FDR-X1000v is a 4K action camera manufactured by Japanese multinational giant – Sony. With it’s 399.99$ retail price-tag, x1000v belongs to a group of higher-end sports cameras. At the same time, it’s the most serious competitor to the GoPro Hero 4 black.
Biggest selling point of the Sony’s action cam besides the 4K video recording are : steady-shoot stabilization, splash-profuseness and external microphone support together with it’s unique aesthetics and aerodynamic shape.
Camera comes in two versions :
Theo only difference between the two version is that the second one includes a live-view remote controller. There are also several bundles offered for both models. Since different retailers have different accessories offered in those deals, it’s not possible to categorize them. If you need additional accessorizes, just pay attention to different bundles available.
In this article, I’ll try to provide you with an honest and in-depth information regarding FDR-X1000VR/W performance, design, built, video, photo and audio quality. I borrowed this camera from a friend of mine, so I had limited time to test it out. Nevertheless I had enough time to test all of it’s options and see its pros and cons.
Sony 4K x1000V action camera specification
In the table below, you can see the product specification. I pointed out only the most important things, for full product specs, visit Sony’s website.
What’s inside the box?
- 1x camera
- 1x battery
- 1x waterproof housing
- 1x micro USB cable
- 1x attachment buckle
- 1x flat adhesive mount
- 1x curved adhesive mount
- 1x user manual
- 1x advertising and manual sheet
Waterproof housing allows camera to go underwater up to 10m ( 32.81 ft). If you intend to dive way beyond 10m, you’ll need to get AKA-DDX1K diving door. With this extra accessory, you can go up to 60m (197 ft). The existing door should be replaced with the diving door, and the process is described in this Sony’s instructional video.
Please note that camera itself is not waterproof. It’s spalshproof, which means that it is resistant to water drops such as light rain, but it can’t go underwater without the case. The quality of the waterproof case which arrives with a camera is better compared to some of the earlier models. Biggest improvement is that the buttons are now much easier to press and the whole user experience is way more convenient.
Live-view remote controller
Live-view remote RMLVR2 is actually a cooler way of calling the external, watch-shaped LCD which allows you to change settings. Basically with live view, you have access to all the settings on your wrist.
What is more important, it enables you to preview your videos in real time thanks to a tiny screen, allowing you to aligning the camera angle perfectly.
In my experience while hiking, it was really a breeze to use the live-view remote controller. It not only connects quickly to the camera, but also works quite fast. I found it easier and quicker to change settings on the remote than on the camera itself.
Its working distance in my tests was around 10-12m. Perhaps irrelevant, but interesting option is that you can set it up to show time on display, like a real watch.
On the left side of the controller are navigation buttons used for swapping modes (photo, video, interval) where as the shutter button is on the right side (REC/Enter). On top there is a display and menu, and bottom has power button.
This accessory can be bought as a part of kit together with all the stuff that comes with basic kit for $499.99 or separately for around 150$. Obviously if you’re certain you’ll be needing a live-view remote, it’s more cost-effective to get it as a part of the bundle.
Do not forget that even though Sony’s camera has an LCD, you can’t playback nor live-view videos on it. However if you do not wish to invest in a live-view remote, you can always use the app to preview the videos (for further clarification please see WiFi app part of the article). On the other hand, for people using Sony fdr-x1000v in extreme situations, it is far more convenient to have a live-view remote around the wrist while doing sports.
Design and built quality
One thing I like about Sony’s action cameras is their form factor. Unlike plenty of other GoPro competitors, Sony remained loyal to the unique and aerodynamic”pistol” shape. With it’s dimensions (L*W*H) 1.0 x 2.0 x 3.5″ / 24.4 x 51.7 x 88.9 mm), X1000V is slightly bigger and heavier compared to its predecessors. Aesthetically, white simple design of the body looks quite appealing.
Camera built quality is excellent. It feels rugged and very well-crafted. In addition to great quality of the body, camera is also splashproof (IPX4-class rating) and drop resistant (up to 1.5m height when in waterproof case, according to manufacturer). It can be used in the winter when the temperatures go bellow zero (up to -10°C)
Buttons and ports
Looking it from the front side, besides the Zeiss Tessar, wide-angle 170° lens, there is a stereo microphone.
One major change in design and usability is that lock and record buttons are positioned on top of the camera. Previous models like AS100V had those buttons on the back which wasn’t that user friendly, since it caused unnecessary vibration when you press them. Except them, we have a infrared remote receiver and a recording indicator.
At its back FDR-AS1000V has lock mechanism which hides battery compartment together with MicroSD slot, HDMI out and USB port. Some of the earlier models had HDMI and USB ports at the back.
Large portion of the camera’s side is taken by a display. There will be more on display and its abilities later. Next to it there are two navigational buttons and a speaker.
Finally, at the bottom, camera has attachment screw hole (used for accessories adapters), tripod mount and an external mic jack.
Video quality is without any doubt the most important buying trigger for each and every person out there. That’s why I’ll go right to the point. In my tests Sony FDR-X1000V provided quite good video sharpness, focus and colors. Please bear in mind that I recorded all the videos in “vivid” color, since the “neutral” one is too bleached out. Neutral colors are for people who want to color-correct videos later in post-production.
