If your an action sports enthusiast you will have probably already seen or heard of the small action camera’s designed for capturing those extreme adventures you crave for at the weekends or on holiday. Just recently a spate of high end reasonably priced full 1080p HD action cams have appeared from seemingly no where, and now you can’t turn on the TV or read a magazine without seeing an advertisement or review of another new action cam.
I’m an avid mountain biker in my spare time and i love to travel the UK seeking the best single track and all mountain / cross country trails. For this reason i decided to invest in a GoPro HD Helmet Hero. I did quite a lot of research before deciding on the GoPro, in my opinion the GoPro offers the best video quality when compared side by side with the Contour HD, Drift HD 170 and ATC 9k. There is a good video comparison below.
Out of the box the GoPro comes bundled with a variety of mounts including a vented helmet strap, and headband style strap, 2 curved adhesive mounts (for role cage or cross bar), 2 flat adhesive mounts (for dashboard or any flat surface) and a 3-way pivot arm (designed primarily to hang of the side of a helmet or perhaps mount to a vehicle). Connectivity is also well covered, the package includes a USB cable for connecting to your PC / Mac, a Component and a Composite cable for your HDTV/TV. Sadly no HDMI interface is available.
The default video resolution is set at 960p (1280×960 – 4:3 @ 30fps), this gives the ‘most vertical viewing area’. The field of view in the default setting is an impressive 170°. Personally i prefer the full 1080p (1920×1080 – 16:9 @ 30fps) wide-screen setting for my action shots, as it plays back so much better in it’s native format on my home cinema. The video format uses H.264 compression and is saved in a Windows / Mac friendly MPEG4 (.mp4) format.
Depending on the video resolution you choose you will be able to record anywhere up to ~8hrs worth of video (*at the lowest resolution, 848×480 – 16:9 @ 60 fps) on a 32GB SDHC memory card, that is assuming you take up to three spare batteries with you as you will only get on average ~2 / 2.5hrs of operation from a fully charged battery. Charging takes up to an hour and uses a standard USB mains adapter (not included) similar to that of an iPod.
Operation is relatively easy with only two buttons and a status LCD display. The power / mode button found on the front of the camera next to the lens powers on the device and switches between the four different modes (explained below). The shutter / select button starts the video/photo capture and confirms the input selection when modifying the device settings. The LCD is basic and quite small, but then again it has to be as the camera is only 1.6” x 2.4” x 1.2” (H x W x D). There is also an LED light which indicates when the device is filming, and whether it’s taking video or stills (accompanied by a beeping sound if desired).
The HERO has four modes of operation, they are:
Photo Mode – conventional digital camera option shooting 5 megapixel photos, alternatively you can set the HERO to shoot photo’s every ‘X’ seconds.
Triple Shot Photo Mode – takes three consecutive photo’s over two seconds
Video Mode – continuous filming in the pre-defined video resolution until manually stopped or until available memory/battery power is depleted.
10 Second Timer Mode – set the timer, pose, smile and say cheese!
The HERO comes in a built for purpose watertight protective housing (waterproof to 60m) which makes it perfect for scuba diving and other watersports. GoPro have made a point in constructing a solid outer shell for for the HERO, it looks tough enough to take a few wipe outs regardless of surface, water, tarmac, mud or rock.
I’m very impressed with the GoPro HD Helmet HERO, it’s an outstanding piece of professional kit, well built and produces great quality video for a reasonable price. The sound quality is better than expected too, in that it doesn’t ‘whistle’ at high speed like so many other actions cams do. I believe the sound is a lot clearer when the optional windowed back door is used, obviously this is for land only adventures, otherwise it can be a bit muffled by the protective housing, picking up only the loudest most audible sounds.
– Superb Quality True High Definition Video
– Impressive Audio Recording Quality
– Durable, Waterproof Protective Housing
– Wide selection of mounts and cables included
– Easy to set-up and use
– Limited battery life
– That’s it!
Read more on the GoPro website.