I love gadgets. From my Garmin 705, to my avalanche beacon, I have gadgets that do all sorts of nifty, exciting, and even useful things. I have made it a habit to carry a camera with me on my ski and bike trips. Even during a mundane afternoon recovery ride I will often have my camera in my jersey pocket. One never knows when that perfect Kodak moment will present itself. Over the years I have built up an impressive (in my own mind) and varied library of photographic evidence of my assorted (mis) adventures. But being that we are now firmly standing well inside of the year 2010, which inherently implies technological progress and ingenuity (really, does it not?) the next logical step is into the realm of point of view video cameras. What is a blog in this advanced age without digital moving pictures?
POV cameras are nothing new. But the high quality, durability and affordability that they are now boasting is. Did you ever watch 24 Solo? So did I. The helmet camera used in the making of that film was the POV equivalent to one of those gigantic computers from the 1960s that just barely fit in an airplane hanger. In fact, It was not really a POV camera at all, so much as it was the highest quality HD camera that was still small enough to be mounted to a riders head. Not exactly convenient, or cheap.
All that has changed.
At Interbike 2009 GoPro introduced the world to the HeroHD. They claimed it shot in a “professional quality 1080p resolution.” I was skeptical. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time working with “professional” HD cameras. The results are stunning. But those cameras weigh 60 lbs and cost more than my house. That high quality image comes with a price. And anyway, I think we’ve all seen the “HD” video cameras at the local electronics store, and the disappointing “HD” video they produce. Like Dug says, “you keep using that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means”. My skpetisicm was quickly dispatched when I saw the demo footage at the GoPro booth. It was… remarkable.
Does the image this little camera produces rival those professional HD cameras? No. Although nearly. But then, it really doesn’t need to. Because, well, you try and ski down a mountain with one of those attached to your head. But the good news is that the GoPro’s video easily, and seamlessly integrates into footage that was shot on higher quality cameras. And after a bit of color correction and enhancement, your audience will never know the difference.
But then, you are probably not shooting any million dollar pictures in the near future. Fine. The HD Hero is a fantastic toy. Wear it running or biking or skiing or base jumping. The possibilities are myriad because the camera fits into a bomb-proof case that mounts to your chest, your helmet, your bike, or even your surf or snow board. The 170 degree lens (127 degree in 1080p) makes framing a non-issue. It sees exactly what you see. It’s small enough to drop in a jersey or coat pocket and light enough to be easily forgotten about when it’s sitting atop your head.
In short: I really like this camera.
- 5 Shooting modes: WVGA / 720p 60fps / 720p 30fps / 960p 30 fps / 1080p 30 fps
- Photo Mode: 5mp photos can be shot in single, burst or timed modes – shoot in 2/5/10/30/60 second intervals
- Durable Housing: Water and weather proof. Impact resistant. Still allows for button operation
- On the fly adjustments: You can change your resolution, exposure settings, and other preferences on the fly. No software is needed.
- Multiple mounts: The camera comes with several mounts. More than enough to get started. Others are available for purchase.
- Great picture: As I mentioned, the picture is fantastic.
- High quality sound: Picks up very clear sound.
- Storage: Can be used with a 32GB SDHC card.
- Replaceable: The housing, batteries, mounts and accessories, can all be replaced without having to buy a new camera. The camera can also be replaced without having to re-buy all your existing add-ons.
- No view finder or screen. (To be expected in a POV unit)
- Somewhat awkward shape. It’s square.
- The tripod adapter is not included – and costs $9 plus S&H.
- Great sound means it also picks up a lot of ambient noises, like the clicks of a strap rattling against your helmet or those swear words you muttered when you crashed.
This is a fantastic POV camera. I’ve been having a lot of fun with it on the ski slopes this winter experimenting with different mounting options and angles. I’m looking forward to the upcoming mountain bike season and the video opportunities it will present. There are other “HD” POV cameras, but the GoPro is the only one that has both photo and video modes, and that can be adjusted without software. It is as close to true HD as anything I have seen in its size and price point. It’s an excellent gadget. But now I need more pockets.
I am not affiliated with GoPro. This review was not solicited or requested by them. It represents my opinion and experience with this product. The FCC can stick their heads in a hole.