Sony FDR-X3000 Action Cam Review

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The rise of portable action cameras has allowed us to capture virtually every moment of our sporting events. Whether you’re perfectly landing that difficult trick or taking a spill, you’ve got the whole thing on tape. Although GoPro has dominated the market over the last couple years, many reputable manufacturers releasing their own action cams that are competitive in both price and features. With the GoPro Hero5 prepped for launch this month, many consumers are debating if they should upgrade to their latest model, or check out some of the worthy cameras available from other manufacturers.

Sony has stepped up their game recently, launching a very promising looking camera. With a few key features that really put it a step ahead of the competition, the FDR-X3000 is absolutely worth a look. Let’s see if this camera is going to allow sony to stake their claim in the action cam market.

Sony FDR-X3000 Action Cam

First Look

The Sony FDR-X3000 Action Cam has a sleek white body, measuring 1.85″ x 1.16″ x 3.27″ and weighs approximately 4.1 ounces. What do you get in the box? You’ll receive the rechargeable battery pack, a micro USB cable, the Underwater Housing case, an attachment buckle, and the Live-View Remote. The remote also includes a wristband, mount adapter and cradle. GoPro charges extra for these accessories, so it’s nice to see them thrown in.

The camera can record using Memory Stick Micro or Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC cards. The small screen on the side of the camera contains a user-friendly menu, and is easy to change settings like zoom.

Sony has added three red indicator lights on the front, back and top of the camera, and the camera beeps to indicate that it is recording. It sounds silly, but is actually a great feature – you never want to find out you haven’t been recording the whole time you’ve been meaning to.

Sony FDR-X3000 Action Cam


The FDR-X3000 holds a Zeiss multicoated 35mm f/2.8 wide-angle lens. It also features an 8.2-megapixel 7.20mm back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor, which paired with the wide-angle lens, results in pristine 16:9 videos.


Sony’s impressive BIONZ X processor keeps the action cam’s quality reliable regardless of the setting you are shooting in. The body holds a memory card slot, Micro HDMI output, Multi/micro USB terminal and a stereo minijack for an external mic. The camera has a tripod socket on the bottom of the body for when you need ultra-steady capturing.


Sony claims the FDR-X3000 is dust-proof, shock-proof, rust-proof, freeze-proof and waterproof all the way down to 60m/197ft. Of course, this is only possible with the Underwater Housing case that is included with the camera. The housing adds some size, but it only makes sense to protect your camera and its lens with the case and use it all the time. The case also doesn’t inhibit the view of the menu display or the use of the buttons at all. It ensures that whatever activity you’re doing, and whatever weather you’re doing it in, the camera stays safe, along with your footage.

Sony FDR-X3000R Action Cam

Battery Life

The FDR-X3000 runs using a NP-BX1 3.6V battery. With a fully charged battery and Wi-FI switched on, you can get 50 continual minutes of footage shooting at 4K (3840 x 2160 30p 60Mbps), or 125 minutes shooting at MP4 (1920 x 1080 30p HQ). Considering the cameras compact size, this is pretty impressive and competitive with the GoPro.

With Wi-Fi switch off, you can get an extra 10 minutes of footage for either setting. The live-view display has 155 minutes of battery life. The battery is also removable so if you’re going to be out filming all day we’d recommend picking up a spare and bringing it with you.

Sony FDR-X3000R Action Cam


The Live-View remote connects with the X3000R through Bluetooth V4.1. The camera is Wi-Fi capable though and you can use the camera through a smartphone app. This is especially useful if you’ve got it mounted somewhere that is not particularly easy to access.

Using Sony’s Highlight Movie Maker, you can quickly send footage to your phone and construct a highlight movie and share it right away using your phone. You won’t always have WiFi and the battery life to spare when you’re outside adventuring, but it’s a great feature to have, especially when you’re close to home to avoid cluttered cords.

Sony FDR-X3000R Action Cam

Capture Modes

The FDR-X3000’s powerful processing allows you to shoot in several different modes. Among these include Loop Recording, Burst Shooting, Motion Shot LE, 4K Time-lapse capture and even Live Streaming. Live streaming, however, does require a Wi-Fi router or a smartphone that is capable of tethering with the cam.

Loop recording has 4 durations ranging from 5 to 120 minutes, and allows you to capture the perfect moment without running out of space on your memory card.

