Tools of the Trade – NEW HD GoPro Hero (Part 1 of 3)

Video of Jon Field, driver of the #37 Lenco Mobile Intersport Racing Lola B09 86 Mazda, during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16, 2010 in Long Beach, California. Shot with GoPro HD Hero:

The folks at GoPro, the world leaders in wearable digital cameras for sports, were nice enough to send me a GoPro HD Hero unit to test out. If you haven’t seen these already, they fit in the palm of your hand and make sick HD videos and still images in water, land or air. They are so small, light and inconspicuous you actually forget you’re wearing them, and set-up takes minutes and couldn’t be easier. Rick Loughery, the Director of Communications at GoPro, hooked me up with the accessories for HD Surf Hero, Helmet Hero, and Motorsports Hero which made the camera usable to mount on a surfboard, a motorcycle or helmet and car respectively. 

In this first set-up with the racecar, I hooked up with the Intersport Racing Team with the help of Rick Dole and John Thawley, photographers who follow the American LeMans Series. After touching base with Crew Chief Brian Alder and Driver Jon Fields, we attached the GoPro HD Hero Camera next to the right rear view mirror on the #37 car in their paddock area. I used the suction cup mount that came with my kit as well as a safety cable looped through the camera housing to an adhesive mount just in case the suction came loose. It was the final practice before qualifying, so the crew was trying to get their lap times down and I wanted to have the camera as unobstrusive of a area as possible. 

I first set the camera on intervelometer camera mode shooting a frame every two seconds. The files were sharp and the 170 degree wide angle is very nice, and overall I was happy with the images. My only complaints are I wish the file size was a little larger (5 megapixels), there is a bit of graininess and noise if you’re shooting in lower light, and you can’t slow down the shutter speed. But in the right lighting situations, the files are razor and can be blown up a little in photoshop without falling apart. At the second pit stop I switched the camera to video mode, and I was truly impressed with the camera’s ability to properly exposure automatically with changing lighting situations of extreme backlit to front lit. There are multiple options in video mode from 1080p at 30fps to a very cool slow motion mode. Because the cars were going a top speed between 175-190 mph on the straights, I opted with the closed waterproof back on the housing to cut some of the wind noise. The audio was good, but there were still some pops and camera shake noise that came into play. At the end if the day, the results were pretty amazing in relation to how quick and easy the setup of this camera is as well as it’s cost.  If you do video or have any plans to do action sports video, you need this camera in your bag. If you’re just doing photos I still highly recommend this unit as it’s a great way to supplement your coverage of an event with odd and exciting angles that you couldn’t get with a normal sized SLR.  You can purchase the cameras and different mounts at very affordable packages and I have placed a direct link to there webpage on the right side of my blog. In addition to being able to shop on the GoPro website, there are great photo and video galleries on there too showcasing what this camera is capable of. In the coming weeks I’m going to try it out on a surfboard and motorbike and I will post those as they become available. Below are more photos shot during the LeMans session with the GoPro HD Hero in stills mode as well as the camera’s specs…enjoy!

Jon Field, driver of the #37 Lenco Mobile Intersport Racing Lola B09 86 Mazda, drives in practice for the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16, 2010 in Long Beach, California. Shot with the new GoPro HD Hero mounted with the car suction mount and safety line to adhesive mount. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

 

Danica Patrick of the USA, driver of the 7 Andretti Autosport Team GoDaddy.com Dallara Honda, drives during the IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 18, 2010 in Long Beach, California.  Shot from a building with a GoPro HD Hero mounted on a pole (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)


Tony Kanaan of Brazil, driver of the #11 Andretti Autosport Team 7-Eleven Dallara Honda, pits his car during the IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 18, 2010 in Long Beach, California.  Shot in pit-lane with a GoPro HD Hero mounted on a pole (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)


Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Team Penske Dallara Honda, looks on from his car during practice for the IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16, 2010 in Long Beach, California. Shot with a GoPro HD Hero (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)


A detail shot of the GoPro HD Hero mounted on the body panel of Jon Field’s the #37 Lenco Mobile Intersport Racing Lola B09 86 Mazda. 


Even with the camera attached, Fields managed to turn in the fastest laps of the practice.


