I’ll come right out and start by saying I’m a Sony fan. I like the Playstation, I bought my daughter a Sony camcorder for Christmas because of how easy they are to use and how great the video quality is, and I’ve owned Sony TVs for much of my life.
That’s why I was pretty excited to test out the Sony ActionCam With LiveView Remote, and if you watch point of view action sports videos on Youtube the way most of my family does, you’ll instantly know exactly what this camera is for. Designed specifically to capture live action video in all the crazy places you’d go to for action sports and recreation, the Sony ActionCam has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a camera of this type. It was created for the ski hill, it shines on the side of a mountain, and you can take it with you while you hang ten on a wave near a tropic beach.
– Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens with 170-degree viewing angle
– Exmor R CMOS sensor for clear images in low light
– Advanced SteadyShot image stabilization, so you can put your Sony ActionCam on your handlebars or helmet and will reduce shake, vibration, and blur
– 5 MP camera for still images
– Built-in stereo microphone to capture the best audio
– IPX4 rated, so whether you’re using it in driving snow or pounding rain, the camera is splashproof Waterproof up to 5 meters with the included case
– Built-in WiFi to view your video on your smartphone and use it as a remote control
– Live-view wristband is as light as a watch but works as a remote and viewing screen for your Sony ActionCa
The best man for the job
In my family, I’m the product tester. If I bring home a new appliance, it’s me that gives it a good once over. When I test out a new game, even if it’s for the kids, I’ll put up my feet, bump them aside, and take over the controller (much to their disgust). It’s what you have to do to get a good idea about a product.
But when it comes to the Sony ActionCam, well let’s just say my biking skills aren’t quite up to the dirt jump level. That’s why when it came to testing it, I handed it over to the best man for the job – my husband Jason.
But before we get to that, here’s a quick video of some of the footage he took when testing it out in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
An action sales rep for the past 14 years, my husband’s job involves skiing, mountain biking, and dirt jumping. If that sounds like the perfect job to you, he’d probably agree. He knows the local ski hills and Whistler like the back of his hand, so he was the perfect person to strap on the Sony ActionCam and take it for a spin in Whistler. After he spent the day with it, I sat down and asked him some Q&A on how the Sony ActionCam held up on the mountain.
Setting it all up
Like anyone who’d rather be riding down the hill than sitting on the sidelines setting up his camera, Jason has no patience for long-term setups.
Me: You’ve been using different types of video cameras to shoot days at the ski hill or mountain biking for quite a few years. What’s your take on how easy it is to set up the Sony ActionCam?
Jason: I didn’t unpack the SonyAction Cam and LiveView remote until I was about to get on the chair lift in Whistler, and the first thing I noticed is how lightweight they both are. Both the LiveView remote and the camera itself are no heavier than a regular watch.
Setting up the camera was easy. All I did was turn it on, strap the LiveView remote onto my wrist, and mount the Sony ActionCam onto my handlebars. Once we loaded our bikes, we were off. It was so easy to turn the camera off and on with the LiveView remote on my wrist. It was barely noticeable when it’s on because its so light, and if I wanted to turn the camera on mid-run, I’d just reach over and tap the record button.
Taking in the view
The Sony ActionCam has a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens with wide view 170-degree field of view. That means it’s hard to miss action when you’re filming, because you have a wide shot of whatever you’re up to.
There are different choices for recording video including 1080p60, 720p120, and 720p30. There are also two types of playback on the camera – one for normal and one for slow motion. These modes are great if you’re into technical filming, but all Jason wanted to do was turn it on and go.
Me: Did you set the camera for any specific mode while shooting the video?
Jason: Basically I strapped it on my wrist, turned it on, and started shooting. I like that it has the features there if I want to adjust them, but I really liked that I didn’t have to do a thing but turn it on. You can see in the video that it records great clips right out of the box, and the still shots we took were great too.
All downhill, no annoying shake
When I video tape while running across a field chasing my kids during whatever activity they’re involved in, I expect some image shake on the playback. It’s par for the course with most cameras, but you won’t get that with the Sony ActionCam. You can hit jumps, ruts, bumps, and head over logs and the video playback will be smooth because of Sony’s Advanced SteadyShot image stabilization.
Jason: When you watch the video, you can see how my handlebars were vibrating. The camera was attached right to my handlebars, so when I watched the playback I was really impressed with how it smoothed out the video. It’s even more impressive when you realize it’s all HD quality. To get the absolute best viewing after, I hooked the camera up via HDMI to our TV and watched it there.
Rain, sleet, and snow – nothing will get in your way
Because the Sony ActionCam is IPX4 rated, it’s splashproof no matter what type of weather you use it in. It comes with a case that makes it waterproof up to 5 meters, and it’s also dustproof, shockproof, and freeze proof to -10 degrees.
Jason: It’s great the camera is splashproof, because it was pouring the day we were out and I didn’t have to worry about wrecking the camera. Although you don’t have to use the case when you’re out in the rain, I liked using it. That way when you wipe the rain off the lens, you don’t have to worry about scratching it.
Wifi built right in
The Sony ActionCam has Wifi and near field communication (NFC) built in, so you can use your smartphone or tablet as a remote and extra viewer. You can download the PlayMemories app and connect via Wifi to your smartphone too, and it lets you send photos and videos straight to your phone for online sharing.
I tested out the Wifi with the PlayMemories app and it worked great. It connected to the built in Wifi within a minute, and the images and video on the camera were easy to save to my phone.
Battery life and connectivity
When you’re out on a ride for the entire day, you don’t want to worry about your battery draining half way through your ride. The Sony ActionCam has approximately 80 minutes of battery life, and if you want to extend that time you can pick up an extra battery or bring along a charge pack to boost your battery while your riding the chair lift.
Jason: The battery did last as long as they say it would. Overall the only thing I felt could be improved upon is the connectivity between the camera and the LiveView Remote. I found it disconnected easily and I had to wait for it to reconnect. The one time my son wore the camera and I had the LiveView Remote on, it disconnected as soon he moved away.
For a day in the pouring rain at the Whistler mountain bike park, the Sony ActionCam held up well and produced some amazing quality video. It’s the type of camera where you can visualize how many ways you’ll use it – from the ski hill, careening down a mountain, or hiking through a valley, anywhere you want to record high speed HD action, the Sony ActionCam will be up to the task.