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on September 30, 2012
(Updated 11/26/2012) I now have GoPro Hero3 Black Edition. This review changes a bit. Although Sony is pretty good, if you can afford $399 action cam, I would go with Hero3 Black Edition. Otherwise continue with my review.

If you are OK with the following limitations of the Sony Action Cam, this little Sony Cam is absolutely fantastic. Otherwise, I would go with GoPro Hero 2 or Hero 3 Silver Edition.

1. CANNOT RECORD SOUND in 60/120FPS modes. Not that I value sound from any Action Cams inside a case, but no sound can be a deal breaker for some.

2. Underwater footage is much worse than GoPro Hero2 in terms of color (Mainly Sony auto white balance does not work underwater). The case of the Sony Action Cam also has a curve lens, so it cannot focus underwater. Sony will release the door pack that includes the flat lens dive door.

3. Severe Lens flare. Some lens flare can be a good visual effect. I am OK with it if the flare is not too much, but Sony cam often washes out some colors under certain conditions.

I do not record any action cameras in 1080P/30FPS mode since CMOS jello effects can be very pronounced in fast action scenes. So I record most clips in 720P 60FPS. The problem is that Sony records 60/120FPS footage without sound and output videos as 30FPS. I do not mind the output frame rate, but the sound should be there.

Sony underwater AWB does not function properly yet. I do not believe Sony adjusted the camera for underwater usage. The color is very strange. Too green, too blue, and a bit noisy.

If you do not mind these issues, then this is the camera to get because

1. The Zeiss Lens is absolutely the sharpest among all action cams out in the market right now
2. The SteadyShot is just unbelievable. I was not a big fan of an electronic image stabilization, but this one really works!
3. Colors produced by the image processor is very natural. The tonal curve is flat, so it is much easier to post process.
4. The lens is wider than GoPro Hero2 or GoPro Hero3 Silver Edition and much less fish eye (Less distortion)
5. Low light performance is better than GoPro Hero2 or GoPro Hero3 Silver Edition.
6. The Noise Reduction works really well.
7. Very smooth motion.
8. Lower price.
9. The case is high quality.
10. The case has a standard tripod thread.
11. The case latch is pretty solid. It should not pop open like the GoPro Hero2 one. Hero3 case is very solid BTW.

Other minor issues that you may want to know (could be major issues for some)

1. It cannot stand on its own without the case. The bottom of the camera is round, so it falls down on its side.
2. I wish Sony added two more buttons on the case. This is not the Wifi version. I cannot change any settings once the cam is inside the case. I can easily change settings in GoPro though.
3. Not so compact with the case.
4. Unrealistic blue sky. It can be attractive, but to me, it is way too artificial.
5. No battery can be added to extend recording time
6. All input/output ports on the bottom of the cam. I do not know how I can use any ports including the Mic input simply because it cannot be used with the case. Also the cam cannot stand without the case, so I have no idea how to use the mic input or other ports while recording.
7. No dedicated photo mode like GoPro. It has the interval (timelapse) mode where photos are limited to 1920x1080.
8. Slower start up time.
9. No adjustable beep volume on Start/Stop button. I need louder beep sound from the cam to acknowledged record start/stop when my recording environment is noisy.
10. No underwater focus solution has been released yet. Sony will release the flat lens door in November as a part of the door pack. The pack will cost around $50.
11. CA (Purple fringing) is pretty bad around corners especially in high contrast situations.
12. I could be wrong, but I do not see PAL 25/50FPS options. Not that I care for my use.

The reasons why I did not get the Wifi version:
1. Higher price of course
2. I cannot use Phones or Tablets to adjust the cam underwater or in extreme environment anyway.
3. More battery consumption

If I use the cam more above water, then I would get the Wifi version.

I did not include GoPro Hero3 White Edition into this review because it would not be comparable that the white edition is the same old technology as Hero1.
Sony Action Cam's video IQ, SteadyShot, and image processor was the best among other competitors on land footage before Hero3 Black Edition came out. There are minor issues, but if Sony includes sound for 60fps and fix the underwater AWB, then I would go all the way with Sony Action Cam if you cannot afford Hero3 Black Edition.

If you can afford GoPro Hero3 Black Edition, here is why I like the Black edition better.

