Sony has been pushing hard for a larger segment of the POV camera market in recent years and it’s confident that it can become a major player. The electronics company certainly has the brand recognition as well as a growing list of athletes and ambassadors. It hasn’t shied away from the comparisons to the GoPro juggernaut that’s been dominating the market but if you’re looking for an alternative Sony is worth checking out.
Sony is staying active in the digital arms race with its new 4k ActionCam that delivers higher quality footage than many of us are used to from a POV camera. In addition to the better image quality, Sony has packed the 4K ActionCam with several other features to improve your bro-edits and dog movies.
The SteadyShot damping has been improved with approximately three times more effective suppression of low-amplitude vibration. Meaning that the he kind of vibrations you’d get from a helicopter drone are less noticeable, giving reduced image distortion in your video clips. In addition to reduced vibrations, the new ActionCam also allows for more accurate colors with smoother edges. The new camera when shooting in 60p/50p/30p/25p/24p settings does not bin pixels. Since the pixels are not processed in pairs, but rather one by one, the colors are more accurate and the edges of objects have a reduced amount of jaggies. Bitrate and frame rates have also been improved. The 4K setting allows for 100M/60Mbps and 50Mbps in HD, as well as up to 240p slo-mo.
No matter how good the footage is though, wind noise in POV footage is often unwanted and distracting. The stereo mic on the Sony cameras has a wind noise reduction feature that attempts to reduce the audio annoyance. In addition to the ActionCam Movie Creator software for your desktop computer, processing that footage also gets easier with the Highlight Movie Maker app for iOS and Android. The magic app auto selects highlights and scenes so you can post a 30sec clip directly to Facebook and Youtube.
The new 4k Action Cam retails for $499, or can be bundled with the remote and some other accessories for $599.
So with all these bells and whistles, how does the new camera work? Sony invited us to Crested Butte, Colorado, to find out. Fortunately for me, dirt isn’t my only element and Crested Butte is only a beautiful four hour drive away. We took to the slopes, tasted locally distilled spirits at Montanya Rum and tossed pizza dough at The Secret Stash all in the name of product testing.
As for the camera’s performance though, I’m not entirely sure how great it is. It sounds terrific on paper. We had a great time testing it on the slopes with the many different mounts and accessories but 4000 horizontal pixels is more than most of us need or even have the capability of fully utilizing, especially on sites like YouTube and Facebook. My aging computer can hardly handle the raw 4K footage, let alone edit it. When it plays it’s choppy and fragmented. No fault of the camera but the only way I’ve been able to see the clips in all their anti-aliased glory was with the camera plugged directly into a Sony 4K TV. It seems that in this digital arms race between David and Goliath I don’t even have a sling. But I want the stealth fighter jet so bad.
See it in action
Here’s what the camera is capable of, as demonstrated by the one and only Tony Hawk.