Sony FDR-X1000V 2015 Review by A Better Ski

Overview – The Sony FDR-X1000V is a great camera for those who want to shoot in 4K video format. It works for everyday use on the mountain, and is a good cam for those who just want to point and shoot. It has great video quality, good battery life, good sound quality, and lots of different features.

Editing Software – Sony Action Cam Movie Maker and Go Pro Studios

Video Quality – I want to caveat this review by saying that I am not a big tech guy, and this is a simple comparison of video quality between two of the best cameras on the market. Those with much more video editing experience will probably find this review useless, but for those skiers who like me, just want to point and shoot, I hope you find this helpful. Now, as video quality is probably the most important, let’s start with that. There are really only two cameras on the market right now that are capable of recording in the 4K format; The Sony FDR-X1000V (Sony 4K) and the Go Pro Hero 4 Black. As I stated in my review of the Sony HDR-AS200V, I’m a skier first, and tech is way down on my list of priorities. I don’t like 4K for three main reasons. First, the price of these cameras is a bit steep for as little as I actually film on the mountain. Secondly, the files are very big and really hard to work with (I really don’t like editing). Finally, none of the outlets (Computer, TV, You Tube) I’ll be viewing my video on are 4k compatible so it won’t look any better than my 1080p videos I take with my favorite Sony Cam the HDR-AS200V. That being said if you’re the type of skier that loves to take film, and you want the best quality, then this might be the camera for you. 4K is a really cool idea if you want the best quality and you have the capabilities to view the video in its true format. We put the Sony FDR-X1000V against the Go Pro Hero 4 Black to give you a better idea of what really is the best of the best. Unfortunately, without the capability to watch the video back in 4K we can’t truly say which was better. We were however, able to compare the 1080p 120 picture of the Sony FDR-X1000V to the 1080p 120 picture of the Go Pro Hero 4 Black, as well as the 1080p 60 picture of the FDR-X1000V to the 1080p 60 picture of the HDR-AS200V. When viewing the video of the Sony 4K vs. the Hero 4 Black it’ really hard to give the advantage to one over the other. I feel like the Sony had a slight edge in true color, but the Hero 4 Black was very close. I think at this point it’s really comes down to preference over quality. In the test of the Sony 4K vs. the HDR-AS200V it becomes clear that Sony places just as much emphasis on quality with the HDR-AS200V as they do with the Sony 4K. Again, it was hard to pick a clear winner, and it may ultimately come down to preference and features.

Sony FDR-X1000V 1080p 60p Video Comparison

Go Pro Hero 4 Black 1080p 60p Video Comparison

Video Format and Resolutions- Because Video Quality of the Sony FDR-X1000V and Go Pro Hero 4 Black was pretty comparable; we thought it would be important to talk about the difference in video format and resolution between these two cameras. That might ultimately be what separates the two cameras and help us decide on a clear winner. Really, both the Sony FDR-X1000V and Go Pro Hero 4 Black are capable of shooting in just about any format you want including MP4/MPEG-4 and XAVC S. If you’re more tech savvy than me these probably mean a lot more, but for me I just want to know how good the video looks. This will probably come down a bit more to video resolution for each format. The Sony FDR-X1000V is capable of taking video in 4K 30p and 24p while in XAVC S format. In XAVC S you can also take 1080p 120p, and 720p 240p, as well as 1080p 60p, 1080p 30p, and a variety of lower resolution formats. The Sony FDR-X1000V is also capable of recording standard def, high def 1080p 30p, and 1080p 60p video. Basically what this tells us is that the highest resolution format for the Sony is XAVC S format 4k 30p video. So how does the Go Pro Hero 4 Black stack up? The Hero 4 Black is also capable of shooting at 4k 30p, 2.7k 50p, 1440p 60p, 1080p 120p, 1080p 60p, 960p 120p, and 720p 240p. The Go Pro is also capable of taking these videos in ultra wide mode, medium mode, or narrow mode. In addition most of these formats can be taken in regular view, or Super View (more on that in Go Pro review). So again, what does this tell us? The Go Pro Hero 4 Black is capable of shooting in all the same formats as the Sony FDR-X1000V, and several others that the Sony cannot (2.7k, 1440p, 960p). So although video quality was very close to equal between these two cameras, the Go Pro Hero 4 Black is capable of shooting in several extra modes that may ultimately make it the best camera in the category. Again, I think some of this will come down to preference and need for certain video formats.

