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Sony FDR-X1000V review - 4K action camera

Richard Easton
14 Feb 2016
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Sony FDR-X1000V lead
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
279
inc VAT

Its menu system is rather fiddly, but the Sony FDR-X1000V is top-notch 4K action camera

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Specifications

Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS, Sensor pixels: 8800000, Max recording resolution: 4K (30fps), AV connections: Micro HDMI, 3.5mm microphone input, Dimensions (HxWxD): 24.4x51.7x88.9mm, Weight: 114g, Warranty: One year RTB

Clearly aiming its sights at the GoPro Hero4 Black, Sony’s FDR-X1000V is a tiny action cam that's capable of 4K recording. Just like the Hero4 Black, the FDR-X1000V can manage 4K (3,840x2,160) at up to 30fps. However, Sony's pint-sized device is able to record 4K at much higher bit rate compared to the GoPro, with either 60Mbit/s or 100Mbit/s recording. The GoPro, on the other hand, tops out at 60Mbit/s, making the Sony look very impressive on paper.

However, in order to record 4K at either bit rate, or even high bit rate 1080p video, the FDR-X1000V is very particular about the type of microSD card you use. It will need to be rated both Class 10 and UHS 3 to enable the higher bit rate recording options, so you'll need to factor this in when you come to buy one. 

The camera will also accept M2 memory sticks, but both types of card have to be installed in the same slot. This means that microSD cards can be inserted the wrong way round, after which the camera will give you a media error, so you’ll need to make sure you’ve installed it properly before you attempt to start recording. As M2 memory sticks are so much more expensive than microSD, chances are you’ll want to use the latter.

Sony FDR-X1000V top

Design and Remote

The design of the FDR-X1000V isn’t a massive departure from the HDR-AZ1 I reviewed last year. It’s quite a bit taller, which lets it sit much more comfortably in your hand like a traditional camcorder, but given its miniscule proportions I imagine that most people will end up mounting the camera rather than holding it. 

Otherwise, the FDR-X1000V comes in the same glossy white finish as the HDR-AZ1, a large shutter button on the top and a pair of menu buttons on the side next to its small LCD screen. Keep in mind, though, that the display is purely for changing settings, so you won’t be able to use it to frame shots or play back footage.

Instead, you'll either need to need to use Sony PlayMemories app on your iOS or Android smartphone, or invest in the wrist-based RM-LVR2 live-view remote. The RM-LVR2 can either be bought with the camera (which changes the action cam's model number to FDR-X1000VR) or purchased separately for £120 direct from Sony.

This slightly unwieldy remote viewer has a colour LCD screen and dedicated shutter button, and it pairs directly with the camera through Wi-Fi Direct. It takes a few seconds to re-pair after you turn the camera or remote off, but the remote can also pair with up to five different cameras, which is useful if you’re on a multi-camera shoot and want different angles.

This gives you a feed from the camera sensor, so you can frame your shots and play it back afterwards. The live-view only has a very marginal delay, too, which compares very favourably with many action cameras that pair with smartphones for similar functionality. The remote also lets you change camera settings using the same menu structure as the camera. It's slightly quicker, but it also has the rather irritating habit of kicking you back out to the main menu whenever you change a single setting. This can make it rather frustrating to use, as most options are found within nested menus and many aren't where you might think either. 


Sony FDR-X1000V remote

There's a small LED on the back and another on the top that light up red when recording video. However, only the back LED lights up when you take a photo, so there's no easy way to tell what mode the camera is in when you're pointing the camera at yourself. In this case, another light on the front of the camera would have been useful.

Mounts and waterproofing

The FDR-X1000V has a conventional 1/4in tripod thread on its underside, and comes with one of Sony's adhesive mounts in the box. However, it's also compatible with Sony's monopod, chest and head mounts, and you can even buy Go-Pro adaptors for it as well, making it incredibly flexible. Just be wary that the microphone won't be accessible if you're using it inside its waterproof housing.


Sony FDR-X1000V outside case

The bare camera is splash-proof, but the FDR-X1000V can survive submersion to 10m when it's placed inside its case. This isn’t particularly impressive when the Hero4 Black can go to depths of 40m, but for around £24, you can buy Sony's AKA-DDX1 Replacement Dive Door, which will then allow you to go up to 60m. 

The top of the camera and waterproof case have a hold slider that can stop you accidentally hitting the shutter button. Otherwise, you can instantly begin recording by hitting the shutter button even when the camera is on standby. It will take about seven seconds to power on and begin recording, so you’ll still need to plan accordingly but it’s handy to not have to fiddle with buttons before you can start shooting.

Recording and Modes

In terms of recording modes, you have a wide range of options depending on which recording format you choose. In MP4 format at 1080p, you can record at up to 60fps, while dropping to 720p allows up to 100fps, whereas 240p (800x480) opens up super slow-motion 200fps video.

There’s the aforementioned 4K video at 100Mbit/s or 60Mbit/s and 30fps when shooting in XAVC S format. XAVC is Sony’s own video codec, which is incredibly versatile. Using XAVC S, you can record at up to 120fps in 1080p and 240fps in 720p, which is very good indeed.

Sony FDR-X1000V front angle

You can shoot in Loop mode, too, where the camera will continue to record and write over old footage when the memory card becomes full, which is useful if you want to use the action cam as a dash cam in your car. As well as video, you can also capture 8.8 megapixel still images and take timelapse photos at 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 and 60s intervals.

When connected to a suitable Wi-Fi hotspot, you can also broadcast live through UStream. This is especially handy if you turn your smartphone into a hotspot and use your data connection. You’ll need to initially connect the FDR-X1000V to your PC and use Sony's bundled software to add your wireless details and Ustream account, but once this is done you can select the Live option where the camera will connect to the designated Wi-Fi hotspot and begin broadcasting. In testing, this worked without a hitch, something I couldn’t say about the 4GEE Action Cam, which was based on this very premise.

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