The ATC2000 was Oregon Scientific’s second action camera, which improved on many of the failings for the ATC1000. This is the helmet camera that I own and have used it for around 6 months now – that hopefully means I know what I’m talking about! I bought my one from a marketplace seller of Amazon, for a very reasonable £80 or so.
The ATC2000 is an entry level action camera which can be attached to your helmet, handle bars or body. It is the most affordable camera in the ATC range and though there are one or two cheaper action cameras out there, they just lack the quality of the ATC2000. If you are looking at getting your first action camera, this would be the minimum I would recommend you think about getting.
What improvements were made with the ATC2000 model?
One of the most important improvements is with the video quality. If I compare the video quality of my ATC2000, to what I have seen of the previous ATC1000 model it is a lot better! During day time you get a pretty good video quality and you get the choice of three resolutions (640×480, 320×240, 160×120). You can use these resolutions at either 30 fps or 15 fps. I find using a resolution of 640×480 at either 30fps or 15fps gives me a good sized video that I can play at full screen on my computer and laptop quite happily. The video definitely flows better at the higher frame rate, but 15 fps is still a very good alternative for the extra recording time it gives you. I’ve uploaded some nearly raw video footage onto the site so you can see just how good it is.
The ATC2000 allows you to insert a larger SD card (previously 1GB, now 2GB). This means you can record your videos for much longer. Depending on your frame rate, a 2GB card on the highest resolution will give between an hour to an hour and a half worth of filming. On the lowest setting you can get over 12 hours worth of footage – I’m not sure how watch able it would be though so I’ve never bothered using it. It would probably be like watching TV on a stamp – not something that sounds that pleasurable.
From what I’ve seen of the ATC1000, the ATC2000 seems to be a lot more durable. One of my complaints with the previous model was, its buttons looked like they would be easy to accidentally push. The buttons on the ATC2000 require a little bit of pressure and couldn’t be accidentally pushed. This is mean you don’t need to worry about it turning on in your bag and the batteries draining, or the camera randomly switching on and off in use, which would ruin your footage.
Along with this, the ATC2000 is very strong and durable. I once didn’t attach it to my helmet properly and it came loose when I was cycling at a reasonable pace from some height. When it came off my first panic was it would get run over, but thankfully cars were a little bit back so I managed to rescue it. I turned the camera on and off and checked it over and it started to record again perfectly well! When it came off I did loose the footage that I had previously recorded, but I believe this was because my SD card couldn’t withstand the shock from the fall, rather than a fault with the camera. Oregon don’t claim the camera is shock-proof, but I’d say they are just underselling here!
The previous ATC model didn’t have much lens protection and I would be worried about scratching it. The newer ATC2000 has a large, solid rubber area to protect the lens. This is great, as the last thing you want to do is scratch the lens! When it rains you can get annoying droplets on it, but this would be the same for any camera.
One of the other noticeable improvements from the older model is that the ATC2000 runs off two AA batteries, rather than 3 AAA batteries. This should help keep the unit’s weight down, as well as allow for it to record for a longer period of time before changing batteries. I personally use rechargeable batteries, and I bought a recharging unit with 4 AA batteries for under £10. If you are planning on using your ATC2000 in cold environments, it is better to buy lithium batteries, as these will work better.
What else is good about it?
Along with the improvements from the previous model, the ATC has many other brilliant features. The ATC2000 can plug into your computer via USB cable, or into your TV via an AV cable. The TV cable is quite nice as it does mean you can play back your footage to show off to your mates.
The ATC2000 comes with 4 mounts. This includes a sturdy handle bar mount for bicycles, 2 Velcro straps and a Silicon rubber head strap. I used to use the the long Velcro strap for my helmet but I now use the shorter Velcro strap. If you are attaching it to your helmet either of these work well. You could also use them to attach the camera to your arms or legs. The Silicon strap can be used to attach the camera to the side of helmets without vents, such as motorcycle helmets or a helmet in a skateboard style. You could possibly use the handle bar mount to attach the camera to other objects of a similar shape, such as kayak paddles. You really are just limited by imagination.