Ease of Setup/Use – Those of you that are familiar with Sony cams will find the interface and setup of the Sony FDR-X1000V similar to the other cameras. Those of you that are new to Sony cams and especially new to action cams will definitely want to spend some time (30 minutes or so) familiarizing yourself with the camera before heading to the mountain to film. Sure 4K is going to give you the best quality, but is it really the format that’s best for shooting every run? What does the “HD” setting actually mean? Is it 1080p 60? 120? I found myself referring to the instruction manual several times before finally realizing what each abbreviation meant. It also took me quite a while to figure out what setting was best for the type of filming I was doing, and how I wanted it to look. Honestly, I almost always film in 1080 60p because of its quality vs. size trade off. 4K and 1080P 120 are cool, but take up a lot of space. 720P is just a bit too low for quality, but it sure is nice to only take up a small amount of space. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the camera before heading to the mountain, but really we found it best to just play around with the different settings on the mountain. Once you find settings you like, it’s quite easy to use the camera and take great video.

Software – Okay, again I’m not a tech guy, and I hate editing video. If you have video editing software that you’re familiar with and you like, use that. I downloaded the Sony Movie Studio thinking it would be the most compatible with Sony action cam video, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the user interface. It’s also not the most powerful editing tool out there, and if you’re willing to spend the money on something a bit more powerful, you’ll get a lot more out of your videos.

The other piece of software you’ll most likely want to download is the Sony Play Memories for your phone. This allows you to view film on the mountain as well as adjust any settings. I’m not the biggest fan of phone apps for the cameras, but Sony Play memories works fine. The PC version was a bit more “PITA”. If you’re like me and have an old computer that doesn’t like to multitask, you probably hate apps that like to do things automatically. If I want my program to sync files, I’ll tell it to, but don’t assume I want all of the videos and pictures on my phone copied to my computer for editing.

Battery Life – Battery life of the Sony FDR-X1000V is pretty solid, especially for being such a big and powerful camera. It uses the same battery as the HDR-AS200V (I love compatibility), and can last well into lunch with WI-FI and GPS off.

Sound Quality – Both the Go-Pro Hero 4 Black and Sony FDR-X1000V sound slightly muffled (with cases on), but the Sony seems to be slightly more noisy. This also means that it can pick up a bit more conversation when standing around.

Steady Shot and Vivid Quality – I use the steady shot and vivid features most of the time. Steady shot does crop the video slightly, but I found it better for videoing others (appear bigger). It also does a great job of reducing vibrations. The Vivid image setting is also really great, and I feel it gives the video the best quality picture. Colors seem to pop a bit more and it looks more similar to what I’m actually seeing.

Size and Fit –  The Sony FDR-X1000V is a really big camera. The Go Pro Hero 4 Black isn’t small by any means, but it’s much less profile than the 4K. I used the 4K on a helmet mount, and it just felt heavy and in the way. You’ll definitely get a few more looks than with the Sony Mini Cam. Anyone remember Glen Plake in the Blizzard of Ahhhs? Ok, so it’s not that bad, but it is definitely on the larger side of action cams. Below you can see the Sony FDR-X1000V (left middle) vs. the Go Pro Hero 4 (left), Sony HDR-AS200V (right middle), and Sony HDR-AZ1 (right).

Sony FDR-X1000V Size Comparison

Accessories – The Sony FDR-X1000V has all the same accessories as the HDR-AS200V, but with the size difference some of the mounts are a bit less practical. Like the HDR-AS200V the Sony FDR-X1000V can be used without the case, but you need a special adapter to use with the Sony mounts. Also all of the helmet mounts seem to be a bit clumsy to use, especially with gloves on. I found I almost always had to take my helmet off to place in or remove the cam from the mount. This isn’t a deal breaker, but easier mounting and more versatility would be nice.

Summary – The Sony FDR-X1000V is a great camera! It has 4K capabilities and some of the highest quality video available in an action cam. The Hero 4 Black does have more video formats, and is also better for video editing since you can shoot in RAW. The Sony has slightly better picture (Preference for Sony), battery life, and sound quality. Really I think it’s going to come down to preference here. It’s definitely a bulky camera, but it also offers more features than any of the other Sony cams. If all you plan on shooting in is 1080 60, then the 4K would be overkill, but for those who want the best video quality, the 4K is definitely top of the line.

List Price US $499
Sony FDR-X1000V Action Cam Review

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