Sony gives its Action Cam series a boost with new features, vastly expanded accessory lineup


posted Monday, April 29, 2013 at 10:44 PM EDT

Late last year, Sony launched a new digital camera directly aimed at Woodman Labs' ubiquitous action camera line, the rugged little GoPro. Today, Sony gives its rival Action Cam series an extra push, thanks to a firmware update adding several new features, plus a generous selection of additional accessories.

With the new firmware installed, the Sony Action Cam HDR-AS10 and HDR-AS15 now support shooting Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) movies at 60 progressive-scan frames per second, where previously both models were limited to 30p capture. It isn't entirely clear if this new capability is derived from 60p sensor data or simply interpolated or spanned across multiple frames, but the release notes would seem to suggest the former, stating that the new mode is suitable "for shooting smooth images in fast moving scenes".

A new Scene mode in the latest firmware update for Sony's Action Cam series is intended for use with the included underwater housing, suitable for depths up to 197 feet (60m).
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There's also a new underwater scene mode which optimizes white balance appropriately for sub-surface capture. This is intended for use when shooting with the cameras in their bundled underwater housing, which is dustproof and waterproof to 197 feet (60m). Lastly on the firmware update front, if you want to shoot unobtrusively you can now optionally disable all operation sounds, or just the sounds made when the camera is powered on, recording is started or stopped, the shutter button is pressed, or an error occurred.

From June, the cameras and their freely available PlayMemories Mobile Android / iOS apps will also support a new seamless mode change function that allows immediate upload of videos to social networks without first having to disconnect the app, so long as your tablet or smartphone has data connectivity.

Alongside the new firmware is a comprehensive list of new accessories. These are summarized in the images below:

Skeleton Frame AKA-SF1 (US$30)
Non-waterproof; minimal bulk; tripod-mounts on top, bottom, or sides; all ports are accessible.

Dog Harness AKA-DM1 (US$45)
Fits medium to large breeds; mounts on dog's back; captures their point of view.

Surfboard Mount AKA-SM1 (US$35)
Base mounts to surfboard with waterproof adhesive; two mounts and lanyards included.

Wrist Mount AKA-WM1 (US$30)
360-degree pan head; works with waterproof housing or skeleton frame.

Float Mount AKA-FL1 (US$15)
Prevents camera from sinking; high visibility; includes lanyard; attaches via tripod screw.

Ball Head ADP-BH1 (US$35)
Omni-directional adjustment; universal tripod screw.

Carrying Case LCM-AKA1 (US$35)
Semi-hard case; water resistant material; fits camera plus several mount types.