Sony poured out a lot of exciting new stuff this CES 2015 and that included 2 new action cameras. One of them is a flagship-class model that is capable of recording 4K video and the other is a successor to the popular Sony HDR-AS100V action camera appropriately named the Sony HDR-AS200V. While the HDR-AS200V is going to be a huge hit because of the improved image stabilization, white balance, exposure and added wind noise reduction, the HDR-AS100V could still remain as a good action camera to pick this year as it now commands a sub-$300 price.
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The Sony HDR-AS100V is not Sony’s first action camera but it is easy to identify – just look at the color. Black models are old and white models are more recent. It also looks similar to the newer HDR-AS200V model so the HDR-AS100V doesn’t look outdated. The AS100V is slightly smaller than its predecessor and it weighs at a fairly light 3.2 ounces with the battery inside. This camera and its newer and older relatives all rely on the same NP-BX1 battery too.
A small camera leaves little to work with when it comes to physical functionality and the Sony HDR-AS100V no exception to that. The side of the HDR-AS100V only has “Prev” and “Next” buttons for selecting the shooting option and you can press together to use the Wi-Fi function. Next to this set of buttons is a basic screen that has that classic digital watch vibe. It is a monochrome screen but it shows some useful data like the battery life, current Wi-Fi status, shooting mode and elapsed time. The back of the camera has a record button. While recording, the tally light on the top of the camera lights up so you can immediately see the recording status. Finally, the bottom of the action camera features a micro-USB port and a micro HDMI out along with a tripod mount.
The body of the Sony HDR-AS100V might look cheap but it is actually quite durable and it has IPX4 rating making it splash-proof. A plastic waterproof casing is included too allowing you to take the camera up to 16 feet deep without worrying about damage. In addition to the waterproof case, the package also comes with an adhesive mount, tripod adapter and micro-USB cable.
The HDR-AS100V may be significantly smaller than the non-action cameras that Sony make but the Japanese giant managed to bring some of the company’s signature technologies to this small camera. By itself, the Sony HDR-AS100V can capture some great visuals thanks to the camera’s ZEISS lens and BIONZ X processor. You can go as high as 50Mbps bit rate when you use the XAVC S recording mode and enjoy a nice 170-degree field of view. If you fine with a reduced 120-degree field of view, you can switch on the SteadyShot feature and enjoy the luxury of eliminating blur caused by camera shake. SteadyShot is an image stabilization technology that other Sony cameras rely on to compensate vibrations and it works well when taking still images too. High-speed video recording can be done too without muting the sound and you can choose between 120 and 240 fps.
Having an iOS or Android device enables you to operate the camcorder remotely too through Wi-Fi. Pairing the device is pretty simple especially if you have an NFC-enabled device as you can tap the device to the camera to establish an instant pairing. From there, you just install the PlayMemories Mobile app to the paired device so you can do things like configure the HDR-AS100V, begin recording and uploading recorded content. The Sony HDR-AS100V lacks internal memory so you have to supply your own SD card or memory card. SDXC is recommended if you plan on using very high quality video formats. When used underwater with the case, you won’t be able to use the Wi-Fi but you can activate a cool underwater white balance mode that makes the colors more natural. Other cool options include Motion Shot LE and burst shooting. Finally, the camera has a built-in GPS so you can map out your recorded route.
In addition to the PlayMemories Mobile app, Sony offers numerous other software that can add spice to your videos. For instance, you can combine take 4 video clips showing different views and combine them all to a single video where you can see all 4 simultaneously. It is also possible to add a GPS overlay to your video showing various data like your current speed if you recorded your video with the GPS function active.
The HDR-AS100V has aged pretty well and it makes the Sony HDR-AS200V look like a minor improvement. Even though you save about $30 if you settle for the Sony HDR-AS100V, you can use those savings to buy a good SDXC memory card or perhaps some optional accessories. Low light performance is one of its main weaknesses but when recording at 50 Mbps, video quality at normal conditions doesn’t disappoint.
Update: There is a newer model > Sony HDR-AS200V