Finding a POV or wearable camera isn’t so difficult because there are only a handful of companies that are actively manufacturing them. This also makes it a bit easier to compare the few models that match your budget. Spending $300 to $400 should get you a POV camera that is rugged, durable and has excellent video quality and other features. But if you are looking for something a bit more basic, you will find few more choices including an intriguing pair of wearable cameras manufactured by Sony. Sony is no stranger to the digital camera and camcorder industry and is confident that their Sony Action Cam series can take on the current leaders in wearable cams. The Sony HDR-AS15 is the company’s flagship model and it still falls below $300 making this POV camera worth examining.
Sony has a history of making great products including some water-resistant smartphones. It is this experience that allows the company to come up with a nice design for the HDR-AS15. It weighs about 2 ounces and looks and feels like a quality gadget. Mounting the Sony HDR-AS15 is not an issue since the camera comes with two adhesive mounts that are rather simple to use. If you plan to use this camera for surfing or for tough weather conditions, you can use the waterproof housing that also comes with the HDR-AS15. As long as you don’t exceed 200m deep, the camera should be well protected. You can also keep the waterproof case on if you need to attach a tripod since the case has a standard tripod screw mount.
As for the controls, there isn’t much so much to explore. All you have is a standard record button on the back and a pair of navigation buttons placed next to a small LCD screen. The Sony HDR-AS15 also has a removable battery which is great for those who have battery life concerns.
Sony incorporated its camera knowhow and technology into the HDR-AS15. The Carl Zeiss Vario-Tesser lens already makes a pretty good impression on paper and it gives the camera a 170-degree viewing angle. Sony fans should be familiar with the Exmor R back-illuminated CMOS sensor found in many Xperia smartphones and compact cameras. This sensor is present in the Sony HDR-AS15 as well and it helps the camera perform quite well in low light situations. As for overall video quality, the HDR-AS15 doesn’t beat the higher-priced POV cameras offered by competitors but it can still record impressive 1080p visuals for a slightly cheaper price.
If there is one thing that the Sony HDR-AS15 has bragging rights to, it has to be the SteadyShot image stabilization technology which is also borrowed from Sony’s ordinary digital cameras. The technology can lessen the shaky moments by means of 3-Way-Shake-Cancelling which adds a special electronic roll stability. Because the image stabilization works digitally rather than optically, image quality takes a slight hit but it is still impressive nevertheless and it even works at higher zoom levels.
The HDR-AS15 is also capable of recording slow motion video in addition to the standard 1080p 30 fps. By doubling the frame rate, recorded videos are twice as slow but still look very smooth. You can even increase the frame rate even further to an impressive 120 fps. Both slow motion modes are limited to 720p.
All of the features mentioned above are also present in the Sony HDR-AS10 which is about $70 cheaper. But Sony HDR-AS15 has built-in wireless LAN which basically adds some convenience in controlling the camera. This is particularly useful if the camera is housed in its waterproof casing since you won’t be able to change the settings without removing the case. By downloading the PlayMemories Mobile app to your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet, you can change the settings or wirelessly transfer any recorded content from the camera to the device. Keeping the device within 10 feet from the camera is recommended to ensure good wireless performance and stability.
Sony also offers a Windows application called PlayMemories Home and it supports the HDR-AS15. Once installed, you can edit any videos stored in the Sony HDR-AS15 and sort them for easier archiving. Video editing can be a necessity depending on the type of content you record since the HDR-AS15 is unable to flip the video 180 degrees or rotate the lens. You can also upload videos to YouTube or Facebook through the software.
Other than the impressive image stabilization, the Sony HDR-AS15 doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. But the sub-$270 price tag makes this action camera a great buy if you are looking for Wi-Fi support. Otherwise, wait for Sony to release an updated model and hope that Sony adds image rotation support. The HDR-AS15 is solid proof that Sony can apply some pressure to the other companies deeply invested in making wearable cameras.