This is going to be a review, well, more like a “why did I choose this one” summary. Before recently, I had no need for an action cam, so I never really looked into them. I was aware of their existence… I knew of GoPro and I knew there were knockoffs. I knew other manufacturers that were making them.
This is the Sony FDR-X3000 action cam:
IN THE RUNNING: The GoPro Hero 5, the Garmin VIRB 30 Ultra, and the Sony FDR-X3000.
WHY THE SONY? I watched reviews, looked at side-by-side comparisons, and the Sony won, mostly on image quality and the optical image stabilization.
What I Like About It:
- Image Quality. Out of the camera, the image quality was the best. Colors were more vibrant. There are some side-by-side comparisons with the GoPro Hero 5, and the difference is immediately noticeable.
- Image Stabilization – The Sony has an optical image stabilization system that includes the entire lens change and the sensor. It definitely makes a difference. It’s not as good as a gimbal of course. The other cameras do electronic stabilization, which just crops the image differently to compensate for movement. IMO, it’s not as good.
- Microphone input – the Sony has a 3.5mm stereo mic input. It’s under a cover that covers the micro HDMI port and the micro USB ports.
- It includes a water resistant housing. I won’t be doing any diving, but it’s nice to have one.
- Common Battery – Sony decided to use a battery that they have used in other devices. This is a great move, because there are already a lot of batteries out there, including aftermarket batteries.
- 1 touch recording – to be fair, they all have it. If you press the record button when it’s powered off, it fires up and starts recording in whatever mode you had it in previously. It takes about 2 seconds or so to start, but it keeps going until you press the record button.
- GPS – again, to be fair, they all have GPS. From what I found, it records a data point every second.
What I Don’t Like About It:
- 1. No Automatic Invert – If you mount it upside down, it does not automatically invert. You have to go into a menu and switch it to inverted. Then you have to switch it back. I’m not sure if the camera has an accelerometer.
- Shutter Sound – When you use the timelapse mode, it makes the shutter sound every shot. You can only turn it off if you go into the menu, where you have three sound settings – all the sounds, some of the sounds or none of the sounds. The shutter sound is only turned off when all sounds are disabled!
- Need To Use SDXC-UH1 Memory To Record 4k. Of course, the camera’s high bitrate when shooting 4k will write a lot of data, so it kinda makes sense. The class 10 microSD card I already had works fine for most things, but won’t record in 4k.
- GPS Overlay In The Sony Software Is Shit – You get one choice of overlays, and it sucks. It’s out of sync, lags by up to 5 seconds.
As I haven’t really started in the activity I’ll be using this camera for, I haven’t done a lot of video or editing with it. I bought a copy of Filmora to use for editing. I also downloaded and attempted to use Dashware to create overlays using GPS data, but while I can get the GPS data synced to the video (it’s usually about 2 seconds out), it always crashes. GoPro bought out Dashware, so whether or not it will get fixed or not is questionable. Maybe GoPro will roll the functionality up into their software? Who knows. Dash overlays would be nice, but not absolutely necessary.
I’ve obtained a couple aftermarket batteries from Amazon and tested to see how long they last compared to the OEM battery. The OEM battery unit is listed as 1245mAh, and the aftermarket units are marked as 1600mAh, which should be near 25% more. I tested the camera set at 1080p, 30FPS, WiFi and BlueTooth off, IS on (but the cam was sitting on a desk), GPS on.
The two aftermarket batteries both hit about 1 hour and 40 minutes. The OEM battery hit 2 hours and 40 minutes! I charged them up and tested again, with the same settings, and got the same results. So the aftermarket battery capacity is definitely less than the OEM. After some looking around, I found OEM batteries on eBay for $10 each. I may pick up a few more.
Videos will come, in hopefully not too long!