Oregon Scientific ATC5K review: Oregon Scientific ATC5K

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The Good The ATC5K has a color LCD that makes it easy to use in the field. Its Webcam and live monitor function enhance the usefulness of the camera. Waterproof, shockproof design takes bumps and splashes in stride.

The Bad Front-heavy design makes the unit difficult to mount stably. Low light performance is abysmal.

The Bottom Line The ATC5K Action Camera has a few new features that make it easy to pick up and start using; however, it falls flat when it comes to video and photo quality.

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5.4 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 5
  • Image quality 4

Usually extreme sports helmet cameras are ruggedly simple affairs that have to forgo complications such as LCD viewfinders in favor of compact and durable designs. The Oregon Scientific ATC5K Action Camera avoids that compromise by squeezing a small full-color LCD screen onto its smallish body, while still preserving its waterproof and shockproof design.

Unfortunately, it makes compromises in the one place that a camera never should: the photo sensor. While the ATC5K can take photos and video in extreme conditions, its VGA resolution and poor low light performance keeps them from being great shots.

The ATC5K is a tapering tube style camera. Measuring 4.5 inches long and 3 inches thick at its thickest end, the camera is quite portable. With rubberized bumpers on both ends and solid construction, it's also quite rugged.

At the business end, the ATC5K sports a small recessed lens tucked behind a raised rubber ridge and a plastic shield. Just above the lens is an activity indicator light that shifts from green while recording to red when the device is busy writing and an infrared receiver.

Along the top edge are two rubberized buttons: one for video and one for still photography. To prevent accidental presses, the buttons must be held for 2 seconds to start or stop video recording or snap a still shot.

The rear end of the device is occupied mostly by a 1.5-inch color LCD screen that works as a digital viewfinder, as well as depicting menus and playing back recently captured media. The screen is held in place by a hinge with a locking closure along its top edge. Unlocking and swinging down the screen reveals the battery door for the two AA batteries that power the device live, as well as the SD card slot, video out port, and Mini-USB port.

The unit is designed to be handled roughly and is shock resistant and waterproof, able to be submerged up to 10 feet deep.

Included with the ATC5K is a plastic mounting ring and base grip that the camera can be inserted into to connect to any of the included mounting options. The ATC5K kit includes a handlebar grip, a Webcam stand, and a helmet grip that can be used with one of the two Velcro straps or the silicon rubber head strap the unit ships with.

Also included is a CD with Windows drivers, an IR remote control with a CR2032 coin battery that replicates the video and photo buttons, a carry bag, an AV cable with RCA connections for video and monaural audio, a USB cable to interface with a PC, and a pair of AA batteries.

At the top of the ATC5K's feature set is its capability to record video at up to 640x480 pixels and 30 frames per second. Video recording can be triggered using the video button on the top of the unit or the included RF remote. Both methods require a 2 second button press to register. Users are given the choice of VGA (640x480 pixels) or QVGA (320x240 pixels) resolutions using the devices menu.

The ATC5K is also able to capture still photographs at 640x480 pixels using the still capture button. The ATC5K does not have a time-lapse feature that snaps photos at regular intervals, so you'll have to manually trigger the shutter for each photo. Still photos cannot be captured while video is being recorded.

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