Sony has been chasing GoPro, the leader in the action camera market, for a while. And it’s doing so again with the introduction of a couple of new models for regular high-definition and 4K videos.
Sony announced its 4K action cam under the model name FDR-X1000V. The new models show that the action camera market is still a highly competitive and fast-growing part of the imaging market. Action cameras are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 23.8 percent from 2014 to 2018, according to market researcher TechNavio. Sony will announce the action cameras at its press conference at the 2015 International CES, the big tech trade show in Las Vegas, with famous skateboarder Tony Hawk as its spokesman.
Sony’s splash-proof FDR-X1000V point-of-view camera can capture images at a resolution of 3840 x 2160 and a speed of 30 frames per second. The 4K video can be played back directly on a compatible 4K TV via a HDMI cable. The camera can also shoot enhanced HD video with image stabilization and high-frame-rate shooting. The action cam has a Zeiss Tessar lens with an ultrawide angle of 170 degrees for its field of view. It uses a back-illuminated Sony Exmor CMOS sensor and the Bionz X processor for video processing.
The new camera uses the same full-pixel readout technology that Sony’s other high-end cameras use. That allows the camera to read and process data from all of the sensor’s pixels to create smoother, highly detailed 4K and HD videos in a variety of formats. The formats include MP4 and the high-data-stream XAVC S codec.
“I’m thrilled to bring the unmatched clarity and sharpness of the Sony 4K experience to our Action Cam line,” said Patrick Huang, director of the camcorder business at Sony Electronics, in a statement. “The innovative design and impressive technology in the new X1000V reflect our strong 4K background and intense commitment to the POV camera market.”
The new SteadyShot stabilization is three times more effective at suppressing high-frequency motor vibration, resulting in clearer videos and vibration-free aerial footage when used with drones.
“I’ve been lucky enough to test out the new 4K Action Cam on my skateboard, snowboard, and surfboard, and have been blown away by the video quality,” said professional skateboarder and official Team Action Cam member Hawk in a statement. “The camera excelled in every shooting environment, producing stunning 4K footage unlike anything I’ve ever seen before out of a POV camera.”
The camera can also shoot HD video footage at extremely high frame rates of 120 frames per second in full HD and 240 frames per second in standard HD for impressive slow-motion footage.
Sony is also introducing a new HD action cam, the AS200V. This model is similar in shape and design to the X1000V, but it shoots in lower resolutions, such as full 1080p HD/50Mbps video at 60p, 720p HD video at 120p, and WVGA video at 240p.
All of the cameras come with built-in global positioning satellite (GPS) location tech and Action Cam Movie Creator software.
Both the 4K and HD cameras have a new function dubbed Highlight Movie Maker. It makes it more convenient to automatically produce a short, edited MP4 highlight video of a recording session, complete with custom background music, for instant sharing. It uses an algorithm to analyze your footage during recording; earmarks action shots, scene changes, and other key moments; and then combines them into a shortened video clip that is saved separately. Sony will also release a new mobile app for professional video editing.
You’ll also be able to use the Remote RM-LVR2 liquid-crystal display (LCD) remote control to review your footage and delete unwanted files. You can also use it to check framing prior to shooting.
The new Sony 4K Action Cam FDR-X1000V will be sold for about $500 and is packaged with the SPK-X1 waterproof case. The Action Cam FDR-X1000VR bundle adds the RM-LVR2 Live View Remote and will be sold for about $600.
Sony will sell the Sony HD Action Cam HDR-AS200V for about $300, packaged with a waterproof case (model SPK-AS2) and a standard tripod mount. The HDR-AS200VR bundle adds the RM-LVR2 Live View Remote and will be sold for about $400. Both cameras and bundles will be available this March.