Midland XTC 300 HD Camera – Best For Shooting Sports?
Midland XTC 300 stand alone (left), in waterproof case (right). Photos from www.midlandusa.com
In recent years, technology has progressed to the point that 1st person cameras have become compact and affordable enough to be used by the general public. The equipment is now able to record 1st person HD digital footage in 1080p quality and improved memory cards allow hours of footage to be recorded. There are several companies that now offer waterproof, HD cameras with many mounting options. The leader in this market appears to be GoPro, with other competitors including Condor and now Midland industries.
The Midland XTC camera has recently entered the 1st person camera market in an attempt to compete with the industry leader; GoPro. The GoPro HD Hero 3 White Series is the most direct competitor with the Midland XTC-300. Both cameras are available on the market for $199 and offer similar capabilities, each with their strengths. While both GoPro and Midland offer a wide variety of new 1st person point of view HD cameras ranging from the $99.99 Midland XTC100VP2 to the GoPro Black Series at $399.99, this review is only evaluating the Midland XTC-300 in comparison with the similarly priced GoPro White Series.
GoPro Hero 3 in waterproof case and Midland XTC 300
The Midland XTC is available in both black and camouflage making it ideal for hunters. The Midland camera has a less techy, and more stealth looking appearance than the GoPro, so it is more incognito when mounted on a helmet or used in public. The stealthy appearance is also an advantage when hunting. Although the XTC camera is larger than the GoPro, it is longer and narrower making its shape more suited for mounting on a rifle or shotgun.
GoPro (top), at 2.6 ounces and Midland XTC (bottom), at under 6 ounces size comparison. Weights are from manufacturers' websites.
Video Quality and Operation
The XTC shoots 30 fps in 1080p which is the same as the GoPro Hero 3 White Series. Lowering the video quality to 720p allows 60 frames per second capturing for both the GoPro and Midland cameras. While both cameras capture high quality HD video, the GoPro has a small technological advantage. The GoPro has a time-lapse mode which allows periodic capturing of 5 megapixel still photographs that can be assembled into a time-lapse compilation. The GoPro can also be used as a still photograph digital camera if video is not needed. A screen shot can capture great still photographs with the high quality video both of these cameras take if needed. Sometimes taking photographs from a video screen shot is the only way to capture an action shot. This is especially true when a person is by themselves and cannot operate a camera and ride, ski, shoot, etc at the same time.
Midland XTC screen shot at 1080p
GoPro screen shot during same time, from same location as XTC shot at 1080p
The GoPro is more suitable for consumers that want advanced video options and editing that includes time-lapse capability and remote WiFi operation. However, the XTC operates by simply flicking its single switch forward and focuses on making 1st person videos easy. The XTC's switch position also makes it easier for the operator to determine if it is recording or not. When the XTC's switch is forward, it is recording, when it is back, it is off. It cannot be determined whether the GoPro is on or off just based on feel. Being able to feel switch position is a plus when the camera is mounted on top of a person's head and is intermittently being used record video. The ease of operation that the Midland camera possesses might be an advantage to some who are not interested in the time-lapse and WiFi options offered by the GoPro. The GoPro certainly does not require a genius to operate it, but the XTC is certainly more straight forward.
Mounting and Accessories
Midland XTC attached to helmet with adhesive mount
Mounting options for both cameras are sufficient to meet most individuals needs. They both have many choices for helmet and head mounts as well as suction cup and stationary mounting. The GoPro has a slight advantage in the action-sports category due to its “chesty” and wrist mounts, but offers no mounts for shooting sports. Midland offers a rifle, shotgun, picatinny and archery mount which is a huge advantage to someone involved with those sports.
Camoflauge Midland XTC using Midland's rifle sling mount (top), and shotgun mount (bottom). Shotgun mount works on single barrel, over/under, and side by side shotguns. Photos from midlandusa.com
Another slight mounting advantage of the XTC is that it has female threads in the base of it and its waterproof case. The threads allow easy fastening to a tripod similar to conventional cameras on the market. Threads also allow the possibility of making custom mounts since they are not specific to Midland products. A GoPro can be mounted to a tripod, but a separate attachment must be purchased that converts the GoPro style base to a threaded base.
Midland XTC with adhesive mount attached, showing threaded base
Midland XTC in waterproof case on tripod
The GoPro and XTC possess the ability to be mounted either inside their waterproof cases or without it. This allows protection from the elements when required and reduced weight when not. Removal of the waterproof housing also prevents glare that could be a problem while hunting.
One notable difference between the XTC adhesive helmet mounts and the GoPro adhesive mounts is that the XTC is designed to break-away. In the unfortunate event of a crash or while snagging a camera on a tree branch, the XTC's adhesive mounts have built in Velcro that separates when pulled. This system not only might prevent damage to the equipment, but could also prevent injuries. Another advantage is that the mount can be pulled apart and rotated to change the view angle of the camera.
Midland adhesive mount's break-away Velcro system.
The GoPro is a smaller, lighter package with more recording options that include still frame photography up to 5 megapixels. The GoPro also has a slight advantage in the action-sport market due to a few mounting choices geared for that niche. The new GoPro also has WiFi compatibility and can be remote controlled. However, if your wish is to have a versatile, user-friendly, 1st person camera right out of the box, the XTC is a good choice. It seems the XTC's strengths are in its wide variety of mounting accessories, it's stealth appearance, and it's one-switch operation. The XTC also offers the best mounting options specific to the hunting world with a rifle, shotgun, picatinny and archery specific mount.
Midland XTC:Midland XTC-300 specs from Midland literature available at www.midlandusa.com
GoPro Hero 3+ White Series specs from www.gopro.com