1. Better noise reduction under low light
2. More compact body with many mounting options
3. Sharper and detail image from higher resolution modes
4. Higher FPS and better low light from 120FPS at 720P
5. More accurate color and exposure
6. Less CA(purple fringing) and far less lens flares
7. Adjustable White Balance
8. Included Flat lens case for underwater
9. Much better Auto white balance underwater
10. Sound can be recorded at 60/120/240 FPS modes

Although I like the Hero3 Black better, I miss these Sony features.

1. Much longer battery life at all recording modes
2. SteadyShot is unbelievable
3. Less buggy
4. Nicer beep sound
3030 comments527 of 547 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 26, 2012
Pros: Camera size (small), built-in Wireless WiFi for live video monitoring during recording, transfer to smart phone and computers without cabling. Free smartphone application. Included waterproof case with tripod mount and basic helmet / flat surface mounts. Built in microphone, microphone jack, HDMI output, price.

Cons: Some controls are not accessible via the smartphone app, poor user manual (download the real one from sony support), microphone jack not accessible when camera is in its waterproof case, no means to connect to a tripod when not in waterproof case, No audio noted on smartphone app when doing live recording. (available on playback)

Watch the video to see some examples of raw footage from the camera near dusk on the US West Coast. My apologies for doing too much panning in the video and the boring subject, although this was done on purpose to observe any video artifacts. This gives you a sense of the camera's ability in low light conditions and also allows you to hear the microphone quality.

I also include a timelapse test in the video. For this test, the battery lasted for 3 hours and 15 minutes for about 400 photos taken at 30 minute intervals. The camera was also set at the shortest time available before it goes to sleep. I had hoped for a 9 hour window due to less power required to take photos, but this was not the case. For this purpose then, the user will need to plug the camera into a USB charger or portable USB power pack. Unfortunately the USB connection is not accessible from the waterproof case and the camera will not "stand up" on its own due to its curved shape. (I'll need to get a bit creative if using for this purpose) I notice that Sony has included a proprietary accessory port on the camera. Perhaps they will address this with a future accessory option.)

The camera includes a waterproof case with a tripod mount and some additional mounts that are self-adhesive.

Recording Media: Sony recommends Class 4 or better Micro SD cards (not included). Video is recorded in MP4 movie format.

This is the WiFi model. I tested this with an iPhone4s (iOS6) and an iPad (iOS5). Both were able to connect to the device. The included instructions are terrible. If you don't download the manual, you will have difficulty figuring out how to use the WiFI feature. Visit Sony's website to download the handbook. [...]template_id=1®ion_id=1&tab=manuals#/manualsTab Once I read the online manual, I downloaded the PlayMemories Mobile app (iOS or Android). See page 39 of this handbook for instructions to enable the WiFi feature. It is NOT turned on by default.

After turning on WiFi connecting to the camera (via password supplied as a sticker in the poorly written "operating guide") the PlayMemories App launched and connected to the camera but threw an error. I could see the output video (good) but once I clicked "ok" on the error dialog box, the application would quit. If this happens to you, this is due to attempting to run the camera without a MicroSD card installed. Once the card is installed, the error goes away.

The PlayMemories app can function as a remote and as a video viewfinder (be sure to set the camera remote function to on (see pg 22)) and select either interval or movie mode. In this mode you can start/stop recording and do some basic adjustments (recording quality, steadyshot on/off), etc.) but there are several functions that are only accessible via the camera itself. For example, you can't change the interval delay setting from the smart phone. This is a bummer because it means you have to remove the camera from its waterproof protective housing (if you are using it) and then make these adjustments. The most useful feature of the remote app is likely its use as a viewfinder. I can see this being very helpful when shooting in auto racing situations for example because you could mount your smart phone in the vehicle and view what the camera sees without running any wires.

When it comes time to get images or video off of the camera, you have a few options:

1) Remove the micro-sd card and us a card reader on your computer
2) Use the supplied USB cable to transfer
3) Use the camera as a WiFi "hot spot" and browse to the files
4) Use the PlayMemories app to transfer the files to your smart phone for viewing. I suppose you could then easily upload the result to youtube or the like, which I have done here: [...]
I have tested options 2 - 4 above successfully.

Sound: Sound recording is good through the built-in microphone (as you see in the clip). Having a built-in microphone jack is also a good bonus but unfortunately the waterproof case supplied by Sony does not have a means to get the audio cable outside of the housing when the camera is in the case. Hopefully there will be others that will supply a solution in the future.

