Gear Review

GoPro HD Hero2

GoPro HD Hero2There isn’t a whole lot more to say about the GoPro HD Hero2 that hasn’t already been said. Specific to what we do, (documenting rivers and creeks) it’s the best camera we’ve used (a ridiculous improvement over the Flip, trusty as it was, which isn’t even in the same category). The wide-angle lens allows us to capture these rivers at a true-to-paddling angle, much like you’d experience while you’re sitting under the deck.

How GoPro explains the Hero2: GoPro cameras are used by more professional athletes, sports filmmakers and core enthusiasts than any other camera in the world. Wearable and gear mountable, waterproof to 197′ (60m), capable of capturing professional full 170º wide angle 1080p hd video and 11 megapixel photos at a rate of 10 photos per second, the HD HERO2 is the world’s most versatile camera. Included are mounting accessories you’re most likely to use during outdoor sports like biking, skiing, skating, kayaking and so on.

What We Like:
We just started using the Outdoor Edition HD Hero2. It’s a wide-angle camera (so it does distort bridges, passing trees, etc.), capable of shooting 1080p video at 30 frames per second (as well as 960 at 48fp/s, 720p at 60 fp/s, etc. and WVGA video at 120 fp/s). There are so many features and settings, that it really takes a concerted effort right out-of-the-box to learn how it operates to find what settings suit you best. The minimal two-button design isn’t the most user-friendly at first glance but after spending a little time with it, it’s intuitive enough and you’ll be shooting in no time. You should also consider how you’re viewing your videos. Speaking online specifically, if you upload via the free account on Vimeo, you only have playback opportunities of 720p. However, Youtube allows for full 1080p playback.

The seemingly odd thing to the GoPro-unitiated, is that there is no view finder of any sort. I actually can’t imagine filming something without an idea of how it was framed so we had no choice and had to purchase the LCD separately. This is the first of many things you’ll end up purchasing separately.

This little camera is just that, tiny. It’s very light, weighing in at 4.9 ounces. And it’s waterproof as long as you’re using the correct waterproof housing (it comes with 4 different housings). Just a note, it doesn’t float but GoPro does offer a Floaty attachment which we haven’t used. Fingers crossed that our Hero doesn’t fall off the tripod.

Battery life with any camera is always an issue. And shooting 1080p vs 720p greatly decreases battery life. There hasn’t been a whole lot of consistency on how long the battery lives. Turning the camera on and off, shooting stills and video at different frame rates and temperatures throughout the day all factor into its life. We learned on our very first trip to never take any chances and have an extra battery on hand (it died near the end). The downside to the re-chargeable lithium ion battery is that recharging it requires the USB cable be connected to the camera and then a computer. Of course, you could also buy a Wall Charger but you still have to attach the USB cable to the camera to charge it (same goes for the Auto Charger) versus just placing the battery in a charging bed, which we’d prefer.

GoPro recommends a 16 or 32 GB SDHC Card (not included). They claim nearly 6 hours of TV-quality video with sound on a full charge. They also recommend a 10 rating for shooting less than .5 second time-lapse. We went all-in and purchased the 32 at a 10 rating so we had the flexibility of using our camera to its fullest potential. I’m not convinced the .5 second aspect is necessary for our purposes but it’s fun to play around with. And we’ve come nowhere near filling a 32 GB card.

The only other downside we’ve found is that it does suffer in low-light and going from very dark to bright light. You’ll find brief moments of pixelation as the camera adjusts. The Hero2 touts an aperture of f/2.8 for high performance in low light but I believe this was only improved in comparison to the original Hero.

One other note is that the Cineform Studio software which is a GoPro product (and free) is a pretty nice piece of software to help you import your videos. There are lots of settings to play with (changing frame rates, etc) and you can easily stitch your time lapse pieces together. There are also adjustments for color, framing, etc. There is a lot to play with and you’ll probably spend more time playing with the program than the camera itself. The software isn’t the most stable and sometimes a little bit clunky on a Mac but you’ll figure out it’s quirks. It’s compatible with Windows Vista, 7 or later and Mac OS 10.5 or later. Also of note, is that this is not an editing program but more of a converting/correction program. Of course, if your video is ready to go from beginning to end you can export and upload easily.

The Outdoor addition comes with helmet and bike mounts (Different “editions” have different mounts). The helmet strap would be great for whitewater (as would a chest mount harness which is not included but you could purchase separately through GoPro). There are also 2 curved and 2 flat-surface adhesive mounts, a 3-way pivot arm and mounting hardware to let you attach your camera to practically anything.

The Joby Gorillapod Hybrid was our choice for mounting the camera to our kayak. The Hybrid is a little more expensive but the legs are longer and thicker than the original Gorillapod which adds stability and height when we’re shooting from the ground or on rocks like a traditional tripod. It does require an additional accessory, the tripod attachment (about $8.00).

The Final Word:
The GoPro HD Hero2 is not a cheap investment. Once you buy the body, you’ll want to get the LCD backpack, extra battery, tripod mount, tripod and probably a bag (this Golla Logan bag holds everything including the tripod nicely). So the decision is one of a fiscal nature. But we’re glad we made the investment because not only has the quality of our videos greatly increased but so has the fun in making them. This camera truly is built for the outdoor enthusiast and perfect for our kayaking videos. Videos Shot With The HD Hero2:

Photo Gallery:

The Outdoor Edition HD Hero2 Comes With These Accessories:

1 11MP HD HERO2 Camera
1 Waterproof Housing (197′ / 60m)
1 HD Skeleton Backdoor
1 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
1 USB Cable
1 Vented Helmet Strap
1 Head Strap
2 Curved Surface Adhesive Mounts
2 Flat Surface Adhesive Mounts
1 Three-Way Pivot Arm
Assorted Mounting Hardware

Recommended Additional Accessories:
GoPro LCD BacPac
GoPro Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
16GB SD Memory Card (Class 10)
32GB SD Memory Card (Class 10)
Joby Gorillapod Hybrid
GoPro Tripod Mount
Camera Bag

Key Info:
Manufacturer: GoPro
Dimensions: 2.3 x 1.75 x 1.25 inches
Weight: 4.9 ounces
Megapixels: 11″
Vertical Resolution: 1080p / 960p / 720p / 720p / WVGA
Frames Per Second: 30 fps. / 48 fps. / 60 fps. / 120 fps.
Zoom: Fixed
Power Source: Rechargeable lithium ion
Memory Storage: SD memory card
OS Compatibility: Windows / Mac

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