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Review: Sony Action Cam with WiFi, NFC and GPS HDR-AS30V

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GoPro has a lot of competition in the market and Sony doesn’t hold back for a second to add to the pool of players. Sony’s Action Cam (HDR-AS30V) provides a comparable means of capturing all of your favorite adventures and sharing them with the world.

With it’s Carl Zeiss Tessar lens, this camera supports 1080p at up to 60fps (frames per second) and up to 120fps at 720p for your slow motion capture needs. Both image and video quality is more than usable for the price and it comes packed with features.

Both WiFi and NFC (Near Field Communication) are supported allowing quick and easy access to remote features such as viewing, capture control, camera mode and settings. Either connect to the camera as a network via WiFi or touch your phone against it to automatically (Android devices only) trigger the PlayMemories Mobile app. The app itself is available for both iOS and Android devices. There is also an Airplane mode so that you can disable the wireless features while on an aircraft.

gps_dataoverlayThe camera offers built-in GPS which is enabled by default in camera settings to track the positioning of the camera during recording. You can then import the video to your PC and into Sony’s PlayMemories Home software (available for both PC and Mac) where it will then overlay the GPS data onto the video allowing you to display all of your statistics during playback and share it with others as if it was a screen out of some video game.

The lens is 170 degree widescreen, and just like the GoPro devices, packed with a fisheye lens allowing you to easily capture everything around you with a dramatic touch. It also has improved low-light support* so that you don’t lose anything when entering a dark area or deeper underwater. (see below for updates on low-light support)

It comes with a water-proof enclosure (SPK-AS2) that can be submerged up to 16ft underwater. Unfortunately, 16ft isn’t really that great in comparison to the GoPro but it might be due to the fact that they try to balance this while still allowing some audio into the case via the stereo configuration in the front. This design may handicap it’s underwater capabilities, or maybe the latch that holds it shut is the culprit. Either way, it can still be used underwater which is a big plus, and can go deep enough to at least handle any pool or water recreation facility (such as Six Flags, Raging Rapids or Wet ‘n’ Wild). We do prefer to see a better enclosure though, which will affect the overall score.

Inside you find a mount adapter and two mounts, one flat and one curved. You will find them quite similar to GoPro’s mounts, only larger. For those out there who already own GoPro accessories and would like to use them between both devices, there are adapters (like here) that can convert them from Sony’s camera thread on the enclosure to GoPro’s adapter/accessories.

live_view_remoteJust like the GoPro, the Sony Action Cam comes with a large selection of accessories, mounts, and connectable gadgets. Such as the Live-View Remote that straps to your wrist, and allows you to view the video and control live from your wrist (just like your phone) while recording. You can find all of these online or from Sony directly. Some local electronic stores may carry them as well, but you will probably have better luck online like we have.

The image stabilization support using Sony SteadyShot technology is pretty solid and offers smooth video while recording heavy action shots. It’s not perfect, but like the GoPro Hero 3+, get’s the job done. It also offers what Sony calls “3-way shake canceling” which electronically adds additional stabilization to the video.

The one thing Sony really seems to have right is the price! Right now, the average price is going for about $199, which is less than GoPro’s average $300-400 range. This is a major brownie point for them since it helps expand the availability of action cameras to the public, since not everyone is willing to dish out $199. GoPro does offer cameras within this price range, but they are dumbed down version that don’t offer things like WiFi control or GPS.

Slow motion shots using 120fps while in 720p is also a lot of fun. Audio is disabled while in this mode for obvious reasons, although personally we think they should have allowed the option to enable it if you so choose, since the slow motion sound/voice effect could add humor to certain shots. We have captured everything from fast moving objects, jumping from cliffs for a nice action shot to destroying things so that we can capture the damage slowly moving about the screen. Every single time it resulted in nothing but fun footage, and great quality coming from such a small camera. We would like to see a firmware update though, that helps smooth out the grain during slow motion shots. We noticed that in every shot. Although the quality is great for the size of the camera, we feel the grain you experience can/should be easily managed with a nice non-intrusive blur/smoothing.

We always stress this, but like any other electronic device (toy), we highly recommend that you update it’s firmware to guarantee you have the latest features and trouble-free performance.

Our Conclusion

We have tested the camera out in every way we have with a GoPro to give it a fair assessment. From 1080p to 720p, normal to slow motion, daylight to low-light, and fast speeds to underwater. We have been very happy with the camera and although it doesn’t always fully compare to the GoPro in some conditions, the Carl Zeiss lens really does make a difference in others. The water-proof enclosure could use an upgrade as we don’t care about audio within the case. You still get the creaking plastic noises as you do the GoPro while inside it, so capturing the sound of what’s going on around it isn’t that big of a concern. The GPS, WiFi and NFC features are a major plus and over-all we are very happy with the camera. We decided to give it a 7.5 out of 10 and recommend it if you’re not looking to spend more money. The score would go up with a better enclosure and a firmware update for the slow motion shots.