Camera size: I really like the small size of the camera - much better than the Gopro and other competitors. The one flaw though is that if the camera is not in its waterproof case, there is no means to attach it easily to a tripod as the tripod base is part of the waterproof case itself. I suspect that is the point though with the use of this camera (sports, action, etc.) but as stated above, the inability to connect an external mic when it is in the case is unfortunate. There is a headband accessory available from Sony that would allow one to use the camera and a microphone while out of the case and be secured, but one would have to be creative if you want to

Controls: In the case, there is a basic record stop/start and on-off control. They work as expected. A big bonus would be if Sony updates their smart phone app to provide more access to controls. For example, the ability to adjust the interval for time lapse recording.

Image and Video Quality: Still pictures as tested were fuzzy. Video is good at the best HD 1080p setting, although has a bit less sharpness than I would hope and as compared to a Canon AVCHD camera I own. (Admittedly it is more expensive, so perhaps I am asking for too much). Low light use as you see in this recording is acceptable, especially for an inexpensive camera of this nature.

Conclusion: It is a good start by Sony for their first entry into this market. Despite the limitations above, I expect many of them to be addressed through third party added accessories that solve the microphone input limitation mentioned here. Most videographers using footage created by these cameras don't use onboard audio anyway. It's too early to tell how much enabling WiFi saps battery life and if there are other 'gotchas' but for $30 less than a GoPro Hero HD2 including a good waterproof case, some mounts, Wifi and remote video monitoring, it is a value. Outfitting the same for the GoPro is much more coin. If you don't need wireless, $199 for the base model is an even better bargain.
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on September 26, 2012
Overall this is a great product at a great price. The camera captures good detail with accurate white balance, good color and saturation, and sharpness across the field of view. The steady shot works very well, and there is a definite improvement in low light detail and noise compared to competing cameras in this segment of the market. The wifi feature works as advertised and allows easy framing and control of the settings through an IOS or Android smart phone, although it can take a while to browse the content if you have a large number of photos or videos on the card.

White balance and auto exposure are more accurate than the go pro hero HD or Hero 2. The gopros tend to have a warmer white balance and will over expose the sky when a person is slightly back lit. The Sony will slightly under expose back lit subjects and preserve highlight detail in the sky.

The 4x slow motion works well and is smooth even when further slowed down in post. The image and individual frames maintain sharpness and their is no ghosting or other artifacts. Sony also writes the metadata tag so that the 120fps videos play back and drop into a 30fps timeline.

The lens has much less barrel distortion than the gopros even at the 170 degree setting, and the Zeiss lens provides sharpness across the entire field of view.

The still photo size is limited to 1920x1080 or 2MP only in the 16:9 aspect ratio, whereas the gopros offer 5mp, 8mp, and 11mp at 4:3 or 16:9. The gopros also offer a greater range of intervals at 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60 seconds vs sony's 5, 10, 30, 60.

In the 720 / 60p and 720 / 120p modes there is no audio recorded as Sony write the metadata to play back at 30fps
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on June 9, 2013
A lot of this is in the eye of the beholder. Owning a GoPro 3 White and Black Edition
I speak from what I've seen with no techie jargon. Sony's action cam is a lot smaller
size relationship compared to a Contour which I had on loan for a month.

Sony's battery life is a lot longer, low light performance, and audio is far superior
to the GoPro White Edition and probably better then the Black Edition too. Battery
life is almost twice to my Heroes.

These action cams with stock lens are strictly POV (point of view) cameras,
what your eye sees is about the same size is what you'll see recorded. Keep that
in mind when shooting there's no zoom for drawing attention to content expansion.

I did the 2.0 Sony upgrade with the water scene option and cannot find any major faults like
my GoPros before I upgraded their software. GoPro 3s locked up and had to pull the battery
to reboot the system back working order.

Sony's Steady Shot menu option does help.

Watching raw QuickTime footage I give the edge to this camera.

I did buy the Sony add on doors with a new door that lets in sound and the underwater lens
for 48 bucks here at Amazon. Sony's sound it impressive after using Hero 3s. But it's a long
ways from a great sound track you can be proud of.

I'm far happier with my Amazon Sony Action Cam (non wifi) then the bucks I laid out for Hero 3s. Are Sony's the end all, be all?, but $178 is not going to buy paradise in the video world.

Updated 1/9/14:

Uploaded a short raw test clip shot in extreme low light with the sun setting on Lk. Michigan.
This was one of the first times I used AS10 SHOT AT 30 FRAMES PER SECOND full HD 1080.
Sound quality is to the low side is at least 3 times better then GoPro performance.
AS10 sound tracks are rich and full outside the water proof housing. Color is richer
than an my white and black edition Hero 3s.

