Some of you may recall that I wrote about the GoPro Hero HD camera a couple years ago. Despite the low cost of the basic camera, it produces amazing images with enough quality to be utilized in many professional broadcast and production applications.
Fast forward a couple years and it’s clear that GoPro hasn’t been resting on their laurels. We now have the GoPro HD Hero2 with several improvements over the original. With a more powerful DSP under the hood, the HD Hero2 has even more capabilities that will be tapped into with a firmware update due out in late May.
The update will add a new shooting mode to the camera called Protune. Protune will unlock the full potential of the Hero2 HD camera with key features such as…
- 35Mbs data rate for reduced compression.
- Neutral color profile allowing more lattitude in post for color correction
- Log curve encoding to add more detail in shadows and highlights
- Reduced sharpening and noise reduction for more flexibilty in post
- 24fps in camera eliminating the need for framerate conversion
- Protune was developed in cooperation with, and is certified by Technicolor Cinestyle color science.
It is currently in beta testing and as stated, should be available in late May. And the best part is, the update will be a FREE download from gopro.com/update.
If you use even the free version of Cineform Studio software, it will detect content shot with Protune mode and will apply the proper curves to make naturally pleasing imagery. However, you can toggle over to manual correction and do your own post processing of white balance, exposure, contrast, saturation, and framing. Additional color presets are under development by Technicolor and will be made available at no charge. Essentially this gives you quick, one button image presets for your Protune mode content.
Several new accessories are available now… others, in the near future that answer end user feedback generated over the last few years.
Perhaps the most exciting is the wifi backpack that will allow remote live video monitoring and control from smartphones and tablets. There is also a remote control device that is slightly larger than your average key fob that allows complete control of the camera, even going so far as mirroring the HD Hero camera’s lcd with an identical lcd on the remote. You can power the camera on or off (the wifi backpack stays on though so it can receive commands), start/stop, cycle through resolution and shooting modes, etc., just as you would on the camera itself.So, what if you happen to own a slew of GoPro cameras and want to trigger them all at the same time? Well, you’re in luck because the remote will be able to trigger up to 50 cameras at once using one to many mode.
You’ll be able to buy a combo kit, with backpack and remote for $99.99 or backpack only version for $59.99. The latter will use your smartphone or tablet as the remote control.
GoPro says the wifi backpack will eventually be able to act as a stand alone, live to web streaming device. Availability of that feature doesn’t have a firm date as of this writing.To address a shortcoming in the original HD Hero when used for underwater shooting, GoPro is going to offer a new Dive Housing for $49.99 that will incorporate a larger, flat lens. This lens is designed to eliminate the loss of sharpness while shooting under water that occurred with the original curved lens. The Dive Housing is expected to be available in early May.
With all this new hardware, software, and accessories, the GoPro HD Hero2 platform is much improved and will certainly appeal to many professionals, despite having a $299.00 price tag that’s well within reach of most consumers.