Revised Review with Video - ATC9K Waterproof Video Mini Camera

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I have revised my opinion of this mini camera, so I have rewitten and re-posted this blog entry (several times). There's also comparison video so you can see results.

Initially I was disappointed with this mini camera. Shooting hand-held in my garden, the images were not as good as the GoPro Hero, something I attributed to the lens on the Oregon Scientific ATC 9K.

[Edit - a very useful contribution from Scott in the comments below points to the difference in sensor size between the two cameras. Having a larger sensor means the GoPro produces a higher quality image].

I still believe this s the case. However, on the water the other advantages start to take over.

Unlike the ATC9K, GoPro has no monitor (yet?), so you can't line up a shot. But in perfect, sunny conditions, the GoPro output looks sperb - see the opening sequence in the Tay Descent video.

[Edit - the GoPro does now have a monitor. But I'm now so familiar with the shot it gives, I've yet to use the monitor on a shoot.]

I tested both cameras on the same mount on Loch Sunart and you can see the result in the video below - GoPro on the left.

Firstly, GoPro has a much wider angle. They're both (initially) mounted in the same place. Only when I move the GoPro much closer to me do the shots start to look similar.

Secondly, exposure. I've tried the Spot Metering on the GoPro and found it unreliable. My best results have always come with centre Weighted Average metering, but perhaps I need to experiment more.

When the light is on my face, the GoPro results look great. When I'm in shadow, it exposes for the bright sky and I go dark. And there's a lot of bright sky in that big, wide-angle image.

So the ATC 9K is not heading for the store cupboard just yet. Having a monitor and a slightly narrower angle will, in certain situations, be more valuable than sheer image quality. (More below video).

[Edit - the first time I used it for a real shoot the plastic tripod mount snapped! Not good]

The Contour HD looks pretty good, and Justine used it on This Is Canoeing, but I don't think it's as versitile as the GoPro and, yet again, there's no monitor. The new Drift HD170 is only rated as 'water resistant'.

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paddlingOTAKU said...

Can you review the Contour HD? While it's not waterproof, they have just released a waterproof housing. And while I love my GoPro, the Contour has LASERS! You can't beat lasers.


Simon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon said...

Sadly I don't have a Contour. Justine does. But I thought the shape meant it wouldn't be quite so easy to boat mount.

Sergio said...

That's sad to hear. I thought the Oregon Scientific had a good resolution, just as the go pro. The specs say that in full HD the go pro and the ATC9K have the same viewing angle. Sad to hear. Hope you can make same of it in your Gordon Brown Pt2 DVD!!! It is supposed to have a remote (waterproof also??) so you can operate it remotely.
Best regards
Sergio Covacevich

Simon said...

Hi Sergio

I too hoped / thought it would be as good as the GoPro. I'll try to mount them both and shoot the same thing at the same time so you can see the difference.

I fear this has nothing to do with the number of pixels in the image, but the quality of the lens. I might be wrong, but it looks that way to me.

Oh and it does have a remote. Not sure if it's waterproof.


Iceland Circumnavigation said...

The most interesting revelation to see in the video was your graceful and effective technique to hold the paddle with your chin while launching. Genius.

Simon said...

You know what - I never realised I did that!

Sergio said...

Hello Simon
Looks better now. It is true the exposure thing is something to consider seriously. One thing, is the remote of the ATC9K waterproof?

Simon said...

Hi Sergio
I don't have a clear answer abut the remote. It looks waterproof, in that there's a rubber seal around the flat battery case and the buttons look like those on the camera.

But whether or not it is waterproof is not mentioned in the instruction manual as far as I can tell.


Scott said...

What is most important is the sensor size.
Just because it can capture HD doesn't mean it of good quality.

More megapixes for example in a camera phone doesn;t mean better photos than a DSLR with less.

So is the case with the ATC9K
IT has a 1/3.2" 5 Megapixel CMOS Sensor.

While the Go Pro and Contour have a 1/25" 5 Megapixel CMOS Sensor

As you can see, the ATC9K Has a smaller sensor, which by desgn won't match raw quality of the GoPro and Contour

Simon said...

Thanks Scott - really helpful. I've edited the post to mention your comment.

Kriston said...

Hey Simon, great blog!
Just a note, and warning for others.

Be very careful not to break the glass on the front of the cam. I spent week arguing with Oregon who were not able to fix this area. No specialist will go near it and Oregon finally admitted that the cam cannot be fixed at reasonable cost (less than purchase price).

With a Go-Pro, you can buy lens kits and replace the lens with ease.

Have Keep up the fun! play safe.

dimz said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)

Anonymous said...

I know this an old post, but thought I should mention. The remote for the atc9k is NOT waterproof NOR water-resistant. Do not get the remote wet.