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A Review of the Sony FDR-X1000V 4K Action Camera

by on October 13, 2015
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Overview

4K video in cameras is becoming more common each passing day it seems and new types and generations of shooting devices are including the resolution technology with some fantastic results in all sorts of situations and for all kinds of needs. Action cameras are just one more manifestation of this trend and while the dominant player in this particular video recording/photo niche is without a doubt GoPro with its Hero cameras, new and very interesting competition is also becoming popular from other major brands.

One of these, naturally, is Sony, a company famous for being one of the leaders in the 4K resolution across the board and for being a manufacturer of some very impressive ultra HD cameras from the consumer end to the hardcore professional end of the spectrum and everything in between. And as far as action cameras go, they’ve produced their latest and best effort so far in the form of the FDR-X1000V/W 4K Action Camera, a sporting effort at matching the kind of rugged and highly flexible adventure filming technology that thousands of sports and outdoor activity lovers are looking for, among other types of users.

The Good

There’s plenty to love about the FDR-X1000V/W, from its overall design to its photo and video chops. This is a little camera that definitely delivers a lot of that Sony quality we’ve become used to seeing for a lot of devices. While we’re going to avoid overt comparison with GoPro’s powerful little Hero action cameras here, it’s going to pop up here and there.

For starters, there’s the compactness and tough design of this little camera. The Sony isn’t quite as versatile at mounting on an assortment of different mobility situations as its Hero counterparts but it still delivers plenty of flexibility, whether it be for sky diving, biking, running, hiking or whatever. Furthermore, the design isn’t all aesthetics, it’s also tough enough to withstand some dust, splashing and rugged weather conditions.

Next up, the photo and video chops of the FDR-X1000V/W are certainly nothing to laugh at. This little action camera definitely delivers some excellent 4k ultra HD video at a solid 100Mbps and the photos and footage produced by the FDR-X1000V/W are remarkably good by the standards of a POV action camera. Furthermore, features like built-in exposure compensation and some very solid image stabilization only help video and photo quality stay at the top of its game in the X1000V/W.

Finally, the camera’s included waterproof casing expands filming options widely by being able to handle submersion in up to 33 feet of ocean or fresh water and the generally tough design is good at handling some rough treatment.

Check the Price of the Sony FDR-X1000V/W 4K Action Cam on Amazon:

4.2 - 40 Reviews

The Bad

On the other hand, the FDR-X1000V/W does feel a bit bulky, certainly bulkier than other Sony Full HD action cameras and also even bulkier than the comparable GoPro Hero 4 4K action camera. This works against the little shooter in some specialized situations and makes it a more clumsy option for specialized POV mounting like that involving attachment to a UAV drone or a helmet.

In addition to this basic design deficiency, the FDR-X1000V/W also suffers from some lag in response to changes in the menu controls and its lens, despite being an excellent Zeiss model, has a tendency to allow water droplets to stick when filming is being done in and out of water or during downpours.

Finally, the 4K UHD video mode in the FDR-X1000V/W is shot in Sony’s highly efficient XAVC S format at a cool 100Mbps but this also means that the camera requires the rather pricey SDXC card storage medium and this somewhat reduces its flexibility in comparison to the slightly superior (in our view) GoPro Hero 4.

Final Thoughts

While you might be slightly better off with the GoPro Hero 4 for its generally more robust, more compact and slightly more decked out specs, the FDR-X1000V/W is one very solid 4K UHD action camera and its photos and video are excellent for a device of this size. We didn’t really expect anything less from Sony but it’s nice to see it realized in consumer market form.

