The Epic HD 1080 is a fairly nice camera, but it's not without its foibles. Want to set the time and date? You're hosed. Wish it had a basic sensor to tell the camera which way is up, and rotate the view? Wrong again. Want good mounting options? Keep dreaming.
It does shoot fairly good video - when you can get it to work and the lighting is bright - and up close it does well. For hunting applications, though, it's a bit too wide-angle (things far away are mere specks on the screen) - and it fails to capture much audio.
- Portable and light.
- Accepts standard-size batteries (AAAx3).
- Can take high-quality crisp HD video.
- Can take still images as well.
- Can't set time or date.
- No sensor to tell it which way is up - and you can't set it to work with the camera turned sideways (and you must use FLIP mode if you mount it upside-down).
- Mounting options really aren't as varied as they appear, and can be frustrating.
- Read instructions before you try to open the battery compartment, or you just might break it.
- Flaky - sometimes turns off or fails to work for no apparent reason.
- Video playback on my old Windows XP system was choppy and horrible (videos play well in Windows 7, though).
- Compact, portable point of view video camera.
- Weighs 4 ounces with batteries (AAAx3) and SD card.
- About 4.25" long, 1.25" high, 1.625" wide.
- Wide angle (varies from 120 to 169 degrees).
- 5M color CMOS sensor 1/2.5".
- Video modes: 1080P, 960P (30 fps*); 720P (30 or 60 fps); WVGA (60 fps)
- H.264 codec with audio recording, saves as MP4
- Can take 3, 5, or 8 megapixel still photos.
- Time lapse mode available.
- 32 MB internal flash space (only about 18 MB of that is available for video storage); accepts up to 32 GB SD card.
- USB 2.0 5-pin mini port (cable not included).
- Kit contained some mounting options.
Epic? Not Hardly.
From the beginning, this camera fell short of my not-all-that-high expectations. Heck, I couldn't even open the battery compartment, and almost forced it - then I read the instructions and learned that you have to first open the cover for the SD/USB/DC power ports. Duh.
I was also disappointed to learn that no USB cord was included, and that seems lame. I had to use the cord that came with the more affordable I-Kam Xtreme video glasses which I was also testing at the time.
No Date or Time
The thing that really irked me, though, was that I couldn't figure out how to set the time and date. I don't mean putting a time/date stamp in the video - I mean just setting the time & date on the device, so the file data is correct and you can tell when your video was taken. I contacted Epic about this, and learned to my amazement that it can't be done. I repeat: You cannot set the time & date on this device. Lame!
When you first look at the mounting options available, you might think it's pretty flexible - but you'd be wrong. All you can really do is strap it to something, or glue it with peel-and-stick adhesive to a curved surface. That's right - there's not even a way to stick it to a flat surface.
As a hunter, I needed to mount the camera to my gun, of course - so that if I took a shot at something, the camera would be pointing that way. (FYI, I was using the Savage 110 which I'd rebarreled to 338-06.) Because the camera isn't smart enough to know which way is up, I started by trying to use the adjustable "elbow" mount so the camera would hang off to one side, but still be right-side-up.
The straps don't allow for very flexible solutions and are only good for strapping the camera mount to objects with a limited range of diameters, but I finally got the base strapped to the left side of my rifle, about halfway down the forearm, using the long strap. But then the adjustable mount couldn't be adjusted, because the tension knobs hit one another (poor design), so I flipped the mount around so it was close to what I wanted - then I found that the camera was facing backward instead of forward! So I gave up, and mounted the camera directly to the strap-on base, which placed the cam sideways.
Another failing of the Epic HD 1080 is its inability to detect which way it's turned. So when I strapped it to the side of my rifle and went hunting, I knew that I would have to edit any video taken in order to have it appear right-side-up - and that videos would be recorded in "tall skinny screen" format instead of "wide screen" format.
If you mount the camera upside-down, you can select FLIP mode to let the camera know which way is up.
Windows XP = No Playback
When I got this camera, I was still using a Windows XP desktop computer, and it absolutely would not play any of the videos properly - they were all choppy, completely lacking any audio, and just about impossible to view. My Windows 7 laptop - and later, my new Windows 7 desktop - played the video just fine.
Audio? What Audio?
Speaking of audio, the Epic HD 1080 does a pretty terrible job of that, too. In testing, I held the camera in my hand and pointed it at my face and spoke a few words in a normal voice. In playing it back, the audio can barely be heard, even with all volumes turned up - and I can't hear it at all on my laptop unless I use external powered speakers.
Performance in the Woods
Eventually, I spotted a whitetail deer while hunting with this camera on my rifle. I turned on the camera and shouldered the rifle, and watched the doe through the scope. She was not legal to take, so I simply watched as she looked around a little. Soon the deer slowly began to leave, providing ample opportunity to make a shot if it had been legal and proper to do so.
And then, the camera started beeping loudly. WHAT THE! The deer then ran off blowing, sounding the alarm to all other deer that something just wasn't right back yonder. When I looked at the camera, it had inexplicably turned itself off.
It had plenty of battery juice and plenty of space on the SD card, so I have no idea why it malfunctioned.
If it's Not Close, You Can't See it
As disappointing as that was, it was nothing compared to my viewing of the video back home. The deer was a tiny speck and I couldn't even tell it was there until it raised its big white tail. Not very useful for capturing the moment.
In low light, just about everything recorded appears to be black - and critters have to be very close for a viewer to know that there's a critter there at all.
I tried to get some video of a deer sighting a while later, and the Epic HD 1080 claimed to be full - but it had 1.51 gigabytes free when I got back to camp. I finally got the camera to run, but I couldn't find the deer in the video because everything is so tiny.
While this camera was strapped to my rifle, I killed a big hog and a whitetail buck. I didn't use the camera to record either event - time was short, for one thing. But I used another camera to record the blood-trailing of the buck, and didn't even try to turn on this camera. It had just become too frustrating and aggravating.
Can you tell this is not my favorite personal hunting camera? I thought so. For hunters, this camera just isn't the best solution around. It acts flaky, refuses to learn the time or date, won't auto-rotate, and you can only make out critters on the screen if they're up close and personal. If you're looking for a good option for recording your hunts, I suggest you keep looking.
- Russ Chastain