There are times in film making when you want to be able to capture environments that destroy normal equipment. There are times when you need to be able to get a strange view point of the action. There are times when you need to be able to leave the camera running and concentrate on something else. These are also times when a full size camera would interfere with what you are shooting.
For all these times you need an ATC 2K.
That is, if your primary delivery method is online via YouTube etc. For the budget filmmaker, the cost of a high end solution often is prohibitive. Wireless micro camera kits can cost anything up to £1000 and the quality can be anything up to HD. I am not quite at this point yet for two reasons:
1. I am only an amateur film maker.
2. I need something that doesn’t mind being in the mud.
I chose the ATC from Oregon Scientific and I have never looked back.
Kit and specifications
The basic kit comes in a simple blister pack which holds the entire unit onto a shelf. Inside you find the camera and a mounting kit. The basic specs of the camera are as follows:
- Captures video clips with sound
- Three selectable resolutions: 640×480, 320×240 and 160×120 pixels
- Video clip file format: AVI – 640×480, 320×240 and 160×120 pixels
- Two frame rates (15fps and 30 fps) for all three resolutions
- With built-in memory (32Mb) and SD card slot for memory expansion (Up to 2Gb)
- Low-battery management
The unit is small and slight:
The front lens section is surrounded in a hard wearing rubber, which protects the recessed lens glass from damage. On the top section are the controls and the screen displaying the current settings and recording time left. The controls are three buttons:
The top one turns the unit off an on when held down for a few seconds. The middle big button is the start and stop recording control. This beeps to let you know what is happening when the unit is being used when mounted. The bottom button changes the quality of the recording.
Behind this is a moveable mounting ring which can be spun around the camera to aid in mounting. At the bottom of this is the clip that connects the camera to the various mounts via a slot in the mount base.
Behind this is a watertight backing case that screws on/off and covers the cameras innards. When this is taken off you can access the SD Card and batteries.
Also included in the box is the mounting kit. This enables the camera to be mounted in almost any position imaginable. The basic mounts are a bike handlebar mount and flat plate mount. It also includes a rubber mounting strap and a fabric one. The rubber one is perfect for mounting to a helmet or anything plastic. The fabric one will hold the camera steady on anything else (like skin).
In the field review.
I have used this camera for over a year in all possible conditions. I originally bought it after coming back from a skiing holiday and finding my clumsy attempts to record while moving were very poor and had almost caused an accident. I bought the camera on www.amazon.co.uk along with a 2GB SD Card for a total of £100 (see the end of the review for the current prices and offers).
Since that purchase I have used this baby in almost every possible environment and it has performed brilliantly.
Here goes the list, along with how it was mounted and a video of the event hosted on YouTube:
Airsoft is the combination of paintball and military simulation. It is one of the most adrenaline fuelled sports in the world today ad played in the UK alone by over 10,000 people. I play for a top London team called FCS DarkAngel and make videos of our play.
With the DA’s I have used the camera in a gun mounted position:
In this config I have attached the camera to the front of my rifle using the rubber mount and black-tape. The camera captures the play perfectly and is very useful in sorting out any cheating after the match. The weight is negligible to my play and I have yet to crash it against something. I have seen the camera take direct hits to the lens (as shown in the video!) and it has suffered no damage whatsoever.
I have also used the camera in a helmet mounted mode. This works very well when using pistols in games as the head is no tilted down to aim.
Next, I have used the Camera in both Sky diving and Bungy jumping!
In these modes the camera is attached to the wrist by the rubber strap. In both situations the small size the of the camera meant that the officials involved with both sports allowed me to film. Many other people with cameras were turned away. Both events captures two very unique angles that could never be captured on normal films.
Tubing. Tubing is a combination of swimming and drinking.
Water and strong drink are both things that don’t normally film to well. In fact it is normally death to both parts of footage. Not so with the ATC. Firstly, it is totally waterproof for swimming. I wouldn’t take it deep diving, but as you can see from the film the camera shrugs off water and mud with no problems. Secondly, using a camera in the middle of people dancing can produce strange reactions. Some people do not like being filmed, some like it too much. A normal size camera obeys the Law of Observer Effect. That is, if you observe something, you change it. Holding a big camera would wreck the naturalness of this footage. Not so with the ATC. Most people simply didn’t notice it, nor me filming with it. A real bonus.
So what’s not so good about it and what have I noticed in my time of using it? Here are some comments:
- The batteries last about an hour.
- Which is lucky as so does a 2GB SD Card.
- You get 1 hour of footage on a large card at the best resolution.
- You need to use a good quality card to get the best performance. Do not use a cheap one. My card is the high end Scandisk II.
- The sound is not brilliant and I tend to cut it from the recording in post production.
- Speaking of sound, anything hitting the camera causes a peak in the volume that is ear splitting.
- The film quality is what it is. This is not a HD camera so don’t expect it to be.
- The lens angle is slightly forwards and tight, so you must practice to aim the image ‘box’
- After submerging the lens can need a blow to clear water or whatever.
- The low light performance is not brilliant at all. I sometimes use a strong torch on the top of the camera in low light.
- Usually I get 20 minutes of good footage every two hours of filming. Out of this 10 minutes will be prime stuff.
- I attach it and fire and forget. The camera will power off when not in use.
- I render the footage using Sony Vegas, but Windows Movie Maker works fine. My 10 minute movies in You Tube format are usually 100MB in size
All in all I cannot recommend this camera high enough. I have captured events that would have been lost forever with it and for the money it is a real no brainer!
OS have just released a new version of the ATC, the 3K for the same priced I paid for the old one. This new one has a good number of feature upgrades including a wider angled lens. Go for it!
You can buy the ATC 3k from here:
Hope you get one – if you do please link me the footage!