I’m not in the Red Bull upside-down aeroplane team, or the Pepsi mountain-cross skateboarding crew, but I do own a GoPro HD Hero 2. In case you’re not as connected to Gen-Y as me and you don’t know what a GoPro is, it’s a tiny camera which comes in a waterproof housing that can be strapped onto any number of sporting accessories (cars, surfboards, hang gliders, acrobatic planes, etc). It’s small and tough and films great wide angle HD movies or time lapse still images (up to 11MP at f/2.8) which can be stitched together to make obnoxious action movies.
Not surprisingly, I didn’t buy it to take on an action based adventure ride. I bought it to use as a still camera. The image above is one of 1400 taken on a short car ride with my family on a recent holiday in country New South Wales, Australia. I bolted the GoPro to the car’s windscreen wiper and set it to take one 11Mp image every 2 seconds. This image was one of the better ones, and after some cropping and contrast boost, it was exactly what I was after.
But the GoPro is also a good wide-angle street camera. Set it to time lapse, hold it at waist level and you can walk the streets taking hundreds of images. Deleting the 99% of bad ones afterwards is a bit of a chore, but occasionally you can catch something interesting.
If you don’t mind looking like a twat, another fun thing to do with the GoPro is to fit the optional tripod attachment and screw the camera onto the end of an extended monopod. Set it to time-lapse and hold it high in the air to capture a common scene from an unusual angle. A word of warning however – make sure you wipe any smudges off the lens first, or you’ll have a stack of photos with a blurry spot in a prominent position. Because it’s so small, it’s easy to get finger marks on the GoPro’s lens. I wonder how many extreme sports videos are ruined by a big fingerprint in the centre of the GoPro’s lens. You can see my smudge mark at the bottom left of this photo.
Here’s another image from the same day, cropped to a more conventional aspect ratio. Again, note the finger smudge on the far left.
Or take it to a shopping centre and hold to over the edge of a balcony for a helicopter view of the shoppers below (but don’t drop it).
Finally, the GoPro HD is just a great little camera to throw in the bag when you go out to shoot something else. In this case I packed my heavy DSLR and a long lens to photograph shorebirds, and when I had to take shelter from the rain in a derelict bunker, the GoPro snapped the image of the day.
By the way, you might have noticed the strange shutter speeds recorded in the metadata for these photos. I guess it wasn’t designed to be used in manual mode.
Thanks for stopping by.