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'.
If you enjoyed this, please click on a few adverts - it really does help!