GoPro is the name everyone thinks of when it comes to small rugged cameras that can be mounted virtually anywhere, but now Sony is aiming to grab a piece of that pie. The new Action Cam HDR-AS10 and Wi-Fi-equipped HDR-AS15, announced today, can shoot full 1080p HD video and 16-megapixel stills in nearly any weather condition. Both cameras weigh about three ounces and feature ultra-wide angle Carl Zeiss lenses that can capture a 170-degree field of view and have Sony's SteadyShot image stabilization system.
Sony claims that the camera's Exmor R CMOS sensor offers "stunning low light sensitivity with improved image clarity and drastically reduced grain," though we will have to see how that stacks up in real-world use. The Action Cam has five different video modes, including 60p and 120p slow-motion modes (at 720p resolution), as well as Interval Still Recording modes for time-lapse photography. Recording is controlled by a large start / stop button, and the camera can store footage on either Sony's Memory Stick Micro cards or the far more popular microSD and microSDHC cards. There is also a stereo microphone and an HDMI port to display footage on an HDTV.
A rugged cam with Wi-Fi on-board
Included with the Action Cam is a rechargeable battery, adhesive mounts, and a waterproof case with tripod mount. The waterproof case lets the Action Cam swim to a depth of 197 feet and withstand drops from up to five feet off of the ground. The case's seals also keep out mud, snow, rain, grit, and other foreign objects that one might encounter when filming in harsh conditions. Sony will also offer optional mounts for headbands, goggles, and handlebars, plus a suction cup mount to mount the Action Cam on a vehicle. Additionally, Sony plans to release a Tilt Adapter to adjust camera's angle, a Handheld Grip with LCD Screen that offers a 2.7-inch LCD for monitoring recordings and viewing playback, Anti-Fog Sheets, and a Replacement Door Pack for various recording purposes in the coming months.
We were able to briefly play with the new Action Cam line, and from what we saw, the footage looks pretty good. The cameras are really small — smaller than a GoPro — and the prominent record button should be easy to use even with gloves on. The cameras have Sony's usual quality build, and the one-button set up is pretty easy to use. We also really liked being able to use a smartphone as a viewfinder with the Wi-Fi-equipped model, courtesy of Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app for Android and iOS.
Sony plans to have the HDR-AS10 and the HDR-AS15 Action Cams on shelves in September for $199.99 and $269.99, respectively.
David Pierce contributed to this report.