Many have taken on GoPro and many have failed. Sony has smartly come at it from a different angle, leveraging the still and video technologies from its latest RX100 series of cameras to create the RX0. It's a model for videographers and still photographers who've been there and done that with Heros and are looking for something more.
They'll pay for it though: the RX0 will cost $700 when it ships in October. Pricing has yet to be announced for the UK or Australia, but that directly converts to about £545 or AU$885.
Notably, it includes:
- Sony's 15.3-megapixel, 1-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor, which is bigger and more light-sensitive than the 1/2.3-inch version used by GoPro.
- A Zeiss f4 T* lens (T* are the better class of Zeiss' with the higher-end coatings), with a narrower field of view than most action cameras. The AOV is necessarily narrower because of the larger sensor (It's 24mm in 35mm terms, about the same as most dSLR/mirrorless kit lenses at their widest) but it also means the footage will have a different feel than typical ultrawide-angle action cam footage.
- Video-friendly features such as Sony's Picture Profiles, which control the dynamic-range characteristics of the video, including an S-Log2 profile for more flexible grading, as well as supporting time code/user-bit and clean HDMI out.
- The ability to shoot high-resolution stills, including raw, plus up to 16 fps burst mode with fixed exposure and focus (5.5fps with continuous). It supports a shutter speed as slow as 1/4 second, the Adobe RGB color space and high frame-rate capture up to 1,000fps (at 800x720 pixels) for super slow-motion capture. Plus it has Sony's Creative Style picture adjustments, face detection and multiple focus modes.
- It has a 3.5mm mic jack for higher-quality audio recording.
- It's designed to work with an optional wireless radio (FA-WRC1M) that can trigger up to 15 RX0's simultaneously, and in January is slated for a firmware update that will allow for connecting and controlling even more via a Wi-Fi access point.
Many of the capabilities are the same, such as 4K UHD maximum video size (though oddly, Sony's spec sheet doesn't indicate what frame rate), similar ruggedness specs such as waterproof down to 10 meters (IPX8 equivalent) and IP6X dustproofiness,
It does fall short of the Hero5 Black in at least a couple of respects:
- Its rated battery life of 60 minutes of continuous video recording isn't quite as long as the GoPro's 1 hour 2 minutes.
- I don't think it can use GoPro mounting accessories, which have become a de facto industry standard, even though it's roughly the size of the Hero4 Black. The accessories that will ship with it at launch are the VCT-CGR1 Cage, the MPK-HSR1 Housing (to increase submersion range to 100 meters), VF-SPR1 Spare Lens Protector, VFA-305R1 Filter Adaptor Kit, plus the NP-BJ1 Rechargeable Battery Pack and ACC-TRDCJ Accessory Kit.
- The LCD is slightly smaller at 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) vs. 2 inches (5.1cm).
Still it sounds like this has the makings of an indie filmmaker hit, especially if Sony offers up a spherical rig for it to shoot 360. We shall see.