.
--Other Features and Comments--
I have not found the need to use GPS, time lapse photos or remotes so I can't comment on these functionalities. I think the wrist-held viewfinder is cool, but not worth the $150 Sony sells it for ($100 if you buy the bundle with the camera). It is only waterproof to about 15 feet and supposedly WiFi does not work underwater, so that means no way to use as a viewfinder. I don't have it so I can't comment much more about it.
I watched probably about 100 video reviews of this camera vs. the GoPro 3+ black. In the end, I chose this camera because I thought it was better, and it is also $100 cheaper. Battery lasts longer, better form factor, AWESOME stabilization and better video quality (especially at night). Don't be fooled by the fact that the GoPro can record in 4K, it only does so at 15fps. At that fps, the video will look like a picture slide show. Even 2.7K can only be shot at 30fps, which is not enough for fast moving scenes. 1440p is great, but nobody has monitors with that resolution so you'll have to crop your video down to 1080p anyway. I think what GoPro has going for it is the brand recognition as well as the large number of accessories. But I am 100% satisfied with my Sony camera and would definitely buy it again if given the choice. Hope this review helps, I tried to touch on as many points about the camera as I could.
July 21, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by BikeGuy Very Impressed!!
First of all, this IS NOT my first action camera. I have been using them for a few years now and to be honest, this little Sony is the best for my money.
I really did not expect the camera to perform as great as it did when I put it through a series of test rides on my Cannondale road bike while using different video settings after viewing some video and pictures.
I conducted many hours of research before selling one of my former cameras and purchasing this Sony. From the research I had learned that the external mic input could not be accessed if the camera was in its cradle and this at first had disappointed me, but after hearing the audio from my test rides I see that the external mic is not necessary with this little jewel (for my needs). I used to get terrible wind noise, which is why I used an external mic on other action cams. This Sony does have some wind noise but very little in my opinion but what it does have is great audio!
The video: well, lets just say I did a double take when it came across my screen. The scenery colors were like being there. The controls are very easy to learn and I like that it provides options for many different settings, especially the video, GPS and Wifi. Speaking of GPS: when you couple the results of your video GPS footage with the Sony Play Memories Home software then you are in for a treat! With just a push of a couple of buttons you are able to view (and output) different views on the same screen that also shows your speed, mileage and other stats of your venture, even a map. Great user friendly software. I am still conducting tests on the unit but as far as I am concerned, this one is the top dog in this fight of action cams.
July 17, 2014
Rated 2 out of 5 by pboyer Disapointing in paragliding sports
This sportcam doesn't manage well the exposure between the cloudy sky and ground. If you shoot at an angle of 1/3 sky and 2/3 of the ground, the sky appears overexposed and way too much bright which is uggly.
When using the waterproof case, the sound feedback isn't loud enough to inform you if you' start or stop shooting as the case muffle the audio feedback way too much. Many times I've stopped filming a great scene thinking I was starting a new shooting. So you just become confused if this is filming or not, you absolutely don't know....
The remote doesn't provide a clear feedback if you're filming or not. There's a red dot that appears but you don't see it when it's sunny. So once more I stop filming when I want to start shooting, and I get confused by lack of feeback.
July 17, 2014
Rated 1 out of 5 by diverbuyingdriftnexttime stay away
bad bad choice. I will punish SONY by not buying anything else from this company for the rest of my life. The housing provided with the kit (spk-as2) as the one I bought extra (spk-as1) cannot record underwater (ONLY blurry images, because of the door design). So, brilliant SONY makes a new flat door AKA-RD1A but sells it again (not for free if you have already paid for the useless housing). So you buy the new flat door and you think everything is OK. NO! with a dive to 22m (says up to 60m) the door takes water inside the housing. SO STAY MILES AWAY
June 24, 2014