I have and make
excessive frequent use of a GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition. Its not the shiny new Hero 3+ Black, but I see no need to upgrade (we’ll see when the Hero 4 comes out).
Just because I am a GoPro user (like most others in the market) doesn’t mean I think they should be undisputed king of the industry. I like competition. When its fair, it breeds innovation. And I see that Sony is a strong competitor. The Action Cams (HDR AS”whatever”V) have thus far been the second best marketed and recognized POV cam on the market, and probably the only ones to rival GoPro in image quality. The others by Drift, Ion, Garmin et al either lie outside the public eye with insufficient publicity and advertising or just can’t compete with features or image quality. Hell I don’t even care about their feature set, they really just need to compete with comparable image quality.
So since Sony is the next best thing, I’ve been looking at them a bit. I don’t have the budget to get one of my own or the notoriety to get a demo unit to check out, so I’m left to secondhand experiences from the Internet. *sigh*
At first I had great difficulty differentiating the different Action Cams in Sony’s lineup. It makes sense that the HDR AS100V is better than the AS30V which is better than the AS15V which is better than than the discontinued AS10V; but they still all sound like internal inventory numbers. I suppose GoPro’s Hero line is a little convoluted with its tiered numbers and tiered colors (Hero 3+ Black, SIlver; Hero 3 Black, Silver, White; discontinued Hero 2, Hero 960 and HD Hero) but I felt their naming scheme was a little more consumer friendly. Hopefully GoPro clears things up with the Hero 4, and Sony would be smart to give their product a less robotic name if they want to appeal to more than just tech junkies and reach athletes and casual shooters.
I’m having trouble finding spec and even actual video comparisons between the flagship AS100V and it’s predecessor AS30V. At first all I could gather was the new AS100V is splashproof so it can handle a little rain without it’s external housing where the old AS30V could not, yet it could don the housing to submerge in water or dirt or what have you. And it has all the features introduced in previous models like WiFi, GPS, Steady Shot, etc. But what about features that matter, like shooting modes, frame rates, and the all important image quality?
Doing a little bit more research I find the specs for each camera separate, so here they are together:
The GoPro 3+ Black looks best on paper, but its 4K modes aren’t exactly practical at such low frame rates, but they have some special uses. The 2.7K is a nice feature, but Sony isn’t missing a ton without it. Likewise with te 4:3 1440p and 960p modes, but gaining extra vertical resolution can be especially useful in POV shots.
Confusingly, some of these resolutions/framerates/bitrates are available only in specific file formats. Further, the GoPro has Protune, a high-bitrate flat profile ideal for editing, while Sony too has an editor-friendly high-bitrate flat color profile. Some shooting modes on both cameras are only available when in this pro mode, while other shooting modes are not available in pro mode (chart coming soon).
Continue to page 2 to see what really matters: the image quality.