The way I see it, there are two solid reasons why someone would pick up a point of view camera like the Sony Action Cam HDR-AZ1VR. One, you’re doing something that involves speed or intense action like heading down a ski hill, mountain bike trail, or even doing something like jumping out of a plane. Or two, if you’re like me, you want to use it for both reason #1 and for following your kids onto the ski hill, down a mountain bike trail, or you just want to see what life’s like through their eyes.
For those reasons and more, the Sony Action Cam HDR-AZ1VR, the smallest, splash-proof action cam available, fits the bill and more.
I’ve been an action sports rep for a long time, and I’ve used POV cams before for work and play. I’ve been impressed with their ability to take in the scenery, maintain their stability through the biggest crashes, and easily capture action so fast that even I had no idea what was going on until I hit replay.
In my opinion, the Sony Action Cam Mini POV fits right in at the top of the POV camera category because it comes packed with these features:
- A 170 degree wide angle F 2.8 lens with Full HD 1080p resolution
- Image sensor can handle low light
- Splash proof and water proof up to 5 m if you use it with the waterproof case
- Freeze proof up to -5
- Includes Sony’s SteadyShot image stabilization
- Includes wrist-worn live view remote control
- Logs GPS data
Before I get into the details, here’s some quick footage of our time at the hill with the Sony Mini POV.
Once you unpack and charge the Sony Mini POV, the first thing you’ll notice is how light it is. The specs say it weighs 63 grams, and it felt lighter than my iPhone when it was in my pocket. Mounting the camera on a helmet or handlebars wasn’t an issue at all.
You will have to sync the camera with the live view remote control, and I found that it was hit or miss for how easy it was to sync. During my initial set up, the camera was fully charged and the live view would not sync.
After looking through the manual, I did some Googling and read that the Sony site had better instructions, so I headed there and found step-by-step instructions for getting it to work. They seemed pretty different than the manual, so you might want to skip that and head straight online.
I managed to get it to sync with the live view remote on my wrist and once it did appear, I was ready to go. Having a live feed on your wrist was pretty cool because it you can see if the camera is pointed in the right direction.
As I mentioned before, there are a few reasons why you’d use a POV camera like the Sony Action Cam Mini, and one of them is to follow your kids around and capture images and video that you might not be able to with a standard camera. I like to joke around that I have a “soccer team” of kids: 1 girl and 3 boys, and they like to ski, bike, and run around like crazy, so I took the Sony Action Cam Mini out with them and put it to the test.
Our first stop was the local mountain bike trail. We like to take our bikes up Ledgeview in Abbotsford or Thorn Hill in Maple Ridge. They have just enough bumps and jumps to keep everyone happy, without worrying they are going to go over the handlebars at every turn.
I strapped the camera onto my 11-year-old son’s helmet and took turns aiming the camera in front or behind him so the entire group would get taped. I used the included straps, but because my kids tend to be hard on stuff and I didn’t want to lose it when we were ripping down the trail, I secured it with hockey tape.
It was pouring rain, but the Sony Mini POV is splash proof and waterproof as long as you have it in the included case, so I wasn’t worried about losing it or damaging it. I used the 1920×1080 setting for video capture and it really impressed me, and with the wide-angle lens we took in a lot of imagery I feel like we would have missed with a different type of cam. I took also quite a few photos with the photo mode, and they were bright, clear, and very detailed.
When we played the video back on our big screen TV, we were impressed with how detailed and clear the video was. I expected as much from Sony as I’ve always been a fan of their TVs.
When watching playback, I could tell when the image stabilization kicked in. The parts of the trail that were so rough the fillings in my teeth were rattling actually came across as fluid on the screen.
The kids and I also took it skiing a few times when we did have snow. When you’re using a POV camera during skiing on local hills in Vancouver, it’s easy to lose perspective and video quality because of the white snow vs the white sky, but that didn’t happen with the Sony Mini POV. There were only a few runs open due to lack of snow, but the terrain we did ski came across crisp on the video and even the occasional rocks I’d hit (ouch) weren’t as noticeable on the screen as they were on the run.
It’s pretty cool to see your kid’s skill level progress during an activity like skiing, and after playing the Sony Mini POV back I noticed the kids were getting better at their turns and even taking a jump or two.
I’ve found that the cold will drain your battery more quickly, but the Sony Mini POV battery managed to last over an hour of HD video recording. You can easily swap out the battery for a fresh one during the course of your day, and then you’re good to go.
When it comes time to download your video and images from the Sony Mini POV cam, I found the entire process really easy. I hooked it up via USB to my iMac, searched for the memory card and pulled the files over. You can download the Sony software but I found it easiest to do it manually.
Would I buy the Sony Mini POV camera? Definitely. The image stability won me over. I’m not the smoothest of riders out there, but the playback actually made it seem like I’m a better rider than I am, and that’s worth it for me.
Where would you take the Sony action camera?