Customer Review

204 of 219 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Initial impressions a good start for Sony - Sony HDR-AS15, September 26, 2012
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This review is from: Sony HDR-AS15 Action Video Camera (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
Length:: 2:10 Mins

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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Comments

Tracked by 8 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 27, 2012 9:33:25 AM PDT
Hi..can you send the link for the complete review ? Amazon not showing .... laballbi at yahoo dot com dot br thanks a lot

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 10:02:55 PM PDT
Todd S says:
Thanks for the review. I have 2 GoPro Hero 2 cameras which I use with external power and a single microphone. I was interested in this camera but it seems like an oversight that Sony designed the camera with connections on the bottom of the camera with no means to access them with the standard case attached. I have seen some sample videos on the internet and they look pretty good (hard to tell if they are better than the GoPro Hero 2 due to compression). It seems to me that the killer feature for this camera is the Steadyshot. GoPro needs image stabilization like this camera. Thanks again for the review. I gave you a thumbs up!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2012 10:25:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 27, 2012 10:26:03 PM PDT
SuperDad says:
Thanks. I have a relative that has the GoPro Hero 2 as well and he likes it. (has purchased the larger case that accommodates the video monitor back). I too wish that Sony had placed the mic jack and USB in a different location. Since there is an accessory port there, it seems that an add-on solution to this is coming in the future. I decided to give the Sony a try due to what it includes at its price point (case, WiFi control & video monitoring, etc.) I plan to test steadyshot in a few days to see how well it works in this incarnation. The decent quality of the built-in Sony mic surprised me, but of course most external mics will be superior.

Color accuracy appears to be good and of the familiar conservative Sony saturation levels. (I have Sony HDV and Canon AVCHD; Canon tends to be 'warmer' color temps).

For now - for folks that don't need external audio connectivity that is protected from the elements, it is a good system. For the future, the cottage industry of mounts and covers will likely make the issue moot shortly.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2012 10:39:37 PM PDT
Todd S says:
Just a heads up... You stated in your review that you did a time lapse and captured 400 pictures for 3 hours and 15 minutes at 30 minute intervals. Probably should be 30 second intervals. If Sony or someone else comes out with a way to mount this camera and use external power and a mic I'll be all over it. Until then I hope GoPro kicks into high gear and releases the promised firmware/software updates for their camera.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2012 10:51:04 PM PDT
SuperDad says:
Check again. It is showing the video now.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2012 10:54:30 PM PDT
SuperDad says:
Good catch. You are correct. They are 30 second intervals. I agree that the external mounting with mic and power is a key accessory to get added.

Posted on Oct 18, 2012 12:48:27 AM PDT
A. P. Carr says:
Do they make anything like this without the stupidly wide ultra-ultra wide angle fisheye lens? It's horrible and vomit-inducing

Posted on Nov 4, 2012 2:37:39 PM PST
Jacek says:
Can it record while connected to USB power charger?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2012 9:15:22 PM PST
JB in SLC says:
I have not had success with this; plugging in the USB puts the camera into transfer mode and/or charge mode -if there is the usb cam option i haven't yet discovered it

Posted on Nov 26, 2012 9:27:58 PM PST
JB in SLC says:
comparing your audio with mine, I suspect you did not record this within the waterproof case. Is this correct?
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