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143 of 153 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than industry leader + much lower cost = No Brainer
I've been in the market for an action camera for a while now. Just a few weeks ago, I picked up a GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition. Considering the Hero 3 Black is the industry leader, I was quite surprise to find out that there is no image stabilization built into the camera. Further, while shooting some video clips at night, the video quality was quite bad in low light...
Published 12 months ago by Teen Monk

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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to love it but it's missing a key set of features.
This camera is so close to being the best in the industry but it's got some serious missed features to make it great.

Lets start with the GOOD:
Image Stabilization: It's the only sports camera on the market that has image stabilization, this is outstanding!!!
Small form Factor: the camera itself is really small compared to other cameras (but*** keep...
Published 8 months ago by Bone


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143 of 153 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than industry leader + much lower cost = No Brainer, September 18, 2013
I've been in the market for an action camera for a while now. Just a few weeks ago, I picked up a GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition. Considering the Hero 3 Black is the industry leader, I was quite surprise to find out that there is no image stabilization built into the camera. Further, while shooting some video clips at night, the video quality was quite bad in low light situations. When Sony announced the predecessor to their action cam at IFA 2013 last month and having heard of all the features, I decided to pre-order the camera.

The Sony HDR-AS30V comes with 6 accessories.
- Micro USB
- Rechargeable battery pack
- Waterproof Case
- Adhesive Mount Attachment Buckle
- Flat Adhesive Mount
- Curve Adhesive Mount
- Set of printed documentation
The 73 page user manual is provided as PDF on the camera's memory and can be accessed when the camera is connected to a pc.

To access the settings on the camera, you have 3 buttons. An ENTER button, PREV, and NEXT. Navigating through the menus take some time to get used to, but once you get the hang of it, it's quite easy.

Sony also offers a free mobile app called PlayMemories Mobile. With the camera on and app launched, once you enter the SSID and password provided to you on one of the printed documents, you'll have a LIVE VIEW of what the camera is aimed at. This comes very handy when framing your shot. With the app, besides starting and stopping the video recording, you have options to turn on and off the SteadyShot, toggle the camera viewing angle between 120 degrees and 170 degrees, and set the camera in PHOTO or MOVIE, or INTERVAL RECORD mode. The lag time between what the phone display sees versus what is happening in front of the camera has been noticeably improved from Sony's last year model.

From initial tests, the camera does an excellent job in low light situation and bumpy video footage. I have yet to test the NFC, GPS Data Overlay on Video, nor underwater picture quality yet.

Summary

PROS:
- image stabilization
- gps data overlay on video (shows map view, average speed, distance traveled, current time, duration time, total time, and date.)
- nfc for quick one touch connections
- excellent low light
- battery is REMOVABLE, allowing one to carry spare battery packs without needing to stress about finding a charger when the camera is out of battery
- cheaper than industry leader
- video quality is better than industry leader all around
- one touch START and STOP video recording
- PlayMemories Mobile

CONS:
- does not have "G-sensor" to detect camera orientation and keep horizon consistent through recording. if camera is up-side-down, video will be up-side-down

I would highly recommend buying the Sony HDR-AS30V if you're in the market for an action camera that takes really nice video with all the features I've mentioned. This is a very fine camera.
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to love it but it's missing a key set of features., December 31, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This camera is so close to being the best in the industry but it's got some serious missed features to make it great.

Lets start with the GOOD:
Image Stabilization: It's the only sports camera on the market that has image stabilization, this is outstanding!!!
Small form Factor: the camera itself is really small compared to other cameras (but*** keep reading)
simple menus for easy adjustment from the side of camera with it's included screen and buttons on the side.
remote management: you can change settings remotely over WiFi but the options are limited.

