Thursday, 20 March 2014

Sony Action Cam AS30V Review

Sony Action Cam AS30V Review

I got my hands on the latest Action Cam by Sony last week and I can’t help myself but write a review about it since it’s just super awesome. For those who didn’t know what an Action Cam is, it’s actually a camcorder targeted for those who indulge themselves with extreme sports (superbike racing, mountain climbing, surfing etc). Since nobody can see what the person is going through, a Point-of-View (POV) camera is suitable for such situation. It’s going to enable recording during such activities plus providing GPS data to keep track of your route. We’ll see what the Sony Action Cam has to offer.

Hardware and Design
Inside the small package lies the 1/2.3” type back-illuminated Exmor RTM CMOS sensor with 12 effective megapixel for photos and videos. The lens is the ZEISS® Tessar® Lens if the highest quality and I have to admit, it gave such a nice and sharp shots of mostly everything that’s in focus. With the max aperture of f/2.8, it does provide a clear, sharp images and recordings. However, be aware that the minimum focusing distance for the Action Cam is 30cm and nearer than that would give you an OOF (Out-of-Focus) shots. Recording button on the back is quite flimsy but it does have a lock to prevent from accidental recording that would end up drying up your juice. Underneath the record button is the battery and memory card slot. The battery would last around 2 to 3 hours. Standy would last for a week I guess. The action cam can either too a microSD or Memorystick micro. I get a 64gb microSD since it gave much more recording time for me (around 5 hours of full HD recording or 10k plus shots). The two button on the side are for navigating the menus and a super-small LCD to show the menus. It was built with great aerodynamic since the wind resistance will be much less than the GoPro. The slot for microUSB, microHDMI and mic were placed on the bottom and covered with a flimsy hard plastic cover. Charging is definitely with the microUSB since it remove the hassle of taking the battery out and using the external charger.

The Action Cam maxed out it’s recording at 1080p 60fps with 18mbps. Beside, it also has 1080p 30fps, 720p 120fps (SuperSlowMotion), 720p 60fps (SlowMotion), 720p 30fps and 480p. After using it on a few occasion (especially on my superbike), the Action Cam proved to be smoother though there’s few artefact which I believe came from the waterproof casing. Videos without stabilization will be at 170º and turning it on and you will get a little bit tight which is around 120º. That might be a lot but for me, it works best on some events. Most of the time I would turn off the stabilization just to get the extra view.

I would say it’s a mixed bag. This little cam is definitely not suited for photos but it does it’s job. Though it gave you 12mp of photos each time you’re on your own selfie, high noise is the drawback. I managed to get a great outdoor shot with great lighting but indoor is very much acceptable. Not very good but you can still see your own smile. Sometimes I would take clips from the video itself cos it looks much cleaner than taking a photo.

Sony has thrown mostly everything you can think of. From the headmount to the chest harness, you name it. Mostly are upgrades from its little brother, the AS15V. What you will basically get right from the box are waterproof case, a curvy and a flat sticking mount. Others like the chest harness require you to blow some cash. The most significant of all the accessories is the LiveView Remote. It has a small LCD that act as a viewfinder and it would also act like a watch to show time. You can record from the watch which means you don’t have to go for the cam itself to push the record button. Changing the setting and view was made easy by the watch. It’s also waterproof. That’s why I get one.

It works great. Sometime, you can just hold it during your walk and you will still get great videos. The cam alone is not waterproof. It requires the waterproof case to make it waterproof and maybe a little shockproof. It will still break if you smash it on the floor though. I had great time using it in the pool with my friends and the SuperSlowMotion mode is very, very smooth. It’s just like peanut butter cream. The cam is built specifically for extreme sport users. However, if you’re a person who prefer travelling alone, this is also the one for you. You can take you own selfie or record whatever you’re going through your holiday. Since I travel alone with my bike, having this is a much better option.

It’s a Sony. You can’t expect a low price. You think this is a junk? It was priced nearly the same with the GoPro3+. I got mine with the LiveView Remote watch and it costs RM1,499. The GoPro3+ was priced the same with a recording remote watch. I guess Sony’s watch is much better since it gave me a look at what I’m recording though it was like a bulk on my wrist. All the accessories were plastic and it’s gonna cost you premium price. Don’t tell people that I didn’t warn you for this.

Final Verdict
This is not a normal camcorder. If you think you’re getting this for your home video, you would better off using your smartphones for that. My Samsung S4 did better home video or even stupid video compared to the Action Cam. Get this cam if you are going jumping off the cliff, bungee jumping or even skydiving or even any other sports that is going to make recording impossible. Videos are smooth, shots are considerably acceptable and it is quite tough. Get this one if you’re going to do so extreme and crazy stuff.