You've got to have a pretty special product to enter an already massively crowded field dominated by one all-conquering brand, but OCLU is confident that its action camera has what it takes.
Launched in autumn 2019, around the time as the GoPro HERO 8 Black, the OCLU has very similar spec to its rival, along with a unique feature of its own in the form of LiveCut. This nifty feature allows you delete unwanted video as you record – which is particularly useful when trying to nail a particular shot or sequence as you can remove the unwanted takes on-the-fly. This saves you the hassle of having to sift through lengthy footage of repeated sequences to find the bit you want and avoids filling up your memory card with unwanted material.
It has an MSRP of US$299 but at time of writing is available direct from OCLU for US$199 (the OCLU is not yet distributed in the UK or elsewhere), making it a strong contender for our best cheap action camera ranking. With that discount, it's considerably cheaper than both the GoPro HERO 8 Black ($299.98) and the HERO 9 Black ($349.98), which currently sits at the top of our best action camera ranking. So how does it compare to these top-rated action cams? Read on for our OCLU action camera review.
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OCLU action camera review: design and setup
With a screen positioned on its uppermost surface and a wide, low profile body, the OCLU's design is a different proposition to the majority of action cameras around. At 1 1/8th inches, the view only screen is fairly small and all camera inputs come via the large record/play button below the screen and the two buttons on the left-hand side.
The OCLU is a well put together piece of kit made with a metal body, a rubberised finish that wraps around most of the exterior and a glass lens with a hydrophobic finish. A neat touch is the circular, magnetic attachment for the charging cable on the rear face of the body. The camera comes with a soft and hard case included.
A ¼-inch screw fitting in the OCLU's base allows you to attach it to mounts and accessories. The accessory mount can be rotated 90-degrees to either side, allowing you to easily change the camera's POV.
While the OCLU is compatible with the many universal GoPro-compatible accessories that are out there, it also has a wide range of its own bundled accessory sets of its own. Designed for specific scenarios, such as snow, bike or sea, the accessories within the sets include a chest mount, waterproof housing, various grips and an array of different mounts.
OCLU action camera review: specs
Weight: 101g (with battery)
Dimensions: 62.5W x 28H x 61.5D(mm)
Video: 4K 30FPS, 1080P 120FPS
Bit rate: H.264
Connectivity: Wi-Fi + Bluetooth
Burst: 3, 5, 10 FPS
Time Lapse: 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60 seconds
Screen: 1 1/8th inch viewscreen
Waterproofing: 1m without case, 50m with
GPS: Via app
Voice control: No
Live streaming: No
Memory storage: Micro-SD
OCLU action camera review: features and usability
The camera's low-profile shape makes it ideal for less obtrusive positioning, such as beneath a helmet peak when riding. The viewscreen's position on the uppermost face of the camera comes in handy when the OCLU is chest-mounted or attached to a handheld grip, making it easy to see what's in shot. However, this screen position is a hinderance when composing shots at eye level.
The OCLU has four fully customisable shooting modes, by default, they are video, LiveCut, photo and time-lapse, but you can set them to anything you like, such as four different video modes for example.
LiveCut is a shooting mode unique to the OCLU. When filming video in this setting, pressing the uppermost side button will restart your recording and delete the prior footage in the sequence. This is especially useful when trying to nail a particular sequence, such as completing a skateboarding trick, as you can seamlessly delete any failed attempts. Discarding unwanted footage as you go also helps to save space on your Micro-SD card.
While the functionality of OCLU's companion app is limited to viewing content, controlling the camera and changing shooting settings, it's still a pretty slick piece of software. Connecting to your mobile device via the camera's Wi-Fi puts a serious drain on the OCLU's battery though.
OCLU action camera review: video and stills
Image quality from the OCLU through its ultra-wide angle (F2.5, 150-degree) lens is very good and has a similar level of colour depth and vibrancy to standard video and stills taken with recent GoPros. While the HERO 8 Black and the OCLU are both 4K cameras, the GoPro has a higher framerate or 60FPS at its maximum resolution – on the OCLU it's 30FPS. The HERO 9 Black trumps them both though with 5K video at 30FPS.
While the OCLU offers decent video stabilisation that nicely smooths out footage without making it look too artificial, it's not as good as GoPro's Hypersmooth software and, frustratingly, is only an option when shooting at 1080P resolution.
The OCLU's auto settings do a decent job of picking the best options for most situations, but you can also manually select ISO, exposure and white balance if required.
OCLU action camera review: verdict
The OCLU is a well-made and well thought out action camera that allows you to easily create great looking content and at $199 is decent value for money too. With LiveCut and an unconventional screen position, it offers something different and is well suited to the skate park, MTB trail, ski run, or when catching waves.
While it can't compete with the GoPro HERO 8 Black when it comes to shooting options and features, and it's a shame that video stabilisation is only available when shooting in HD, overall, the OCLU is still well worthy of serious consideration – particularly if shooting action sports is your thing.