Now to the BAD:
The lens is not rotatable: Contour(no longer in busines) and Drift (best on the market, IMO) really hit the features when they made the camera rotatable.
No mount on the camera: the camera has no way to mount it so no matter what you have to use a housing of some kind, utter FAIL
WiFi: Sucks power like crazy... Also limited ability to change setting for the camera. You can only change camera recording rates and angle of view. other settings like time lapse cant be adjusted and setting like flip have to be done from the side of camera. This is quite the pain when all the settings should be adjustable from the app.
Not able to select center point metering or change any metering setting at all, though the stock setting is pretty decent it would be nice to be able to make adjustments.
Microphone settings not adjustable.
Lousy location for mic, not accessible inside the case that it comes with (you can't drill through either because then you'll damage the locking lever that closes the case. You have to buy a goofy offset housing that then gives you access to the ports on the bottom of the camera. Even the optional screen case doesn't allow access to the microphone port... It really should be offset on the back of the camera like the Drift cameras did.
HEAT: This camera gets ridiculously HOT after only running for a short time, say 30 minutes. It seems rather clear to me that they are running the internals at either an over clocking level or have just not provided the proper heat sinking that should be had in a device like this. It seems very odd that other devices like the Ghost camera can run so much cooler and performs nearly the same. Though I might have to say this has a bit better night time visibility but the heat production of this camera is just astounding. Depending on the conditions the camera will actually shut down and stop recording because it has gotten so hot. I have worked with a number of other sports/action cameras and none have gotten as hot as this one. I used it indoors during Christmas morning with the family mounted with a couple rubber bands to a bracket on the wall for a light and after an hour it shut off from getting too hot. WiFi was turned off before beginning recording as well, and it was the camera alone, no case on it. When I noticed it had shut off I took it down but it was so hot that I couldn't even hold on to it.

While this camera has some awesome points like it's video quality, image stabilization, built in mic, and several other options it's got a lot of downfalls as well. Even still, if you want superior video quality then this is really the camera you should consider because it's image quality and image-stabilization make it an outstanding device I just wish it wasn't lacking is the other areas because then it would truly be the top camera on the market...

UPDATE the firmware: this gives you a FLIP option that allows you to slip the video 180 degrees in the camera so the camera can be mounted upside down and still give you the right perspective/angle of video.

If you like to mount a camera to your motorcycle and don't want to get vibration from the revs of the bike I would highly recommend this for that but remember you will need to adjust the angle of the video by adjusting the angle of the camera as the lens can not rotate to change the angle.

Sony, you have an outstanding start here but please, take some strong notes from the leaders in the market like Drift and others that have so much more function in their cameras for the user to be able to make the adjustments they need to.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent image quality, stabilization, and better form factor than other similar cameras, November 27, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Length:: 9:52 Mins

Sony has been making video cameras longer than just about anyone on the market, so it's no surprise that their wearable action camera is a high quality product. This little camera is about the size of the battery my camcorder used a decade ago, yet delivers beautiful high definition wide angle video.

The camera can shoot in a variety of resolutions and framerates, ranging from as low as VGA resolution all the way up to 60 frames per second at 1080. There are slow motion modes as well.

The camera lacks a view finder but does transmit a preview image to a mobile device running Android or iOS via WiFi. All of the camera controls are configurable from the mobile app and it's possible to also initiate a recording from the app as well.

The camera lacks a tripod mount but the included waterproof case has one. Unfortunately the camera has to be enclosed in the waterproof case in order for it to connect with any of its included or optional accessories.

Sony no longer requires users of its products use its proprietary memory format, so micro SD cards are compatible as are Sony's M2 cards.

Overall this is an impressive camera that has a better form factor than the GoPro. I don't own a GoPro to do a head-to-head comparison of video quality, but I was impressed with the speed of the sensor and how nice the image looks.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Happy, September 26, 2013
By 
Chris Hubick (Edmonton, Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
It's becoming a common sight to see boxy action cams sticking out awkwardly off people's helmets, mounted to chest straps, etc. In purchasing Sony's new AS30 I was hoping to find something capable of being a little less bulky and a little more subtle. I want to capture video of my adventures, but where the cam is something I can bring along without having to sacrifice any major attention away from the activity itself, and where it isn't completely obvious to anyone who comes within my vicinity.

I can say that, after a couple days mountain biking with my new AS30, I've not been disappointed.

Now, the cam only included a couple of sticky mounts in the box, and those don't really do it for me. The included mount let me position the camera sticking straight up off the top of my helmet, which works well enough, but between the shape of the camera and mounting it in that position, combined with the extra centimetre of height due to the mount itself, it doesn't really meet my desire for a degree of subtlety. I chose to forego the included mounts altogether, and used some double sided sticky tape and a zip-tie to lash the included waterproof case directly to the side of my helmet. This worked great, and I did it so that I was still able to easily remove the cam from the case in order to change batteries and retrieve the SD card.

I have been reasonably impressed with the size and weight of this new model. I think one would have to be rather fussy to take issue with the weight of this cam when mounted on top of their helmet, as I almost didn't notice it. The weight is noticeable when mounted on the side of the helmet, but I find it tolerable, if still minorly annoying, but which is a small sacrifice I'm willing to make to have it down where it's at least little less protruding.

