REVIEW: Sony X1000V Action Cam

Posted In: Blog, Photos, Product Review

This review is based upon my time spent with the Sony FDR-X1000V camera thus far. I reserve the right to modify this review if my future experiences with the camera warrant a change. For more information about this camera you can check out my “Long Long Honeymoon” website, where I will post additional video, stills, and commentary.

**I also have a key recommendation. If you do ultimately decide to purchase a Sony action Cam, also buy the lens protector for the front assembly. Due to the design of the camera, the lens is especially vulnerable to damage – you need a lens protector to safeguard the unit.**

I had high hopes for this camera replacing my GoPro models. Now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have bought the GoPro 4 instead.

PROS

**Image stabilization**
I bought this camera instead of a GoPro for its electronic image stabilization. The good news is that the X1000V has “Steadyshot” and it works in 1080p and low resolution video modes. The bad news? It doesn’t work in 4k and it doesn’t produce miracles. However it does seem to provide noticeably smoother video results with my first gen DJI Phantom 1.1.1. It’s by no means the equivalent of having a gimbal, but it helps.

**XAVCS codec**
It’s possible to record in the high quality 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps XAVCS codec. This is a very good thing and I am happy to have a higher quality alternative to AVCHD and MP4.

Good choice of video framerates (1080p 60p, 720p 240p)
We have some great HD video frame rate choices here, including 1080p 60p and 720p 240p. 1080P 120p would have been nice, but what’s here is impressive nonnetheless.

**4k**
This is a marquee feature and key selling point of this camera. 4K is nice in theory, assuming you have the ability to edit and view 4k. The X1000V does shoot 4k (in 30p with NO Steadyshot) with compromised battery life.

**Splashproof Body**
I like that the body itself is splash proof (without an external housing). It easily slips into a pocket.

**Stereo audio**
Audio is recorded in stereo and is actually pretty decent when recorded under ideal conditions.

CONS

**Lousy “Interval Recording” still image quality**
Okay, here’s a “con” that is pretty much a deal killer if you are interested in the interval recording of still images. Unless I am missing something (a distinct possibility since Sony does not include a proper product manual with the camera), the still image quality during interval recording is a pathetic 1920×1080. We’re talking 2.1 megapixels here, folks. Why, Sony? It really makes no sense. The camera is capable of shooting 3952×2224 (4k) at 30 fps (and in plain “photo” mode) yet Sony has artificially restricted the interval still image quality to half that resolution when shooting in the interval mode. They have also restricted the options for interval recording so that the fastest rate available is a mere 1 frame per second.

I can’t figure out the reason that Sony would artificially throttle this camera to deliver poor quality interval recording photos. It’s a major oversight. This is a problem that could be solved with a firmware update, so hopefully Sony will improve interval recording in the future. However, I must review the camera as it exists today. Note that a GoPro 4 shoots stills in a 12 MP 4000×3000 resolution that crushes the Sony output.

**16:9 Still Images ONLY**
Still images may be shot in one aspect ratio – 16:9. There are no other still image options.

**Annoying menus**
Yes, this is a characteristic of most action cameras, but the camera menu interface is a rather clumsy navigational experience. To be fair, the same could be said of the GoPro cams. It would’ve been great if Sony had pioneered a fresh approach here with their flagship action camera, but alas they did not.

**Odd physical design**
I’m not sold on the basic design shape of the Sony Action Camera series. I suppose they had to distinguish their cameras from GoPro in appearance, but the GoPro has a fairly traditional boxy camera shape, while the Sony has a relatively odd cylindrical shape. The Sony shape is a little awkward to handle. More troubling, the lens also juts out farther from the body (torso, drone, vehicle, etc.) to which it is mounted, exposing the vulnerable lens assembly to greater risk of damage.

**No product manual included**
Sony doesn’t include a proper product manual for the camera. Instead we get a “setup guide” and a “help guide,” both of which are printed on thin pieces of folded paper. Thus far I have been unable to locate a manual PDF online either.

**No battery charger included**
A minor complaint, but no external battery charger is included with the camera. You are supposed to use the camera itself to recharge your battery, a “feature” that means you can’t use your camera when recharging the batt, a process that Sony itself states will take 4 hours and 5 minutes. Sure you can buy an external battery charger, but why should you need to do so with a $500 camera?

**64 GB U3 SDXC card required**
As other reviewers have noted, you need a 64 GB or larger capacity SDXC card to enable all the recording features of this camera. I am using this Lexar card, which is very fast and reasonably priced.

CONCLUSION

The video from the FDR-X1000V is nice – as it should be for the price. Overall I am left disappointed with this camera primarily due to the unfortunate restrictions on still image quality during interval recording. My old GoPro 2 from 2012 has more and better still image features (more interval recording options with greater resolution detail).

I take no pleasure in posting a harsh review, but this camera is priced at a premium, and prospective purchasers must understand exactly what they are buying here. Video is impressive for its quality. Still image quality during interval recording is, well, “impressive” for all the wrong reasons. Hopefully Sony will issue a firmware fix to the interval recording issues and I can change this review to reflect the improvement.


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