PROS / This camera has excellent image quality.
CONS / The included case is only waterproof to 16 feet.
VERDICT / The Sony AS100 is one of the best action cameras available, offering solid image quality for a good price.
The Sony Action Cam AS100 is Sony's premium action camcorder. It features 240 fps in standard definition, 1080p max resolution and a weight of only 4.5 ounces. With its mix of exceptional image quality and thoughtful design, the AS100 is one of the best action cameras available, though its specs don't quite match the top devices in our comparison.
The AS100 features a maximum resolution of 1080p and can shoot at up to 60 frames per second at that setting. It also can shoot at 120 fps in 720p, which is on par with other top action camcorders. The device takes the brightest and most vividly colored videos and pictures of any action camcorder we reviewed. If you don't typically use video editing software, this is especially useful because the AS100 amplifies color automatically.
It's also an excellent camera for slow motion because it can shoot at 240 fps at 480p resolution. The high frame rate means you can watch captured footage in super slow motion, without the footage being jerky or blurred, even if you slow it down below 10 percent of the original video speed. It records at a wide angle of 170 degrees, which is typical for a premium action cam. One drawback for the AS100 is that it has a raised fish-eye lens. Some of its competitors have a flat lens, which leads to less distortion compared to a fish-eye.
The camcorder takes 13.5-megapixel stills and can shoot time-lapse photos at intervals of one, two, five, 10, 30 and 60 seconds. Unfortunately, in time-lapse mode, it will only take 2MP stills. This is probably Sony's attempt to save memory card space, but the fact that you can't customize the resolution in time-lapse mode is puzzling.
The AS100 has a clean, thoughtful design. It weighs just 4.5 ounces with its clear plastic case, making it the lightest of any camera we reviewed. Outside of the case, it weighs a miniscule 2.4 ounces. The case makes the camera shockproof, dustproof and submersible to 16 feet. It's worth noting that 16-foot depth rating is a significantly shallower depth rating than some of its competitors. It rules out this camera for scuba divers, unless you purchase a scuba-specific case.
It has the traditional camcorder shape but is much smaller than a conventional camcorder, at just 0.9 x 1.9 x 3.2 inches. This shape is ideally suited for use as a helmet cam but is not practical for a chest or wrist mount. The camera also has a monochrome screen on the side of the camera, which allows you to change settings on the camera. The screen is much larger than that on several competing camcorders, and makes the camera rather easy to set up. The AS100's battery life is rated to 100 minutes at 1080p, which is below average for an action video camera. However, it does have an interchangeable battery, so you can carry extra batteries with you to prolong its recording window.
The camera has Wi-Fi, so you can pair it with your smartphone via a mobile app. The app allows you to change settings on the camera, preview your shot and upload captured footage to the internet. The ability to frame your shot is especially useful, because the camera doesn't have an on-board viewfinder.
Sony has phone support, email support and a FAQs section on its website, so you'll always be able to access a support option. Unfortunately, in our experience speaking with customer support over the phone, company representatives are more interested in selling you products than answering your questions. Sony does offer a one-year warranty on the AS100, which is standard for action camcorders.
The AS100 is certainly one of the best action camcorders available because of its excellent image quality and smart design. Its miniature camcorder shape is especially well suited for use as a helmet cam. Scuba divers will bemoan its inability to descend below 16 feet, but other than that, it’s an excellent action camcorder with few weaknesses.