Specs

Camera Type: 4K POV action camera
Size (W x D x H): 1” x 3.5” x 2”
Wright: 3.14 oz
Video Resolution: 3840 x 2160 pixels
Photo resolution: 8.8 megapixels
Sensor Type: Exmor R CMOS ½.3”
Recording Formats for photos: JPEG
Recording formats for video: H.264, XAVC S
Lens system: Carl Zeiss wide-angle lens - 2.8 mm - f/2.8 - wide angle with 17.1 m focal equivalent to 35mm camera
Recording media: SDXC
Max shutter speed: 1/10,000 sec
Minimum shutter speed: 1/30 sec
Image stabilization: electronic (Steady Shot with Active Mode)
Connectivity: USB 2.0, HDMI 1.4
Frame Rates video:
XAVC S - 3840 x 2160 - 30 fps - 100Mbps
XAVC S - 3840 x 2160 - 25 fps - 100Mbps
XAVC S - 3840 x 2160 - 24 fps - 100Mbps
XAVC S - 3840 x 2160 - 30 fps - 60Mbps
XAVC S - 3840 x 2160 - 25 fps - 60Mbps
XAVC S - 3840 x 2160 - 24 fps - 60Mbps
XAVC S - 1920 x 1080 - 120 fps - 60Mbps
XAVC S - 1920 x 1080 - 100 fps - 60Mbps
XAVC S - 1920 x 1080 - 120 fps - 100Mbps
XAVC S - 1920 x 1080 - 100 fps - 100Mbps
XAVC S - 1280 x 720 - 240 fps - 100Mbps
XAVC S - 1280 x 720 - 200 fps - 100Mbps
XAVC S - 1280 x 720 - 240 fps - 60Mbps
XAVC S - 1280 x 720 - 200 fps - 60Mbps
XAVC S - 1920 x 1080 - 60 fps - 50Mbps
XAVC S - 1920 x 1080 - 50 fps - 50Mbps
XAVC S - 1920 x 1080 - 30 fps - 50Mbps
XAVC S - 1920 x 1080 - 25 fps - 50Mbps
XAVC S - 1920 x 1080 - 24 fps - 50Mbps
H.264 - 1920 x 1080 - 60 fps - 28Mbps
H.264 - 1920 x 1080 - 50 fps - 28Mbps
H.264 - 1920 x 1080 - 30 fps - 16Mbps
H.264 - 1920 x 1080 - 25 fps - 16Mbps
H.264 - 1280 x 720 - 30 fps - 6Mbps
H.264 - 1280 x 720 - 25 fps - 6Mbps
H.264 - 1280 x 720 - 120 fps - 28Mbps
H.264 - 1280 x 720 - 100 fps - 28Mbps
H.264 - 800 x 480 - 240 fps - 28Mbps
H.264 - 800 x 480 - 200 fps - 28Mbps

Accessories

In addition to the camera itself, accessories included in the box consist of a micro USB cable, a battery cell, the action cam’s waterproof case (which is good down to 33 feet, or 10 meters), an attachment buckle for inserting the camera into a mount, a flat adhesive mount, a curved adhesive mount and a starter guide along with your standard limited 1 year warranty. Optional accessories that are sold separately include a much more robust waterproofing case for depths of up to 200 feet of water.

Highlights

Let’s start with the most basic and obvious highlight of this 4K action camera. This is its 4K recording capability. The FDR-X1000V can manage some very high quality 4K UHD video with great contrast and color saturation at 30p with a bitrate of 100Mbps or 24p at a bitrate of 24Mbps as well as in other bitrates under 4K UHD as seen in the specs. Furthermore, this camera is capable of shooting video in Full HD at 50Mbps in XAVC S or at 28Mbps in MP4 mode as well as 720p HD footage at an assortment of frame rates and bitrates, as visible in the specs section above.

The professional XAVC S codec used for compression of the FDR-X1000V’s 4Kand Full HD footage is also something we like. Capable of recording at up to 100Mbps, the quality of the video captured is definitely superb with a much higher amount of information left in the footage for post-production editing and video manipulation. XAVC S also offer support for professional timecode and UB, both of which have settings that can be accessed through the FDR-X1000V mobile app. On the other hand, shooing in XAVC S is also pricier due to the more rigorous SDXC memory requirements it entails, so this is definitely a bit of tradeoff you’ll have to deal with if you plan on shooting a lot of 4K UHD action footage with this camera.