The X3000R can burst shoot up to eight shots of action at a time, which will allow you to ensure you get the absolute perfect frame for your photo.

Motion Shot LE can automatically create a composite image of a subject in motion, at various burst settings.

Time-lapse capture with the X3000R is amazing. The camera captures 4K still pictures at a designated interval, which can be combined into an extremely high quality time-lapse movie.

The Live-streaming using Ustream not a super common feature on an action cam, but opens up a lot of doors for how you can use it. If you’re looking to keep an eye on the kids or set up a little home security system, live streaming is very handy to have.

The FDR-X3000 also allows you several manual adjustments to help you get your footage just right. White Balance can be adjusted manually, or shot in auto mode, which allows you to more accurately represent different lighting conditions. Shutter speed varies between 1/30 and 1/10,000 of a second (30fps) which gives the camera versatility for shooting in both low-light conditions and bright daylight.

capture modes

Video/Picture Quality

The X3000R has superb video quality and resolution. It shoots 4K resolution video at 30fps – and can also be reduced to 24 or 25fps if you want a more cinematic appearance. If you’re looking for shooting slow-motion footage, then you can reduce the quality to 1080p which bumps the frame rate up to 120fps.


The BIONZ X processing engine results in more natural images, greater details, great noise reduction, and richer contrasts. The Exmor R CMOS sensor improves shooting in low-light conditions with less grain and better clarity.

capture modes

Regardless of the video quality, the Balanced Optical SteadyShot will always be active, allowing for exceptionally high quality and smooth footage even in challenging conditions. Still images are shot at 12.0-megapixels 16:9 (4608 x 2592) making them sharp and clear. They will absolutely be suitable for prints. Sony has also done a great job with lens distortion of the wide-angle lens, reducing the “fisheye” effect you get with most other action cams.

Audio Quality

Audio quality is reasonable with the built in microphone, but you should know what you are getting with an action camera like this one. Hopefully you’ll be editing your action videos with some music afterwards. Thanks to the built in noise reduction, the audio quality is acceptable for online video or for mixing in with your soundtrack. If you do want cinematic quality audio, you can use the built in mic port to connect and external microphone.

Sony FDR-X3000R Action Cam

Image Stabilization

What we really believe will set the X3000R from other action cams is the image stabilization technology that Sony has integrated into the camera. Sony’s patented Balanced Optical SteadyShot technology has been used in many previous Sony handheld cameras, but they’ve somehow managed to scale it down to fit in a miniature action cam for the first time.

Although the action camera market is still dominated by GoPro, they still seem to be missing any sort of image stabilization. Since you’ll be using this camera in high motion environments, a jittery video can make your recording almost unwatchable. However, with Sony’s SteadyShot you’ll get buttery smooth motion. Unlike other cameras, the image stabilization isn’t downgraded at all. You can still shoot in 4k, which really makes the difference between good and great footage. When filming on a bumpy road or trail, rough water, or even when attached to helmets or handlebars, your video will look like it was professionally produced.

Sony FDR-X3000R Action Cam

Live-View Remote

Sony’s Live-View remote for the X3000 is a great feature for the camera. Most manufacturers mount the display on the camera. This is completely useless if you’re going to be attaching it somewhere that is awkward to access. By separating the display, you can view your footage without having to remove the camera.

It measures in at 47.8mm x 52.6mm x19.0mm and weighs only 46g. It is 30% smaller than previous Sony Live-View remotes and has tons of mount capabilities. You can mount the remote directly to the camera and hold it with your index finger through a trigger-type loop and shoot directly, or mount the remote on your handlebars where you can keep your eyes on it at all times. You can also wear the remote as a watch for when the camera is mounted somewhere else like on a board or helmet.


With built-in GPS, the X3000R captures important metadata like location and location tracking for your adventures. This also allows a speedometer to track your speed during filming. The GPS and speed data can then be overlaid on a video, which is a great feature for movie-making.

Sony FDR-X3000R Action Cam

So, Should I Get the Sony FDR-X3000?

There is no shortage of great action cameras on the market. At this point in time, we truly believe that the Sony FDR-X3000 is the current king of portable action cams.