Audio quality is something GoPro seemed to have forgot about. Low light is superior too,
better then my $399 black version Hero 3. Battery life is far longer too.

I now own 4 of the HDR AS10s and regret spending a grand on GoPro stuff.
Multiple cameras are needed to capture on-board action from above and below the water.

Optional case with the rather large video display I do recommend, along with the
additional doors for underwater filming. When you purchase these doors, there's one
that lets in more sound still staying water proof for a short distance down. Think, but
check first, the waterproof sound door was good to 30'

The AS10 can gather enough light to video a 140' deep on my down rigger camera.
Granted, it's grainy that deep down. Same circumstance GoPro white ceases to gather enough light to
make video and the image goes entirely black around 80' deep.

Short clip of test footage I posted was shot in the very last light of day. The quality of
Amazon's video compression does not do the original test footage justice appearing far darker than it actually is. Sound track is flawless and that's where the AS10 beats GoPro hands down
and going away.

I know there's video techie geek speaks with fancy jargon to tear down anything.
My eyes and ears have proved to me this is the way to go for action cams.

Prices range a lot at Amazon depending on the time of day. Recently bought a AS10 at 4:00am
paying 139. Bought during normal business hours and paid over 160. Purchasing during
the "off-hours" will save you money at Amazon. Which has the best service, best shipping
and best return policy of any company selling stuff on the web.
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on December 3, 2012
After receiving and using the Action Cam, I can truly say it takes great video. The very first thing a user should do is open and read the documentation that comes with the unit. Both the foldout sheet and the PDF file on the unit itself. Save the foldout, it contains the password you will need when connecting by Wi-Fi. The foldout has a flowchart of the unit's commands. It is worth reading and familiarizing yourself with the options before you start playing and filming with the unit. This also applies to the PDF file. Trust me, you will save yourself questions, complaints and headaches later.

Operation of the Action Cam is very simple. If you can press a button, you have won the victory. The pleasure begins when you start filming. The Carl Zeiss lens takes fantastic video. On a whim I filmed outside my home at 3AM with very little light to assist the final video. It was impressive. The real surprise was a couple days later on a sunny day around 2PM. The video was crystal clear, the HD mode could not have captured a better scene. Everything was in sharp detail.

Using your phone as a remote is very simple. Set the Action Cam to Remote, turn on Wi-Fi on your phone. One of the possible connection listings will be the video unit. This is where you have to enter the password on the foldout sheet. (In case you lose it or chose not to read the foldout, the password is stored in the camera. You have to connect the USB cable to your computer and browse to the folder location where the password is stored.) It may take a couple entries of the password, but the connection will be made. Once done, you have a portable viewing screen of what you are filming. You may notice a lag of a second or less, but it depends on how fast you pan the camera unit. It isn't a show stopper.

Action Cam construction is very good. Opening the bottom hatch of the camera is easy, yet not something you want to apply brute force. Be gentle. Plugging in and removing the USB cord should be performed without adding extra force. In other words, don't abuse it. The camera is a piece of electronics, not a ball peen hammer. You break it, don't blame Sony and cry about cheap construction.

The attachments, the waterproof housing and other accessories are good, but the main feature is the video quality. Crisp and clear. Compared to other similar devices, this was a very good and worthy purchase.
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on November 5, 2012
I'm a professional in the film & tv business and having used GoPros & Contour action cams in the past set out to buy one. I came across the HDR-AS15 while doing my research and decided to give it a try mainly because of it's lower price, Exmor sensor and SteadyShot feature. I picked up a handle of different mounts as well to supplement the ones that already come with the camera - in particular, a suction cup mount made by PanaVise (which works great, btw).

Having gone through the hassle of trying to use other action cams without knowing exactly what you were framing, I was particularly pleased with the WiFi feature of the AS15 as it made framing shots not only easy, but possible! Smartphone interfaces are becoming standard for all action cams, but my past experience didn't include interacting with those models from competitors so I can't comment on how the Sony iteration of that feature compares. I will say this: although changing movie settings from your phone would be a nice touch, the lack of that feature doesn't render the camera "useless" as one reviewer commented. It would make the camera more competitive, though, since accessing the settings for the camera can only be accomplished by removing the camera from the housing at the moment (firmware update please!) but which only takes 2 seconds to do (literally, it's very quick to pull out of the case). Really, the only setting I could see changing on a regular basis would be switching from 1080/30 to 720/120 (to overcrank). It's almost funny that you can switch your FOV (120 to 180) from your phone but can't change the recording mode. But realistically speaking, you aren't going to change those settings that frequently - you either want to shoot HD, or you don't. You either want to overcrank for slo-mo, or you don't. You know?