Wider Shot of placement of  camera…


Here are the specs on the GoPro HD Hero:

Camera Optics

  • Lens Type: Fixed Focus (2ft/.6m – ∞), glass
  • Aperture: f/2.8 (high performance in low-light situations)
  • Angle of View: 170º ultra wide angle in WVGA, 720p, or 960p mode
  • Angle of View: 127º wide angle in 1080p mode

Video

  • HD Video Resolution Modes: (subject to change, pending final firmware release)
    • 1080p = 1920×1080 pixels (16:9), 30 fps, 15 Mbit/s data rate
    • 960p = 1280×960 pixels (4:3), 30 fps, 12 Mbit/s data rate
    • 720p = 1280×720 pixels (16:9), 60 fps, 15 Mbit/s data rate
    • 720p = 1280×720 pixels (16:9), 30 fps, 8 Mbit/s data rate
    • WVGA = 848×480 pixels (16:9), 60 fps, 8 Mbit/s data rate
  • Sensor Type: 1/2.5″ HD CMOS, 2.2µm-sized pixels
  • Light Sensitivity: Super low-light sensitivity (>1.4 V/lux-sec)
  • Video Format: H.264 compression, saved as Windows- & Mac-compatible MPEG4 (.mp4) file
  • Exposure Control: Auto with user selectable center weighted average and spot metering settings
  • White Balance: Auto

Audio

  • Microphone: Built-in, mono with AGC (automatic gain control)
  • Audio Format: 48 kHz, AAC audio compression

Photo

  • Resolution: 5 megapixel
  • Capture Modes: Single shot, photo every 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 secs.; 3 photo burst; self-timer

Storage

  • Memory: SD card, up to 32GB capacity (SDHC)
  • Average recording times (using 32GB SD card):
    • 1080p (30 fps): 4h 21m
    • 960p (30 fps): 5h 26m
    • 720p (60 fps): 4h 21
    • 720p (30 fps): 8h 09m
    • WVGA (60 fps): 8h 09m

Camera Connectors & Cables

  • PC Connection: USB 2.0 (data connection and battery charging)
  • HDTV Out: HD NTSC & PAL (component cable incl.)
  • Audio Out: Combo 2.5mm jack with stereo audio and composite video out
  • PC Compatibility: Windows® XP (Service Pack 2 or later) or Vista; Mac OS® X 10.4.11 and later

Power & Battery

  • Battery Type: Rechargeable 1100 mAh lithium-ion
  • Battery Life: Approx. 2.5 hrs
  • Charging: via USB to computer or optional power adapter
  • Charge Time: 80% capacity after 1 hour with optional power adapter; or 2 hours with a computer’s USB port

Waterproof Camera Housing

  • Depth Rating: Up to 180 feet / 60 meters
  • Construction: Polycarbonate and stainless steel
  • Hardware: Stainless steel

Size & Weight

  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 1.6” x 2.4” x 1.2” (42mm x 60mm x 30mm)
  • Weight: 3.3oz (94g) incl. battery, 5.9oz (167g) incl. housing

Optional Accessories

  • Additional Rechargable 1100 mAh Lithium-Ion Battery (not yet available for pre-order)
  • Full Line of Mounting Accessories

Optional Expansion Bakpacs™

An innovative expansion port on the back of the camera, the HERO Bus™ accepts optional Expansion Bakpacs to expand the functionality of HD HERO cameras:

  • LCD Bakpac for on-camera preview and playback (not yet available for pre-order)
  • Endurance Battery Bakpac for double battery life (not yet available for pre-order)
  • More Bakpacs and expansion devices coming soon
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Comments

  1. Really cool technique Donald! So want one of these.

    Thanks for sharing. =)

  2. Bill Coleman says:

    So did the suction cup pop off? And were you or they – shall we say – apprehensive that it would?

    And I agree with Simon. Way cool!

    • No, the suction did not budge. GoPro rates them for approx. 220mph and the ALMS cars go about 180-190mph on the back straight of the road course, so we were well under the top speed. But just to be safe I attached another safety line to a 2nd adhesive anchor, that would only come off with a pair of plyers. That gave me and the team a little more peace of mind on my first run…

  3. Hi there have trouble setting my HD Gopro to shoot just video at setting r5 when I do this it keeps shooting p2….any ideas, many thanks TQ

  4. Have you done any tests on a surfboard or motorcycle?
    Have you any shots taken underwater?
    looks really interesting

    • I’ve done it on my surfboard and paddleboard (just shots of myself) and underwater for video of my sons…it’s great for funs pics and video of the family for sure.

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