7.5 / 10 stars           

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Video:
httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iwGnBTlaO4

Additional Images:
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Specifications:

  • Advanced Features

    • Image Stabilization : SteadyShot™ image stabilization w/ Active mode
    • Dustproof : Yes
    • Wi-Fi : Control with Smartphone
    • Interval Recording : Yes (photo) (5s/10s/30s/60s)
    • Waterproof : Yes (In use with Waterproof Case (SPK-AS2))
    • Airplane Mode : Yes
    • Power Save : Yes
    • Embedded GPS : Yes
  • Camera

    • Camera Type : POV Action Cam
    • Color : Black
  • Convenience Features

    • Date / Time Stamp : Yes
    • Multiple Language Display : English
    • Media/Battery Indicator : Yes (recordable time) / Yes (remaining capacity)
    • On Screen Main Indicators : Recording Mode; Image stabilization; GPS Tracking Status; Shooting Mode Status
    • Image Management File Repair : Yes (AUTO)
    • Fast Playback : About 5 times/10 times
  • Display Panel

    • Display Panel : Yes
  • Drive System

    • Shutter Speeds : Auto Control Range: 1/30 – 1/10,000 (30fps)
  • Exposure System

    • Minimum Illumination : 6 lux
    • Scene Mode(s) : Auto / Underwater
    • Metering Modes : Multi-segment
    • Backlight Compensation : Yes (Auto)
    • Noise Reduction : Yes
    • White Balance Mode : Auto
  • Imaging Sensor

    • Processor : BIONZ® image processor
    • Pixel Gross : Approx. 16800K pixels
    • Color Filter System : RGB primary color filters
    • Effective Picture Resolution : Approx. 11,900K pixels (16:9)
    • Imaging Sensor : 1/2.3″ (7.77mm) back-illuminated Exmor R® CMOS Sensor
  • Imaging Sensor(details)

    • Recording pixels (photo, 16:9) : Approx.11900000 pixels
  • Interface

    • NFC : Yes (NFC forum Type 3 Tag compatible)
    • HDMI Terminal : Yes (HDMI micro)
    • Memory Card Slot : Memory Stick Micro™ and Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC compatible
    • HD Output : HDMI Out (micro) (sold separately)
    • USB Port(s) : micro-B/USB2.0 Hi-speed (mass-storage)
    • Wi-Fi : IEEE 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz band)
    • Multi/Micro USB Terminal : Yes
    • BRAVIA® Sync™ : Yes
    • Microphone Input : Stereo Mini Jack
  • Optics/Lens

    • Minimum Focus Distance : Approx. 1 3/16inch (Approx 30cm)
    • Lens Type : Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar® Lens
    • Focal Distance : f=2.5mm, f=1/8inch
    • Steady Shot Mode:Active : 21.3mm
    • Aperture : F2.8
    • Focal Length (35mm equivalent) : f=15.3mm, f= 5/8 inch
    • Angle of View : 170° (without SteadyShot), 120° (with SteadyShot)
  • Power

    • Power Requirements : 3.6V (battery pack)
    • Battery Type : NP-BX1
    • Power Consumption (in Operation) : 1.9W
    • Charge on camcorder (Charging time with supplied Battery) : Approx. 4h 05min
  • Recording

    • Progressive Mode : Yes
    • Video Signal : HD: HDTV 1080/60p
    • Microphone/Speaker : Built-in Microphone, Monoral Speaker
    • Video Resolution : PS:1920×1080 60p (PS), 1920×1080 30p (HQ), 1280×720 30p (STD), 1280×720 60p/- (SLOW), 1280×720 120p/- (SSLOW), 640×480 30p (VGA)
    • Audio Format : MPEG-4 AAC-LC 2ch
    • Movie Recording Rate(Average Bit Rate/VBR) : HQ: Approx. 16Mbps / SSLOW: Approx. 24Mbps / SLOW: Approx. 12Mbps / STD: Approx. 6Mbps / VGA: Approx. 3Mbps
    • Video Format : MP4: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264
    • Still Image Mode : JPEG
    • Still Image File Format : DCF Ver.2.0 compatible, Exif Ver.2.3 compatible, MPF Baseline compatible
    • Media Type : Memory Stick Micro™ (Mark 2), Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Card (Class 4 or Higher)
    • Still Image Max Effective Resolution : 11.9 megapixels
    • Still Image Size(Photo Mode) : 11.9 megapixels 16:9 (1920×1080)
    • Video Actual (Pixel) : Approx. 11,900K pixels
  • USB Power Supply

    • Yes (1.5A or more is recommended)
  • Weights and Measurements

    • Weight (Approx.) (Total) : Approx.90g (NP-BX1(supplied battery))
    • Dimensions (Approx.) : Approx. 31/32inch x 1 7/8inch x 3 1/4inch (Approx.24.5mm x 47.0mm x 82.0mm) including supplied battery
    • Weight (Approx.) : Approx. 2oz (Approx. 65g)

 

Updates:

07/06/2014 – With additional testing, we were unable to produce significant results with low-light conditions. We have not tested low-light conditions underwater, but outside of water, it performs no better than the GoPro. We were surprised by this as Sony pushed so hard on this feature. Hopefully in future firmware updates, they may be able to address this.

Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.

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About Author

James

Designer, Editor and Reviewer for Poc Network, ProAudio and Mobile Nations. James enjoys spending most of his time as an audio engineer and technician for the live music industry when he isn't running around the office here juggling an intense workload. He can also be found frequently in the nearby mountainous ranges, scrambling rocks and rappelling down large sections.

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