Using Sony's "PlayMemories" Android app to live stream video from the cam was a significant aid for fine tuning the angle while I mounted it, and easily allowed me to copy videos to my phone for viewing or sharing. You can use your phone to start/stop recordings, but I prefer the physical button on the camera for that, and generally left the Wi-Fi turned off in order to extend the battery life and recording time. The one feature I haven't been able to find, either on the app or the cam interface itself, is the ability to delete unwanted videos or accidental recordings in order to reclaim space. I haven't tried the desktop software, but as a Linux user, I was happy to see that the cam connected over USB as a regular mass storage device, though I still found it much quicker to use a USB3 card reader to transfer videos to my PC. The cam also lists a setting where it can be continuously powered via the USB connection.

The large easy-to-find (even with gloves) physical record button on the back of the cam can be used to almost instantly power the unit on and begin recording with a single press, or to resume recording again if the auto-shutoff hasn't yet engaged. The camera makes distinct noises which allowed me to recognize when recording was started or stopped. Right off, I was able to spend my time riding without constantly having to fiddle around with the cam.

I'm happy with the picture quality, which I expect compares well with other cams currently in this class. I am very impressed with the excellent low-light ability of this camera, which far outshines the few other action cams I have owned previously. The image stabilization works well, though it comes with a noticeable cost to the visible details during segments where things get really bumpy.

I didn't manage to drain the battery on either of my first two outings, so that seems to be working as advertised so far. I really love that I can just bring along an extra battery or two and easily pop them in for a whole day of filming.

Overall, I think it really comes down to how you want to use it, and if it's shape and mounts are suitable for your intended uses, but I would happily recommend this cam based on my experiences so far.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good performance, albeit one that is highly overengineered, November 24, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Sony HDR-AS30V is a typical Sony product - amazing list of features, but entirely overengineered. Let's start with the basics - video quality - this is something it just excels at - amazing quality, albeit with some quesitonable color choices. Still, it is very much in line with the other top of the line units. One thing it lacks is the 4K recording found on the new GoPro - but honestly, I've seen its footage, and it just isn't something the average user will need.

Included in the package is the camera (screwed onto its base), a battery, waterproof case, a variety of very basic mounts and a USB cable. It charges off MicroUSB. The pad with inputs is on the bottom and is quite impressive; USB/Multi (with support for the new Multi port wired remote), MicroHDMI, Audio in and a second multi-style port for the camcorder accessory.

Operation is quite easy (IMHO easier than on the GP's). Turn it on, and use the 2 control buttons to scroll through settings. Use the record button to select. Alternatively, you can pair with it using NFC on a compatible phone, and change the settings using WiFi on your phone. Keep in mind that on the newer Samsung devices you will need to disable the mobile/wifi auto switch setting or your phone will not connect.

Once connected, frame rate is acceptable - it does buffer and drop a bit, but it is decent enough. WiFi is an added extra on som GP unit. GPS is overlaid on the video and embedded on the SD card. Like other HD cameras, video is hidden away in a Bluray style folder layout.

Audio inside the case is muffled, but that is to be expected.

One highlight of the product is the AKA-LU1 camcorder grip ( Sony AKA LU1 Camcorder HDR AS10 HDR AS15 ) which turns the camera into a real camcorder, complete with LCD display. At $56, this is a no-brainer.

Sadly, the LiveView remote is currently nowhere to be found, so you are stuck using your smartphone for the moment. This remote is expected to be out before Christmas for $149.

The other list of available accessories is quite impressive;

SD and M2 memory cards
AC adapter
Helmet mount pack
Handlebar mount
suction cup mount
tilt adapter
headband/goddle adapter
ball head mount
3 different battery charger kits
chest mount
dog mount
float
carrying case
liveview remote
rollbar mount
wired remote (multi-port)
surfboard mount
skeleton frame mount
wrist strap

In other words - a good copy of what GoPro offers - all for pretty similar prices. At $249 (the current price as of 11/24), this is a great deal. WiFi, GPS, NFC and a good 11MP sensor make for a solid package.

Coming back to the overengineered part - an example; mounts for this come wrapped in foam, in a cardboard overwrap, inside a box inside another box. GoPro just pops them in a plastic bag and hangs them on a shelf. Sony could learn something from them.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sony vs. GoPro: Not quite a toss-up, December 18, 2013
By 
Amazon Customer (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I own a GoPro HERO3: Black Edition (one version past) and now this Sony HDR-AS30V; I mainly use them during skiing outings, and I took both on a recent trip to the Sierra mountains in California. My takeaway: They have a few obvious differences, but the differences that I've noticed don’t really make either device stand out--except that the Sony is much less expensive.

