GoPro have long been held up as the ‘go to’ standard for action cameras and have a well-deserved reputation of being the ones to beat, plenty of manufacturers have been bringing products to market and while some of them simply try to copy the GoPro some have actually tried to make themselves stand out from the crowd. When I
went looking for an action-cam I looked at the GoPro and it had a lot of the features I was looking for as well as a growing range of accessories but price was still an issue, so
I began looking at alternatives. As my main use for the camera was going to be capturing aerial video from my various RC planes/helicopters/drones I initially went small
and got a Hobby King HD Wingcam but as you can see from this Youtube footage the best thing you could say about that camera is that it got the job done but it was limited to 720p (there is actually a good case to be made that it was filming in lower res and interpolating up) and was very clunky to use.
I then moved on to the Mobius ActionCam and I was actually very surprised at exactly how good it was, there are plenty of reviews on the web so I will just say that I do still use the Mobius on my 250 Quad and currently use it in the HobbyKing FPV Dock.
I finally decided to purchase a camera that had a few more tricks up it’s sleeve so began researching the upper end of the Action Cam market, in my research I came across the Sony line and found that they matched the GoPro in specs but at a lower cost. There was also a growing list of accessories and indeed the AS200V offered an option that as yet no GoPro offers – GPS. Sony lists the following specs for the AS200V :-
|HD Video Codec||MPEG-4 AVC/H.264|
|Media Storage Type||Memory Stick Micro™ (Mark 2), Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Card(Class 4 or Higher)|
|Image Sensor||1/2.3 type(7.76mm) back-illuminated “Exmor R” CMOS Sensor|
|Lens / Filter Diameter||BIONZ X|
|Audio Format||MP4/MPEG-4 AAC-LC 2ch, XAVC S/LPCM 2ch|
|Maximum Still Image Resolution (Photo Mode)||approx.8.8 Megapixels|
|HDMI Terminal||Yes (HDMI micro)|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||Approx. 24.2 x 46.5 x 81.5 mm|
|Mass (main unit only)||Approx. 68g|
|Mass (total)||Approx. 93g (NP-BX1(supplied battery))|
I have so far used the AS200V for Dashcam, underwater and aerial video footage and so far I have been impressed with what it has to offer, however there are also a lot of things wrong with the camera.
The camera offers all the features of a GoPro but for 30% less money though the accessories can quickly make up the difference
Particularly when used on any of my planes or drones I found that the form factor of the AS200V had much less impact on the performance of a vehicle that the GoPro it also lent itself better to being inserted into the fuselage of some of my planes. Not a major issue but definitely noticeable.
Menu system / App
Sony’s long track record of producing consumer devices shows, both in the menu system and the app. I found the menu system much more intuitive than the one on my GoPro Hero4 Black, I also found the phone app was not only more intuitive it was more responsive than the one from GoPro which I found to be a bit glitchy and cumbersome. This is of course very subjective and I am sure a lot of people will disagree but I feel that depth of experience that Sony has in producing software and consumer devices give it the edge in the design stakes.
This one is a pretty close call and can depend a lot on the settings you use but overall I found I preferred the video quality of the Sony over the GoPro Hero 4 Black (underwater footage not withstanding). Both are excellent cameras and the GoPro has the edge in top resolution but as this comparison shows I think the AS200V just edges out the GoPro.
This is one area that the Sony As200V has the lead by the simple fact that GoPro does not offer a GPS enabled camera. While the implementation of the GPS in the Sony AS200V feels a bit like an afterthought and is a bit clunky to integrate into your videos it still beats what the Hero4 Black offers.
There are a much smaller range of accessories which are harder to come by and tend to be more expensive because there are not very many 3rd party manufacturers producing them, the GoPro has a clear lead in this area. Having said that there are accessories to cover most of uses, even one to strap onto your dog .
I often used the camera inside it’s waterproof casing and even when attached to a plane and flying on a cool day the camera would often shut down with a heat alarm. As a dashcam I had the camera out of it’s protective casing and mounted directly to the dash of my car, while driving on a hot summers day it would be often trigger the heat alarm even with the air conditioner running. Turning off wifi and GPS tended to fix this issue.
The waterproof cases that comes as standard with the Sony Action Cam AS200V is only rated to 5M and came with a warning that it shouldn’t be left at that depths for extended periods of time. The other issue is that the rounded lens cover creates a slightly unfocused fuzzy image when submerged, to fix this you needs to Pay another AU$51.00 for a cumbersome looking ‘Dive Door’.
This is a small quibble, but when using the camera on an aerial platform (drone or plane) I could not get any information about altitude out of the GPS logs, while it may have been in there somewhere I could not get it to show via any applications. The other issue is that you could not get any GPS info rendered into the video directly from the camera, you had to download the video and the logs and then use an app to render a video with the information displayed on screen as in this video.
The Sony AS200V is an excellent camera which can hold it’s own over the GoPro Hero4 Black with a few exceptions (4K and better underwater footage) and for the price (Currently AU$260) it is worth looking at if you want a full featured action cam without spending big on a GoPro. Having said that I have since gotten rid of my Sony and now only use the GoPro and the simple reason for that was that I could find more accessories and 3rd party support for the GoPro.