The image quality from these action cams doesn't even come close to matching professional cameras, so don't go thinking you're going to be blown away by the final product... but it is pretty darn good for such a small unit. It's as good as anything I've seen from the other mini-cams - particularly color rendering. The addition of stabilizing in the image is a huge nod in favor of the Sony and the slo-mo looks really great, too!

The shape of the AS15 has its plusses and minus over the GoPro - it's a little narrower so you can stick into some places better and it works better as a head mounted, but it doesn't work as nice for a chest mount as the GoPros do. I think the tripod mount and the accessories that are available for that style make it a lot easier than what I've experienced with GoPros. The endless arms and joints, nuts and screws I've juggled with the GoPros was a bit frustrating, while I found I could quickly and securely attach the AS15 in a number of different positions without any headache at all with a lot of stuff I already had.


I'm really not a big Sony fan to begin with, but they've been producing some pretty great stuff lately. I use the F3 CineAlta regularly as well as the FS-100 quite a bit these days when I'm not using Red Epic or One. This little camera is fun to use and sits in that same sensor family so it compliments those cameras pretty good (well, as much as a $200 camera can!). The documentation is horrible, though, as others have noted but, frankly, I was able to use the camera right out of the box with the instructions that come with it and I've transferred the footage from the cards without issue or looking up instructions, so it's not like you can't easily figure things out. The iPhone interface works better than I expected, but could use some updates. The biggest problems I see with the AS15 right now are: (a) There IS a rattle that you hear in the audio recorded by the camera that others have noted. Some have attributed it how its seated in the case, others have claimed it was the battery, but after a bit of experimenting I'd say it isn't any of those things - to me, it seems more like a circuit board OR it's the sensor itself moving maybe? Whatever it is, they should do something about it... (b) Camera usability out of the waterproof case is really not what it should be. Comments about it's shape, accessory door location, etc. are pretty spot on. At the very least, they need to include a wrap around mount of some sort - maybe something flexible with a 1/4" receiver on a flat, weighted bottom? Unless you go "handheld" (fingerheld???) with it, you can't use the camera without the case which forces you to always shoot through the case glass or take it out to change settings - and comments about how do you use the accessory connection while it's inside its case make you wonder why they included such a thing to begin with... BUT a little forward thinking should be applauded - maybe someone will design a case that utilizes that connector AND has outside buttons like the GoPro one...

All in all, pretty satisfied, hope to see some firmware/app updates, other case options and naked camera (i.e., no waterproof case) mounting options in the future...
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 22, 2013
Sony Action Cam HDR-AS10

UPDATE: 5 AUG 2013
I just found out they have an updated firmware for the HDR-AS10 (2.00) and HDR-AS15 (3.00) that adds 1080P 60fps recording which actually plays back at 60fps. The quality is also noticeably better than the older 1080P 30fps mode. There's also an underwater scene mode that adjusts the white balance to suit underwater shots.

The video quality is still not as good as the GoPro Hero 3, there are plenty of compression artifacts and I am experiencing stuttering after using Adobe Premiere Elements with the 59.94 fps source video. The Firmware 2.00 / 59.94 fps recording mode is slightly different with a higher data rate. In my honest observation, the FujiFilm XP200 and Samsung Galaxy S3 take the best quality videos, followed by the GoPro Hero 3. The only major drawbacks to the entire line of GoPro Hero 3 cameras is the lack of image stabilization and the horrible GoPro mounts. If they took the Hero3 Silver and added 1080P 60 fps with image stabilization and re-designed the mount or used a standard tripod mount, I'd easily pick the Hero3 Silver.

Here's a breakdown of the HDR-AS10 video formats in comparison to the other devices.