They both have similar shooting modes, including 1080p/60 (which takes up gobs of storage card/hard drive space and is hard for most computers to edit); I shot mostly in 1080p/30, which I have no trouble editing with Adobe Premiere Pro CC on a modest workstation. The image quality looks pretty similar to me.

They both work with smartphones; you can set up your shot or adjust the camera on your head by looking at a live display on your phone (if you can see your phone in bright light; I mistakenly had my GoPro set for interval shots, instead of video, for quite a while, but that’s my fault). The Sony offers near-field communication (NFC) that you can use to activate the camera with your phone, or you can start up the camera from your phone’s screen using WiFi. When you pair the camera to your phone, you must have a code from the thin paper manual; the code is on a sticker that was barely stuck on mine. What happens if you lose it? Not sure about that; the solution is probably in the manual.

The GoPro Black Edition and the new GoPro Hero3+ come with a small remote control, in addition to the smartphone capability. I prefer using the small remote, but it has a rechargeable battery that can die. However, this remote was standard with the GoPro Black Edition; a similar remote for the Sony costs $149. So, if you want the nice remote with the Sony, the cost is pretty much the same as for the GoPro Hero3+.

If you simply use the buttons on the cameras--when your phone or remote dies--then I find that it’s easier to use the Sony, mainly because the “start rolling” button is on the back of the camera, so it’s impossible to confuse the the “previous” and “next” buttons on the side. With the GoPro, sometimes I forget which button does what (they aren’t labeled, either).

Battery life seems about the same between the GoPro HERO3: Black Edition and the Sony HDR-AS30V--it sucks on both devices. If you’re rolling on every run down the mountain, stopping in between runs, count on a couple of hours, tops, on a single battery. Buy extras (or just concentrate exclusively on your activity--strange concept, I know).

I mounted a GoPro platform to my ski helmet with one of GoPro's super-strong 3M adhesive patches, then attached an adapter to fit into the platform. With the Sony, you can do that too, or you can use an adapter that wraps around your goggles strap; it’s only $13. Used with this strap, the Sony jiggled on fast, bumpy runs, but it was fine on slow, smooth runs (following my kid down the mountain), and it’s closer to your line of site than the GoPro mounted on top of my helmet. The goggle-strap mount is also much less obvious/dorky looking. On the other hand, it’s much less adjustable than the GoPro top-of-helmet mount.

Sony’s mounts and platforms are a bit larger than GoPro's, but I think that’s only a negative if they don't fit in the spot you want them, like on a helmet that has many air vents. Sony seems to have a pretty good selection of mounts--on par with GoPro’s, I think. It probably goes without saying that you can’t use GoPro mounts with the Sony, or vice versa.

The one option that I think could be a big deal is the LCD viewer cradle that Sony offers. For about $80, you can use the HDR-AS30V somewhat like a real camcorder, in that it offers a pretty standard camcorder viewing screen, though you still can’t zoom or use any other standard camcorder features. You can also view recorded video, though of course, you could just review it on your smartphone.

It’s a backhanded compliment, and probably way past moot, but I appreciate that Sony now uses standard interfaces with the HDR-AS30V--micro USB, micro SD card, and HDMI. Sony’s probably using more standard interfaces on all of its devices these days, but I still remember the Memory Stick days.

Despite the fact that I really like the GoPro’s included remote control, if given the choice again, I’d opt for the HDR-AS30V and just use my smartphone for activating/viewing.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars GET THE GO PRO!!!!, January 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was super excited about this camera. I bought this right before my vacation to Mexico. The camera comes with a water proof case that I bought a wrist attachment for. The camera is easy to use and pretty user friendly. However none of that means anything if you cannot do what the camera is designed for. My first snorkeling excursion I look over and water is slowly leaking into the case. By the time I got back to shore the damage was done. I can understand that sometimes products are defective. However upon returning to the states and mailing it back to Sony they refused to fix it because "corrosion damage" is not covered under the warranty. After arguing with three departments for over an hour about how a defective case is covered under the warranty and that was the cause of the corrosion, they basically told me I had misused their product. They offered to send my broken camera back or to BUY ANOTHER ONE at a discounted rate. Horrible product. Worse customer service. Go with any other action camera than one of Sony's.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent addition to a travel videographer, November 2, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As a travel videographer, i need the equipment to be LIGHT. I use VG20, NEX 5n as B cam, plus numerous E mount lens. For action & wet shots, I now acquired the AS30 mainly for its light weight. Additionally, carl zeiss lens, excellent stablization, 720/120p super slow motion, video quality, exteral audio input option, direct HDMI out, and low cost are all very appealing. I find myself using this cam in more occasions due to its small profile and audio capability. The one-press recording button is extremely convinient to use, with auto on/off, very handy for one-man/one-hand operation. With proper casing, it goes quite deep under the water without worrying leaking. On a full charge, battery can shoot continuously for about 2 hours, I got an extra battery just in case.

