- Product Review
- Fisheye Problem/Solution
- Technical Details
I had been going back and forth for a while now trying to decide on whether or not to buy one of these puppies. You’re probably wondering what I’ve decided. Read on to find out…
First, let me say that I am very impressed at the quality of footage that comes out of this camera. Shouldn’t be a surprise, since it’s an HD camera shooting at full 1080p.
I am also very impressed with the audio – especially after reading so many horrible reviews about the microphone. Would I use the HERO’s microphone to capture sound on a wedding shoot…or for a film? No way…it’s not THAT great. But it’s definitely usable audio when capturing the kind of things that this camera is designed for…like snowboarding and dashboard car chases.
I was a little disappointed when with the fisheye look. If you didn’t already know it, the camera includes a fish-eye lens for super wide-angle shots. We noticed this much more when we shot at 720p, which is to be expected. If you check out Kyle’s videos on the YouTube channels that I linked to above, the fish-eye is not as noticeable. I will be updating this post soon and adding a couple videos shot at 720, so you can see what I’m talking about.
As for a solution for the fish-eye problem, I have found three:
1. Apply an optics compensation effect in After Effects. This seems to work well.
2. Open your video in Photoshop and apply a lens correction filter. As far as my experiments went, this worked much better, but is more time consuming when it comes to rendering your video.
3. Purchase a separate flat lens for your GoPro HERO2. The brand I have found is by Mako (click to visit their site). The cost is only a little over $20, and it includes the housing and is very easy to change the lens. I have not tried this lens out, but have read great reviews and there are some YouTube videos that you can check out for results.
My next post, which should be out tomorrow, will be a detailed tutorial on how to correct the fisheye look in both Photoshop and After Effects.
So will I buy a GoPro HERO2? Absolutely! I find the benefits of this great camera to far outweigh the negative aspects, in my opinion. I hope to order mine soon. If you want to order one too, check it out on amazon.com. *Note that this is the link to the motorsports edition of the camera. For direct links to other editions, see bottom of post.
I have seen lots of questions on forums as to what the differences are from edition to edition. The only difference is the mounting hardware provided. If you just want the camera itself, order the naked edition. Then, you can pick and choose your mounting hardware, though I find it much more convenient – and cheaper – to buy a package and then order additional mounts, if needed. Let’s take a look at the different editions and see what is included:
*Note that ALL editions except the Naked come with a battery, USB cord, the waterproof housing, and a backdoor for the housing for use when waterproofing is not a necessity.
This is the Camera only. As far as I’ve seen, this is only available as the original GoPro HERO HD. The HERO2 is not available naked. If I am mistaken, or if this changes, please leave a comment below! Shoots at 1080p, 720p, SD, and in 30fps or 60fps (60fps is great for slow-motion – see our tutorials section for a slow-motion tutorial).
Basically, this is the scaled-down version of the HERO Original, that is more cost-friendly. The 960, as you may have guessed, only shoots at up to 960p, instead of the full 1080p, but you can also shoot at 720p. The camera shoots at 30fps – there is no option for 60 frames, as with the other cameras. Included are the waterproof housing, helmet mount, head strap, and adhesive mounts.
HERO 2 – Motorsports Edition:
The Motorsports edition comes with the HERO2. See below for details on the Hero 2. This edition comes with the waterproof housing, suction cup mount, 3-way pivot arm, 2 curved adhesive mounts, 3 flat adhesive mounts, and a j-hook buckle. Also includes the grab bag of mounts (basically, replacement parts for mounts).
HERO2 – Outdoor Edition:
The Outdoor edition also comes with the HERO2. Accessories included are the waterproof housing, 1 vented helmet strap, a 3-way pivot arm, 1 head strap and 2 each of the curved and flat adhesive mounts.
HERO2 – Surf Edition:
The Surf edition also comes with the Hero 2. Accessories included are the waterproof housing, 2 surf board mounts, 1 floaty backdoor (in case you loose your camera, it will float), 1 FCS compatible camera mount and assorted mounting hardware.
Handlebar seatpost mount, rollbar mount, chestmount, surf hero expansion (in case you don’t have the surf edition), helmet front mount, NVG mount, tripod mount, wrist mount, and the “grab bag of mounts” (from what I gather, this is a bunch of spare parts and such). Check out all of the available mounts here.
