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advice for a n00b - GoPro vs Sony Action camera?

Discussion in 'GoPro Video' started by tep, Apr 14, 2019.

  1. tep

    tep ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Diego CA USA
    Hope this isn't too basic a question.

    For a first time underwater video person, which would you recommend? A GoPro Hero or a Sony Action camera?

    I don't want National Geographic or award winning shots, I just want to share what it's like diving, with friends a family. The video equivalent of "vacation snaps" with a (good) point and shoot.

    My dilemma is that on a recent trip to Kona, *everyone* was getting great video using not much more than a GoPro in a housing and a handle. I saw pretty much the results I want, from people using a GP7 and filters.

    However, I work for part of Sony, and on paper, some of the action cameras have better specs than the GoPros, and I (often but not always) get better internal pricing. But to be honest, there seems to be almost NO underwater eco-system around the Sony products. (I brought this up on a recent trip to Sony Japan, and the response was "we don't scuba dive around here very much").

    So, long story short, as a total underwater photography n00b (but experienced diver), unless I'm convinced otherwise, I think there's a GoPro in my future?

    I totally expect that this would be my first, but if I become more interested, not my last underwater camera. I could easily see moving up into the A7-ish range in a few years.
  2. weeksd

    weeksd Barracuda

    I use a Sony action camera and are very happy with. I use two big blue video lights and use the underwater mode all the time. Great color and sharp lens. The zoom I don't use as with no monitor you would not see what your shooting. To see samples of a couple of videos I shot in thailand. reefscenics.smugmug.com
    FezUSA likes this.
  3. arcticat99

    arcticat99 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Saskatoon Sask canada
    another great camera not a sony is a panasonic lumix dc ts7 got mine for boxing day 300 canadian good for 105 ft and took amazing pics and video
  4. Mike1967

    Mike1967 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Victoria, Australia
    Gopro hero6 black in a supersuit does everything I want, I can't compare it to anything else though.
  5. tep

    tep ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Diego CA USA
    What housing are you using? I was also leaning towards the GoPro due to no viewfinder/screen on the Sony. I could go on for days about all the "that's so very cool, but..." stuff that I see in Sony products :)
  6. Diver below 83

    Diver below 83 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: SoFlo
    I use a Sony as100v. It came with a water proof case but it cannot be used for diving. You’ll have to buy the actual diving case which comes with the flat face plate. The standard fish eye style distorts pretty bad under water. It’s usable but not great. It did come with a bracelet viewing screen. But that doesn’t work under water unfortunately.

    Attached Files:

  7. runsongas

    runsongas Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California - Bay Area
    the sony fdr-x3000 has theoretically better performance in low light and optical stabilization. in practice, the stabilization is pretty good in the 7 black and when it gets dim, you kinda want video lights anyways.

    the lack of filter and macro lens support for the sony is the biggest problem.

    for sony, the rx100 and a6xxx series are much better products due to sensor size.
  8. ReefHound

    ReefHound PADI Pro

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Houston, TX
    I have used a Hero6 and Sony FDR-X3000 side by side on a tray, and I recently sold the Sony so that sums it up for me.

    As per above, in theory the Sony has a better lens, better optical stabilization, and an underwater mode. In practice, I could detect no difference in stabilization. Video quality was similar. The underwater mode works well in good light at shallow depths but no match for a red filter overall. There are a few expensive Inon filter attachments for the Sony but I never invested in them.

    The Sony was much more difficult to use underwater. The lack of a backscreen was a big deal for me because I seek to get close shots that fill the frame not wide-angle shots where you have plenty of margin for aiming error. But the biggest pain in lack of backscreen is changing settings. The Sony has a tiny monochrome side display that I found impossible to read underwater, especially attached to a tray. Even on land in good light it is hard to read the settings. 4K was 30fps max. Battery life was horrendous and would drain in camera even when off. I used the Hero6 as the primary go-to and took 80% of my video with it but 80% of the time it was the Sony that was shutting down for a dead battery. You would think with no color back screen and optical versus electronic stabilization that it's battery life would be much better than a Gopro.

    Gopro is still actively improving and developing the Hero line while Sony seems to have no plans for an FDR-X3000 successor. I'm not saying the Sony was a "bad" camera and it took good video but it was more frustrating to use and offered no tangible benefits over the Hero6.
  9. tep

    tep ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Diego CA USA
    Thanks to everyone for the thoughts. I decided to go with the GoPro - between the eco-system, the fact that we got a 25% discount on GoPro, which was better than the employee discount for the Sony (seriously?), and the comments here...

    Now off to pick a housing...

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