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Sony’s tiny FDR-X1000VR Action Cam shoots 4K adventure footage

Sony continues its march towards a 4K future with an upgraded Action Cam, complete with improved image stabilisation

4K is undoubtedly the focus here at CES 2015, with mentions in virtually every one of today’s pre-show press conferences. The last of the night came from Sony, when it debuted the tiny FDR-X1000VR Action Cam. An evolution of previous models, it’s the first to shoot 4K video yet still retains the compact dimensions and easy-to-wear design for action heroes on the move.

Like Sony’s latest 4K Handycams, the X1000VR shoots 3,840×2,160 resolution video at either 24, 25 or 30p at a massive 100Mbps, using the XAVC S recording format. The 1/2.3in, backside-illuminated (BSI) Exmor R CMOS Sensor can also record Full HD video at up to 120 frames per second or 720p video at 240fps, although you’ll need a UHS-I U3 class or better Micro SDXC card in order to record at the maximum quality.

The only downside to shooting in 4K appears to be that the Electronic SteadyShot image stabilisation gets disabled. Drop down to 1080p, however, and you’ll get the benefits of an improved IS system that should cope well with being on the move. Sony says it is three times more effective than previous models at preventing unwanted vibration, although we weren’t able to test that claim during our short time with the camera. Enabling Electronic SteadyShot will also reduce the f/2.8 ZEISS Tessar lens’ field of view, down to 120° from 170° with the feature disabled.

As with previous Action Cams, the X1000VR is compatible with Sony’s wrist-worn Live-View Remote, which lets you start and stop recording without reaching for the camera itself, as well as review, edit and delete footage on the fly. There’s also a small LCD screen on the camera itself, giving you basic information about recording resolution and frame rate. Buttons on the top and sides let you start and pause recording.

A very welcome new addition for adrenaline junkies is Loop Recording, which effectively puts the camera into a continuous shooting mode, where video is stored in its memory buffer so it will have already recorded the start of your footage before you actually press the record button. It should mean that you miss fewer spur-of-the-moment thrills and spills.

Although we weren’t able to shoot our own footage with the camera, Sony had given one to skateboarding superstar Tony Hawk to put through its paces on three types of board; skate, snow, and surf. The resulting footage looked pin-sharp, with snow drifts and water droplets looking particularly impressive moving at speed.

We’re hoping to put the X1000VR through its paces ourselves a little closer to launch, in order to bring you a full reviw. Sony expects it to go on sale in the UK from April, although it’s already available to pre-order directly from the Sony website. We’re still waiting on an official UK price, but can’t wait to get our hands on one regardless.

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