Sony HDR-AS100VR review

I first began to look at action cameras seriously towards the end of 2013. Earlier in 2013 I first started creating movies with a DSLR and was getting familiar with editing software. I could see that the POV (point of view) camera angle an action camera provides would add something to the videos we upload to our Youtube channel. Back when I first started looking a few models were top of my list of contenders. At the higher end there was the GoPro Hero 3 Black, Drift HD Ghost and the Sony HDR-AS30. Looking at the specifications the GoPro seemed overpriced and you sensed you were paying for the brand name and the expensive marketing behind it. The Ghost looked great, I particularly liked the fact it was somewhat waterproof without a case, had an LCD showing what the camera was recording and had very good battery life. The Sony model at the time was a great price from a big name and had image stabilisation which was something the others didn’t have. However I was not convinced enough by any of them to make a purchase immediately.   Then early in 2014 I saw reports of a new Sony model and after reading the specifications decided to wait until May when it was expected to be released.

Sony HDR-AS100VR – Impressive feature list

I purchased the Sony in a kit that came with the wrist mounted remote control RMLVR1 and the kit was still cheaper than the GoPro Hero 3+ Black edition. The body of the Sony had been improved and was now white and splash-proof. For hiking, mountain biking and most other outdoor activities I don’t need to use a case. One is supplied however in the kit which allows you to go up to 5 metres underwater which I have used for white-water rafting and sea kayaking. Another case that allows you to go much deeper is available if you happen to want to use this camera for diving.

Sony HDR-AS100VR

Sony HDR-AS100VR

An adaptor is also supplied that screws into the bottom of the camera which allows you to connect it to any standard tripod. The pack also comes with a couple of sticky mounts one flat and one curved as well as a yellow mount adaptor which you will need to mount this camera to the various mounting accessories you can buy (more about these accessories later). Whilst the changes on the outside are welcome it’s the changes inside that really impress me. Sony action cameras have always had a steadyshot option but it’s been improved in the HDR-AS100VR. The camera can record in 170 degree view but if you want to use steadyshot it records in 120 degree view. I find the 120 degree view more than wide enough and so I leave the steadyshot on all the time. The difference in the final video using steadyshot is quite remarkable, avoiding the need to try and reduce shaky footage in video editing software afterwards. The lens on this action camera is of a very high quality, a f2.8 Zeiss lens! The sensor is an 18.9MP Exmor CMOS sensor which helps the camera produce amazingly high quality video and stills. The camera features WiFi and NFC to allow you to connect to other devices, useful if you don’t own the wrist remote and want to use your mobile phone to control the camera. It should also be noted at this time that the wrist remote controller can control up to 5 of these cameras at once if you happen to have more than one camera and want to record footage from more than one viewpoint. Connections include micro USB (used for charging the camera battery) and micro HDMI. The menu options are extensive, suffice to say that there is nothing this camera cannot do that the competition does. GoPro owners might point to the 4K recording mode of the Hero 3 Black but in truth this is a gimmick since it can only record at this resolution at 15 fps which is too slow for an action camera (I keep the Sony in 1080p at 50/60fps). One of the biggest improvements made to this model is the addition of a Pro mode which records in a new XAVC S format. This is considered to be broadcast standards and it uses a bit rate of 50Mbps. To use this Pro mode though you need to make sure you buy Micro SD XC memory cards and not Micro SD HC cards. The GoPro Hero 3+ Black records up to 45Mbps in H264 mode.

Sony HDR-AS100VR Accessories

The chances are when you buy this action camera you will quickly decide you want to buy a mount or two.  The sticky mounts supplied are perfect for mounting to things like helmets etc but once mounted you cannot really change the viewpoint. For this reason the chest mount and headmounts available will prove popular. In looking at videos on YouTube of the GoPro chest mount you see people advising to mount the camera upside down because of the lack of adjustment in the mount (if you lean forward the camera does not point forward). The Sony mount is well designed since it can be adjusted from side to side and up and down resulting in complete flexibility. Other accessories are similar to what you can buy from the competition and include a surfboard mount, float, handlebar mount and even a dog mount! If you happen to already have GoPro mounts there is an adaptor that allows you to go from GoPro to Sony. The only negative I have about this camera is how difficult it is to buy mounts in the UK (retailers and Sony always seem to show out of stock). This does not seem to be an issue in Europe where I have walked into a branch of Media Markt and found the complete range on the shelf.