1920x1080P at 30 fps unless otherwise specified

FujiFilm XP200
59.94 fps, AVCHD, Main Profile, Level 4.1, 2 reference frames, 18.7 Mbps data rate

Samsung Galaxy S3 (4.1.2)
AVCHD, High Profile, Level 4.0, 1 reference frame, 17 Mbps data rate

GoPro Hero 3 Silver
AVCHD, Main Profile, Level 4.1, 4 reference frames, 30.2 Mbps data rate

Sony HDR-AS10 Firmware 1.03
MPEG-4 Sony PSP, AVCHD, Main Profile, Level 4.0, 2 reference frames, 16.0 Mbps data rate

Sony HDR-AS10 Firmware 2.00
59.94 fps, MPEG-4 Sony PSP, AVCHD, Main Profile, Level 4.2, 2 reference frames, 25 Mbps data rate

UPDATE: 25 MAY 2013
The charger you use will have a significant impact on battery life/operation. Read my review below for my discussion about the 2 hour 10 minute battery life. That was with a Belkin USB/AC adapter that is *rated* at 1A, but I found that none of my high-demand devices would fully charge with any of the Belkin 1A chargers! That includes the Kindle Fire HD. Instead, I accidentally found out that my Motorola Droid and Samsung Galaxy chargers (rated at 0.8A) would fully charge up the Kindle Fire HD. As an experiment, I used that charger for my Sony HDR-AS10 and once fully charged, I can get 2 hours 40 minutes battery life/operation continuously! I also found some solutions to rattling noises, and it is mainly the LCD screen. Some weatherstrip foam on the back of it will resolve that rattling sound. In addition, you may want to cut four pieces of small weatherstrip foam to line the inside of the waterproof case (2 on each flat side near the opening) for extra cushioning. The only rattling sounds I hear now are transmitted through the dashboard of the car, or are generated by low frequency notes from the exhaust. It still beats the GoPro Hero 3 Silver Edition.

Right up front: The Steady Shot / Image Stabilization is simply AWESOME. The GoPro Hero3 is horribly shaky while the AS10 is glass-smooth even over the bumpiest of roads. The image quality just isn't quite as good as the Hero3 Silver because of how the Sony compresses the video footage. It's inexpensive and a good buy for 1080P HD action footage, but there is a lot of room for improvement. The AS10 is extremely easy to use, simply push the record button and it will start recording unlike the GoPro Hero3 which requires turning it on and then using the shutter button. That said, the Hero3 Silver isn't exactly crystal clear with its video quality. I did more comparisons and included my Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone. The S3 zooms in too much by default, almost like 100 degree or narrower FOV, but the video quality in 1920x1080 HD mode is significantly better than the Hero3 Silver and the Sony AS10. I can see far more details with the S3 than the Hero3 Silver or AS10, but the S3's anti shake pans around too much.

I opted not to buy the AS15 for the WiFi because I was not too impressed with the WiFi capability on the Go Pro Hero3. The WiFi sapped power whenever it was on, and only provided mediocre laggy footage on my Samsung Galaxy S3 via the app, so I didn't want to spend an extra Benjamin for that on the AS15.

There was no documentation on whether the AS10 could accept a micro SDXC 64GB card, but one reviewer on Amazon said he was able to use one. As a result, I just used a micro SDHC 32GB card on the AS10. With 1080P / 30 FPS video mode, there is room for 4 hours and 20 minutes of footage on a 32GB card. The average battery life is only 2 hours 10 minutes per charge. I conducted 6 test trials and they were all within 2h:10m and 2h:9m, so it is fairly consistent. As a result, there isn't a whole lot of benefit in buying a larger SD card because a 32GB will offer enough space for 2 battery charges, and no matter what - the user will be opening the case to do something every 2 hours of operation. The AS10 stores large video footage in 4GB chunks.

The waterproof case has a lid with a tether that can easily pop off the case. I was removing the camera in the garage when the tether just came off the case allowing the lid (with the glass lens) to fall onto the ground. Luckily there was no visible damage! The camera itself has no tripod mount or any way to be mounted and thus relies on the waterproof case. For those complaining about the camera not standing on its own, the back of the camera is flat and I have been using that to stand the camera upright for charging. There is a single LED to indicate it is recording, and it isn't very bright unfortunately. The AS10 uses micro SD cards and uses a micro-USB port which is comparable to most modern electronics these days. The GoPro Hero3 uses a mini-USB port but at least takes microSD cards as well.

The waterproof case has a standard tripod mount threaded insert. I've been using it with RAM mounts and haven't had a complaint other than the fact I need to unthread the AS10 from the mount in order to remove the camera from the case. The O-Ring for the case lid isn't as thick as the GoPro Hero3 housing seal. I'd recommend inspecting the O-ring frequently for damage or potential water intrusion prior to diving.

