* Prices may differ from that shown
It's hard not to be swayed by Gopro's enticing advertisements..
Sure the people in the videos surf daily, have all the gear sold separately and have a massive ramp at the end of their garden which leads to a canal where they water-ski off the back of their friends speedboat, 24/7, 365 days of the year... ahhh where was I... BUT us normals can utilize these teensy weensy little cameras too, right??
I can imagine a lot of people would view these cameras as a niche product for a specific audience and occasion - I'm one of those people, yet I still ended up with one of these things... go figure... Still, I have an excuse of being somewhat in need as my job often requires various excursions into the woods and such to film various vehicles. Outside of the workplace, I'll admit to not putting this to much use (until recently). It has been plunked onto my dash in my car for filming a night drive home with all the lights of Guildford shimmering away (despite my shoddy camera placement). It's filmed unwitting family members play 'Just Dance' on the WIi and dance away like no ones watching, inside a Christmas tree. It's been strapped to the back of my Staffy's harness as he gets let loose over a massive common, encountering mass foliage, monstrous puddles and of course, other curious canines.
This little beast requires a decent SD card to be of any use (to be capable of handling a high frame rate) so a mark 10 card is recommended - the more the storage the better really (I stick with 32gb). There's a tiny screen about 2cm in height, 1.5cm in width, for you to get a vague image as to what the machine thinks you are trying to ascertain:
A chunky old school looking video camera/picnic table - video
an SLR camera - photos
many frames - continuous shots
SLR and clock- Time lapse
Timer - ...no idea...
spanner - options.
Video capability - VGA, 720, 960, 1080 - both at varying frame rate, the higher the quality, the more space taken and strain on SD card.
Video format - medium, wide, narrow.
Megapixels - 5,8 or 11.
Timer settings - length of intervals
Change of direction - rotation
LCD - turn off the annoying flashing red light.
There's a lot of useless stuff here but here's the basics: You get to turn off even more frustrating features like the beeps when taking shots, PAL vs. NTSC, LED brightness, Auto shutdown and..... a calendar.... for really anal people who MUST know the exact date and time a photo/video was taken - surely if you've got one of these carefree cameras...never mind.
On the outside the Gopro hero 2 has an audio jack for headphones and one for a mic, plus the standard micro USB and even a HDMI port. An external microphone... on the bottom of all places... The outdoor version comes with various mounts (lumps of plastic with quickly degrading sticky pads) 2 plastic waterproof cages (one for when you inevitable give in and buy the wireless add on), a head-mount that makes you look a bit of a gimp/voyeur. Luckily when I'm working with these things, I've got a handful of grease monkeys who can easily apply an adhesive to the one use pads, as well as remove them from a surface if it really sticks..I left it on the vehicle on the drive home! I've tested the effectiveness of the cage by placing it in a wheel-arch of a prototype, whilst it plows through several massive puddles on pot holes. The resulting splash, may look cool on video but every now and then, the water doesn't bead off as it probably should. Battery could last longer - usually squeezing out around 3 hours at full chat.
The Digital Product
The videos themselves are of good quality when you retrieve them. There is a limit as to how much they can record in segments - usually around the half hour mark - making a file size of roughly 1.5GB. The wide angle lens means you can get away with various re-scaling and stretching if you're into editing the footage - so if you accidentally shot in portrait as opposed to landscape (no doubt because of those BLOODY MOUNTS!) then fear not, there is enough realistic 'give' to maintain realistic film. Sound isn't great though, unless its stationary and indoors. Outdoors, everything is inaudible even with the cages, due to wind which seems to amplify as it seeps into every orifice of the device. MP4 format, safe for 1080 & 720, fairly compatible format.
My biggest gripe - it only has 2 buttons. One to scroll through the menu (one way) and no.2 for selecting/recording/shooting. It can be a laborious task to cycle through all the options until you find what you're looking for, although, it is all in there, as simplistic as it may be... Picture/Film quality, auto off, LCD choices, time lapse etc. No screen - you can view live video and photos via an iPhone app but... that would require a wireless back pack... an optional extra which increases the chunkosity of the device by about 5mm. In fact, ANY optional extra available is a negative for me when it comes to this thing, seems like they are extremely useful bits of equipment left out deliberately for another purchase.. crafty. Another issue I have is the mounts - they can be a bitch to properly get a decent angle and can build up if into an awkward stand of about 3 mounts if you struggle to get the view you want. It's also very frustrating that the mounts don't really offer a standard 'stuck on the bottom bit' option, it has to be some stupidly over the top, Pythagoras dimension of morose proportions, much like these adjectives.
Ok so there is some serious exaggeration going on as to what people actually do with their cameras but the point is you should be able to do whatever you want with them, as they are lightweight and durable, whilst offering an unbeatable quality for a fairly low costing bit of kit - so a great idea! Delivered scrupulously by a bastard company!
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