GoPro HD Hero Review
article & images by Nick Salazar
Feb 13, 2012
So, there's good news and bad news about the controls on this camera. The good news is that, as is the theme throughout the camera, there's not a whole lot you'll need to mess with on a frequent basis. In fact, for the video samples in this review, I only used two modes - video capture and the time lapse still image capture. Going between those modes is actually very simple - it only requires pushing the front button on the camera repeatedly until the desired mode comes up. I used 720p video rather than 1080p in order to take advantage of the 60 frames per second - so I could use any bit of footage at either regular speed or slow motion.
But the initial camera setup can be a pain. Entering the setup menu, adjusting the plethora of detailed settings, and finally exiting the setup menu is a fairly time-intensive exercise, and requires a whole lot of button pushes. With the bare camera, the only readout you have is a three-character segmented LCD display on the front of the camera which is basically no help unless you have the manual ready to help decipher what the display is telling you. (Using the optional rear screen greatly improves the user-friendliness of the menu system - see below).
But to be fair, you have to remember that the camera is meant to be very minimal. The fact that you even have such fine control over things like the video resolution and time lapse intervals just makes the camera that much better, even if it is a bit unwieldy to use those controls. Basically, I'd rather have those controls than not have them. But once everything was set up, I almost never needed to enter the setup menu. Basically, it was all just point and shoot.
The beauty of the HD Hero is that its diminutive size makes it ideal for mounting in tight spaces, and GoPro has created a plethora of hardware solutions to make that possible. Moreover, there are now third-party solutions meant to improve on the stock mounts. From helmet straps to seatpost clamps, if you can think of a good place for a camera, it's likely that a special mount already exists to put it there. And when a special mount doesn't exist, you can use the very handy adhesive-backed mounts that GoPro makes to just stick the camera in place. Creativity is your friend in this department. A little ingenuity can go a long way to helping you get that perfect shot.
On the bike, I usually used a seatpost clamp to mount the camera to my aerobars, or laced the helmet strap through my saddle rails to get a rear-facing shot. There are plenty of other ways to get great shots on the go if you're willing to explore them. Otherwise, you can always just put the camera on the ground for a run-by shot, recruit an assistant to hold the camera underwater, etc. Again, the only limit is your imagination, which is half the fun of playing with this thing.
The other half of the fun, of course, is seeing the amazing video come out of the camera, which you saw on page one. The video was made entirely using the GoPro HD Hero. There is now a version 2 of the camera, which improves on the original in every way, offering faster framerates, more resolution options, and friendlier controls.
It's nothing short of a blast making video with this thing. Really, the footage that comes out is awesome, especially when you consider how tiny the camera is. If you're in the market, the HD Hero is a treat.