The Sony HandyCam HDR AS50 is redefining the action cam just a bit. Where traditional action cams are a mount-it-and-leave-it style, the AS50 offers wide and narrow shooting perspectives as well as the ability to zoom while shooting. The extra features are more accessible with a re-deisgned user interface that simplifies the controls.
The added perspective controls and redesigned user-interface are being added into a model that already offered solid features for the price. While not the 5-axis type, optical image stabilization is included. The previous version, the Sony AS20, offered one of the best battery life ratings, but there's no word yet on the rating for the AS50. What should help though, is that the camera can now be turned on and off through wi-fi and a remote or smartphone app. Most wi-fi cameras have to be turned on before the wi-fi can be used to shoot images or footage.
The sensor size stays the same from the previous version, a respectable 1/2.3". Sony says the sensor design has changed a bit for better noise reduction in limited lighting.
There's no 4K recording on the AS50, but a nice 1080p HD at 60 fps for smooth footage. There is, however, a 4K time lapse mode, which combines shots taken at different times into a high resolution video. There's also a neat Motion Shot LE mode that combines several series of one action into a single image, so you can see the movement progress in a single photograph. A nice 120 fps slow motion mode is also included. While largely a consumer camcorder, there are a few advanced adjustments, like AE shifting that can be used to adjust the exposure and color temperature of the footage.
The Sony AS50 sits at an excellent price point at $199. While budget-priced, the AS50 still has a lot to offer like zoom, wi-fi and image stabilization. The Sony AS50 will be released on February 21, 2016.