Next up, there is Sony’s improved Steady Shot image stabilization technology, which offers even further refinements on capturing sharp, shake free video (and thus photo stills) with the FDR-X1000 from what was the case in older Sony action camera models. The Stady Shot system is particularly good at dealing with the kind of vibrations you might have to deal with during recording while the camera is mounted to a remote control aircraft, a boat or a car or 4x4 vehicle.

Finally, we also love the FDR-X1000 camera’s stereo microphone technology. Unlike a large number of other 4K UHD and HD action cameras, this little shooter incorporates some of Sony’s expertise in putting together solid audio technology by creating an audio recording experience that’s almost as good as the camera’s video recording chops. In particular, the FDR-X1000 offers a great noise reduction for the sounds of wind and water flowing past –something that’s very useful for the most common uses this little camera is likely to go through.

Check the Price of the Sony FDR-X1000V/W 4K Action Cam on Amazon:

4.2 - 40 Reviews

Overall Performance

Overall, the FDR-X1000 is one very solid performer. While we’d argue that GoPro’s Hero 4 is the superior 4K action camera in terms of general design and usability, the FDR-X1000 definitely gives the former a serious run for its money in terms of its photo and video quality. This is one area in which Sony excels in general and the result of their expertise shows in the FDR-X1000.

On the other hand, the overall bulk and elongated design of the FDR-X1000 do negatively affect the ease with which it can be mounted in the myriad of diverse ways that the GoPro Hero cameras are capable of.

We also like the battery lasting power of the FDR-X1000. This POV camera certainly has a robust load to it and a full charge should be enough for a full couple days of on and off shooting, though this can vary somewhat depending on the resolution of video you’re capturing and how long each individual shooting is at a given resolution. Nonetheless, for a day long outdoor adventure, a full charge is going to be more than enough to not worry about the camera dying suddenly at a crucial moment as long as you shoot in segments and keep extra specs like GPS, Wifi and possibly the Steady Shot video stabilization powered down unless they’re necessary. A full battery charge should last a solid 2 hours if you’re continuously shooting Full HD video however. 4K video will naturally last quite a bit less during continuous filming.

Finally, using the FDR-X1000 is really a very simple thing. Pressing any of the buttons powers the camera up quickly and changes to modes, settings and adjustments to things like exposure and white balance can be done via the PlayMemories app that’s free to download as an accompaniment to this action camera.

We should also note that the camera’s top quality XAVC S footage will cost you more due to the needed XAVC S memory cards it requires. However, if you don’t mind a slightly lower video quality and resolution, you can use the cameras AVC video format to shoot Full HD at 28Mbps. Furthermore, the Steady Shot image stabilization feature only works at up to Full HD resolution and won’t do much for very serious shaking. So if you want to save on battery life, don’t bother turning it on during normal, calm filming that doesn’t involve vibration in particular.

Image Quality and Resolution

As we’ve already mentioned, Sony rather excels at delivering excellent video and photo quality in its cameras and the case with the FDR-X1000 is no exception to this rule. If you want the absolute best level of 4K video and potential still images extracted from it, then activate the cameras 4K UHD shooting mode and run it at the full XAVC S compression standard for a full and very clean, crisp 8.8 megapixels of resolution in still images. However, even for shooting at Full HD and even 720p HD settings, the camera does a great job of producing realistic color, fine contrast and top notch clarity.

Furthermore, in full 4K mode, the FDR-X1000 practices what is called a 1:1 direct pixel readout. This means that one photosite/pixel in the sensor corresponds directly to a single pixel in a piece of the camera’s 4K video footage . This kind of direct readout means much clearer, less “jiggly” images under full 4K recording and we definitely appreciate this.

