Of all the criticisms I've read about Sony's Action Cams, I can't remember a single one being about its size and weight, and yet, those seem to be the main things Sony targeted for its new Action Cam Mini, the HDR-AZ1.
Many of the Mini's features are carried over from Sony's top-of-the-line "big" model, the HDR-AS100V, so despite the smaller size it offers nearly the same performance.
The splash-proof body of the Mini is just as wide as the AS100V at 24.2mm (o.95 inch), but its height has been cut by 10.5mm, down to 36mm (1.4 inches), and the length is 76mm (3 inches), shaving off 5.5mm. Plus, it weighs about an ounce less at 2.2 ounces (63 grams).
Though the Mini uses the same Sony-made Bionz X processor, the 1/2.3-inch sensor is slightly reduced in resolution -- 16.8 megapixels compared to the AS100V's 18.9 megapixels. Even with the reduction, the Mini can still record at resolutions up to 1080p at 60fps in either MP4 or XAVC S codec, which records at a high data rate of 50Mbps resulting in more detailed video.
It also has a Zeiss Tessar f2.8 lens with a 170-degree field of view and Sony's advanced SteadyShot electronic image stabilization, a highlight of the AS100V, that reduces the effects of vibration and shake in its videos.
So what do you lose by going with the Mini? For one, the fastest frame rate available for slow-motion clips is 120fps; the AS100V goes up to 240fps. The on-camera display is much smaller as well and it doesn't have built-in GPS.
To make up for those last two things, Sony created a new Live View Remote. The wrist-mounted controller has a color LCD for previewing and reviewing, starting and stopping recordings, changing settings, and logging GPS data.
There's built-in Wi-Fi with NFC, too, so you can wirelessly connect to an iOS or Android device to do the same stuff. The camera can be used with UStream to stream live video while simultaneously recording to a microSDXC or Memory Stick Micro card.
The Sony Action Cam Mini HDR-AZ1 arrives in October and will be sold alone in the US for about $250. UK and Australian prices have yet to be announced, but that converts to around £150 or AUS$270. It will also come in a bundle with the RM-LVR2V Live View Remote for around $350, £329 in the UK and AU$459 in Australia. Both will include a waterproof case good down to 5 meters (approximately 16 feet) and a tripod mount.