The new Sony RX0 HD Waterproof Action Camera ditches their slender profile for the square form factor of its biggest competitor in order to up the feature set. It seems the battle for resolution is mostly over, so it’s all about improving the quality of that footage in other ways, and making the devices easier to use.
In our tests, the Sony’s have always had good color reproduction and image quality. The RX0 pushes that further with new sensors capable of capturing clear video from ISO 125 down to ISO 12,800, making for non-grainy low light video. But that’s just the beginning. The Zeiss Tessar T 6-element lens all but eliminates edge distortion despite the wide angle capture, and their Exmor RS CMOS sensor and Bionz image processor combine to let you capture up to 1,000 frames per second for ultra slow motion. For stills, it can shoot 16fps with an insanely quick 1/32,000 shutter speed to eliminate any motion blur or distortion.
The unit gets a machined aluminum housing that’s drop proof from 6.5ft (2m) and crush proof up to 440lbf (200kgf). It’s also waterproof to 33ft, three more than the Hero 6. Where it really starts to differentiate is in its ability to connect with accessories. It has a 1/4-20 tripod mount, and an optional case that adds more 1/4-20 mounts on all sides. Connect external microphones and lights for more professional footage. Or, connect an external recorder and the camera will feed uncompressed 4K footage to it.
Standalone, it’ll record up to 60 minutes of 4K (UPDATE: or at least 1080p…waiting on confirmation from Sony) video per charge using Sony’s removable batteries, making it easier to keep shooting in the field. There’s also built-in auto shutoff if the camera gets too hot during recording.
The new shape lets them build in a screen for (sort of) the first time on an Action Cam. It’s not touch screen (the GoPro Hero6 is), relying on buttons to cycle through settings. It does, however, have face recognition built into its autofocus, or you can use it’s zoom assist to magnify the image for manual focus. And there are four settings for auto focus, letting you control how and where it’s looking. You can also control all of it from their mobile app on your phone, connecting via WiFi and Bluetooth…with up to five cameras connected through the app at once.
Another edge over the GoPro is the use of Memory Stick / Micro SD cards to hold the footage, giving you expandable storage compared to the GoPro. UPDATE: Both the RX0 and Hero6 use removable media storage. Recording can be set to either XAVC S or AVCHD, offering film makers higher quality options…and there are a ton more options in white balance, color and other settings. Another thing film makers will appreciate is the centered lens, making it easier to stack them together or align multiple cameras for shooting in 3D or for VR.
The GoPro Hero 6, which just launched a few days ago, gets voice control and the ability to automatic highlight reels for you, which the Sony doesn’t do. Both will capture 240fps in full HD for “normal” slow motion, the Sony simply takes that quite a bit further with settings up to 1000fps. Sony’s price also takes things a bit further, with a $699 retail. This, combined with its ability to work with a wide range of existing external accessories, puts the Sony more in the pro range of cameras, but it’s hard to argue with a ruggedized housing considering where we’re using these things. Pre-order now, available October 17.