I fell in to one of these Sony HDR-AS15 cameras as a perk from Klout. I’ve got a first gen Contour HD and a first gen GoPro HD Hero so it will be nice to have another option to use for filming.
What’s in the box?
Or, boxes as it were. Waterproof case & goggle mount, as well as mounting hardware to attach said waterproof case to either of the flat or curved surface 3m sticky mounts.. Elastic head strap. Extra battery tray. Lithium Ion battery. USB connector.
Functionality & Ease of Use:
- On/Off & Standby: One thing I really like it seems to be in perpetual “standby”, like it’s on but background on. Pressing the record button fires it up in a second or two and starts recording. pressing the record button again stops the recording and powers down. Even with gloves on, it’s the easiest on/off switch compared to the GoPro and Contour cameras that I have used in the past.
- Menu Controls: Three buttons to use to toggle the settings and everything can be controlled via this interface, it’s a little tricky but after a few uses you’ll get the hang of it. Exceeds the Contour (no display, limited control) and GoPro (more button functionality and display) in terms of ease-of-use.
- In the field: With a helmet/beanie on you can barely hear the signal, so in this regard it’s really no better or worse than competitors. There is no light or indicator other than the audible beep that will tell you whether it’s recording. Although there is a good LCD display, it’s on the side and if you mount the cam on your left side, you won’t be able to see it.
- Mounting: The headstrap/goggles mount leaves a lot to be desired. It’s about 100% larger in profile than the comparable mount from Contour, and it lacks the rotational versatility. This camera can only be pointed directly where your face is pointed, unlike the Contour (which has a bezel on the goggle mount, and a rotating lens) or the GoPro which can pivot, albeit rather awkwardly.
Optics & Image Quality: There are several video options, fisheye angles, and still/sequential options.I’m not a guru in this stuff but I think it’s a bit saturated which some people are in to (like the GoPros), and the video overall is better than Roam and first gen Heros/Contours, close or maybe equal to H2 quality, but won’t compare to H3.
- Video: Several shooting modes including full HD 1920×1080 at 30fps, and HD 720p at 30, 60 or 120fps super-slow-motion, as well as a VGA mode that you’ll never use. Optional 120-degree or 170-degree fisheye means you don’t have to settle for super-distorted view and with the narrower FOV you’ll get a marginally better range/distance.
- Stills: 16megapixels? Interval/sequence pictures are crisp even when the camera/operator is moving I took hundreds of these inadvertently when I thought I was recording video, while snowboarding. Almost without exception they are crisp pictures, not blurry.
Optional WiFi: Although the WiFi will set you back an extra $70 it’s still a pretty competitively-priced cam at $270.
I have done a few quick tests with the WiFi to review footage in field on my Samsung GS3 and the image & video quality on the GS3 is superb, so you can definitely review your footage during your lunch break or on the chairlift. However, if you have a lot of videos or sequenced images, it is very slow to load the thumbnails and as a result, usability suffers.
The manual isn’t clear but you will need to download an app to get the WiFi enabled. Every time you perform an action like sharing a pic or video (uploading to Facebook, for example), the wifi disconnects and you have to re-initialize it which can be a pain in the ass, given the slow thumbnail load time if you have a lot of files on the card.
Additional Features & Properties: Basic “other stuff” about the HDR-AS15.
- Battery life: The battery life seems to be pretty good, I attribute this to the “standby” functionality where the camera is always kind of waiting to record, without being actively “on”. No problem at all using this intermittently for an entire day, or two days, without recharge. Obviously with continuous filming you’re only going to get a few hours out of it.
- Size & Weight: It’s small enough and lightweight but the waterproof case which you’ll need for any snow-related filming makes it much bigger and heavier. The Cameras size and profile closely resembles the Contour, but it’s a bit smaller. Like the Contour, the case makes it about 50% bigger than it is without.
- Memory: No memory included, you’ll need to provide your own micro-SD card. 16GB seems to be more than enough for a day of riding.
- Pricing: $270 for wifi-enabled version, $200 for the non-wifi version.
Summing it up: Easy to use, adjustable in the field, Wifi preview your shots, good battery life. On the flip side the goggle mount is heavy, awkward, and non-functional compared to the competition. Personally I think this camera is going to be best-used as a small handheld. Overall it seems to be a good camera whose shortcomings are made up for by its relative affordability and WiFi enabled-ness.