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Sony HDR-AS15 review

Chris Finnamore
5 Oct 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
169
inc VAT

A neat design and impressive image stabilisation, but only mediocre overall video quality

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Specifications

1/2.3 CMOS sensor, 640x480, 1,280x720, 1,920x1,080, 0.0x zoom, 65g

With its HDR-AS15 Action Cam, Sony has taken a similar approach to Veho with its Muvi. Instead of making the camera itself tough, as with the Contour Roam2 and Drift HD Ghost action cams, Sony has taken a lightweight mini camcorder with a wide-angle lens and paired it with a tough waterproof housing.

Sony HDR-AS15

In the waterproof housing

It's not quite as neat as the competition, but we like the design. The camcorder slots into the waterproof case, and you bolt the lens cover to the front with a sturdy clip. It all feels well-made and tough. Once it's in the case, a big red button on the rear starts and stops recording.

Sony HDR-AS15

And the naked camera

The camera comes with two sticky-pad mounts; one with a flat base and one with a slight curve. The sticky pads are covered with the same 3M VHB sticky stuff as we see on most action cams, and it's certainly up to the job of holding the camera in place when stuck to our HPI Racing Bullet MT test radio-controlled car. There's also a wide range of extra mounts available, but these don’t come cheap; both the VCT-GM1 waterproof headband mount and VCT-HM1 handlebar mount will set you back £24.

Bullet MT

Our HPI Racing Bullet MT test vehicle

We were impressed with the camera's video quality during our test runs through the woods, though. The camera has Sony's SteadyShot electronic image stabilisation, and high-definition video taken during our off-road test runs was far more stable than that of most action cameras we’ve seen, with none of the shimmering effect caused by too much vertical vibration. We tested the camera at 1,920x1,080 at 30fps, which is YouTube's preferred format, but a recent firmware update means it can also record 1080p footage at 60fps. The camera also supports time lapse photography with intervals of 5, 10, 30 and 60seconds, and can record 2x and 4x slow-motion video at 60fps and 120fps.

Speed run test - best viewed full-screen at 1080p

The stable image came at the expense of fidelity, though; the HDR-AS15 rendered the sky as turquoise rather than blue on a sunny day, and static footage showed noise and much less detail than from cameras such as the Contour Roam2. Footage is definitely much more impressive when you're moving than when standing still, but that's probably the right way round for an action camera.

Static test - best viewed full-screen at 1080p

The HDR-AS15 has a small LCD display, but this is only for helping with the menus rather than for previewing content. You can play back content directly on a TV or monitor over HDMI, but you'll need a Micro HDMI to HDMI cable (around £6 from www.ebuyer.com).

It's also possible to view your recorded content on an iOS or Android phone or tablet, with Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app. This is a bit clunky, though. Once you've set up a direct Wi-Fi connection to the camera with the passcode included in the box, you can browse the contents of its memory card and copy it straight to your tablet or phone; you can't play it straight from the camera. While the app worked fine on an iPad, we found it would crash on our Motorola RAZR i mobile. This may be due to the RAZR i's Intel processor; the app was fine on an ARM-based Samsung Galaxy Mega.

Sony's Action Cam HDR-AS15 is a neat design with impressive image stabilisation, at the expense of absolute image quality. If you plan on filming plenty of bumpy rides it's a great choice, but we'd go for the Contour Roam2 at this price.

Basic Specifications

Rating****

Recording

Optical zoom0.0x
Digital zoom0x
Sensor1/2.3 CMOS
Sensor pixels16,800,000
Widescreen modeletterbox
LCD screen size1.2in
Viewfinder typenone
Video lampNo
Video recording formatH.264
Video recording mediamicroSD
SoundAAC 48KHz stereo
Video resolutions640x480, 1,280x720, 1,920x1,080
Maximum image resolution1,920x1,080
Memory slotmicroSDHC
Mermory supplied0
Flashno

Physical

Digital inputs/outputsHDMI, Micro USB
Analogue inputs/outputs3.5mm microphone input
Other connectionsnone
Battery typeli-ion
Battery life2h 24m
Battery charging positioncamcorder
Size47x25x82mm
Weight65g

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£169
Supplierhttp://www.parkcameras.com
Detailswww.sony.co.uk

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