For the longest time, GoPro was the main player in the action cam market. They solidified themselves as the kingpin of action cameras and absolutely dominated the market. GoPro was able to develop their product, coming out with multiple new versions of their action cams dubbed “HERO” and then decided to make their company public.
They even expanded their technology to include video sharing, an app, editing software, and are reportedly working on a GoPro drone (which I can’t wait to see).
However, they aren’t the only player in the action cam market anymore.
Sony has made huge strides in the camera industry, releasing multiple mirrorless models that have dethroned a lot of the major cameras that held the top spots for a long, long time. Their sensor technology is in a field by itself. Sony’s imaging sensors are so good that Canon and Nikon use them in some of their own cameras. You know someone’s technology can’t be beat when competing companies will buy them from you.
Now Sony is directing some attention to the action camera market, coming out with their HDR action cam.
So, with two major players in the action cam market, how do you know which one to get, the GoPro or Sony Action Cam? Well, that’s why I put this post together, so you can determine which camera would work best for you and your shooting!
First, let’s look at the GoPro. For this example, we are using the GoPro HERO4 Black model. Here are some of the specs:
- Built in touch display
- 12 MP photos at speeds up to 30 frames per second
- WiFi and Bluetooth
- Various editing effects in camera
- Durable and waterproof
- Captures 4K video
- Multiple accessories to make video production better
- Price: $329
Now, let’s look at the Sony Action Cam
- Full HD video with rich 60Mbps data and up to 240p slo-mo in HD
- SteadyShot(TM) image stabilization works from bikes to aerial shot and more
- Control up to 5 Action Cam via phone1 or LiveView(TM) Remote (Sold Separately)
- Splash proof body with universal tripod mount
- Built-in stereo mic for quality sound with wind noise reduction
- Automatically creates highlight video in MP4 from multiple clips
- Loop recording prevents running out of memory card
- Live stream your video via Ustream
- Advanced manual control allows flexibility in movie expression
- Ultra wide up to 170° pro quality f/2.8 bright ZEISS® lens
- Price: $248
As you can see both have a very solid list of specifications that can easily produce amazing video content. Both are small and can be attached creatively for amazing perspectives and first person viewpoints.
However, the GoPro can do more. It can shoot amazing photos in image bursts and can film in 4K.
The GoPro also has multiple features that allow you to shoot in any light, including after dark. That’s really beneficial is you’re shooting some night videos.
Next let’s look at some reviews for each camera. These are actual reviews from Amazon, one rated as a 5 star product, and one rated as a 1 star product. First, the Sony Action Cam.
“5 Stars: This is a great action cam and is better than its predecessor and any of the GoPro products in many ways.
Weight is minimal. The feature I’m most happy to see is the mount on the camera. This means you can mount it to most anything without needed a bulky/heavy case. For use on a Quadcopter (some people call these “personal drones”), weight is critical. The case adds another 60g, nearly 2/3 the weight of the camera. Thats 60g I’d rather not have to carry around draining battery. When mounting it to a helmet or other headworn method every bit of extra weight is weight you’d rather not have. The AS100 resolves that by adding a mount to the camera. HOWEVER, this mount is NOT a tripod mount. It is a smaller threaded hole that allows for an adapter to be mounted. That adapter has a standard tripod mount and anti-rotation pin hole. It adds minimal weight, but one could use the correct bolt to mount the camera directly in some applications. For example, on my quadcopter I’ll use the proper screw to mount the camera directly to the frame and skip the adapter.
The camera is now splash proof. This is great for the times when I would use it without the case (i.e. mounted in the ‘skeleton’ mount) and in environments that it might get wet: sledding, biking, hiking, etc.
Another issue with needing the case at all times is fogging. In colder weather the case cools off and the camera heats up. This causes fogging inside the case and directly on the lens area. I could use the skeleton case, but most of the time when it is cold there is snow and I need the protection of the full case. They sell an anti-fog accessory, but I’m not sure it works and no case is of course a MUCH better way to make sure the case won’t fog!”
“1 Star: I purchased this camera after reading such good reviews on consumer reports.
Used this camera with their provided waterproof case while I was wakeboarding. Had the case strapped to my wrist and the camera/case mounted to their floatable monopod, when the camera hit the water, the case opened and dumped the camera into the lake. If you look at the design on how the case opens, you’ll see that two tabs must be pushed together and a third tab must slide back to open the case, this is a major flaw, as the rush of water/snow will open the case on its own. The water proof case was strapped to my wrist as there is no way to strap the camera to your witst with the case on.
I tried their customer support, they told me it was not covered in the warranty. I responded with the case itself opening in the water should be covered as it’s advertised as being capable of performing with water/snow sports and really shouldn’t be a warranty issue to begin with.
As far as the camera, the software is very poorly designed, editing videos is a complete nightmare, and the settings you can adjust are very limited.
I will now be purchasing a gopro after seeing how easy their software is to operate and the video quality is much better, plus their accessories are much cheaper and more abundant.”
Now, let’s look at the GoPro reviews…
“5 Stars: This camera is by far the most advanced gopro yet. People are complaining about the black edition not having an LCD screen and the cheaper silver version having an LCD. I’ll tell you exactly why, 1) the black edition isn’t for the average Joe who wants to play back what they’ve just shot. 2) the black edition is too powerful for an lcd screen. 4k30fps 2.7k50fps and the holy grail 1080p120fps. These are some powerful settings.
Remember this is an ACTION camera, the people using the black edition aren’t worried about viewing what they’re shooting at the time, they’re focused on what they’re doing. Also, the gopro was designed to film yourself so you wouldn’t be looking at an LCD screen anyway.
As far as the app goes, It’s simply to see the angle you’ve mounted your gopro at and to control the recording. For example, let’s say you mount it on your head and you want to make sure the angle is good, connect to the app, check your angle and hit record…
Hope this review helps everyone who can’t decide between the black and silver.”
“1 Star: I have heard about some issues with Gopro Hero 4 Silver screens, but never thought I would have such issues. Unfortunately, I received a defective device. As I turned on the camera, I discovered that the bottom 1/2 inch of the screen was not touch sensitive which would not allow me to unlock the screen. I returned it for a replacement and I’m currently waiting for a replacement. I’m crossing my fingers on the replacement. Company like this should have high standards for quality control, but I’m not so sure since myself and others seem to have a lot of issues especially with the screen. (The device was not manufactured in the US, but in China which leads to poor quality??) GoPro must invest heavily on higher quality control!!
Update: This is huge people. Hopefully this can be fixed with the firmware upgrade. But nothing has worked to fix this issue yet! This is such a mess.”
I wanted to include reviews so you could see what people on each end of the spectrum thought of their cameras. Obviously things go wrong with technology and every product is going to have some issues, but it is important to be aware of common issues that a product will have.
The GoPro. I recommend you go with a product that has continuously dominated the market and created such a stir that people use your company’s name as the verb for what they do. GoPro makes amazing cameras and they continue to expand on technology. That’s the recipe for a quality company.
This doesn’t mean that I think the Sony Action Cam is bad, either. It just means that I think the GoPro is better. If you want to get a cheaper action camera with slightly less video quality, you can go with the Sony!
…Or you could get a cheaper GoPro model!