The current leaders of the action camera business caught the industry off guard. One of the biggest benefits of being a leader is getting the best support for accessories and scoring lots of partnerships with other big companies. GoPro is in the lead right now but it isn’t immune to the competition. Sony has proven in the past that being late to the party doesn’t mean showing up with a weak impression. This is the same Sony that took the mirrorless camera market by storm. Sony’s latest push comes in the form of a rather pricey but promising action cam known as the Sony FDR-X1000V.
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About the Sony FDR-X1000V
The FDR-X1000V is Sony’s direct response to the GoPro HERO4 Black. Not only does the Sony FDR-X1000V target the same $499.99 price but it is also a 4K action cam. Fortunately, for Sony, the FDR-X1000V has a reason to exist and it is all because of the camera’s unique features and characteristics. The shotgun design shows and even without the case, the unit is splash proof. A waterproof case is included in the package along with an adhesive mount, micro USB cable and rechargeable battery pack.
The Wi-Fi capabilities of the FDR-X1000V is surprisingly one of its strong points. On a basic level, the Sony FDR-X1000V can link up to your iOS or Android device for remote control purposes. If you have a phone with NFC support, pairing the device with the action cam is practically effortless. Rather than confusing consumers with multiple apps, Sony keeps things simple by having just one mobile app to control any Sony wireless device with a camera lens. So if you have a Sony camcorder or mirrorless camera, you can use the same PlayMemories mobile app to use the FDR-X1000V as long as it is updated. It is also easy to share recorded videos to social networking sites. If you prefer a more direct approach, you have the option to create a live stream in Ustream and invite others to watch.
The Sony FDR-X1000V can also use Wi-Fi to connect to other FDR-X1000V devices. Up to five devices can be managed in the same wireless network. Once you connected a few, you can use the same PlayMemories Mobile app to control these cameras at once. This could prove to be useful during those times when you need to have record different angles. If that is the kind of thing you are looking for and believe you will use it often, you can record even better videos if you use the LiveView RM-LVR2 remote instead.
The amount of memory available for storing video on Sony FDR-X1000V depends entirely on the memory card you give it. It can accept both microSD and Memory Stick Micro formats but given the cheap prices and better selection, it is recommended to go the microSD card route. A 64 GB microSD card costs around $30 and it is a good starting point if you are going to record some occasional 4K video. There is a neat thing that you can do if you really want to conserve space. The option is called Loop Recording and you start by choosing a duration. Once set, the FDR-X1000V will continuously shoot video like normal but only the most recent footage dictated by your duration will actually be stored on the memory card. The idea is to stop the recording right after you experienced a thrilling moment and then continue recording until you experience another. The cool thing is that the feature will not delete any other footage if you have limited space.
The Highlight Movie Maker is another feature that tries to make it easier to get those best scenes. It uses motion gyro as a basis for picking the scenes that will be included in a special highlight movie clip. These clips are normally small in file size since they use the MP4 format making them great for online sharing.
Sony’s deep focus in the camera business really pays off here. The Sony FDR-X1000V is a surprisingly great performer with excellent video quality on the 4K end. It is also unique in the sense that you have an option to use the more Sony’s proprietary XAVC S codec which is known for its efficiency. This wouldn’t be possible without the BIONZ X processor which happens to be the processor that powers many of Sony’s best camcorder and camera products. Combined with the wide-angle 170-degree ZEISS lens, Sony manages to tick all the boxes needed in a high-end action cam. In addition to that, there are options for slow motion video (120p in FHD and 240p in VGA).
Another familiar technology Sony is bringing to the FDR-X1000V is the SteadyShot image stabilization. Although it shares the same name as the image stabilization system used by Sony cameras in other cameras, this technology is optimized for action camera purposes. It comes with the Active Mode which compensates for camera shake at a much greater scale. This means that you can mount it on a bike or install it on a drone for some serious aerial shots all without worrying about shaking up the footage.
Once you have gotten acquainted with the Sony FDR-X1000V, you can step up the performance by fiddling with the advanced manual controls. This includes adjusting the AE shifting and white balance as well as the hue and brightness levels. With a bit of dedication and patience, you can create some professional content. Settings can take a bit of time to customize though due to the laggy user interface.
The built-in stereo mic does a good job in capturing audio too. It uses a special wind reduction technology to make sure the sound stays clean.
• Sharp 4K video quality.
• XAVC S codec is highly efficient.
• Strong Wi-Fi capabilities.
• Can link with other Sony action cams.
• SteadyShot image stabilization really works.
• Slow menu response times.
• Limited accessory ecosystem.
The FDR-X1000V is the underdog in this action cam battle and it threw some great punches to the competition leveraging the things the company learned from making great cameras and camcorders. It is a worthy $499 pick and it is likely for its successor to be even better.