Wednesday, May 11, 2011

GoPro HD Hero Review

What to say about this piece of equipment? First of all, I got turned onto it by all the ads places around sporting websites and facebook. Then it started popping up on YouTube in extreme sports videos and also on Freddie Wong’s channel in the form of a “First Person Shooter. The video cranked out 7 million views in the first week (Don’t quote me on that) I was at least ten of them.

What attracted me to this item was the price ($300 for the HD Hero Motorsports package) and the versatility. A camera shooting 1080p at variable frame rates in a waterproof cage and mounts that attach it to… pretty much whatever you can think of. Tons of accessories, this baby was made for sports.

I picked one up when I made a deal with my employer. Instead of paying me for the work I was doing he bought me the GoPro Motorsports Hero package and also bought me the helmet mouths. Pretty good deal.

First impressions, hands on, were different. 2 buttons, light, sturdy. My first experiences using the camera were confusing though. It’s an easy camera IF you read the directions. There are about 5 books in different languages. I recommend the one in English. Anyways, after the first moments of tinkering I had the camera filming Pole Vaulters at a track meet at Western Oregon University. I let it run until the battery died (2.5 hours) and only use about half of my 16 gig card.

The footage might not blow your mind. It can be grainy at times. But that’s why it costs $300 and a 7d costs $1600. I did however realize that I could use the wide angle (720p) setting and get some beautiful time lapse without much effort.

For Example: a still of Tim Vaulting

Look at all that sky. I had 2.5 hours of this... sadly there's a bunch of people flailing around on sticks in the middle of the shot.

We tested vibrations from the rig and mounted it to the front of Tim's car and drove along a winding freeway. the footage looks pretty smooth.

If you’re wondering about the stability of the mounts and how firmly they attach… I can attest to the resilience of them. If you let the 3m tacky substance completely adhere, it’s on there… whatever it is you stuck it too… it’s there. If you really want it off, you’ll need to work pretty hard to get it off without either breaking the mount, or the item (helmet, car, body) it’s attached too. However, I noticed that even though I repositioned my mount 6 times (yes… I put it in the wrong place 6 times.) It was still extremely sticky and I haven’t had any issues yet. The suction cup works really well too.

Probably the only concern was not being able to see what I’m shooting. That’s easily solved though for $80. An add on LCD is available. It comes with new backs to the waterproof housing to accommodate the new size. You will need a firmware update. And I’m not sure of the effects on battery life. A spare is only $20 so it’s not really an issue.

Actually I thought of one more… charging the battery, at least for now requires plugging the camera into a computer to charge. I suppose there are ways around that, but a dock for charging would be awesome.

I have not tested the durability. Though I could have thrown it out the window and seen how it fared. But I’m not doing that. Sorry.

And as a warning: without the LCD, all of your videos will begin with this frame…

All in all, I think you should have at least one of these in your kit. You never know when it might come in handy: time lapse, POV, fixed perspective during a shoot or concert. I’ve come up with a dozen different uses that I’m not telling you here until I get to put them to use first.

Get one. The end.


  1. Hahaha. That shot at the end is gold. I don't even know what I would do with it but I want one now.

  2. glad you like it. we've got more test footage. i posted it and made it a secret vid on youtube... lol don't want to give away too much in our upcoming project.