It'd be nice if the cam have tripod mount built-in. This way I can mount it on a tripod and connect external audio source and hdmi monitor. Also will be good if the cam have flat bottom so that it can stand-up by itself when placed on flat surface. Other than that, I have no complaints.

Overall, this is a great addition to my equipment list for travel videography needs, while not adding much weight to my camera bag. The picture quality come out of this small wonder is amazing, works well with my VG20 and NEX 5N. When needed, color profile is easy to adjust duing post using Adobe premiere pro. Last but not the least, it is so much fun to play with 720/120p mode, this option added many potential for interesting shots.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short falls are mainly in the PlayMemories software, February 21, 2014
I thought this information would prove useful to others when choosing this action camcorder.
1) The PlayMemories software does not support the same features between Mac and Windows. Mainly, the MultiView overlays, which interpret the GPS data making those cool looking movies in the demo. MultiView is simply not in the Mac version of the software, which is a pretty bad feature loss when saying Mac and Windows are supported.

2) Camcorder only uses FAT32 as the file format when formatting data cards. What this means is that when you record video, when the video becomes 4gbs in size, it starts a new file. 1 adventure you record ends up being multiple files "under the covers". This is especially bad because when you use the "combine" feature in the Windows edition of PlayMemories, the GPS data is lost. The "combine" feature is not in the Mac version of the software.

3) If you used the "Multiview" option in the Windows edition of PlayMemories to add the GPS overlays to the individual files, you CANNOT use the "combine" feature, as the software will complain about mismatched CODECS, and worse, if the resulting file is larger than 4gbs, it errors, even though all the editing was done with the single camera, single Windows 8.1 machine, hosted on an NTFS file system.

Bottom line is that this is a nice camcorder with more features than others, mainly built in Image Stabilization and GPS, 2 things not available with mainly GoPro products. I am keeping this unit in the hopes that the Software can catch up to the device an be useful, but right now, the PlayMemories software is disappointing.

Hope this helps others.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See it in action!, December 30, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Length:: 2:58 Mins

Great camera!

My 17-year-old son took the attached video while he was scuba diving with the sharks at the "Mall of America" aquarium in Minnesota a couple days ago. Unfortunately, this was the first time he used the camera and he wasn't aware it had an "Underwater" setting! This was shot at the "Normal" setting at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 at 30 frames per second. He also forgot to insert an Anti-Fog sheet into the camera case--but we're still happy with the results.

What I like most about this camera:

The camera is small so it doesn't get in the way when it is attached to the side of your head!

You can purchase a variety of different attachments. In the video shown here the camera is attached with the headband mount attached to his dive mask strap. At one point in the video he does unscrew the camera from the mount and takes a short video of himself. In fact, several times during his 45 minute dive he unscrewed the camera from the mount and then re-attached it.

Quality: The overall image quality of the videos is very good when there is adequate light! Unfortunately our underwater video doesn't truly show this because it was a very low light situation and the camera wasn't set to the "Underwater" setting. Basically we were happy to get this image quality. In fact, my son saw things in the video he didn't even see while diving because it was so dark!

There are a variety of settings you can select regarding recording mode, field angle (170 or 120 degrees), interval photo recording, and steady shot. The steady shot feature is unavailable with the 170 degree setting.

Extra Accessories that I like:

We did buy the optional Sony SPK-AS1 Waterproof Case ($29.99) since it is waterproof down to 197 feet. The case that comes with the camera is only waterproof down to 16 feet and we didn't want to take any chances.

We also have the "Camcorder Cradle with the LCD Unit" which makes this camera perform somewhat like a regular camcorder where you can actually see what you are recording--and play it back on the LCD screen. Keep in mind there is no zoom feature on this camera--but the 170 and 120 degree feature is neat!

Right now the only thing I don't like is that to turn off the camera you have to select that option from the menu. I would prefer a button that you can easily push.

Overall, we are very pleased with this camera. My son often dives at the aquarium in Duluth, Minnesota, so we are looking forward to seeing how the "Underwater" scene mode works!
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