Sony Action Cam FDR-X1000V review: Sony’s 4K action camera gives the GoPro a run for its money

After facing some pretty stiff competition against historical leader GoPro over the past few years, the X1000V’s combination of features and performance may well tip the scales in Sony’s favor.

The Sony sells for $ 499, AU $ 599, or £ 359, which puts it at the same price (at least in the US) as the GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition . The basic Sony Action Cam bundle includes the X1000V, a waterproof case, adhesive mounts and a microUSB cable.

For an extra $ 100 in the US, you can also buy the X1000V with the live view remote. The remote is designed to be worn on your wrist and gives you a live view of the action via the small color display, as well as recording control.

Design and functionality

If you are familiar with any of Sony’s previous Action Cams, the design of the X1000V will come as no surprise. The camera is housed in a shotgun style housing that has a flattened base so that it can stand on its own (outside the waterproof housing) without a stand. A tripod mount and an external mic input are located at the base.

Joshua Goldman / CNET

Like the previous generation Action Cam, the AS100V , this latest edition is splash proof with an IPX4 rating. I was especially grateful for this, as I unceremoniously (and accidentally) emptied my glass of water onto the Action Cam during the testing process.

A waterproof case is also supplied with the camera, allowing the X1000V to reach depths of 10 meters or 33 feet. For extreme divers, an optional dive door with flat front panel can be purchased; this increases the depth to 60m / 197ft.

To record all your feel and splash, a 170-degree f / 2.8 Zeiss lens sits on the front. You can reduce the field of view to 120 degrees when image stabilization is on. This feature is a key point of difference with the GoPro: the built-in image stabilization compensates for camera shake. On the X1000V, the system compensates over a range of different vibration frequencies, including the use of drones.

Joshua Goldman / CNET

A stereo microphone sits just below the lens, with a wind filter that can be turned on or off from the menus.

The use of the camera is relatively simple, the configuration remaining unchanged compared to previous models. There are two buttons on the side panel – Previous and Next – used to navigate menu options on the square LCD screen. At the top is a single record button to confirm selections, as well as start / stop recording.

The X1000V’s rear door opens partially to expose the micro HDMI and USB ports on one side, or opens fully to reveal the battery slot and microSD slot.

All about resolutions

With a proliferation of 4K devices on the market recently, you may already be familiar with some of the benefits of shooting videos in a higher resolution than Full HD. There are a lot of them when it comes to video editing, like the ability to crop sections of the frame. Moreover, you can also extract 8 megapixel still images from footage.

However, for most consumers, the improved resolution won’t be worth it, unless there is also a 4K TV or monitor in the house to get the most out of it. Thus, the X1000V offers recording in several resolutions.

The recording is either in XAVC S or in MP4, selectable in the configuration menu. 4K recording is offered at 3840 x 2160 resolution and only in XAVC S. Selectable frame rates are 30 / 24p at 100 Mbps or 24p at 60 Mbps.

XAVC S recording is also available at bit rates of:

  • 50 Mbps (1080/60/30 / 24p)
  • 100 Mbps (1080 / 120p or 720 / 240p)
  • 60 Mbps (1080 / 120p or 720 / 240p)

MP4 recording is available on:

  • 1080/60 / 30p
  • 720/30 / 120p
  • 480 / 240p

To record at 100Mbps, you need a microSDXC card with a UHS-I U3 rating, otherwise the camera will flash the word Media if you try to select this rate with a slower card.

Exposure controls are available to adjust the image in 0.3 EV increments. White balance selection is also available.

In 4K mode, the X1000V records a direct reading of 1: 1 pixels, i.e. a photosite or pixel on the sensor corresponds directly to a pixel in the video. This is in comparison to “pixel binning”, a phenomenon used on other cameras which combines multiple photosites to match a single pixel in the video. Direct reading should provide less false coloring and reduce the effect of “jaggies”.

An option called loop recording lets you record video continuously, recording the last minutes of footage (either 5, 20, 60, or 120 seconds).

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