At 1 x 1.4 x 2.9" in size, this new addition to the Sony Action Cam line is, in many ways, a scaled-down version of the HDR-AS100V, and like its predecessor, features professional 50Mbps recording at up to 1080p60 in the XAVC S codec. For the moment, there are two packages from Sony: the basic camera, which is the HDR-AZ1, and the HDR-AZ1VR bundle, which features the new RM-LVR2V Live View Remote Watch. Since the camera is designed with the expectation it will be used to record all sorts of extreme adventures, it is splash proof right out of the box with no auxiliary housing needed. In addition, both packages include a 16' underwater housing for situations in which the camera will be submerged in shallow water, and we can pretty reasonably expect a dive housing to become available shortly for deep-water use.
The 1/2.3 CMOS sensor the camera uses features back illumination for enhanced low-light performance, and is backed up by the latest BIONZ X image processor to further reduce low-light noise, as well as enable its noteworthy 50Mbps XAVC S in-camera compression. To help give footage a POV feel, the HDR-AZ1 features an ultra-wide Zeiss Tessar lens with an f/2 aperture. The lens provides an ultra-wide 170-degree field of view with SteadyShot image stabilization off, and a very respectable 120 degrees with IS turned on.
Wi-Fi capability means both cameras can be operated remotely with a smartphone or other mobile device. When using devices that are NFC enabled, it is possible to pair camera and mobile device simply by tapping the two together. It is also possible to view a live image and, when the mobile device has an Internet connection, live-stream for the world to see. Wi-Fi also allows you to use the RM-LVR2V Live View Remote Watch, included with the HDR-AZ1VR and available separately for the HDR-AZ1. With this watch you can access settings, control recoding start and stop, take photos, and view a live image on its built-in screen.
For shooters looking for an option with professional 50 Mbps recording that is even more compact than previous Action Cam models, the HDR-AZ1 is not a camera to be disregarded.