Thanks to it’s 170°angle ZEISS® Tessar® Lens, camera provides very good video output even when facing the direct sunlight. Some people (especially those who never used an action camera before) might find a wide-angle a bit odd. Like any other ultra wide-angle lens, comes the fish-eye distortion. Which means some of the objects might appear distorted. Luckily distortion can be eliminated by reducing the angle to 120°.
4K video performance test
Unlike some of the previous so called “4K” cameras I tested, this one is an authentic 4K camera. It provides actual 3840 x 2160 resolution. Please note that 4k videos can be recorded in 60mbs and 100mbs. Since 4k is quite demanding resolution, you’ll need fast and reliable memory card. In order to record in 100mbs in 4k you’ll need at least 64GB U-3 memory card.
One thing that bothered me is that steadyshoot stabilization can’t be activated when recording in 4K. But neither can GoPro Hero 4 , nor any other I am aware of currently.
SteadyShot is an electronic image stabilization. Steady shoot does not work in 4K. When enabled, it reduces the angle to 120° automatically, no matter if you have it turned on or off.
I mentioned at the beginning that I had only a few days to test the camera, so I was unable to take some super-cool images. My apologies for that. Note that these samples are compressed and resized, you can download original size files here.
My only disappointment is night quality. Although it’s far from bad, I honestly expected a bit better low-light performance from a high end action camera.
Whenever someone asked me “I need an action camera with the best sound quality” my reply was, go with a Sony. My previous Sony AS100V had stereo mic which worked better than any other camera I tested. FDR-1000V also has a built in stereo microphone, but can also support an external mic in case you need one.
A simple click onto a prev or next button is enough to enable you to navigate through different modes. There are 8 modes that Sony X1000V offers :
- Itvl (Interval)
- PWOFF (power off)
To fully understand what each does, I recommend you to read the online manual. Below, I’ll provide you with only basic information about each of the modes.
Obviously, while you are in a movie mode, you’ll be able to record a video. There are several ways to initiate the recording. Fastest way is just to press the REC button located at the top of the camera while the camera is turned off. This is a sort of a quick-capture option, and it’s quite handy when you want to record something very fast.
One thing though, even with this quick capture option, there is approximately 3,11 seconds delay when you press the shutter button until the camera boots itself and start recording.
Another way is to turn the camera on, press nav button to power the camera on and once “Movie appears on the screen” initiate the recording by pressing the REC button.
Third way to record a clip with the Sony 4K action camera is via Live-View remote controller.
Unlike with video, there is no quick capture option for photo. To take a still image, you’ll have to use navigational buttons, enter the Photo mode and press the shutter button to capture the image. Alternatively you can use the live-view remote for this as well.
ITVL or interval mode will capture a still image continuously in specified intervals until you stop shooting. This mode is mainly used for time-lapse photography. You can select the following intervals :
One very interesting ability that not many action cameras have (especially low-end ones) is live steaming via Ustream. Video below illustrates how live streaming works, so if this feature is something you find important, make sure to watch the video.
Even though the video depicts AS1000V, process is the same for the FDR-X1000V. If you require more information on live streaming, you can check page 79 of the online manual.
Setup (Settings) is them most versatile and robust of all modes. It contains lots of sub-modes divided into groups. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll describe each of the features that can be enabled, disabled or changed in camera settings. It might be a bit boring to read though.
VMODE (Video Mode)
Here you can choose video resolution according to the video format (Setup>VFMT) you selected. Frames per second (FPS) can be changed to PAL or NTSC video system (Setup>Config>V.SYS).
If you selected MP4, following resolutions are available :
- MP4: PS: 1920 x 1080 60 p / 50 p
- MP4 HQ: 1920 x 1080 30 p / 25 p
- MP4 HS120 (HS100):1280 x 720 120 p / 100 p
- MP4 HS240 (HS200): 800 x 480 240 p / 200 p
- MP4 STD: 1280 x 720 30 p / 25 p
If you selected XAVC S, following resolutions are available :
- XAVC S 120 p: 1920 x 1080 120 p / 100 p
- XAVC S 240 p: 1280 x 720 240 p / 200 p
- XAVC S 24 p: 1920 x 1080 24 p
- XAVC S 30 p: 1920 x 1080 30 p / 25 p
- XAVC S 4K 24 p: 3840 x 2160 24 p
- XAVC S 4K 30 p: 3840 x 2160 30 p / 25 p
- XAVC S 60 p: 1920 x 1080 60 p / 50 p
VFMT (Video Format)
As previously stated, depending on the video format you’ve chosen, different resolutions are available.You can choose from :
- XAVC S
Xavc S is special format introduced by Sony, and in order to use it you’ll have to use a high-speed memory card. More on this in “Storage” section of the article.
If you wish to turn the video SteadyShoot stabilization on or off, you can do it here (Setup>Steady). Understand that this will reduce the video angle to 120°, even if 170° angle is selected.
If you do not wish to record the sound, you can turn it on/off.
