Sony Action Cam HDR-AS30V review:

Sony Action Cam HDR-AS30V

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Effective image stabilisation. Simple operation. Good still image quality.

The Bad Video quality isn't as good as the GoPro. Lens sharpness drops off towards the sides of the frame.

The Bottom Line Though it still can't topple the GoPro in terms of overall video quality, Sony's second action camera is still the contender to beat when it comes to image stabilisation.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.2 Overall

Sony's first action camera was a bold move for the company, dipping into a space dominated by two big players: GoPro and Contour. A year on, and with one competitor leaving the market altogether (Contour), the action and sports camera market is slimming down.

There are plenty of cheap options out there, but what does a little more cash get you in the action camera stakes?

Design and features

The new edition of the Action Cam borrows many of the same features from its predecessor, but ups the ante in terms of usability and accessories. Inside is a 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated CMOS sensor, with an f/2.8 lens at the front. These specs are all the same as before, along with the 170-degree field-of-view.

Fortunately, Sony has given the waterproof casing an overhaul. On the previous version, all settings needed to be adjusted when the camera was out of the case. The new edition has two small buttons on the waterproof case that let you change all the settings without needing to handle the camera itself. Waterproofing is maintained down to 5 metres, with an optional extra case extending this to 60 metres.

Also on the case is a record button at the back, a hold switch and some small holes for the stereo microphone, which is situated at the front of the camera. Despite all these improvements, the camera still only weighs 90 grams, which is exactly the sort of lightness that is required when you want to strap something unobtrusively to yourself or a moving object to capture footage.

The camera is arguably easier to operate than the GoPro, with the three physical buttons offering a much more logical way to interact with the menu options. Press the record button to select, or cycle through settings with the previous and next buttons.

Sony has really stepped up its game in the accessories department. On top of the regular bike, car and sticky mounts, there is also a Live View remote that straps to your wrist. The remote has a screen that provides a live look at what the camera is seeing, as well as a record button to capture footage and stills. It connects via Wi-Fi to the camera and is waterproof up to 3 metres.

The excellent Live View remote.
(Credit: Sony)

Another optional accessory is the handheld grip with LCD screen, which turns the Action Cam into a mini camcorder. This is included in some packs with the camera itself. Having the camera mounted in the casing provides a natural shooting feel, but unfortunately the LCD screen doesn't have a visual indicator when you are recording. Instead, you need to rely on the other display on the side of the camera.

In the box you are provided with the waterproof case, a micro USB cable, flat and curved adhesive mounts and an attachment plate.

Connectivity is provided via micro USB (which also takes care of battery charging), a micro HDMI and a microphone jack, all underneath a dedicated flap at the base of the camera. On top of the physical connectors, the Action Cam comes with Wi-Fi and NFC as standard, plus GPS for tracking your path.

On the software side, Sony throws in a free full version of Movie Studio Platinum with every Action Cam purchase, a download that is activated via redemption code.

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