A Look at the GoPro Hero 2 HD Camera
The GoPro Hero 2 camera is a versatile camera that is capable of shooting HD video in a small form factor. Perfect for capturing intense action, sports footage or for tricky stunts when you don’t want to risk damaging your high-end camera rig.
This wearable camera includes some rigging options, but there are plenty other third party options you can employ. Key points include ultra-wide 170 degree video at 1080p, 11 megapixel stills, time-lapse and burst shooting at 10fps. Slow down action by 4X with its 120fps mode at 848×480 pixels.
HDMI and external microphone ports add to the camera’s flexibility, but probably the most intriguing addition over the previous two models is the Wi-Fi BacPac accessory back. Along with the Wi-Fi remote, you can now control up to 50 HD Hero 2 cameras via a smartphone. You can even view their feeds on a smartphone or tablet screen.
Durability is a given, not surprising for a camera that came to fame for its use by skateboarders, skiers, and extreme sports enthusiasts. The sealed housing can submerge to a depth of 60 meters, so using it while scuba diving and snorkeling is also an option.
The camera offers up a minimal interface with only two buttons: a mode button on the front and a shutter button on the top. The camera powers-up via a prolonged press of the mode button; that same button allows you to scroll through the various shooting modes and options.
Like its predecessor, the HD Hero 2 is fully automatic for exposures. Reports say it’s much better in handling quick changes in lighting conditions, not lagging as in the previous models.
The HD Hero 2 shoots 1080p with a 170 degree field; it also offers two narrower field of views at 1080p: 127 or 90 degrees, although these seem to have increased noise. 1080p footage, meanwhile, is captured at 30fps and encoded with H.264 into an MP4 file. Other configurations include 960p (4:3) at 30 or 48fps, 720p at 30 or 60fps, or WVGA (848×480) at 60 or, as mentioned earlier, at 120fps.
The camera features a time-lapse mode. Images can be taken every .5, 1, 2, 10, 30 or 60 seconds. You can then stitch them together in QuickTime Pro or an NLE.
There’s no option to see what you’re shooting with the standard camera, but an optional LCD BacPac accessory bolts to the back. You can also set up a 3D system by using a housing that fits two of the cameras side by side. Granted this isn’t a system that allows the requisite control of a standard pro setup, but it can still be useful in its way to explore 3D in an action setting.
For those planning to do 3D shooting, you will want to download the free GoPro CineForm Studio Software which takes footage captured with the 3D HERO system and converts it into viewable 3D files. It then allows you to export the files and watch them on your computer or 3D TV, as well as 3D capable websites like YouTube.
Another nice thing the free vesion of GoPro Cineform Studio allows you to do is stitch together a timelapse instead of (or in addition to) using Quicktime Pro and an NLE.
We’ll take a closer look at the GoPro camera when the new Protune firmware upgrade ships sometime this Fall. Developed in partnership with Technicolor and announced at NAB 2012, the effort will embed Technicolor’s flat CineStyle color profile into the Hero 2. Key features will include 24fps frame rate, 35Mbps data rate, neutral color profile, log curve encoding for more detail in shadows and highlights, and reduced sharpening and noise reduction.
A great thing about the Protune app is that it will be absolutely free. When it ships, the GoPro Hero 2 will become one of the best $300 action capture solutions available. Check out GoPro’s Tim Bucklin discussing Protune in this video we created at NAB 2012.