Update: The GoPro HD 2 Hero has become cheaper as the new GoPro HD 3 was released.
However, the Hero HD is no longer available in GoPro store - perhaps they stopped manufacturing it.
I've been using the GoPro HD camera for about half a year now and I believe we've become pretty intimate during all this time. I know her and she knows me. We go together almost everywhere and we have a good time.
What you may wanna know is where to buy the cheapest GoPro HD. If you live in Europe you would be surprised to learn that it is cheaper to buy it directly from the GoPro store or from Amazon.
Basically when buying from European stores, the US price (in dollars) transforms in Euros plus some taxes, thus you end up paying more - at least that was the case when I was looking to buy mine (January 2010). It's gotten cheaper now as it's no longer a novelty.
The Size of the Camera
One of the coolest features of this action sports camera is it's size. Your fist is slightly larger than the plastic case which means that the camera itself is even smaller.
Being small and reasonably light you can mount it on a pole for bird's eye view footage - flying the camera above crowds or shooting a climber while bouldering. The lightness makes even more sense when you shoot video with a DIY glidecam for GoPro - holding a camera stabilizer in your hands for prolonged periods of time can be fatiguing so a light camera means a light rig.
My bike stunts video shot with HD Hero on DIY steadicam
If it's cold outside and you don't want to keep your camera exposed to freezing temps while not shooting then the size will prove to be again a desirable characteristic - stow it in your inner chest pocket and you'll forget it's there. Mounting the camera in awkward places like under your car (motor sport version), on the steering wheel, on your mountain bike's handlebar, on your helmet, etc. is possible because the thing is small.
Video Quality in GoPro HD
It does HD all right! While I love high video quality I'm not that fond of struggling with it when it comes to editing MP4 clips... This format in which the video comes out of the GoPro HD is not recognized by all video editors and that's why in most cases you need to convert your GoPro HD clips from MP4 to AVI.
Update: I currently edit my GoPro HD videos with Magix Edit Pro 17 Plus and I've written about the entire workflow (from shooting to editing) here: How To Edit GoPro. Magix works with MP4 files without having to convert them beforehand.
Video resolutions are as follows:
- r1 = WVGA (848/480 pixels) @ 60 fps
- r2 = 720p @ 30 fps
- r3 = 720p @ 60 fps
- r4 = 960p @ 30 fps
- r5 = 1080p @ 30 fps
- r3 offers the widest HD video (170º wide angle view) with ultra slow motion playback
- r4 (default resolution) offers tallest HD video (max overall view)
- r5 full HD resolution offers 25% narrower field of view (127º)
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTSSince most of my videos are made for YouTube or Vimeo I limit myself to shooting in r1 and r2 only. HD video editing requires too much computing power which my laptop is lacking.
The HD HERO camera is compatible with Microsoft® Me/2000/XP/VISTA or later, or Mac OS X 10.2 or later. The HD HERO camera can also be plugged into any standard definition or HDTV that has RCA or component (RGB) ports, allowing for high quality playback.
Windows System Requirements for Full HD 1080p and 720p 60 fps Playback:
• Microsoft Windows® XP (Service Pack 2 or later) or Vista
• 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 or faster
• Direct X 9.0c or later
• At least 1 GB of system RAM
• Video card with at least 256MB of RAM
Macintosh System Requirements for Full HD 1080p and 720p 60 fps Playback:
• Mac OS® X v10.4.11 or later
• 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo or faster
• At least 1 GB of system RAM
• Video card with at least 128MB of RAM
If you are having problems achieving smooth playback on your computer, the HD HERO camera can also plug directly into any standard definition or HDTV that has RCA or component (RGB) ports. The HD HERO camera itself provides very smooth playback directly on a TV and when using component (RGB) cables for HD playback, the quality matches that of playing back on a computer.
Source: GoPro HD PDF Instructions
In low light conditions you will get bad quality video so I suggest shooting mostly outdoors and in full daylight for a sharp image.
Bike video shot in 480p - GoPro HD
Battery Life I've had my disappointment with battery life in cold temperatures. And even when I kept the camera within my inner pockets. So if you don't wanna show a sad face while out in the deep powder snow make sure to carry an extra battery with you. I know I was a sad face when the camera only took a two second clip and then it shut down... You can save battery power by taking only the battery out during cold winter nights. While it's kinda hard to simply take it out of the camera, you can add a piece of tape on the battery and simply pull the loose end - watch the clip below. Other than that the battery life is about 2.5 hours which will let you fill about 4 GB on the memory card with 720p @30 fps footage. I normally turn the camera off when not shooting or when not taking stills - this also helps conserving battery life. Update: Now you can prolong the battery life with the GoPro battery BacPac which is an additional battery that you can attach to your camera. This doubles the time you can shoot video.
GoPro Mounts The HD Hero Helmet comes with a head strap, a vented helmet mount, a two piece arm, two quick release buckles, four power adhesive mounts (permanent bond) and a small orange rubber that helps dampening the shocks while the camera is in use. The motor sports version comes with a powerful suction cup and the surf version comes with a specific mount for the surf board. Other accessories include a chest harness, handle bar/seat-post mount (for bicycles), roll bar mount, tripod mount, etc. If you bought or wanna buy the Helmet Hero you can improvise mounts for your bike out of the helmet mount and the jointed arm and you can also improvise a tripod mount for your GoPro camera. Case and Waterproof Door The camera is supposed to be used at all times in its case. Buttons are watertight and the case is made of a transparent plastic that seems to endure any kind of weather abuse - especially with the waterproof door. I dropped it accidentally a few times and I got some small cracks in the black rim that embeds the lens... Let's hope this is not something serious...
Source: GoPro HD PDF Instructions
- Red LED on front of camera will turn on, indicating the battery is charging.
- Red LED will turn off once battery is charged.
- Battery will charge 80% in 2 hours when plugged into computer USB port. 100% charge after 4 hours total charging time.
- Battery will charge 80% in one hour when using a 1000mAh USB compatible wall or car charger. 100% charge after 2 hours total charging time.
If the guys from GoPro gave me a full refund for the camera I wouldn't take it. The cam is small, light and robust. The video quality is awesome and the possibility of shooting underwater so easily is a great treat. I wanna have it and shoot as much as I can!
It's not perfect but I'd say the overall qualities of this gadget outweigh its flaws.
Shoot your outdoor adventures!
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