My strong recommendation is that unless you plan to color-correct photos and videos in post-production, you use vivid colors.
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Yet another wired and at first though quite confusing abbreviation Lopt – loop recording time.
- 5, 20, 60, 120, unlimited.
For better understanding of the intervals and how they work, check page 48 of the online user-guide here.
Even though it sounds like a dash camera function, drive mode is where you can choose from three different still image recording options.
- Single – takes single still image
- Burst – takes multiple images continuously
- Mshoot (Motion shoot) – creates a photo from still images continuously shot at selected intervals.
This option can only be activated when burst or mshoot are selected. It enables you to select different intervals for those modes.
- 10f 1s: – captures 10 images in a second. (10 frames per second)
- 5f 2s – captures 10 images in 2 seconds, or five per second
- 2f 5S – captures 10 photos in 5 seconds, two per second.
If you like taking group images or selfies, self-timer is great option for you. Self timer will create a delay in triggering the shutter button in interval you specified. Sony’s 4K camera allows only two intervals for self-timer – 2 and 10 seconds.
If you are not a huge fan of a wide-angle view, you can reduce the angle to 120°.
This function allows you to select the interval for interval mode (ITVL).
- 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60 sec
If you attached your Sony FDR-X1000VR upside down, you can still get normal photo/video output, just make sure to turn “flip” function on.
There are two options that can influence your image quality, depending in situation you’re recording :
I always used normal while testing the camera out, as I did not test it underwater. One thing though, if you set scene to “underwater” you can’t change the white balance (Setup>WB).
White balance can be switched from :
- AWB – adjusts white balance automatically
- CTEMP – select white balance according to light source 2500k-9900k
- CUSTM – custom (uses the settings selected in CSET)
- CSET – custom settings (determines light source automatically)
CSET : Place a white reference object under the same lighting conditions as the subject anpress the REC/ENTER button. (source – user manual)
Reset returns all the settings to default. This is good when you mess something up and can’t remember what it is that you did.
Configuration is another sub-section of the setup. It contains more generic settings that don’t have anything to do with video, audio or photo. Here is their brief overview, for more info, check the manual.
- WiFi – WiFi can be turned on/off by holding prev and next buttons at the same time or going into Setup>Confing>WiFi. Great feature that this camera supports is connecting to multiple cameras via the WiFi, in that case select Multi.
- GPS – Turns GPS on or off, for tracking your camera. More on Global Positioning System cam be found on page 105 of an online manual.
- Plane – airplane mode, turns GPS, WiFi and IR off/on, useful when you do not need those features but want to save a bit of battery.-
- TC/UB displays time-code or user bits.
- IR-RC – turn this on if you use Live-Remote controller.
- HDMI – turn it on if you want to preview footage on your TV via HDMI cable.
- A OFF – Auto power off.
- Beep – turn menu beep sound on/off.
- Date – specify the date/time.
- DST – Daylight Saving Time
- LANG – select the language
- V SYS – select PAL or NTSC video system (affects the FPS)
- Ver – firmware/software version of your camera
- Format – erases an entire memory card
- Reset – resets all settings to default
User interface and navigation
My overall user experience with Sony’s camera hasn’t changed with the new 4K model. While the navigation is simple, changing options and going through the menu requires tons of reading and practice. In my personal opinion, user interface is cluttered and not clear enough.
It requires tons of reading to understand all the options (and there aren’t many of them). I also do not like unclear naming and abbreviations used. Even though I owned 2 Sony’s cameras previously, I had to go back and read the manual for a while before figuring everything out.
Of course, you won’t need to change options as frequently as I had, but you’ll need a bit of practice to get used to the options. I really think that Sony should improve user interface with their next camera.
Sony 4K action camera supports following memory cards :
- Memory Stick Micro™ (M2) and
- Micro SD / SDHC / SDXC Memory Card(class 4 or higher) memory cards.
Recommended memory cards
Be advised that if you want to get maximum mbs speed in 4K which is around 100mbs, you’ll need fast memory card that can handle such speed. SDXC/SDHC memory card (UHS-I U3 or higher) is recommended by Sony.
Overall Sony’s FDR-x1000v is quite good action camera. It’s very well-built, does more than good job in terms of video, photo and audio quality. I particularly liked it’s shape and great WiFi app which not only allows you to import footage to your phone directly, but also allows you to remotely control the camera itself.
Speaking of controlling the camera, perhaps the most amazing thing about it is how well and hale-free it works in combination with live-view remote control. With all of its pros, there are few disadvantages that I noticed while testing this camera.
First and foremost this is not entry level action cam. It’s quite pricey and if you’re main purpose is to use it on a holiday or family gatherings, you should consider something way more affordable.
The most frustrating thing about the FDR-X1000V is its unbelievably cluttered user interface. Camera menu is awfully made and it takes quite a lot of time to understand all the abbreviated options that camera offers.
Finally, even though I had limited time to test this camera that I borrowed from a friend of mine, I feel comfortable recommending it. From my point of view, this one is perfect for true adrenaline-junkies who need something reliable, well-supported and compact that can shoot videos in true 4K.