The AS10 recording bitrate is about 16 Mbps in 1080P/30fps mode. The Hero3 is rated at 20 Mbps for 1080P/30fps mode. According to some forum discussions, the Sony AS10/AS15 uses the H.264 codec but it is missing all of the B frames hence the compression artifacts. In any type of busy/fast video sequences, such as driving or flying, the motion causes complex objects to produce compression artifacts. The Hero3 Silver does this to a certain extent, but it is very noticeable on the AS10. The Hero3 Silver in 1080P/30 fps isn't perfect or beautiful either. I was not too impressed with the video quality on the Hero3. Compound the fact that when compressed for YouTube 1080P/720P HD, it will all tend to look the same. If you watch a lot of comparisons on YouTube between the Sony AS10 and the Hero2 and Hero3, the AS10 almost always looks better.

The video footage of the AS10 has received complaints about over saturation, but honestly the GoPro Hero3 Silver (which looked the best out of the White and Black editions) needed color temperature corrections and some minor tweaks. That is what post processing is intended to fix. With the AS10, one might want to reduce Exposure, Gamma, and Saturation just a tad.

The audio recording is better than average. I'd recommend boosting audio gain just a tad (by maybe 1-3 dB). It records the low frequencies well, but the high frequencies are muddied by the waterproof case. Sony sells a kit that includes a flat lens housing for underwater use, and a replacement lens housing with holes drilled for the stereo microphone to improve recording quality.

The Steady Shot is fantastic! It records only with an angle of 120 degrees but I kind of know why. It takes a 170 degree shot and zooms "in" to cut out the edges that result from stabilizing the images. This is not unlike what one would do using Sony Vegas or Adobe Premiere. However, the Steady Shot takes care of everything automatically and the results are fantastic. Going over some really rough roads, the AS10 is rock steady with its footage. With the AS10 mounted using a RAM suction mount on the windshield, I could see the hood of my car rocking all over the place while the footage remained stable.

The size and shape of the AS10 makes it cumbersome to mount and aim. With the above setup, I had to invert the AS10. There's no option to invert the footage on the camera, so I had to rotate the image by 180 degrees in post processing (not a big deal). Even with the Hero3, I had to invert it, but I also had to deal with the horrible GoPro mount.

720P vs 1080P:
I heard many people recommend shooting in 720P to reduce rolling shutter or to improve recording quality for faster sequences. I did numerous comparisons using the AS10 and Hero3, and I honestly felt the reduction in image quality and increase in noise is not worth it. With the AS10, I detected more noise in 720P than in 1080P, and the reduction in image clarity was subtle but noticeable (Think watching TV in SD vs HD). I recorded numerous POV footage in my car and the AS10 never demonstrated rolling shutter in 1080P, so again your application may vary.

Also, I found that the bitrate for 1080P is about 16 Mbps, while Adobe Premiere Elements 11 would encode H.264 MP4 in 1920x1080/30 fps at roughly 34 Mbps. This slows down rendering and increases file size for no reason. MPEG2 is encoded at about 18 Mbps and is more appropriate IMHO, but the consensus is to encode in H.264.

The GoPro Hero3 Silver and Black are expensive, and I would like to say you "get what you pay for" but I just don't feel that way about the GoPro cameras. They are expensive and don't deliver the same value and benefit over the AS10 for the price delta. In other words, the Hero3 Silver is about 1.5 times as expensive as the AS10. But is the Hero3 1.5 times better? I just didn't feel it was that much better. There are pros and cons with both cameras. The Hero3 Black is twice as expensive and assuming it doesn't overheat or lock up, the 4K and other recording features are nice if you have the proper medium for displaying your work. The Hero3 does have less noise in low light conditions but the AS10 footage in low light just seems to look better. The noise in the AS10 is probably related to the compression technique as well.

What you can expect from the AS10 is great built-in image stabilization with decent 1080P footage in a rather small package with a universal tripod mount. What you can expect from the Hero3 Silver is slightly better video quality, a smaller package with better mounting options but using (what I feel IMHO) a mediocre GoPro mount design, and just as much time spent post processing to fix the video. Both the AS10 and Hero3 Silver will have comparable bitrates in 1080P / 30 fps (ProTune excluded) and battery life. Don't expect more than 2 hours 10 minutes from either camera.

The Sony Imager is advertised as 1 / 2.3" with 11.9MP, but I don't see this resolution. It honestly looks less than 11.9MP. The fact the GoPro Hero3 Black uses a Sony Exmor R 1 /2.3" 12.4MP imager with an Ambarella A7 engine tells me that the Sony HDR-AS10 BIONZ engine and imager are probably not as high end.

