GoPro Hero2

by Adrian on August 13, 2012

The GoPro Hero range of cameras have been around for a couple of years. The latest 11mp version (Hero2) provides incredible quality wide angle photos and HD video.

The range is targeted towards action junkies who want a tough, lightweight waterproof camera to fix onto their helmet, bike, car, model plane, surfboard or dog(!) to record fast moving, difficult to capture action photos of skydiving, motor-sports, surfing, diving etc.

GoPro website:

GoPro

Thats the sales pitch, but we’ve also found it to be a remarkable and useful everyday travel camera.

I’ve been trying to justify one for ages, so the opportunity of fixing it to the boat to automatically capture action shots whilst sailing was too good to miss. I’ve fixed mounting points on the bow, the arch and on the boom for automatic shooting. We also take it with us now on trips and outings, and we’ve used it to take spectacular pictures of buildings, palaces, landscapes and sports.

The camera is small, lightweight, tough and comes with a complementary range of housings and mounting kits. It has a really wide angle fisheye lens (170° view) which gives unusual and spectacular panoramas, capturing the whole scene before your eyes – similar to how we perceive it.

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The shooting modes allow you to take stills like a normal camera, a quick burst of 10 shots in a second for capturing fast action, video in full HD and interval shooting that automatically takes an picture every 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds.

There are three model variants differing only in the supplied mounting options. All come with a standard waterproof housing (up to 100m), a ‘skeleton’ housing (with holes in it to allow the microphones to record sound) and a range of heavy duty stick or screw on mounting brackets. The ‘outdoor’ pack has a head and flexible strap mounting system for attaching to your dog, yourself or a helmet, the ‘motorsport’ pack has rail and bodywork mounts and the ‘surf’ pack has a strong suction cup for mounting onto a boat, surfboard etc.

Fish eye ultra wide lenses are nothing new, but most of us don’t carry a large DSLR and lens collection around with us all the time, so this lightweight, compact and versatile camera allows you to easily capture stunning photographs that stand out from the usual iPhone fixed lens variety.

The rechargeable battery is quite large and will easily last a day’s normal shooting. Expect about 2 hours of continual use if taking timelapse photos every 10 seconds. Charging is easy via USB, but as standard there is no way of powering it continually from a mains adaptor or 12v supply. I am looking into this and have a few internet tear downs and hobby sites to investigate, as I want to be able power it continually to produce a photo montage every 10 seconds whilst sailing. You can attach an additional battery via the optional battery back.

Like most modern cameras, it doesn’t come with a memory card (it used SD cards). I would recommend at least 8GB, as the 11mp images are 5-6Mb each (see here for recommendation)

8Gb = 1200 images (approx) = 3 hrs shooting at an image every 10 seconds.

A new 16gb Eye-Fi card is also available.

Pros:

The lens: This makes it a useful travel camera, providing very wide angle shots of buildings, people and situations.

The size: it is very small and lightweight (handbag friendly-I don’t have one, but my wife doesn’t complain when I put it in hers).

The housings and mountings: huge flexibility to allow photos to be taken in locations impossible for a normal camera.

The modes: Single shot, 10 shot burst, full HD video and interval timing.

Accessories: a huge range of different mounting options and a number of upgrade ‘backs’ such as the LCD display, the extra battery, an add-on to ensure it floats and even a wifi remote control system that allows distant operation and promises live viewing and control from your iPhone.

GoProKit.png

Cons:

Display: The standard kits are geared towards unattended action photography and videos (e.g. on a helmet), so the cameras don’t come with an LCD viewfinder screen as standard. The LCD backpack is a £65 add on that simply clips on to show you what the camera is seeing – giving you you image framing, review and playback. Don’t expect the LCD screen to be bright and clear like your iPhone or normal camera – it isn’t. It is quite basic (think digital cameras 10 years ago), but it does the job – just.

The price: at over £200 this kit is a bit of an investment and is not a toy camera. It is remarkably versatile, will allow you to become hugely creative and will hopefully give you some stunning and unique images.

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Conclusion

If you like photography, like being creative and feel a bit restricted by the standard pictures you get from your phone or compact camera, then have a look at this. We really like it.

These links below go to the cheapest reliable suppliers I’ve found via Amazon. I get a small click through credit if you buy one, it doesn’t cost you any more.

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<A HREF=”http://ws.amazon.co.uk/widgets/q?rt=tf_mfw&ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=GB&ID=V20070822%2FGB%2Fslingthehookc-21%2F8001%2F58b0d62d-133f-4947-bcef-4f3c97acaa78&Operation=NoScript”>Amazon.co.uk Widgets</A>See also

The EyeFi SD card. This is the perfect complementary product. It is the same size as a normal SD memory card, but with a wifi card and server built in (amazingly). Whenever the camera is turned on it automatically detects available wifi networks and uploads all your photos automatically to Facebook, Picasa, Flickr etc. without the need for a computer.

See here for full review and instructions.

 

GoPro image

How about this for a bit of fun using a GoPro

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