It teased it via blog and previewed it at the Outdoor Retailer show, but Sony saved the full detailing of its new HDR-AS15 Action Cam for this week's IFA show. The company is hoping to win the hearts of skiers, skaters, bikers and other adrenaline hounds with full HD recording with multiple slow motion modes, integrated Wi-Fi capabilities, and dive-ready waterproof casing.
It appears the creative minds at Sony were all on vacation during the camera's development because Sony regularly refers to it with the masterfully unimaginative name "Action Cam." As is essentially mandatory in the action cam market, Action Cam offers 1080p filming at 30 fps. It also has four other modes, including two HD slow motion modes (720p at 60 fps and 720p at 120 fps). The athlete controls filming with a simple start-stop push button.
The Sony cam films action through a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 170-degree lens. It smooths out the bumps and jars with integrated SteadyShot image stabilization and 3-Way Shake Canceling. Sony says the Exmor R CMOS sensor renders crisp video in a wide range of light conditions from "dawn until dusk." The included ruggedized waterproof case lets the camera snorkel as deep as 197 feet (60 m).
The spec sheet is rounded out by a monaural speaker, built-in microphone, Memory Stick Micro and Micro SD/SDHC memory compatibility, microHDMI out and stereo mini-jack mic input. The action cam measures in at 1 x 1.9 inch x 3.25 inches (24.5mm x 47.0mm x 82.0mm) and 3.2 ounces (90 g). Sony plans to offer the full gamut of supportive hardware, including a Handheld Grip with LCD display, tilt adapter, anti-fog accessory and a range of mounts geared for different sports.
The standard version of the camera will launch by late-September for US$200. It is available for pre-order now. Those looking to use a smartphone as a viewfinder and/or viewing screen can opt for the $270 version, which includes integrated Wi-Fi.
GoPro has long dominated the action cam market, but it's now facing some stiff competition from major manufacturers like Sony and JVC. Depending upon how the actual user experiences shake out, we may start seeing a greater variety of hardware at ski resorts, trails and water bodies.