Is Sony’s little camera the next big thing?
SONY ACTION CAM HDR-AS30V
Delivers above-average value and performance
Recommended for intended application
Shows potential but has drawbacks
Save your hard-earned bucks
Sony has long been a household name in the electronics
world, but as much of the conversation about video cameras shifted to compact point-of-view cameras, Sony was
noticeably absent from the conversation. That is, until Sony
released its first Action Cam in 2012. A year later, Sony has
already released a second generation of the Action Cam, the
$300 HDR-AS30V, with some key improvements over the
Tech features: The HDR-AS30V aims to offer class-leading image quality with the Exmor R CMOS sensor and
Sony’s SteadyShot technology to reduce image shaking. The
Action Cam features a Carl Zeiss lens with a viewing angle of
170 degrees in its widest setting.
Video can be recorded in six different settings, including high-quality 1080/60p as well as a super-slow 720/120p
mode. You can take 11.9-megapixel still images in either a
standard point-and-shoot fashion or by using the interval
function, which lets you choose from among a number of
The Action Cam is GPS-enabled, which means it can
geotag your image’s location and also overlay speed, distance
and location data over your video using Sony’s PlayMemories
Home support software. The camera also features WiFi,
allowing connectivity with Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app
that lets riders use their smartphone as a viewfinder or to
change settings, start and stop recording, and take photos.
After you’re done shooting, you can transfer video and
wwwphotos directly to your phone over a WiFi connection.
The AS30V has a sleeker housing than its predecessor,
with access to all the camera’s controls instead of just the
start/stop button. The standard housing is waterproof up to
16 feet and features a waterproof port to help sounds get to
the stereo microphone located on the front of the camera.
Sony has also introduced a slew of new mounts, including a
chest mount—a popular style for mountain bikers. The new
Action Cam can also now record images upside down for
even more mounting options.
Our Action Cam weighed 3 ounces without the case and
4. 9 ounces with the case. It came with a waterproof case, one
adhesive mount and a removable, rechargeable battery.
Field test results: The first thing we noticed was the
high-quality build. The camera, its housing and the mounts—
everything works together well. Even though it’s lightweight,
it doesn’t feel flimsy by any means. We appreciated that the
mounting system worked off of a standard tripod mount, which
not only felt familiar but was compatible with gear we already
While there are plenty of mounts available, the shape of the
camera doesn’t lend itself well to certain mounting options,
such as a chest mount. Additionally, with limited mounting
locations on some helmets, we had to use Sony’s tilt adapter,
which, while allowing us to get the proper angle, raised the
camera significantly higher off the helmet, making it feel heavier with movement.
Sony’s PlayMemories app proved to be a very cool and easy
to use asset for setting up shots on the trail and ensuring the
camera was mounted correctly on a handlebar or helmet.
While we are all for getting away from technology while on the
trail, being able to directly transfer footage and images to our
iPhones in the middle of nowhere was cool.
Image and video quality was very impressive and is among
the best available in the class. While the SteadyShot feature
forces a reduction in viewing angle from 170 to 120 degrees, it
produced especially smooth footage that, in conjunction with
the slightly narrower angle, provided an ideal setup for filming
your buddy from a helmet-mounted position while following
him down the trail.
While there isn’t the selection of shooting modes found on
GoPro’s flagship Hero3+ Black, the Action Cam offers all the
settings most users will need. While we were especially excited
for the 720/120p super-slow motion mode, we were bummed to
find that the Action Cam doesn’t record audio in this mode.
Aside from the audio-less slow motion mode, audio quality
is very good. Thanks to the stereo mic and a clever housing
design, the Action Cam is largely free from the chattery audio
that is typical of point-of-view cameras mounted inside waterproof housings.
The camera handled changing light situations smoothly, even
in afternoon conditions that went from bright sun to shade
under the trees. We did notice that there was a lot of lens flare
when riding toward the sun. This can add a cool look to the
footage but may occur too often for some riders’ tastes.
Sony’s Action Cam produces impressive footage and audio
on par with the best point-of-view cameras we’ve used. Despite
a few drawbacks with the mounts, the Action Cam’s ease of use
makes this newcomer a true contender. ;
New kid on the block: As a leader in the industry, Sony is
certainly no stranger to making video cameras. Their Action
Cam is one of the newest offerings for riders looking for a
Eye in the sky: Sony’s
mounts are well built
and easy to set up, but
the shape of the camera
itself means that some
mounting locations useful
to mountain bikers may
be a bit awkward.