I’ve always found it curious how GoPro came onto the action camera scene and just vaulted, relatively untouched, past seasoned video tech veterans to the top of that category. Having used GoPro before, I can’t deny its excellence. However, I always imagined that it must have at least one worthy competitor. So I tested several—and determined that the Sony 4K FDR X1000V Action Cam ($400) stacks up on an impressive variety of levels…
Video and Photography
First and foremost, the Sony 4K shoots awesome video. The picture is crystal clear and the colors really pop. Other action cameras seem to only work well on bright, sunny days, but this camera shoots great on cloudy days and even in snowy conditions. The Sony 4K also shoots high-quality pictures and has a burst option so you can get up to 10 pictures in a flash.
Two other features I really enjoyed were slo-mo (as if I need to look slower skiing down a mountain) and the 170-degree wide-angle option. It not only gets more of you in the shot but also captures the topography in the background.
It may look a bit like a mini-camcorder, but the Sony 4K is actually pretty streamlined. The slightly larger size also has its benefits, allowing the camera to have a display screen that is bigger and easier to use. It’s also splash-proof, making it usable without the protective case in most situations, including skiing and snowboarding.
If you so desire, the slightly bulkier waterproof case adds a bit of extra protection against both moisture and any sort of “crash” you might experience while pulling your gnarly tricks.
The aforementioned larger screen makes for a semi-pleasurable user experience. Like most action cameras there are a multitude of options to choose from at any given time. For further ease of use, I highly recommend the Live Video Remote ($150, or $100 if purchased with the Action Cam). Being able to wear the LVR on your wrist and connect via wifi to the camera is highly advantageous, particularly when biking, skiing, and riding. It prevents you from having to take the camera on and off your helmet to adjust settings, provides for faster interaction with the camera, and also gives you a view of what you are actually filming.
Don’t want to shell out the extra cash for the LVR? No worries, you can connect the action camera to your phone and operate the camera through the free Play Memories mobile app. Similar to the Live Video Remote, the features on the app make operating the camera so much easier, although it can be a little tricky to two-hand something in the middle of an active sport. The Play Memories app has the ability to create a highlight film on its own. Select the clips you like the most and the app will automatically stream through and whip something up. It’s no Thelma Schoonmaker but it’s kinda cool. Check out the video below for an example, and happy filming!