Sony Action Cam

Cameras Interbike

The POV sport camera companies, such as GorPro, Drift Innovations, Contour and Replay have had the market to themselves, but the big boy’s, including JVC and Sony are stepping into fold.

Sony had their new Action Cam video cameras on display at the show, and the camera comes in two models, the HDR-AS15 with built-in Wi-Fi, and the HDR-AS10 without Wi-Fi. Other than the Wi-Fi, they are exactly the same camera. The rugged and wearable full HD video camcorders weigh 90 grams/3.2 oz including battery, and measure 1″ x 1.9″ x 3.2″ in size. The HDR-AS15 retails for $269.99 and the HDR-AS10 for $199.99, and the kits include the camera, a waterproof housing which is good to 197 feet/60m, flat and curved surface mounts and a rechargeable battery.

The HDR-AS15 and HDR-AS10 are POV (point of view) high-definition sports camera, and use a 16.8 megapixel, 1/2.3″ back-illuminated ExmorR CMOS sensor. Sony does masking of the sensor for the 16:9 widescreen to get an effective resolution of  11.9 megapixels. They use a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens with an ultra-wide 170° viewing angle (120° with SteadyShot), which is fixed focus with a F2.8 aperture. Sony equipped them with their SteadyShot image stabilization with Active mode technology, and the digital design helps reduce blurring and shaky footage. They can record 11.9 MP video footage in 1080p, 720p and standard formats, and 2MP photos in a time lapse and manual shutter mode. They record data onto a micro SDHC or Memory Stick Micro, and is powered with an internal rechargeable Li-Ion battery that gives around three hours of recording time. They have ports for a micro USB for computer connection and recharging, and a micro HDMI for live streaming to a TV or other source, a handheld device adapter, and a mini microphone jack for higher-quality audio recording.

The housing attaches to an assortment of mounts, including stick-on for flat and curved surfaces, and optional handlebar, suction cup, and goggle. They also have a headband mount in which the camera directly snaps into a tray mount.

Video
The camera can shoot in High and Standard Definition, and shoot in various video resolutions, including 1080p at 30fps, 720p at 30fps, vga at 30fps, 720 at 60fps and 720 at 120fps, the latter two being slow motion shooting modes. Each of the video resolutions is captured at different bit rates, which entails varying recording times and storage requirements, meaning greater resources are needed for the higher usage formats. The resolution settings are altered using two buttons in concert with an LCD menu that reside on the right side of the camera. It uses the H.264 video codec, AAC audio compression, and a .mp4 file type.

Photo
The camera can shoot still 1080p photos in manual, and time lapse modes. The automatic time lapse mode allows photos to be taken every X number of seconds, where X is 5, 10, 30 or 60-second intervals. The megapixels for photos is 2MP with a 170º FOV.

Wi-Fi
With the HDR-AS15 model, you can connect to a Wi-Fi enabled mobile phone and tablet that are equipped with Sony’s free PlayMemories Mobile app. The camera can transfer and compress movies and photos to your device, and then use a 3G or 4G mobile broadband connection to email movies to people or upload to social media sites. In addition, the app allows remote control functions, to alter settings or check the camera viewpoint.

They also were showing a prototype handheld device, in which the Action Cam plugs directly into the unit. It would then act like a normal camcorder, with a larger LCD screen, that would have real time viewing and easier usage of the controls.

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • Donny says:

    Hey Sony, I’d be glad to test one out for you! Just send it my way…!

  • GoGogordo says:

    2mps photos??
    Is that all?
    i see pix in 1080 for stills too?
    How about some pix on a helmet/bike kids??
    Confused??

  • GoGogordo says:

    seems a bit behind the curve.
    IMHO

  • Brian Mullin says:

    GoGogordo – I added a picture with it mounted on a helmet. Yes, it does a measly 2MP picture with a 1080p layout, but I think they focused themselves on the video quality, which should be pretty impressive at 11.9MP?

  • MissedThePoint says:

    why stop at 11.9MP when 12MP video should be better!

    I’m just gonna laugh at anyone who decides to buy cameras based on stats and name brand like this… IMO, the quality of that file that comes off the camera is all that matters. If that can be uploaded to YouTube with minimal editing and look awesome, specifically, better than the GoPro Hero2…

    • Brian Mullin says:

      I do agree that the quality of the final output is a key component, but there are many other factors, including battery life, light interaction, color reproduction, form factor, light adjustability, low light capabilities, menu system, mounts/mounting, price, remote capabilties, rotatable lens, smartphone interface, size/svelteness, waterproofness, ruggedness, etc.

      More pixels crammed into a small sensor doesn’t always make for better picture quality.

      I will withhold any judgement until I test one in the real world.

  • Roostalee says:

    I agree that competition is good. Until GoPro and Contour crashed the party, we were still taping camcorders to our helmets (OK, there were some Vio cameras a few years back, but these were clunky to use and the video certainly wasn’t 1080). Sony does do cameras well, and a Zeiss lens is nothing to scoff at. But yes, let’s wait until we see the results before passing judgement. 11.9MP should be more than adequate, unless you’re going to show yer stuff at an IMAX. In which case I’d recommend strapping an IMAX camera to your body (good luck). So, to Sony I say: welcome.

  • Christopher says:

    For cycling, here is a direct comparison of the Sony Action Cam and the GoPro Hero2 (Hero3 Silver wasn’t available). The helmet mount that is picture above isn’t realistic as it is a (GoPro compatible) adhesive and if it at all fits on a road or MTB helmet, cable ties would make sense. The Sony handlebar mount however is fair superior to other competitors camera mounts and you have to decide for yourself which footage is better – the steady shot really does improve shakey footage: http://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/12/how-good-sony-action-cam-capturing-video-bike/

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