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The GoPro HD Hero is nothing new. This tiny HD video camera launched at the end of 2009, but I only got mine at Christmas in 2010. What an amazing little gadget it is. The HD Hero comes with a whole bunch of accessories, takes great footage and pics and is perfect for action sport or just for playing around with.
Here are six reasons why I think it’s a great buy:
- Great value
- Underwater + mounting accessories
- Wide angle
- Tiny and tough
- My favourite feature
- You get creative
For the quality of the video and the pics that you get, it is really great value at around R3 100 in SA (GoPro CameraSA – I bought it online from them and it worked out great). There is a cheaper version called the HD Hero 960 which comes without the option of shooting at 60 frames per second and with lower resolution. The HD Hero 960 doesn’t have the slot at the back unlike the HD Hero which comes with the promise of shooting in 3D with 2 cameras in the future. The slot also allows you to add a screen at the back, which has recently been made available.
The HD Hero comes with an underwater housing and lots of mounting options, which makes it extremely versatile for getting Point of View (POV) footage in the water or in conditions where sand and moisture would ruin the camera.
The HD Hero comes in various confusing bundles. All the bundles include the same camera (except the HD Hero 960) and underwater housing, but are sold with different mounting options. I got the HD Helmet Hero and then bought the surfboard and handlebar attachment. Together with cable-ties you can attach it to more or less any part of your sporting equipment. I have even put it up on the lines of my kite for kite-surfing.
The camera has an extremely wide angle (170 degrees on resolutions up to 960p), which absorbs a lot of the normal hand-held camera shake. This wide angle creates an extremely interesting perspective and allows shots up really close. A 5 year old visiting our house held the camera up to her face while being carried in a luggage bag during an elaborate game of “Going on holiday”.
The camera is really small (about the size of 2 match boxes) and lightweight too. It reminds me of a spy-camera in a 70’s Bond movie. It’s tough too. I mounted the camera on the back of a snow-board and it survived just fine after breaking off and getting buried in the snow.
Although you buy the camera for the video functionality, my favourite feature at the moment is the camera. The HD Hero has a function which allows you to shoot continuously with a delay of 2/5/10/30/60sec until the card is full. You end up forgetting the camera is even there, which results in a whole bunch of candid pics to choose from. I made a great time-lapse of us packing up and moving our office.
The footage comes out really well without much skill which gets you thinking about interesting stuff to attach the camera to. There are videos taken from the point of view of an ice-hockey puck, videos of a great white shark taken from a camera mounted to a Stand-up Paddleboard paddle and much more. I got inspired to build a steadicam after watching this tutorial on how to build one yourself.
Check out other HD Hero videos online. The showcase on the GoPro homepage is really nicely done.