An Affordable, Rugged, Compact, Versatile HD Camcorder

Here at NAB2010, there is a hot, and I do mean hot product that is selling like crazy. Meet the HERO HD camera from GoPro. This tiny powerhouse has got capabilities at a price we could only have dreamed of a few years ago. They tell me their goal is to provide pro quality video at consumer prices. I think they’ve succeeded. It’s offered in different packaged configurations but for this article, we will refer to the HD Motorsports HERO package.

For starters, it’s a full 1080P HD camera that records in MPEG4 in the H.264 variant at a 15 mbs data rate. This format is pretty well supported and needs no special software to read the clips. GoPro packs a lot of extras in the box which is nice. How many times do we buy a camera and then have to spend a lot more money just to get it where we can actually use it. Not so here. For about $300 retail, you get the whole enchilada.

Here’s a quick run down of the impressive specs for this thing.

  • Multiple resolutions, including 640VGA, 720P30, 720P60, 960P30, and 1080P30.
  • A still frame mode of 5 megapixels with automatic photo mode for capturing high resolution time lapses.
  • Stereo Audio recording built in.
  • Includes a water proof, shock proof  housing rated to a depth of 180 feet.
  • Includes a suction cup mount, 2 Curved Adhesive Mounts, 3 Flat Adhesive Mounts, a 3 Way Pivot Arm, and cables.
  • Can accept up to a 32GB SD card offering more than 4 hours of recording at 1080P and over 8 hours at 720P.

GoPro also offers additional mounting accessories for surf boards, handlebars, etc. So, pretty much any place you can think of placing this camera, they have a mount for it. Speaking of mounting, it  literally takes minutes to mount the thing and with a total weight of around 6 ounces, your options seem endless. You can also see from the photo that they have 3D applications in mind. GoPro is showing videos in their booth that are truly amazing for a camera at this price. You can view some of these demos on their website to see for yourself. We truly live in exciting times when it comes to image acquisition.

The camera is recharged via wall-adapter or, by usb with the included transfer cable. As of  this writing, there is no live video coming out of the camera head, so it’s pretty much a best guess effort for framing. You place it, start it, and hope for the best.  However, with the fairly wide lens they’re using, it’s highly likely that you’ll record whatever you’re aiming at. The good news is, a firmware update is due out fairly soon that is supposed to add live video out for remote monitoring, framing, etc.

Having ordered one for myself, I’m already imagining several great POV shots I’ll be able to get. I hope to post a follow-up to this article after some hands-on use.  And, special thanks to Justin Wilkenfeld of GoPro for taking the time to speak with DVI while their booth was literally swamped with people who must have also heard about this little wonder.

For more information, go to http://www.gopro.com.

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About The Author

Greg Boston

Greg Boston has been a contributing member and moderator of DV Info Net since 2003. His technical background gives him insight as to how audio and visual equipment functions from the inside out. He has been doing event and training video full time since leaving the semiconductor industry in 2005. Before entering the semiconductor industry, Greg was an on-air disc jockey and voice talent. He has completed courses in broadcast journalism and writing commercial copy. He then earned an Associates Degree in Electronics Technology to further his broadcast career as an engineer. He passed his FCC First Class Radiotelephone exam and also held a General Class amateur radio license. He is passionate about audio and video as it relates to documenting life and events during our lifetime… a passion that continues to this day.

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