Overall: 4/5 stars, a very good buy at approximately the same price as the Contour ROAM2 but with video quality competitive with the Hero3 Silver Edition. Sony needs to address the video compression method because quite simply the AS10 is a fantastic package except the compression artifacts ruin the entire product. Had Sony used a better compression scheme (to include the B frames and to use a higher bitrate), the Steady Shot would make the AS10 a serious alternative to the Hero3 Silver. The AS10 is great for recording onboard racing footage to display on YouTube in 720P/1080P HD format, but if you are looking for professional equipment for a production (like a movie or TV show), I recommend looking elsewhere. Your application may vary of course.
1515 comments17 of 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 1, 2012
I have been waiting for this kind of compact action cam to record my fishing trips, so I jump on Sony HDR-AS15 wifi and the headband mount when J&R just got them.

First impression - it is really small in size and the headband mount is made in good quality. The included paper manual is close to useless (as other reviews agreed), and you need to read the PDF version which is excellent.

I get the iPhone app "Playmemories Mobile" which serves two purposes (1) REMOTE as a view finder; (2) SEND to copy video from the cam to iPhone to view them. The HDR-AS15 serves as the WiFi hot-spot and the password is on a little sticker attached to the manual. Often when you switch between REMOTE and SEND, you will lose the WiFi connection and need to manually re-connect again. I found out that my iPhone 4 app COPY gives an error when the video is shot in HQ (1080p) but works OK with lower resolution (Std 720p, ...), which seems due to iPhone 4 not able to decode 1080p video. It works fine on my new iPhone 5.

The simpleness and compactness of the cam create some confusion on the buttons, functions and menu. NEXT button functions as a wake-up button while Start/Stop button also seems serves this function somehow.

The headband mount is too close to NEXT button and pressing NEXT while the cam is still in the mount is not easy. I like the chime tunes when you start recording and stop so they serves as confirmation without me looking at the cam.

Sony's PlayMemories Home application on Windows is great for importing, playing and editing vidoes but it does not allow easy deleting individual video on the cam. You need either FORMAT (wipes all videos) or do the settings import AND delete videoes. I prefer I can select individual video so I only delete the selected one.

Overall this is a great compact action cam with crisp video and sound, and great selection of accessories.
0Comment15 of 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 26, 2012
After using this camera for a day and comparing it to mainly to the footage from GoPro HD HERO2: Motorsports Edition the camera works MUCH better underwater then the GoPro's with standard lens but fail to reach the performace of the Gopro in one of these GoPro Dive Housing. I will still be keeping my GoPro around for diving but this camera has slightly better image quality, built in image stabilization, and a MUCH better microphone both above and below water. The night footage is also much better vs the Hero II. Looks like Gopros got some cathcing up to do.
0Comment20 of 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 1, 2012
I bought this to replace my ContourHD which I've used everyday for the last 18 months to record my hour long bike commute.

- Image stabilization is great. Some hit to quality but I'm finding 1080p with IS is the mode I like the most.
- Low-light works pretty well at night. Yes, it can be very grainy, but I can see stuff in my path (illuminated by my headlight) that my Contour just saw as black. (120FPS is not good at low-light at all but I expected that though so no worries).
- Image quality is very good (for the price).

- Biggest issue: lens fogging (because camera runs very hot). Awful and results in terrible quality footage on any of my morning rides where it's less than 55F degrees. I've had some success with desiccant packs but I haven't found one that fits well (really need to shove it in there). I guess I need to shell out for the anti-fog sheet...
- 2nd biggest issue: Usability. Can't charge and navigate SD card at the same time. Either is in playback mode or charging mode. And you have to disconnect it each time. It doesn't seem like an issue but I use this 2x a day and it's just a pain.
- Waterproof case reduces quality of image and is tricky to get camera in/out. (I leave case attached to bike).
- Loud beeps whenever you press a button (can't find a way to turn this off). Also, interval recording makes the picture taking sound... every time. Super annoying.
- Mounting options aren't that great when in the waterproof case. You basically have 1 option.

Summary: I would probably wait until the next version of this camera. I'm sure they'll take feedback and fix some of the problems.

Update: I have now tried this in the pool & ocean. Video came out pretty bad because of the out of focus problem you get with these type of cameras. Above water looked good (playing around in the pool), but underwater (coral reef and colorful fish) were all out of focus. Focus was worse than the GoPro 1 I borrowed the last time I did this, though color was better. I was mostly playing and am not willing to plunk down the crazy amount they want for the underwater lens.
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0Comment10 of 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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