Low-light performance of cameras has been important for decades, but the action cameras like GoPro have always struggled due to size limitations. Tech brand SiOnyx's new camera has utterly obliterated the competition in this area.
The SiOnyx Aurora action camera has ridiculous low-light performance when put side by side against the GoPro Hero 5. Honestly, I wouldn't compare the two in many areas as the GoPro range is generally more versatile and better across the board. But the USP of the Aurora, as its name implies, is low light and that it does very well indeed. What other modern action cameras see as pitch black, the Aurora can show as far closer to what your eye sees, hence their name for the USP as "true color night vision." This is partially achieved through a 16mm f/1.4 lens, and partially through the vaguely described "ultra low light CMOS" sensor which is purported to "trap" 10 times more light than a standard CMOS sensor. It's an interesting read on exactly how that's achieved, but something I won't go in to here.
The footage is a little erratic with exposure and what looks like invasive stabilization, but the resulting footage is previously unachievable without tens of thousands of dollars to drop. The price is an interesting area of discussion, though.
On the one hand, it's really cheap for the low-light performance it offers. Personally, I can't see when I'd use it, but I'm sure there are plenty of people who would. However, at $799, it's over twice the price of the GoPro Hero 5 they keep comparing it to, which out-performs the Aurora in almost every other area you might consider with an action cam. SiOnyx have clearly set themselves in opposition to GoPro and while it might have been wise to do so when comparing videos shot by moonlight, that may well be the only battle it wins. That said, it can shoot infrared among a few other interesting features. Here's excerpts from the specs as listed on their website:
- Sensor: Ultra low light CMOS
- Lens: 16mm; f/1.4, 2.0, 5.6 selectable
- Video: 720p .MOV
- FPS: 8,15, 24, 30, 60
- Photo: 0.9 megapixels
However, I'm not saying this isn't a great piece of kit; it's a truly impressive — albeit specialist — camera. Many of its specifications may look dated, but it's doing things that just about no other affordable camera can do right now. What would you do with it?