Sony HDR-AS100VR – Summary 

  • Great wrist remote (which is waterproof)
  • Good battery life (spares can also be purchased)
  • Great Zeiss lens (amazing optical quality)
  • Pro mode XAVC S at 50Mbps
  • Good range of accessories

New videos will be added over the coming months to our YouTube channel but here are the first 2 films where we used this camera:

 

 

May Bank Holiday Trip to Lake District

May 23, 2014 – May 26, 2014

Yha Caldbeck

View MapMap and Directions | Register

Description:

Organiser – Gary Box
Where – YHA Caldbeck, Fellside Centre, Fellside, Wigton, Cumbria CA7 8HA
When – 23rd-26th May 2014 (Fri-Mon)
Cost – £81.00 (includes 3 nights accommodation and all guided walks)

Summary

We depart London on Friday headed for YHA Caldbeck, a property we have not used for a few years. A former shooting lodge and private retreat this property sleeps 38 in a total of 8 bedrooms with all bedding provided. As you would expect there are plenty of toilets and showers and the hostel has plenty of lounge and dining space with a fully equipped self catering kitchen. The grounds are large enough to accommodate all the cars we will need. There are a couple of great pubs close by including one that has its own micro brewery. The popular town of Keswick is a 45 minute drive away.

Being that the accommodation is in the very North of the National Park we have selected walks accordingly. The routes will include the following:

Blencathra from Mungrisdale. A 30 minute drive from the hostel this 17.5km (11 mile) route visits Souther Fell (522m), Blencathra (868m), Mungrisdale Common (633m), Bannerdale Crags (683m) and Bowscale Fell (702m) and could take up to 8 hours to complete. There are 2 routes up Blencathra, the narrow scrambling route of Sharp Edge and an easier route for those that want it with the group meeting on the summit and continuing as one group.

Helvellyn & Dollywagon Pike from Glenridding. An 18 mile, 55 minute drive from the hostel to Glenridding. This 16km (10 mile) route will take around 7 hours and visits Birkhouse Moor (718m), Helvellyn (950m) via the scramble of Striding Edge, Nethermost Pike (891m) and Dollywagon Pike (858m).

Skiddaw from High Side. A 30 minute drive from the hostel this 13.5km (8.5 mile) route should take about 6 hours. Peaks include Ullock Pike (690m), Long Side (734m), Carl Side (746m), Skiddaw (931m) and Bakestall (673m).

Other activities are also on offer which attract an additional charge. If you are interested in these activities please indicate at the time of booking so we can contact local providers. These activities include:

  • Via ferrata extreme
  • Gyll scrambling
  • Photography Day

 

 

Register

Hostel to Hostel Pembrokeshire Coastal Path Weekend

July 25, 2014 – July 27, 2014

View MapMap and Directions | Register

Description:

Organiser – Gary Box
When – 25th-27th July 2014 (Fri-Sun)
Cost – £86.00 (includes 2 nights accommodation, 1 breakfast and guided walks)

Summary

This is a hostel to hostel walk where we will need to carry everything we need for the weekend. All bedding is provided so your rucksack only needs to hold clothes, lunch, spare footwear etc. We will leave London on Friday evening headed for St. David’s Hostel. St. David’s is the UK’s smallest city, dominated by the impressive cathedral. We have booked 19 beds (one 7 bed, one 4 bed and four twin rooms). Since this hostel does not provide food we will need to have our own supplies for breakfast Saturday morning and a packed lunch.

St David's Hostel

St David’s Hostel

 

St David's Hostel lounge

St David’s Hostel lounge

Our walk Saturday is a fairly long one but there will be time in the morning to check out the beautiful beach of Whitesands Bay less than a kilometre from the hostel before we start our walk. Our walk will then leave the hostel and head to through St.David’s with some time to visit the cathedral before continuing south meeting the coastal path at the sandy beach of Caerfai Bay. Dramatic coastline complete with beaches, caves and natural arches follows passing places like Solva harbour, Newgale Sands, Nolton Haven. Madoc’s Haven and Druidston Haven before arriving at Broad Haven hostel overlooking the sandy beach with the same name. Total distance walked today will be about 28km (17.5 miles). After a quick shower we will eat out at a local pub and if we time things right we could also get to see a lovely sunset on the beach which is a common sight at Broad Haven. Again we have booked 19 beds (three x 5 bed dorms and one x 4 bed dorm).

Broad Haven Hostel

Broad Haven Hostel

 

Broad Haven dining room

Broad Haven dining room

On Sunday breakfast is provided which includes things like cooked breakfast, cereal, toast, yoghurt and tea, coffee and juice. Our walk today continues along the coastal path from Broad Haven, along the beach to Little Haven. More great coastal scenery follows as we pass Musselwick Sands and Martin’s Haven where the boats for Skomer Island leave. Our walk ends at the Marloes Sands beach where most of the group will be able to relax while the drivers catch the Puffin service bus back to St.David’s to collect the cars. Total distance walked on Sunday will be about 19.5km (12 miles).

Marloes Sands

Marloes Sands

You can expect to arrive back in London by about 8:30pm latest.

Register

Peak District Multi Activity Weekend

April 4, 2014 – April 6, 2014

YHA Eyam

View MapMap and Directions | Register

Description:

Organiser – Gary Box
Where – YHA Eyam, Hawkhill Road, Eyam, Hope Valley, Derbyshire S32 5QP
When – 4th-6th April 2014 (Fri-Sun)
Cost – £99.00 (includes 2 nights bed and breakfast, cinema ticket on Saturday night and all guided walks)

Summary

We will leave London on Friday evening headed for YHA Eyam in the Peak District. We have booked 16 beds at this lovely looking hostel on a bed and breakfast basis.

