It’s rare for an action camera to arrive that breaks with convention. However, that is exactly what the Oclu has done with the design and function of this compact camera.
However, while the design is unconventional and well spec’d, the camera has been out for a few years. Hence, resolutions and image stabilisation are good but dated compared with the latest releases, but that doesn’t detract from the excellent video quality.
Good mounting options
Limited resolution and framerate
No EIS at 4K
Can't be mounted vertically
What is Oclu action camera?
The Oclu is an action camera with a difference. Rather than a mounted GoPro style lens, the Oclu features its optic on the side, in the same vein as the old Drift action cameras.
The Oclu launched a few years ago, and at the time, the 4K 30fps and image stabilisation at 1080p 60/30fps put this camera right at the top of its field. Now, those features are looking a little dated, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is still an interesting camera, and with a significant price drop, it’s well worth checking out.
Resolution: 4K 30fps, 1080p 120/60/30fps
Image stabalisation: 1080p 60/30fps
Mount: 1/4-inch, GoPro
Storage: SD Card
Build and Handling
The Oclu is a very neat and robust feeling camera. Like GoPro, Drift and Wasp, this camera has an instant feeling of quality.
The layout is well thought through, there’s a standard 1/4-inch thread on the base, and the screen on top is of a decent size and clear and crisp.
Onboard navigation is easy with three physical buttons that enable you to enter the menu, navigate and select. It’s along the same vein as the old GoPro rotary menu’s, simple but effective for a small device.
Once you get into the menu system, you start to see where the camera shows its age. 4K is available, but at 30fps, then EIS is only available for 1080p 60/30fps. Rember that this camera was released when 4K was rare, so having 30fps was good; having EIS was almost unheard of.
A few added features, such as one-touch record, something GoPro had only recently added to their cameras, looked through the menu system.
One of the stand-out features is that this camera doesn’t require water[proof housing for most above the surface watersports with IPX7 water resistance.
This means that you can go out in the rain, attach it to the side of a canoe etc., without having to worry too much. There is, of course, waterproof housing that will enable the Oclu to be used underwater, but for most of us, this level of water resistance is enough.
Another feature that was only emerging when the Oclu was released was built-in GPS. A nice feature and one that is only now standard with many of the latest action camera releases.
The camera’s design is one feature that stands out as it breaks from the more usual box-like GoPro design.
While the design reflects that of cameras like the excellent drift in many ways, there is a significant difference. You can’t mount the camera vertically, or at least you can, but the video won’t rotate accordingly.
This is a real shame, especially for those looking for an action camera that will sit flush against a body panel or helmet.
The final part of the Oclu equation is the App. Again as with the camera, this is a solid offering with a decent live view stream and the ability to update the camera’s settings and control.
The App is solid, and through the test, there are a few issues when used with the iPhone 11 Pro.
The Oclu might have been a design innovator when it was released, and the shape and design are still aesthetically pleasing; however, now you can’t help but feel that the Oclu is ready for an upgrade.
The body and design look great, and the ease of use over some other cameras that still use physical buttons is good. But, compare this with the latest touch screens for cameras at the same price, and the navigation starts to feel a little clunky.
Likewise, the camera’s design having the lens on the side gives you the impression that it should be possible to mount the camera vertically in the same way as the Drift cameras. This isn’t possible either.
Then there’s the EIS which only works for the 1080p 60/30fps footage and not the 4K 30fps.
My final niggle with the design is the proprietary charging contact. Action cameras are designed to be taken anywhere and enable you to film in places you would otherwise be unable to take a camera.
This camera does all that, but you often don’t take your charging cable. These days with most devices being USB Type-C, you can borrow a cable, even older styles, but with Oclu, you’re stuck, no cable, no charge. It’s one of those aspects of an action camera that seems small but is important, making it easy to charge because the batteries don’t last that long.
To give it its dues, the battery did last a good couple of hours.
That’s it for the negative points about the camera, and I’ve started with it because, at the heart of it, the Oclu is a solid performer, but today it has its limitations.
The video quality from the camera is excellent. While the ultra-wide angled lens does suffer from some blue chromatic aberration in high contrast areas, it’s about in line with what you’d expect from these small cameras.
However, what you don’t expect from a relatively unknown brand is the quality of the video footage. At 4k 30fps, the clarity of the detail and tone is on par with the latest cameras, likewise at 1080p 60/30fps.
The camera’s sensor and processor work exceptionally well together, adjusting quickly to changes in light and overall doing a great job at ensuring that you capture good quality footage.
This means that for many activities, the quality of the footage is an exception even without the image stabilisation at 4K.
This brings me onto the EIS. This is electronic image stabilisation before HyperSmooth and RockSteady, which means it’s mediocre at best.
However, Oclu has put a lot of thought into the accessories brought with the camera. These are far better than many of GoPro’s more expensive and popular offerings.
Take the Oclu bike mount, for instance; this straps tight to your bars and gives you decent wobble-free footage far better than GoPro’s hideously expensive bike mount that you can only utilise if you have HyperSmooth.
The audio recording quality isn’t bad either, with small microphones on both the top and front of the camera. The built-in wind noise reduction does an OK job and gives that standard action camera clicky audio.
The other aspect of the camera is the App. I have to say that this is a solid addition to the use and usability of the camera. It’s well designed and robust in use, enabling a good live view connected to the camera.
As with the on-camera interface, you can quickly switch between modes, essentially different framerates and resolutions, operate the camera and view the footage that you’ve taken. It’s all very streamlined.
Again the age of the camera does show, and while the interface looks fresh and the stability and robustness is excellent, the transmission delay is around three seconds. Not a great deal but far more than you’d expect with the latest cameras.
Overall the Oclu is an excellent camera for the price. It’s well thought out, has some great features and the video quality at all settings is excellent.
However, it does feel a little dated. There are some features that you think should be there but aren’t, foremost of which is the ability to mount the camera vertically, enabling easy helmet and panel mounting.
The video quality is undeniably good.
I like the Oclu, and if I’d looked at it four years ago, then I’d have been blown away with the 4K video quality and the fact that a relatively unknown camera manufacturer had released a camera with built-in GPS.
In 2021, it all feels past its best; I should be looking at the all-new Oclu 2. That said, it’s still a solid performer, and for the price, it can still hold its own against many of the action cameras out there.
The video quality is excellent, and the App is robust. The design and camera also have huge potential in the future – I hope that four years on the follow-up the design with that all new release soon.
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