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Sony AZ1VR Action Cam

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this is merely a slight upgrade in image and a big upgrade in size to the AS100V.

jello is the same on all of the POV cams across the board and anyone who says differently has something to sell. Jello cam isn't an issue of one brand over another, although some make it more and others make it less apparent through stabilization, compression, or in a few cases, software interpretation. "Jello cam" is an issue of CMOS and high framerates, coupled with horizontal movement. Slowing down the shutter makes a huge difference, and this is achieved through use of an ND filter (a polarizer can have a similar affect). Having a steady head also has a powerful impact on whether jello is evident or not. Shooting wide and cropping in post provides a means of visually minimizing the effect, too.

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Only drawback with the design is that for the 90% of the population that is right handed; they designed it with right-side buttons.

Flagrant disregard to the .0001 percent of the population that skydives and has a pilot chute on that side and wants to side mount :D
"Pain is the best instructor, but no one wants to attend his classes"

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My Sony HDR-AZ1 arrived in the mail today. I've been going through all the settings in the camera and remote for the last couple hours, but haven't put any jumps on it yet.

At this point I think it's the initial real Hero competitor. Volume of the camera seems about the same as a Hero, with a different shape. Same for the waterproof housing.

Access to the USB plug and the Micro SD card slot are very much like the Hero: there's a small plastic flap. Just peel it back and pop out the card.

The waterproof housing and the stock mounts for this camera do not have an up/down adjustment. That eliminates a big part of the snag hazards compared to GoPros... and it should help a lot of those "oh my camera got knocked out of adjustment so I lost the shot" complaints. Also the lack of that up/down assy makes this housing seem much smaller than that of a GoPro.

The next big questions for me are focused on how long will it last... how long will the card slot work, how long will the battery work (for time between charges and total life).

IMO the remote control isr equired in order to navigate the cam's menu system and change some settings. On a Hero you can get around in a cam menu directly using that cam's buttons and LCD screen. Not so on the HDR-AZ1. It's easy to use the remote for this, so not a big issue, but I prefer the Hero camera menu system.

Using the remote to start/stop the camera... Hero still has the HDR-AZ1 beat because you can turn on many linked cameras remotely with a GoPro remote, then start all of them recording with the remote. The Sony camera must be manually turned on/off, and a max of 5 can be linked to one remote.

I'm playing with mount ideas for singles or doubles of this Sony model, but I'm thinking the waterproof housing with a hole cut into the back for quick card acess will work great for helmet and glove mount options. Sony changes body styles too fast to sink much $ into manufacturing a custom housing for one of their cams IMO.

Chris

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mircan

Can you post some jump videos when you get to it?
Raw camera files, not Youtube or Vimeo.



It'll be another couple weeks before I can post any. All my jumps til then are team coaching, so I can't upload the footage.. and they're canopy-only til then, anyway, so no real freefall testing here yet.

Friday I shot 45 minutes of footage on one battery charge. It didn't die, but the battery indicator showed it as being on its last bit of juice. That was better battery life than I expected. Maybe this Sony is more efficient than others.

Chris

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Apart from size, are there any benefits when compared to AS100?

Compared to AS100, It`s lacking GPS, mic input, some pixel count, and settings adjustment directly on cam.
None of that should matter too much in skydiving but it would suck not to be able to change some setting because battery in your remote went out of juice.
dudeist skydiver #42

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My new HDR-AZ1 has just arrived to replace my existing HDR-AS30. I top mount my cameras and video mostly RW teams and the occasional AFF. I use a GoPro 3 Silver as a backup and to take stills.

I'll be taking it jumping this weekend, so have yet to put it to the acid rain test, but everything else has been great from my point of view.

Pros
- Can be mounted directly and doesn't need to be in case. (No more taking the camera in and out of the case to charge it or get data via USB).
- Splash proof. Mounting it 'naked' will allow it to stay cool and not cause the fogging issue when in the water proof case.
- Ports are all at the back, not underneath (No need to dismount it to get to the ports).
- Brighter recording LED on top allows the use of a repeater LED above my ringsight (The AS30's rec LED is too dim to reliably trigger a light sensitive resistor)
- Can use the clip-on hard lens protector.
- Tiny. Ooooh, it's just so cute!

