Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot

  • 8-Megapixel EXMOR R CMOS Imaging Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • Optical SteadyShot
  • Still image capture
  • 4K and Full 1080p Video Recording
  • Optional Live View Monitor
  • WiFi
  • GPS
  • Audio Input
  • HDMI Output
  • Waterproof to 60m (waterproof housing)
  • Dustproof (waterproof housing)
  • Shockproof (waterproof housing)
  • Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
  • Top quality 4K video from an action camera thanks to the EXMOR sensor and BIONZ processor
  • Optical SteadyShot leads the way in providing you with smooth video
  • Built-in GPS allows the camera to collect a ton of data about your adventure
  • WiFi lets you connect the Live View Monitor
  • Three pre-set zoom angles for still shooting
  • Tons of Accessories
  • Underwater housing included with both the X3000 and X3000R kits
  • Slightly more affordable than the other top models
  • Only wide-angle shooting for 4K video
  • Images provide more noise and less detail than a smartphone image
  • No built-in screen to assist you in composing
Bottom Line
The Sony FDR-X3000 is a powerful action camera, capturing smooth 4K video thanks to the built-in SteadyShot image stabilization. With a MSRP of US $349.99, this is a top quality action cam at a great price.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for an action cam that can go anywhere, capture everything and still provides the highest video quality that you can ask for. Also great if you are looking for a camera with a ton of great accessories.
Compact action cameras have come a long way in just a few short years, providing outstanding image quality and camera toughness for all extreme shooting situations. GoPro has been the standard household name for these cameras, but an outstanding alternative is Sony's FDR-X3000, providing 4K and Full HD video capture in a very compact unit.

The camera sports an 8-Megapixel Exmor R CMOS imaging sensor, BIONZ X processor, Zeiss Optics, New SteadyShot Optical Image Stabilization, Built-in GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth; to provide the most advanced action cam on the market. Include the optional Live View remote and you even have a full-color screen to compose and view your images and videos; not to mention control the camera.

Besides the Live View monitor, the Sony line of action cams feature an outstanding selection of accessories including an underwater housing, multiple mounts, grips, and harnesses that allow you to use the camera in just about any way you can come up with. The included underwater housing is a very important accessory as it provides the camera with its waterproofing (60M), along with dust and shock protection that keep the camera safe and operating in extreme conditions.

Composing your images can be a bit of guess as you have a very wide angle camera without a viewfinder, which leads to a lot of trial and error. Getting the optional Live View monitor allows you to see exactly what the camera is capturing without having to look at the camera itself.

The LVM offers complete control over the camera, including power, so that once you have the camera mounted somewhere its ready to go. Every option that is available in the on-camera menu system is available via Live View as well. We were able to use the LVM up to 25 yards away with a smooth video signal and full camera control. A wrist band or camera clip can be used to hold the monitor and keep it accessible without you having to hold it in your hand. With both the X3000 and the A300, there were occasional disconnections from the LVM and the cameras. They both reconnected easily, but it was something that we had to deal with regularly.

Still image capture gives you three zoom settings; wide, normal, and narrow. They range from very wide (17mm) to wide (32mm) with a 23mm setting in between. While they are definitely more for shooting video, they can do pretty well composition wise if you keep close to your subjects or are looking for a wide-angle for a landscape, etc. With no flash and an uncontrollable AF system, you are looking at an image with lesser quality than you will get from a newer smartphone camera. Unless you are in very bright light, noise will be very evident in your images and they all lack detail no matter what. Once again, this camera was not designed for high-quality still image capture, but for capturing video.

Putting the 4K video capture to the test, along with the underwater housing, we had a lot of fun in and around the pool with the X3000. Even with less than perfect lighting, the camera produces a sharp, vivid, well exposed video that plays back smoothly on all Medias. Movies can be played back on either a computer or any HDTV/4K with an optional HMDI cable straight out of the X3000. Sony's Optical SteadyShot image stabilization does a great job to steady your videos and provide smooth motion while the camera is on the move, making your movies easier to watch later. With the camera outside of the underwater housing, sound is exactly what you would expect from a built-in microphone. At this point, however, you have the option to connect an external mic for higher quality audio. Once the camera goes in the waterproof housing, you no longer have the ability to connect an external mic and the case itself will greatly distort and muffle the sound that the camera does capture.

Powering the X3000 is Sony's NP-BX1; a 3.6V, 1240mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. Able to capture up to approx. 50 minutes of 4K video on a single charge (with Wi-Fi on), we were able to complete most of our tests; capturing several short videos and still images all while using the GPS and Live View Monitor. This leaves us thinking that you will need several batteries for a full day of shooting and a way to recharge the LVM if you plan to use it most of the time. Spare batteries and chargers are available more from Sony or Amazon and will help to keep everything charged and ready to go for your next big adventure.

Bottom Line - Sony's FDR-X3000 action camera is a one of many action cameras available today. What really sets it apart from the rest are its fantastic components; including the BIONZ X processor, EXMOR R CMOS imaging sensor, and especially the Optical Steadyshot image stabilization that helps the X3000 offer the highest video quality that you will find in an action camera. Add one of the best collections of accessories, and this is one hard action cam to ignore. With a MSRP of US $349.99, it is not the most expensive camera, but runs around the top of the price range. If you are really looking for the quality in your action camera, this is a great camera to check out.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.