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An independent Playak review of the Epic HD POV camera, tested on and off the water.
With the recent boom in mountable helmet cams, there are a range of companies competing in the market. While I am a kayaker and stand up paddler, I also participate in a wide range of activities and would love to have a camera that can be adapted to a variety of gear and perspectives. Epic POV Cameras, made by Stealth Cam, is a mid price range helmet cam that I was able to test out over several months in a variety of sports and conditions. I used Epic’s 1080, wide angle HD camera – but there are also several other SD and HD options available. Here are the results of the 1080 HD camera testing.
The Epic POV Camera is a very small, bullet shaped low profile design. The waterproof housing, available as an optional accessory to be purchased separately, adheres to the camera’s shape and design. It’s a very lightweight camera, easy to use, and comes with numerous available accessories. The 168 degree wide angle lens assures that you will capture everything within a reasonable field of vision.
The camera uses 2 AAA batteries and SD card. Various sizes of cards can be used – I tried both 2 Gig and 4 Gig cards – and had no problem with the battery life for the max of both cards. By saving the video or photo’s straight to the memory card, there are no cables or connections to worry about. The camera is a full video or still camera. In video setting, it is capable of taking:
- 30 frames per second at 1080p or 960
- 60 or 30 frames per second at 720p
- 60 frames per second in the WVGA setting
For still photos, there is the option to take photos at 8, 5, or 3 mega pixels. Handily, there’s also a time-lapse option that allows for photos to be taken every 2, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds. Although you might not get the exact shot desired, it is a step towards eliminating the process of taking a screen grab of a video to get the still picture of the moment. The multiple time options increase the possibility of getting a higher quality photo than the screen grab one would pull off the video.
The Epic Camera comes with basic mounts in package:
- 1 strap mount
- 2 straps, 12” and 24”
- 2 curved adhesive mounts
- 1 extended elbow mount
- 3 lithium batteries (lithium is recommended by the manufacturer)
The waterproof housing is not included with the original package but is available for $29.99 (USD) from their website. Replacement accessories and mounts are also available.
Elbow Mount with waterproof housing.
One new accessory that Epic has introduced is a viewer that connects to the camera and allows for video review and basic adjustments (e.g., brightness/contrast, volume) without removing the camera from its mount. Unfortunately, this is not available in a waterproof version yet, but is a great option for non-waterproof necessary activities.
The Epic POV Cam can be used straight out of the box. Insert the batteries and the SD card of your choosing. Slide the camera into the waterproof housing and you will find 4 buttons on the top of the waterproof housing that mimics the 4 buttons on the camera.
While the variation in available models and brands of helmet cameras can lead to some confusion in settings and user understanding, I found the Epic Camera to be simple and settings easy to translate after a few minutes with the included manual. While there are 4 buttons on the camera, 2 of the buttons are for scrolling up or down the chosen settings. Simple.
While there are 4 video settings, I found three to be most practical – the difference between 30 frames per second at 1080p and 960p was negligible. I liked having the range of time lapse settings for the photos – and found myself using them the most. In a dynamic environment, it was nice to have the option of a shot every 2 seconds for a surf session) or every 30-60 seconds for a longer 5 mile SUP race I did with the camera. Like many wide angle lenses, the lens can distort the edges of the photo or video with a slight ‘fish eye’ effect by rounding off the corners.
The drawbacks of this camera are minimal. For a simple helmet camera in the mid-market price range, the Epic POV Camera covers the basics. Waterproof housing not being a part of the initial package is unfortunate for surfers and paddlers but easily ordered.
While the low profile and bullet like shape are benefits for most activities, the inability to move the camera on the adhesive mount restricted the visual frame for the lens. Fortunately, this is also easily overcome with the use of the Elbow Mount that allowed for an endless variety of positioning and visual framing.
The Epic POV Camera is a good, economically feasible alternative to other more expensive cameras on the market (although pricing with optional attachments is comparable). For kayakers and SUPers - the low, water-shedding profile and light weight are definite benefits in a river or ocean environment. Easily replaceable batteries and a memory card (instead of a cable) makes the Epic Camera usable by a variety of platforms and allows for easy video upgrade and storage.
As many of us are also active in other endeavors, the Epic POV Camera proved easy to mount and use on my road bike, mountain bike,and while running (it's light weight allowed it to clip to my visor brim). It's not difficult to imagine a variety of other activities (skiing, windsurfing, etc.) where the profile, weight, and mounts would be extra useful. As this camera picks up usage in the water sports market, it will be good to see more waterproofing for more of the accessories.
For a basic helmet cam, it's a good, affordable choice. With optional attachments, it compares to many of the other helmet cameras on the market now. With some waterproofing upgrades, it would be a solid addition to any paddlers equipment quiver.
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