Cons
- Can't change settings via the camera. Need the remote or a mobile phone.
- If you push record, then lock it so that it can't be pushed again, pushing the on / off button stops recording and turns the camera off, effectively bypassing the lock.
- Tiny LCD screen. Not that easy to see the icons, but at least only two of them are of real importance.
- No 'off' noise. Doesn't make the 'bing-boing' noise when you turn it off, only when you turn it on. That audible feedback can be useful when you turn it off under canopy, but now that I have repeater LED, that will let me know when it is on or off.
- Uselss instructions. The paper based instructions are awful. Get the ones off the internet.

Once you configure the camera's setting via wi-fi, you can turn the wi-fi off, as that is a big drain on the battery. I guess I'll find out tomorrow how the battery life compares to the prior models. I'm expecting no change in the video quality.

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Have you been able to record in XAVC S? It seems none of my cards are fast enough. Mp4 works in all settings, but when I try XAVC I just get a blinking error light. Here's one of my failing cards:
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/sandisk-extreme-plus-16gb-microsdhc-uhs-i-class-u-1-memory-card/9386049.p?id=1219014149535&skuId=9386049

Chris

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Yes, I am able to record in XAVC format, but I haven't been using that format day-to-day as it adds an extra step to my editing / viewing process. MP4 is preferable for me at the moment.

I'm using a 32Gb SanDisk Ultra class 10 card. This is the same type I use in the GoPro. So far, haven't had a problem with them.

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Using the AS100 not the AZ1VR but in the AS100 manual it says you need SDXC (not HC) cards. I don't know if sandisk sent me a few bad cards or what but their cards corrupted after only a handful of uses (they did warranty them) but while I waited I picked up the Lexar professional cards (black and blue 633X 64Gb SDXC variety) and only format in camera and have had no issues. I only record on the Pro mode (xvac s) for work.

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Quote

Have you been able to record in XAVC S? It seems none of my cards are fast enough. Mp4 works in all settings, but when I try XAVC I just get a blinking error light. Here's one of my failing cards:
http://www.bestbuy.com/...35&skuId=9386049

Chris


You must use SDXC (note the letter "X"). It allows exFAT file system. It is not about speed, because any class 10 card should handle the 50Mbits/sec XAVC S bitrate (10MBytes/second = 80Mbits/second).
dudeist skydiver #42

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I took my new HDR-AZ1 jumping over weekend to film 4 way RW. I used it concurrently with my AS30 for comparison.

Video
The video generated from the AZ1 seems to be identical to the AS30 in all modes. No difference in image stability, colour balance, sharpness etc. I mounted the AZ1 to the supplied bracket, which I then hard mounted on top of my helmet. Instead of using the AS30 in the case as before, I made a little bracket for it and also hard mounted it on top of the helmet. Even with solid mounting, footage from both cameras showed a mild 'jello' effect towards the edges of the background, but the team looked fine.

Here's some sample footage, if you're interested: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zznricqeyxjfz07/AABH2djfB3lIJA1e8d6a_DSUa?dl=0. This is from the AZ1, 1080p @ 30fps, neutral colour balance with the anti-shake turned on (120 degree angle) and the Sony Hard Lens Protector fitted.

Battery
The team did 14 jumps over the weekend. I turned both cameras on at the 1 minute light, then stopped recording after canopy opening to let the 60 second automatic power-off occur. When on the ground, I turned them both on only for doing the download of the MP4 files to a laptop, then turned them both off. I kept the WiFi of both cameras turned off. At the end of the weekend, both cameras showed they had used 25% of their battery charge.

Operation
Using a mobile phone to configure the camera is a slight pain, but I normally just set my cameras once for the mode I need for the whole day, so it's not a big loss to have no ability to do it directly on the camera.
Being able to access the USB port at the back without having to unmount the camera or take it out of the case was really great.
Using my finger to find the record stop / start button on the top of the camera was a bit vague. I will add a little 'nipple' to the button to make it easier to distinguish by feel compared to the camera body.
My little 3v powered LED relay circuit was excellent. It was great to have a bright LED near the ringsight to know if the main camera was on or off. I can supply a picture and the circuit diagram for anyone who'd like to make one.

General
Very happy with the camera and it's a step in the right direction for my intended use. Maybe Sony will update the AS100 with the ports at the back too?
I will try make a polarising or neutral density filter to see if that helps negate the jello effect. It might not be an issue when filming AFF and Tandems, when the camera is not in the direct air stream?

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