Customer Review

128 of 130 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the action cam you want., March 25, 2014
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This review is from: Sony HDR-AS100VR POV Action Video Camera with Live View Remote (White) (Electronics)
Firstly, I'm a heavy user of action cams. I've used them for everything from B-roll footage, timelapses, drones/quadcopters, helmet cams, weather balloons, high speed recording of MMA and plenty other things. I'm saddened that it took until 2014 for me to be wholly satisfied with a product all around (I've eagerly waited on my pre-order for over a month!).

I'm going to get straight to the main course. The quality of the video alone is an embarrassment to Go Pro (the innovator of this product and the "industry standard"). The sharpness of the lens and fluid motion of the CCD, even with the stabilizer turned off, isn't even in the same category as the competition's. It handles color beautifully, and allows you to record 1080p at 60fps so even the quickest turns and motions are captured accurately and not lost in frame sync.

On paper, there are a few competitors. The Go Pro Hero 3+ Black Edition offers just about the same specs, but lacks a live view remote. But the quality difference gets lost in the fine print. Sony's image sensor is far superior, its stabilizer is subtle and effective, and most importantly, there seems to have been a fine display of quality control and testing, whereas Go Pro absolutely craps themselves in that regard. The Hero 3+ is off focus, the Hero 3 is fragile and buggy, the Hero 2 skips frames and cannot focus underwater, etc, etc. That being said, I'm sure you can understand why I was so excited to try the Sony AS100VR out.

You're probably thinking: "But wait, doesn't the Hero 3+ support 4K video?"
Technically it almost does. What Go Pro considers to be 4k is actually about a thousand pixels short of the WHXGA standard. Practically it does not even come close. It can only shoot (almost) 4K at 12fps, which is about half of the suitable minimum for video. Remember claymation? That was mostly 15fps. You're also shooting "4k video" out of a lens that isn't designed for that resolution, or even properly focused.
Not that it should even matter right now. Most of us can't even keep a 720p video stream from Netflix or Youtube without buffering. 4k as a standard is a decade away.

Light!
The AS100V handles dynamic range very intelligently in both bright and dark settings, and adjusts the exposure faster than most other cameras. This means that if you're wearing it on a bike and ride out of a tunnel, it won't take 3 seconds to adjust to the drastic light change.
I was a little worried that the AS100V would fall short on low-light performance, as almost all action cameras do. But, anxiety averted. Recording under streetlights looks sharp and clean. I would put it far beyond the Hero 3 or 3+, and just slightly above the Hero 2 (which was my previous pick for low-light
performance). Sony takes the gold with quite a bit less noise. I would assume that the the Sony had a larger aperture lens while the Hero 2 had to compensate with ISO, but they're both f/2.4, so I have no explanation other than an improved CCD.

Finally, the game changer: You can opt to record in XAVC format if you buy a high speed memory card. If you plan on using this for anything other than your own enjoyment, this is huge. Before this camera, XAVC was only used in high-end professional camcorders. The compression is much crisper, and there's an upgrade in color depth from your standard 8-bit, to 12-bit. It's a proprietary format, but it is supported by all current Adobe products as well as Vegas and other mainstream video editing applications.

Other goodies worth mentioning:
-240 FPS/480p and 120FPS/720p for super slow motion fun.

- The option to shoot at 170 degrees or crop to a less wide 120 degrees.

-Tripod screw on both camera and waterproof case. The waterproof case has a standard 1/4 screw hole, and the camera has a 1/8. However it comes with a 1/8 to 1/4 base should you choose to use the camera on a tripod without the waterproof case.

- Both the camera and the wrist display charge via standard micro-usb. (Android phone charger)
- On-board GPS that doesn't require specific software or a website to use (although you have the option). It saves the data in a .log file, so you can load it into virtually anything.

- Easy smartphone integration/preview/sharing.

At the time of writing, this is easily the best in class for action cams, and probably the best video capture quality you will find behind the DSL price-range.

The only thing I can't comment on is it's longevity. But if it breaks easily or stops working, I'll certainly change those 5 stars and complain to the world by updating this review.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 25, 2014 7:47:17 PM PDT
Ryan says:
You say "tripod screw on both camera and waterproof case, no adapter needed". The screw hole on the camera is not a 1/2-20 tripod mount. I think it is probably a 1/8 and may be fine pitch. Definitely won't work with a standard tripod screw. That means the adapter is needed to use it with a tripod, or you have to change out the screw on any/all tripod mounts you plan to use it with. I'm looking for some because I plan to do just that: mount it directly to the camera (no adapter) in some applications.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2014 9:52:07 PM PDT
B. Jordan says:
You know what? You're totally right. Only the waterproof case has a 1/4 hole.
Although it does come with a 1/8 to 1/4 adapter should you choose to use the tripod without the case.

I didn't even think of it as I usually never use these types of cams without the protective casing.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 26, 2014 5:44:27 AM PDT
S.Buck says:
Question:Is it possible to use the external mic input & power the unit at the same time if the 1/8 to 1/4 adapter is attached? Looks like it the door won't be accessible once the adapter is fitted.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 26, 2014 11:22:12 AM PDT
B. Jordan says:
Yes, it you attach it backwards. It looks a little awkward, but doesn't interfere with the shot. http://i.imgur.com/5x2fgCl.jpg

If you're doing anything rugged with a tripod mount and external mic/power, I would just toss in the $30 for the skeleton frame as it protects the camera while allowing all of the input jacks to be utilized.

Posted on Mar 27, 2014 1:09:07 PM PDT
universecam says:
Hello, nice review! I read somewhere that the stabilization is achieved by reserving portions of the sensor for this purpose. I also read somewhere, with regards to the previous model, that this caused the image to lose some detail and sharpness when in steady-mode.

Questions:
1. Is this still the case with this new model?
2. If so, is the loss in quality by any stretch significant?

Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 27, 2014 1:49:51 PM PDT
B. Jordan says:
Hey, yeah, that's been a bit of an issue previously.

I can't say for sure, but comparing video with stabilization on and off shows me no noticeable difference in quality or POV in the high quality XAVC format. That leads me to believe that the native capture resolution may be a couple hundred pixels larger, and is cropped down to 1080p.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 27, 2014 3:15:40 PM PDT
universecam says:
Alright, thanks!

Posted on Mar 30, 2014 3:40:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 30, 2014 3:42:58 PM PDT
Nic says:
The 4K of the GP has a worse Bitrate than the XAVC-1080p video from the Sony HDR, doesn't the video from the AS100 look better than the 4K video from the GPHero3+?
And thanks for the tip with screwing the tripod adapter on the other way round, I was a little bit worried until now, but with this I am trying to get it on release! (I am from Germany, so it is released on April 8th)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2014 12:39:58 PM PDT
B. Jordan says:
Hey, just an update. You CAN power the unit with the 1/4 mount on the normal way, however the mic/hdmi panel will be covered.

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2014 7:04:08 PM PDT
Does it remain weathertight with external power and/or external mic connected? I want to use it on a motorcycle helmet and will want to connect an external battery for extended run time and an external mic for inside the helmet. Thanks for the great review and info.
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B. Jordan
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Location: Chicago, IL

Top Reviewer Ranking: 12,346