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Sony Action Cam AS100VR Review

I have been using a DSLR as my backup/second camera on quite a few events for a number of years and the POV cameras is not something that came to mind when I was filming events.   I had considered them but the quality of the  image and low light and battery life was always in the back of my mind.

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It has taken some time to put this review together as I have actually used the equipment in real situations and not just picked it up and read the manual. (though I did read the manual)

I liked the idea of have a remote viewing screen and controlling the camera, via  the Wi-Fi, in fact I tested this in one of my previous reviews.  I did have a  concern on using my phone as it did drain the battery quite rapidly, so fine for the  odd view but not the whole event.

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So taking the above in mind, was it wise to ask me to write a review on the Sony AF100V? I do already have some negatives in my mind.  I decided to  accept as why  not give it a try as there is no need for me to purchase the items only to find I might be disappointed.  I picked up not one but two AS100V Action cams, one was with a live view remote (AS100VR).

The cameras come with a waterproof case for the camera, battery, and an adapter to enable the AS100 to be used on a tripod without having to be in the waterproof case. The older AS30 cameras only came with the waterproof case and no ability to stick on a tripod without it, though there is an adapter case that allows that now.

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This is useful as the sound from the camera in and out of the case is not the same,  it allows access to the USB connector to allow you to use an additional PSU or  external battery but not the MIC socket, HDMI connector.  I was unable to test the  50M/B option of the camera as I have no SDXC cards required for that mode.  I  also did not test the super slow & high speed modes. there is a still image mode at  13.5 Megapixels 16:9.

 

The LCD display on the side gives information about the status of the camera,  battery, recording format, GPS status, WiFi, Mode.  The Video Mode and internal icon is very similar as it is so small so can be confusing.  You just press the Next or PREV buttons, easy out of the waterproof case bit difficult in the case, also need to be care that if you hold to long the camera flips through the modes and so you can end up on the wrong menu.  There is  GPS (can be turned off) and you can flip the image is if the Action camera is upside down the image is correct in the edit.

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Connecting the camera to the AS100VR was fairly easy once you understood the manual as you need to read both manuals to make it work. The AS100VR can connect to 5 of the Action Cams and has a battery life of over 5 hours.
Once your connected to the Viewer, you cannot connect to the Play Mobile app your phone as you need to change the menu in the Action Camera, shame as it would have been great to be able to swap with out the menu change.  When you turn everything off and then on latter, it all connects automatically with no input form the user.

If you decide to use the phone, it is handy to have an NFC , as you can use this to enable you to connect the Camera with the phone.  If not then you need to enter the password, which is on a sticker in the paperwork. it is also on the camera if you connect via USB and read the internal drive.  I stuck the sticker on the side of the camera for easy reference, but the phone app does remember the password and also made a contact entry in the phone for the camera and put all the details there, belt and braces me.

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As I mainly film events which is safe and rewarding   and do not  tend not to jump off cliffs or on fast  motorbikes, which is not safe and has never crossed my  mind.  Where can I make use of them during an event  and would it add value for either the client or for myself.
I did my usual tests before using in the field, placed an  SD card into the fully charged camera and then let it  record facing a clock, to test the recording times, which was about 2 hours continuously  (Sony NP-BX1, 1240mAh, 3.6v 4.5Wh)

The first opportunity was a classical event, where they piano was of to one side as all other musicians were on the stage.  I set up the AS1000V to one side of the piano on a Microphone stand. I used my smart phone to frame the shot as I needed that larger image,  I had the Live viewer but the screen is a bit small for that, fine for reference, Ok for once you have framed.

vlcsnap-2014-09-22-13h52m07s123 As you can see from the picture, it has a bit of a semi-fish eye effect on the  image, but it got me out of a pickle.  If  you use the Steady shot function on the camera that reduces the fisheye a bit and also works quite well.  The video  can be corrected in post for the fish-eye, I used Magic Bullet in Sony Vegas.   Once I had make a template it was  simply used every time any clip is added to the timeline, its not the best but it works.  The clips also seemed to  need very little work on them as they looked practically identical  to the main camera.  I was pleased with the  results and the use of Plural Eyes made the whole process practically painless.
I say practically as, Vegas Pro does not import the MP4 footage via the Device Explorer and so does not join the  clips up for you.  I had to manually drag the clips from the card into a local folder and then into Vegas Pro.

After the success of the first event I then gave it a try on a couple of bands at a local music fest and the whole process was again painless and very easy as the cameras are so small and out of the way.

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The main issues were , keeping the camera on while waiting for the right band  and or song, the supplied battery  last approx two hours when recording.  I used a  Phone portable USB  battery charger to power the camera for  long periods  (remember to turn off the auto off function in the camera and setup the USB power  option).  In the  case of the battery I used, I would get over 6 hours of use.   I had to  take the camera out of the waterproof case  (remember the sound is better out of the  case) and use the supplied tripod adapter and used the tripod adapter  from my  Zoom audio recorder to place the camera on a mic stand.   I strapped the Viewer over my main cameras  eyepiece and could keep an eye on the cameras.  My main problem on the day way the distance from me to the  camera as I was positioned with my main camera away from the stage by the mixer desk.  If I held the Live Viewer up it did connect, a bit flaky at the distance of 30/40 meters but  I managed to start stop the camera. On the image you can just see a white bit on the left speakers part way down, this image taken form where the main camera was.  I have also used as a second camera on some interviews and that worked well as well, fairly good audio.
You can just see the camera as a white dot on the image below

2014 June Link fest C svs@aic-co-uk (357)

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When you press the record button on the Live View  Remote,  all  cameras start to  record, you can also  change the mode to photos  / interval.  The Live viewer  is good  but has some limitations, the  ones I found  missing was no indication of battery status  of the    camera or the space available on the SD  card.  This  means you  have to go to the  camera to check very now  and then.  Would also  be nice to play and delete clips not  required or better still cache  recording.  The live view can also be used on some other  Sony stills cameras, To be fair you can play out clips via the mini HDMI connector to a  monitor

Still from the camera

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P1090437 As a project I decide to fix the Action camera on my main camera and as you can see in the photo , how that is  done. I need a different case  as I need access to  the USB to power it of the D-Tape via a modified 12Volt USB  power supply I have knocked up. I can then leave it on all day.   I have flipped the image in the menus, so it looks  correct on the Phone/Live viewer and also in the edit. In the menus there is the option to use a IR RMT-845, but  none of my Sony remotes worked

Being a sound man I though I would try feeding audio in through the Mic socket via a 3.5mm Attenuated lead from a mixer and I was surprised how good the audio is.

While I had the camera an update came through (V2), this was nearly easy but the text is a bit confusing, as you can see in the image at 2 it says press the ENTER button on the camera then on three is says press the NEXT button, and as there is a NEXT button on the camera it is not clear if this is the one to press or the next on the program. The update takes about 12 minutes so hang on in there.

SOny ASF100 update image

The new update RESETS all settings  and gives you the option to stream live video via Ustream.

There is also an update for the AFS30, this allows it to connect to the Live Viewer

 


 

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