Eyam Hostel

Eyam Hostel

On Saturday morning our walk leaves from the hostel door. We have devised a long 27.5 km (17 mile) route that includes lots of interest. Eyam is known as the plague village. The plague arrived to Eyam from London in 1665 and the village decided to isolate itself to prevent it spreading further. Eventually the vast majority of the residents of Eyam died of the plague. Our walk will pass Riley Graves which is the last resting place of the Hancock family who were victims of the plague. We continue and cross the River Derwent before joining Froggatt Edge, part of a long spectacular ridge that will dominate much of our route. The ridge becomes Curbar Edge and then Baslow Edge before reaching Wellington’s Monument. We then walk past the Robin Hood Inn before heading North along Birchen Edge and reaching Nelson’s Monument. From this monument you can see 3 large rocks known as ‘The Three Ships’ which are carved with the names ‘Victory’, ‘Defiance’ and ‘Royal Soverin’. Our route continues north along White Edge before a complete change of scenery as we head for the deep, narrow. scenic valley known as Padley Gorge. Our route back to Eyam will take us via Grindleford.

After showers we will either eat out in Eyam or in Sheffield which is a 30 minute drive away. At 8:45pm we have tickets booked for the Showroom cinema which is one of the venues used for the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival which takes place this weekend. The screening we have booked lasts 100 minutes and includes the following short films:

  1. Cascada – Kayaking movie about hunting the perfect waterfall in the remote Mexican jungle.
  2. Bike 2 Boat Norway – German kayakers touring Norway’s rivers by cycle and kayak.
  3. Duct Tape Surfing – Australian paraplegic woman who can experience surfing by being duct taped to Tyron Swan.
  4. Flow – The Elements of Freeride – Mountain Bike movie set in Cascade mountains, Washington State.
  5. Frame Running – The UK’s free running team Storm.
  6. MacAskill’s Imaginate – Famous British stunt biker in childhood fantasy bike movie.
  7. Off-Width Outlaw – Film about US female climber Pamela Shanti Pack.
  8. Outlines – Film about Swedish wingsuit champion.
  9. Bas Keep – Quarter Master – British BMX rider riding the biggest dirt quarter pipe ever made.
  10. North, Chapter 1 – Film about mountain biking close to Sheffield.
  11. Sarah Ridgeway – a Mountain Runner – Polish film crew based in Peak District look at Welsh female international mountain runner.
  12. Red Bull Rampage – Utah competition about freeride mountain biking.
  13. Sport Life – Water – Dutch made film about famous French freediver.
  14. Road Bike Party 2 – Film about famous British Mountain Bike star Martyn Ashton. After accident which left him paralysed from waist down film was completed with help of friends Danny MacAskiill and Chris Akrigg.

On Sunday after breakfast and checking out of the hostel we have a few possible options.

For anyone interested in mountain biking we can hire bikes from Bike Garage in Bamford for a half day. Costs are £15.00 for a Trek Hard Tail or £25.00 for a Trek full suspension bike.

As the area is also good for caving we can also organise a half day caving option if there is enough interest.

Horse riding option can be arranged if there is interest.

Walk option will be a 12.5km (7.8 mile) route starting in Hope which is very close to where the mountain biking option takes place. From Hope we head to Lose Hill and once on the ridge continue to Hollins Cross and Mam Tor. We then descend and pass Speedwell Cavern and through Castleton where we can look at the remains of Peveril Castle before returning to Hope.

What you need to bring

  • Food for packed lunch (breakfast included)
  • Hiking clothes and boots

 

Register

Cambridge Day Walk

March 1, 2014 – March 1, 2014

Liverpool Street train station

View MapMap and Directions | Register

Description:

Organiser – Gary Box
When – 1st March 2014 (Saturday)
Meet – AMT Coffee Bar, Platforms 5&6, Liverpool St Station at 8:55am
Cost – £19.50 (includes return train fare and guided walk)

For our first day walk of 2014 we have decided to head to one of the prettiest cities in the UK, Cambridge. We depart from London Liverpool St station at 9:28 and arrive in Cambridge at 10:51. Our 14.5km route takes us to Grantchester before returning to Cambridge along the River Cam. The route will pass many of the famous Cambridge colleges and bridges which are very photogenic. These include the Bridge of Sighs (named after the one in Venice), the Mathematical Bridge, The Backs and too many famous colleges to list.

We will leave Cambridge on the 18:04 train at the latest and be back at Liverpool St station at 19:14.

What to bring

  • Hiking shoes or boots
  • Hiking clothing
  • Something to eat and drink on the walk
  • Camera (if you like taking interesting photographs)

Register