Page 3 : Performance, The Need For Accessories, Our Verdict
There are many side-by-side comparisons between Sony FDR-X1000V and GoPro Hero 4 Black on YouTube, and the general consensus is that Sony X1000V has better sharpness, image stabilization, low light noise and audio clarity, while the GoPro Hero 4 has better customization options in terms of ISO settings, metering options, FOV options, time lapse at full sensor resolution, and dynamic range.
Although Sony FDR-X1000V Action Cam is capable of a 170° FOV, it suffers from serious barrel distortion. Sharpness across the frame is pretty good with slight chromatic aberration, which is only visible at 4K. The dynamic range is not bad in the Neutral colour mode. I didn’t like the Vivid color mode as it exaggerates the colors too much for my liking, and the increase in contrast removed a lot of details.
In bright daylight, the Sony X1000V has very good image quality at both 1080p and 4K resolutions, at all supported frame rates. I have only tried recording in the high bitrate mode. Recording at 1080p 120 fps allows me to reduce the speed to 0.25x for some cool slow motion footage.
Its best low light performance was seen at 1080p 30 fps. There is noticeable noise when recording at 60 fps. This is to be expected since it requires a bump in the ISO to record at 60 fps. I did not expect 4K to suffer the same fate, but its noise level was higher than at 1080p. So if light is not optimal, it’s better to switch to the 1080p 30 fps mode.
The Sony X1000V may not have many features, like custom ISO settings, metering options etc, but there’s really no need to fiddle with those settings especially when you only have one shot at taking your footage. Sony’s Auto mode has been pretty decent and consistent in terms of exposure. The Steadyshot feature reduces handshake vibration pretty effectively, but I didn’t like Steadyshot when the camera was hard-mounted onto my bike. The video felt like I was floating on rough water, instead of riding on an offroad trail.
The X1000V has a wind noise reduction mode. It effectively cancels out wind noise without affecting the audio. I would definitely use this option when I ride on my mountain bike or mount the camera onto my car.
The Time Lapse mode is one of the major flaws of this camera. This is a 4K action camera, but it only records time lapse photos at 1080p. This is simply unacceptable. There’s no 0.5 second interval option too. You can only set the interval in 1 second steps, from 1 up to 60 seconds.
Another major drawback of this camera is its underwater abilities. The original waterproof housing is capable of protecting the X1000V up to 10 meters deep. However, the curvature of front lens cover prevents the camera from focusing properly, resulting in blur photos and videos. The only way to resolve this problem is to purchase another accessory, called the Dive Door (AKA-DDX1K), which also increases the depth limit to 60 meters.
The Need For Accessories
One of the most basic accessories for the Sony action cam is the lens cover, AKA-HLP1. It is overpriced for such a basic item, but it is crucial if you want the lens on the camera to remain scratch-free.
Sony has been slowly improving their mounting accessories. As I would be primarily using it for my mountain biking, the Roll Bar Mount is probably the most useful mount. I can mount it on the top tube of my bike, where it offers more stability and a great point of view. The latest VCT-RBM2 uses a knob to tighten the strap, and the strap can wrap around non-rounded objects better.
The form factor makes mounting onto a helmet less obstructive than a GoPro camera. If you are mounting on top, it will have less drag especially if you are riding downhill… fast. Likewise, if you are mounting it at the side of the helmet, it is also less likely to clip onto objects like tree branches. There’s no official top-mount option, so you will need to be imaginative. You can probably use a strap to secure it to your helmet if it has vents. You can also use the (included) double-sided tape, but I would not recommend that at all.
Sony also has an interesting mount option if you are using a backpack (which I do while cycling since I carry a water bag). Unfortunately, all the official mounts are quite expensive – a common “problem” with GoPro as well, so I did not buy any official mounting accessories. Please note that most of the official accessories made for the smaller Sony AS-series action cameras, like the Skeleton Frame (AKA-SF1) will not fit the X1000V.
GoPro has been in the market a few years longer than Sony, and they have a far wider choice of accessories. Even eBay offers a ton of knockoff versions. Thankfully, you can actually use GoPro mounts with a Sony action camera. All you need to buy is a 1/4″ x 20 thread to GoPro mount adapter, which only costs USD 1 on eBay! Using this nifty trick, I get to enjoy GoPro mounting accessories with my Sony X1000V action camera, and so can you.
The Sony FDR-X1000V is one of the best action cameras in the market today, and I have definitely no qualms recommending this, especially in its price range. The X1000V costs just RM 1450 (~USD 353), including a remote watch and a 32 GB MicroSD card (which is not capable of recording using XAVC-S mode). The GoPro Hero 4 Black edition will cost almost double the price, if you factor in the remote watch.
Not everyone will like its unusual form factor. However, it is better than GoPro or similar cameras for high speed sports.
The Sony X1000V is not without its flaws though. What may kill your interest is its inability to support a 4K resolution time lapse mode, or a narrow FOV mode without Steadyshot enabled. Sony can possibly fix these issues with firmware updates. However, this model has been in the market for more than a year and there’s still no firmware update. The digital zoom mode is now available on the newly launched Sony AS50R, and it is also capable of recording 4K time lapse. So you might want to consider the AS50R instead.
The Sony X1000V is also pretty finicky with MicroSD cards. It’s really a game of hits and misses, as there’s no official list of recommended cards. It can be very frustrating for users who want to record in the highest possible modes.
Customization is not something that Sony action cam is famous for. So if you like playing with ISO settings, metering mode, FOV options, non-standard ratio formats, GoPro is definitely your best bet.
Aside from all the drawbacks, the Sony X1000V is a fantastic action camera, oozing with great image quality and consistent performance, high quality audio recording, slightly better low light noise than GoPro, more mounting locations, water resistant without the waterproof casing. If all you want is outstanding video recording without any fuss, the Sony FDR-X1000V is definitely the right choice for you.