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On opening the ATC5K's box, I was a little disappointed about the camera. The earlier ATC3K I owned looked phallic, so I was expecting Oregon Scientific to have overhauled the appearance of this model. As they have attached a 1.5in screen it now looks like a reversed torch, and is both bigger and heavier.
You get your bog-standard attachments, including helmet mount, handlebar mount and various lengths of strapping. This time round you also get a lovely infrared remote control so you can operate the camera without having to touch its buttons. But this means that you have to be in line of sight to operate the camera with the remote, which may prove difficult when it’s mounted on your helmet.
There are a couple of positives about this camera. One is the fact that it is waterproof, a must for the great British weather. Two is that has a 1.5in screen, which shows you your memory card usage, battery power, etc. The screen is handy for adjusting the camera’s angle if you notice that it’s not pointing where you want it to, though this is only useful if you mount it on the handlebar.
The most disappointing feature of the camera is its batteries. Two standard AAs power the unit. On my trial, I got two hours usage out of the batteries before they died. Thankfully, I was still able to transfer the videos to my PC as the ATC5K saves video files automatically. (Some cameras require you to stop recording manually to save the file.) If the batteries expire whilst you are out and about, and you want to carry on recording, you’ll need not just spare AAs but a screwdriver to access the battery compartment.
Another let down is the way the camera handles darker conditions compared to its much cheaper counterpart, the Action Cam II. Whereas the Action Cam II recording was bright and picked out the beam of my 240-lumen bike lights in dark tunnels, the ATC5K didn’t seem to recognise that there was extra light available and used the natural light from the tunnels instead.
I mostly used the ATC5K on the handlebar of my mountain bike. The mount was robust and gave a steady platform for the camera to sit securely on the handlebar, though it didn’t fit around the bar’s central bulge so I had to move my lights around to fit it. On bumpy terrain, the camera handled well, with very little vibration to the image.
Attaching the camera to the handlebar allowed me to access the buttons quickly and easily, although I found it difficult to use the on/off buttons on the front of the unit wearing gloves; I had to take them off to switch the camera on.
Plugging the camera into a PC was easy with the supplied USB cable, and no extra software was required before I was able to use it. Files are saved on the camera as AVI files, which are editable by most pre-installed software on your PC or Mac. Dragging the clips onto the hard drive is easy, and as they’re VGA resolution you don’t need a powerful computer to edit them.
An uninspiring performance from a camera that, though waterproof, is even chunkier than earlier incarnations.
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Make and model: Oregon Scientific ATC5K camera
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Play Hard, Record Everything with the Oregon Scientific ATC5K! Self-contained, hands-free digital video cam with built-in 1.5” LCD screen and photo capture function, makes ATC5K an unparalleled action camera which every sports lover / family must have. The ATC5K is waterproof to 10 feet! PC and MAC compatible, Oregon Scientific ATC5K works seamlessly with most video editing software. Expandable up to 4GB with an SD card, mounts easily and includes all the mounting hardware you need (unless you want to mount onto chunkier handlebars, in which case you'll struggle).
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
SD / SDHC compatible. Runs on normal AA batteries. 1.5in screen. Waterproof up to 10ft. VGA resolution recording at 30fps (also offers QVGA). Can also be used as a webcam. 53 degree field of view capture. USB and RCA wires to use on PC / TV.
It's big and sturdy. Buttons are robust.
It recorded my journeys OK though seemed to struggle with darker areas such as canal tunnels where it didn't even pick out the Electron Terra 2 lights (240 lumens).
It's waterproof, which means it will last a lot longer than most of the action cameras out there.
You keep your fingers crossed that looks can be deceptive with the weight, but this looks and is heavy.
At approximately £150, you don't get a lot for your money. Most bog standard action cams with built in rechargeable batteries are at least 2/3rds cheaper but don't contain the screen.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It handled the terrain well enough, but canal paths are dark, and it struggled with lighting issues. Also, the batteries ran out after 2 hours' use.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The screen. It's waterproof.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Battery life and bulkiness.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Age: 34 Height: 5ft 8in Weight: 168lbs
I usually ride: Trek 2.3 My best bike is: Fuji Mt Fuji Pro 2010
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, mtb,