Customer Review

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Action cam for hi-fi enthusiasts, 12 July 2013
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This review is from: Sony HDRAS15 Sports Action Camcorder with Full HD and Wi-Fi - Black (Electronics)
The main bias of this action camera seems to be in camera technology, at the expense of usability. Whether you want to go for this depends on your priorities. The GoPro Hero3 Black may out-perform this camera in some areas, but do keep in mind the cost difference between the two.

I personally prefer the elongated form of this camera. Someone else may prefer the box form factor.

NOTE: I'm not an action man - I'm using a pair of these to shoot ultrawide FOV stereoscpic footage. I don't have insights on the action/field usage of this camera.

Pros:
+ Sharpest image in the market, with up to 170 degrees FOV
+ Best, least noisy low light performance in the market thanks to the back-lit sensor
+ Very clean high quality stereo sound (by action camera standards), both from the internal microphones and the external input (which also takes stereo!). The noise floor is fair enough - for an action camera.
+ With the latest firmware update, it can shoot 1080P at 60 frames per second. 720p 120fps slow motion mode also available (this requires daylight due to short exposure).
+ Surprisingly good digital image stabilization (limited to 120 degrees FOV) - among the better ones I've seen.
+ Smooth white balance / exposure adaptation. No sudden jumps. Works well for long time lapses too.

Cons:
- Very poor mountability. The camera itself is impossible to mount on anything on its own due to its rounded shape and the lack of a tripod screw on the chassis. It comes with a waterproof housing with a tripod screw - and that's it. All other mounting accessories need to be purchased separately.
- The external inputs/outputs are located in the bottom of the camera, making them inaccessible if the camera is mounted in any way (except upside down - good luck finding a suitable accessory)
- Applies heavy dynamics limiting/compression to the sound to maximize the perceived volume. This is OK for direct use but not good for post processing. It sounds pumpy and clips easily if it gets a loud signal. (most users won't care - I do)
- Inconsistent manufacturing quality - some specimens may have a slightly mis-aligned lens which can give a blurry image in one of the corners of the image (also noted by Techmoan) - this is not the Zeiss quality I would expect. Make sure to check that the camera's picture is sharp all over and if not, be prepared to return it for a new specimen.

Other points:
* The color range is a bit vivid, making the sky very blue. You may whether like it this way, or not. It's a bit 'colder' in tone than the GoPro. However these can be graded easily in post.
* Charges via micro USB. Comes with a cable, but not with a charger. The charging indicator is a tiny light in the bottom under the lid.
* With the new firmware, you can change the on-board speaker sound settings, to either get the loud feedback you want, or make it quiet for time-lapses.
* Be prepared to purchase a MicroSD (or the Sony proprietary equivalent) with this camera - it doesn't come with one. The card cradle is not designed to only allow iserting the card the right way around, which may lead to a bit of confusion. Even the right way around the camera may not always recognize the card until you try again.
* The bottom lid that protects the external inputs/outputs tends to get in the way and is flimsy. I removed it permanently by unscrewing the bottom panel.
* There is a(n expensive, bulky) cradle accessory available, that turns this camera into a tripod-mountable camcorder with a viewfinder.
* The recently introduced AKA-SF1 skeleton frame offers new mounting options, which leave the inputs accessible.
* The slow white balance adaptation is good for avoiding flicker, but if the footage frequently changes between indoors and outdoors you may have moments where the white balance is off for quite a while as the camera slowly adapts.

Possible alternative: Braun Sixzero (similar price range; similar form factor but more practical: has a viewfinder screen and a tripod screw on the body; poor sound quality, not as good picture quality; narrower FOV; comes included with a good set of mounts)
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Aug 2013 01:39:29 BDT
MacAvity says:
I agree with all your comments.

Posted on 17 Sep 2013 13:24:23 BDT
Alex Styl says:
Excellent and very helpful review, thank you!
I was particularly interested in the WiFi functionality of this camera, specifically in the API to access it remotely.. I wonder if you have had any experience with that.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Sep 2013 20:35:00 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Sep 2013 07:20:14 BDT
Skaven252 says:
Thank you for your interest! Alas, I'm one of those few people who doesn't actually own an iOS or an Android device, so I was unable to test the WiFi features. You'll need to consult other reviews for that. I've read stories of frequent loss of connection, long initialization time, and increased battery consumption when using WiFi.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Sep 2013 23:26:06 BDT
Alex Styl says:
Thank you for taking the time to reply. I have since my post heard similar stories too. Nevertheless I might give a try to the API. For those interested I am inserting the link to sony developer's page http://camera.developer.sony.com/

Posted on 28 Sep 2013 23:54:24 BDT
Last edited by the author on 28 Sep 2013 23:56:16 BDT
MacGruber says:
Very honest review, well done
FWIW the GP3 BE uses the same sensor
The difference between the 2 cams IMO would be, allotted resources for R&D
I think that now the AS30 has been revealed, with no substantial shooting abilities implemented, and the GP4 around the corner, Sony really needs to take their new action cam seriously
Its been a year and 3 revisions
Nothing has changed
GP always improve with generations
I had an AS15, I took it back and got the GP3 BE
It cost twice as much, but its worth every penny in what it can do, most importantly, shooting in RAW abilities..

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Oct 2013 07:18:36 BDT
Skaven252 says:
Thank you for your comments. Interesting! I didn't know GP3 Black and the AS-15 have the same sensor. If this is for real, it will also mean that the AS-15 will give you access to the same technology at a much lower price. I should hope later firmware updates would enable more features (such as RAW shooting), but so far Sony's updates have been sparse.

What kind of specs does the GP4 have, and which manufacturer's sensor is it going to use?

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Oct 2013 07:56:57 BDT
MacGruber says:
It's not the sensor that is important, it is the processor
The GP4 has been touted to use the A9 processor, which does all the work
The sensor currently used can already do 4K
http://www.pcauthority.com.au/News/358322,gopro-hero4-specs-on-the-horizon.aspx
http://blog.gsmarena.com/gopro-hero-4-specs-get-leaked-can-shoot-4k-video-at-30fps/
Sony, unless they have a better processor, no amount of firmware will fix their cams
I owned the Sony, I understand the merits and downfalls
I took a risk of getting the GP3 BE
There is a big difference between the 2 cams
Both have pros and cons
Sony's seem to be Image issues, ie Blue skewed White balance
You have the ability to choose your WB on the GP
Battery is an issue on the GP3 BE, you can buy 1600 mAH batteries delivered for $4.99 from eBay
I did a shoot the otehr day using 2.7K on the GP3 BE
My jaw dropped
You Tube does no justice for uploaded vids
That file is 45 Mbps 2.7K 30 FPS
The Sony file is 25 Mbps 1080 60 FPS
Now if I shoot @ 1080P 60 FPS on GP3, 31 Mbps
With protune i can hit 45 Mbps
This to me is more important than IS or anything that the AS15/30 can offer
Sony has released 3 models in 1 year
There has not been 1 noticeable PQ improvement which begs to ask the q, why?
The Sony is great value for money, but the PQ is sacrificed too
I can get a AS15 refurbished for $150 AUD, ~ 75 GBP, I wont buy it, based on my previous experiences with the product
The Sony is good, but it does not compete with the GP3 BE or + edition for quality of footage
;)

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Dec 2013 14:27:08 GMT
AndyBSG says:
A quick question for anyone using this...

I'm using the Sony Play Memories software on my PC to access the video and I can DL it to my PC no problem.

However, I can't seem to delete any of the files on the camera from my PC. Is there some secret way of doing this or am I forced to format the memory card every time I want to delete anything from the card?
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