Pricing

The Sony FDR-X1000V/W 4K action camera is selling on Amazon.com for $548.00 and includes a LiveView wrist mountable remote control/viewing kit. On the other hand, the basic camera package we listed further up is selling with the Sony website for $499.99.

Check the Price of the Sony FDR-X1000V/W 4K Action Cam on Amazon:

4.2 - 40 Reviews

The Not So Great

We don’t have too many complaints to make about the Sony FDR-X1000V/W. It’s video footage and the 4K photo stills that can be extracted from it are great and give the GoPro Hero 4 a serious run for its money. However, in terms of physical design, this particular POV camera is a bit too bulky and clumsy for mounting for our tastes. Also, the XAVC S format for the high resolution 4K video might be a bit expensive for frequent use.

Positives

• Excellent video capture capacity
• Great photo stills from 4K video
• Flexible shooting options
• Robust and tough design with waterproof case
• 1:1 pixel readout for superior 4K video quality

Negatives

• A bit clumsy in the body design
• Slightly too large for an action camera
• XAVC S format for 4K can be expensive

Editor Rating
 
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A+

 
Quality
A-

 
User Friendliness
A

 
Design
B-

 
Price
B

Total Score
B+

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Bottom Line
 

Overall, we’d probably vote in favor of the GoPro Hero 4 action camera as far as serious action/POV shooting is concerned (particularly with 4K UHD resolution). However, the Sony FDR-X1000V/W is a great and very robust 4K POV camera on its own and many users who prefer Sony’s video recording technology might go for it instead.

Check the Price of the Sony FDR-X1000V/W 4K Action Cam on Amazon:

4.2 - 40 Reviews

 
3 comments
 
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  • DSE
    October 14, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I find it interesting that this article suggests that GoPro has a superior image when every other review comparing the cameras says something different.
    100Mbps XAVC provides not only a superior codec and breadth of opportunity in post, it also provides for a deeper, more robust color.
    Strangely enough, in the action sports world, most dislike the GoPro footprint as it generates instability. Sony is narrower, allowing for sidemount on the head (can’t easily be done with a GP), less wind profile for action sports like motorcycling, skydiving, BASE jumping, etc. It has less of a snag profile for any airsport.

    On a drone, the F1000 flies better than any square profile camera as it has less wind profile.

    Replay XD also has a solid image, and by far the smallest profile of them all.

    Then again, Replay and Sony likely don’t advertise on this site. 😉

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      October 15, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      I assure you that advertising has nothing to do with the opinions presented in any of our reviews. We make sure to be as objective as we possibly can be in those, though we do include advertising from assorted manufacturers. You raise a very good point with the aerodynamics of the Sony camera’s shape vs. the GoPro and i’ll take this into consideration. As for video quality on the GoPro, in our view it was superior and this is an opinion we’ve seen shared by some other users of both. However, these specific types of views have some subjectivity and can vary from one review to the next.

      Reply

  • SeanD
    October 18, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    Aside from almost every review I have seen showing the Sony having both superior image quality and superior white balance, I have to agree with DSE that some reviews inexplicably still seem to give the nod to the GoPro4.

    I am also puzzled that so little weight and attention is given to the image stabilization. For uses in sport such as motorcycling, the jitteriness of GoPro videos can sometimes appear comical. Image Stabilization is a huge feature and that alone is almost the deal sealer between the Sony and the GoPro.

    I would like to see more testing done on the durability of the cameras themselves. I previously had a GoPro 3 and it was/is a terrible camera. I have barely used it do the issues I have had with it. It has overheated, melting the back of the PacBack battery, the original battery has failed, the camera frequently just shuts itself off now. I wouldn’t spend the money on another GoPro based on my past experience with the Hero 3 Black.

    How durable are the Sony Action Cams? I just purchased a FDR-X1000V, so I guess I am about to find out 🙂

    Reply

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