Except for the 960, the HEROs shoot at full 1080p. This is full HD. If you are into slow motion, you’ll enjoy the ability of these cameras to shoot at 60fps, if you choose (see our tutorial section), though you can only shoot as large as 720p with this option. This is still HD and plenty large for most applications…unless you are shooting for a LARGE screen! The HERO2 also allows you to select your field of view between wide and narrow – a feature not available on the original or 960.
In addition to HD video, the GoPros are also able to take some pretty nice still photos. The HERO Original and the HERO 960 both shoot at 5MP and can shoot continuous (bursts) at a speed of up to 3 frames in 2 seconds. They capture a wide field of view of about 170°.
The HERO2 is a significant increase, capturing in 11MP, 8MP or 5MP and you can choose between a wild field of view (170°) or a medium field of view (127°). This camera can shoot bursts of photos of up to 10 photos per second – way higher than the original!
Finally, all three HEROs will also take time lapse photos every 0.5 (HERO2 only), 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60 seconds and include a self timer.
The camera comes installed with a wide-angle “fisheye” lens. Great for getting the entire shot and almost necessary when shooting blind, because you need to cover a wide range. This can cause some issues with the fisheye look in the final product. You might not mind this, and in some situations this is desired, but if you would like to correct this, see my next post!
You can purchase a flat lens from a company called Mako for about $20. Also, if you break your lens, NO PROBLEM! You can purchase a replacement kit directly from GoPro for only about $20. The kit includes 2 lenses, seals and screws and is very easy to replace on your own.
The original HERO and the HERO 960 use a 3-code system for navigating the menus. The codes are printed on the back of the camera for you, so you don’t lose them, but – nevertheless – I found this system rather confusing. The HERO2 has upgraded to a language-based system, where all you have to do is read the screen. This is much easier to use and is more similar to menus that you will be used to from DSLRs and camcorders.
The original HEROs include the composite, component, USB, SD, and HERO Ports. The HERO2 has removed the component port, but added in a mini HDMI port as well as a 3.5mm stereo mic input. I am very excited about the external mic option for venues where I’ll be shooting on a tripod. This may not be too handy for POV shooting though.
It is worth mentioning that the HERO Original and the HERO2 can both be controlled by remote control. The coolest thing, though, is that the HERO2 can be controlled directly from your Smartphone with the GoPro app installed! I can’t wait to try this out! Note that the HERO 960 is NOT compatible with a remote though.
This camera is waterproof. A lot of people are confusing this feature for a full-blown underwater camera. This is not the case. You can use the camera underwater and I’ve seen some pretty great results online. Just remember, there may be better solutions if you are looking for cameras to specifically film underwater. The housing is great for surfing, mudding, and other activities where the camera may get wet.
The housing only protects down to 197 feet (60m) – probably deeper than most of us will be shooting, but still handy to know!
Finally, I have read reviews that the included housing tends to fog up and/or become blurry under water. Again, this camera is not specifically designed for underwater shooting. However, there is a company that makes a glass lens housing that is supposed to be great at fixing this problem.
The product is made by Backscatter and is called the Custom GoPro Underwater Housing. It comes with a mount for filters which can be quickly changed on-the-go; even while under water! At the time of this publication, the base price for the housing is $119, but you have the option to purchase it with a GoPro and you can add a few accessories if you like.
If you want to go a little cheaper, there is another underwater housing, available on Amazon, called BlurFix. This is currently going for $74.99.
Keep these 2 factors in mind about BOTH of these underwater housings: First, both are flat lenses. Apparently, the fisheye lens shape has something to do with the underwater blurriness. Second, both reduce the rated depth slightly. The Backscatter housing is tested to 180 ft, and the BlurFix to 130 ft.
The last thing that I want to mention is that the HEROs do not have a monitor for viewing video. This is because they are designed to be POV (point of view) cameras where no one would be viewing the footage as you go, though. The good news is that now you can purchase an attachable monitor designed specifically for the GoPro HEROs.
Called the GoPro LCD BacPac, this monitor will attach and detach directly to and from your HERO2 or the original HERO. It will even fit right into the housing that is included with your camera. They do state that if you own an original HERO, you may need a firmware upgrade before using your monitor. Don’t worry, you can download and install the new firmware yourself by clicking here to go to GoPros website. Just follow their instructions.
That’s all I have for this post! The next post is due out tomorrow and will be out first tutorial post! Hope you enjoyed!
Click here to check out all of the GoPro HERO cameras on Amazon.com.