The ATC2000 is waterproof to 3 meters. I think waterproofing is essential for this type of camera, as the type of activities it will be used for, will generally be outside and the chances of being caught out in rain are reasonably likely. The ATC2000 has what is called a “double O-ring system” to keep it waterproof. Basically, where you screw the end of the camera case on and off (to access SD card, batteries, etc), there are two rubber rings which create a vacuum. You are given a small tub of silicon grease which you need to apply here before using it under water. Oregon Scientific do not guarantee the product if it is damaged through water misuse, therefore this model may not be suited to water sports where the camera is likely to be submerged a lot. Personally, I’ve never put the camera under water, but have been caught out in heavy rain without issues and I know that people do use it scuba diving without any issues.
Does the ATC2000 have any downsides?
For what the ATC2000 costs it is a fantastic piece of kit. There are a few downsides to this unit, but when you take everything into consideration, they are not major issues.
The first thing to say is, yes, the ATC2000 does record audio – but it doesn’t record audio very well. If you speak to the camera it will capture your voice, but if you were to try to record a conversation between you and someone else, it is unlikely you’ll capture their voice very well. The reason for this is because the waterproofing obscures the microphone, so it cannot record as well. In the scheme of things, a slightly poor microphone isn’t a massive issue on a helmet camera as you’re not really going to be using it – most people add their own audio, such as music, when they come to edit the video. You can set it so it doesn’t record sound – if you’re not bothered about sound then it would give you a bit more space for video, but personally, I find videos without sound a little bit dull and you don’t get as interesting a video to replay. I’ve heard from a ‘trusted’ source, that the trick is to put an elastic band around the camera, or a bit of tape near the front and this will cut down on wind noise.
The other downside of this model is the lens’ field of view. Basically, the newer models can capture more footage on the side of the cameras. This is great if your camera is helmet mounted, but might not be as big an issue if you have it mounted on your handle bars. I cover this in greater depth later on…
Along with the field of view not being as good as the other models, another fall down with the ATC2000 is its low light potential. Do not expect to be able to use this to film at night . The footage when it is getting late or very overcast isn’t as good as when it is reasonably light out.
The ATC2000 is it is quite big, but then most wireless cameras will be reasonably bulky. What can you expect when the power, memory and everything else is built into one unit?
Some people fuss that it hurts their neck…or they’re worried it will hurt their neck, but I’ve had the camera on for over an hour and can’t say I really notice it being there. I find attaching it to the helmet does give you a better “action” video compared with the handle bar mount, but it is all about personal preference. I have found that when you have it on your helmet, it doesn’t pick up as much wind noise, compared to mounting it on your handlebars.
One of the hardest things to do with the ATC2000 get it positioned correctly. I’ve had it where the camera is pointing up at the sky too much…and then other times when it is pointing at the ground too much. It does take a bit of patience and adjustment to get it right, but when it is positioned correctly you can get some really good footage. To save faffing around positioning it properly you may be interested in the ATC5000 as it has a built in screen!
Should I get an ATC3000 or ATC5000 instead?
If I were to go back and choose my helmet camera again, I’d be tempted to choose the ATC3000 over the ATC2000. This is mainly because the ATC3000 has an improved lens, which gives a wider field of view (the ATC3000′s lens covers 48 degrees). This basically mean you can capture more side ways footage. This is particular useful if you have the camera on your helmet, if attached to handlebars you might not benefit from this as much. Along with this, the ATC3000 also supports memory cards of up to 4GB which is double the capacity of the ATC2000. The ATC3000 isn’t that much more expensive, as the prices have dropped significantly recently, so I think for the little bit extra, it is worth it. When I purchased mine the difference in price was wider.
As for the ATC5000, it is almost double the price so you might not be able to afford it just yet. If you can afford it then I would recommend it, the ATC2000 is a fantastic camera, but having the ability to view the footage on the camera would be amazing. Imagine, you’ve just caught a fantastic bit of footage and want to show your mates when you get to the nearest pub or bar. With the ATC2000 you’d have to wait till you get home – the inbuilt screen on the ATC5000 means you can show off what you’ve caught – be that your amazing down hill mountain biking, or how you slipped over skiing.
I’ve had my ATC2000 for over 6 months now and used it at least once or twice a week. I might be tempted to purchase the ATC3000 in preference now for the wider field of view, but I am very happy with the atc2000 action camera and really would recommend it! If you’re not going to use it that often, then the ATC2000 is a bit cheaper and more than adequate for most activities!