Their live view remote demonstrate that Sony is aware of the most frustrating usability issues that plague other action cams, and offers a brilliant solution to this problem. It may not be the cheapest camera on the market, but it’s priced competitively and offers incredibly high quality footage.

What really sets this action camera apart from other handhelds currently available is the Balanced Optical SteadyShot technology. The noise and bump reductions are extremely impressive, and something that other companies like GoPro have not yet been able to perfect.

23 thoughts on “Sony FDR-X3000 Action Cam Review”

  1. Though your review of the Sony FDR-X3000 is rather complete (thank you!), I was wondering whether you can bring the Live-View Remote with you while diving? Even Sony doesn´t mention that on their website …

    • Hello Wilfried, We wouldn’t advise getting the live view remote wet. It’s not meant to be submerged into water. Please let us know if you have any more additional questions – we’d be happy to help!

    • What I have learned from somewhere else is that wi-fi, blutooth and capacitive touchscreen does not work underwater. Water interferes with these signals so Sony did not bother making the LiveView remote waterproof.

      You’ll need a physical wire attached to the camera if you want to control it underwater.

    • You can take stills while recording a movie but timelapse isn’t. You can always create a timelapse out of the full video anyway.

  2. Great write-up. We had already decided to go with the fdr-x3000 and now that it is here, it is great to have such a complete review. It will help us get the most from the camera right away.
    If we had not already decided to buy the fdr-x3000, this review most likely would have pushed us over that line, and we would have then made the decision to do it.
    It is so far an impressive device. The only issue I have found so far is using the remote on/off feature over the Playmemories Mobile App from Sony. It may be related to just my phone, but at this point I can only speculate. The app can turn the camera on, but not off. There is a glitch somewhere. I am using the LG G5.
    It should also be known that the Action Cam App from Sony has issues whilst bluetooth is active. This app requires that you connect to the camera’s wifi and the bluetooth can cause connectivity issues.

  3. We bought a Sony FDR X3000 a few days ago and have to say if you don’t have a technical head and are not tech savvy, don’t waste your time buying one.

    It is extremely complicated to get it started.

    I have an Apple Mac and have reformatted the SD card to no avail. We have no recordings and the computer doesn’t even recognise the device.

    Going back to the retailer to get help, he rattled off a whole heap of technical language that I didn’t understand and I walked out even more disappointed.

    Sorry guys but its very frustrating and I think I’ll take it back to the shop. It isn’t worth my sanity.

    • In order to help you, we need actual technical info. What format did you make the SD card? NTFS vs. FAT may make a difference.
      You say he “rattled off” a whole heap of tech language. Did you happen to write it down? He was probably genuinely helping you, but don’t blame him – blame your lack of technical understanding.

  4. Hi there
    Just had this for Christmas can you tell me what micro card is best for this recording in 4K action filming (Dog agility and we are going to New York next year on holiday)
    Hope you can help
    Chris Stamp (England)

  5. @Emma Jayd,
    Like any new device, it will take some time to get used to. Practice makes perfect…
    If your problem is just regarding the memory card and saving/retrieving info from it, my advise would be to:
    1) use the camera to format the card
    2) take the card out and then put it into your computer to retrieve the data after making videos
    2.5) use Sony’s Playmemories Home software to keep your video collection orderly and synced
    3) take some time and go through the users manual so to acquaint yourself with the camera. I do this for almost all new electronic devices that I purchase, and most of the time it helps! I certainly had to refer to the X3000 manual for a couple of things.

    My opinion is that anyone of an average technical ability can within a few minutes operate the camera at the very least on a basic level.

  6. I love this camera. I’ve had a GoPro 4 and have to say that the Sony is a much better product. I am not that tech savvy but had no problems setting up and using it. I still have a lot to learn about it but it’s a fun curve.

  7. Love the review, I’ve had my X3000 for about 6 months but I find my ability to hold it steady is lacking. I’m interested in the DJI Osmo M to make up for my lack of stability as my drone is super steady, but I can’t find any 3 axis gimbal that will mount to the X3000. There is one for the X1000 which has a slightly different body shape. I really don’t want to spend more that the camera cost.
    Any help??

  8. We do a lot of underwater videography and the image stabilization of the Sony fdr x 3000 will do
    wonders for our videos. I just wonder if there is a way to rig up an aiming device to it as sometimes we need close up shots of say, baby corals or fish eggs.


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