Sony is jockeying with GoPro for the top spot of the POV cam market. Although GoPro has a significant lead, Sony’s Action Cams are nothing to sneeze at. The company announced the latest edition, the FDR-X100V 4K Action Cam, and, as you’ve guessed, it can shoot 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 at 30p). The X100V competes against GoPro’s Hero4 Black, and, to a lesser extent, Panasonic’s A500 4K POV cam.
While the X100V is relatively compact and fits in your palm, the components require a larger body. Otherwise, it looks similar to other Full HD Action Cam models. The white-body camera is splash proof, but it comes with an underwater housing that makes it more rugged.
On the front is a Zeiss Tessar 170-degree ultra-wide-angle lens (a wider field of view than the Hero4 Black), and inside is Sony’s back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor and Bionz X image processor – similar to components found in other high-end Sony cams. The X100V can also read and process all the data from every pixel in the sensor.
This tech, which is found in Sony’s A7 full-frame cameras, allows for videos with greater details. The X100V also uses Sony’s XAVC S compression technology that makes files smaller but without sacrificing too much quality in the process.
One of the things we find impressive about Sony’s Action Cams is the image stabilization. The X100V uses a new version of SteadyShot, which Sony says is three times more effective at reducing shake. Besides 4K at 30p, it can shoot Full HD 1080 at 120p and HD 720 at 240p. Besides a Micro SDXC card, you can record the 4K content to an external device via HDMI. The new Action Cam also has noise reduction for the stereo mics.
Sony added manual controls and adjustable settings for advanced users. Loop recording is available when the memory card runs out of space. You can also live-stream content via U-Stream, as well as a burst mode.
If you don’t need 4K, Sony also has a new version of its Full HD Action Cam. The HDR-AS200V has the same features as the X1000V, minus 4K. It can handle Full HD 1080 at 60p, HD 720 at 120p, and WVGA at 240p.
Also new to both cameras is something called “Highlight Movie Maker.” Ideal for casual users, the feature helps you create short MP4 videos. It actually analyzes your video as it’s being shot, and it can recognize key moments (perhaps a trick on a skateboard or bike, or a fast downhill ski, as recorded by the gyroscopes inside) and mark those as keepers – with music added. The result is a Web-friendly video you can upload to YouTube.
GPS data can be placed over a video (GPS Data Overlay), and a new live-view LCD remote (RM-LVR2) can be worn on your arm for control when the camera isn’t easily accessible. You can also use remote functions by pairing the cameras via Wi-Fi to an iOS or Android mobile device.
Sony says a new Action Cam App will be available in the spring, replacing the PlayMemories Mobile app. Look for new accessories as well, like a helmet side mount and snow/surf/skateboard mount.
Available in March 2015, the X100V 4K model will sell for $500 – $600 when bundled with the new remote. The AS200V will sell for $300, or $400 with the remote. In the Action Cam series, the Action Cam Mini, which debuted last year, rounds out the current options.