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Customer Review

260 of 282 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Updated review - great customer service, nice quality, November 1, 2011
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This review is from: GoPro Camera CHDOH-002 HD HERO2 Outdoor Edition (Camera)
Length:: 0:38 Mins

April 2012 - I've edited this review a few times, detailing the ups and downs of the Hero2. Turns out I had a defective unit. In my several contacts with the help in the forums never suggested this - it was not until I contacted customer service directly that this came up. I sent the camera in (the rep said they would "keep an eye out for it" - Yea, right! I thought) - I needed it back ASAP for a ski vacation is Steamboat. Well, it arrived back in my anxious hands 8 days later. They had it for less than three days - that's impressive. The fastest turn-around for Canon has been four weeks.

The movie accompanying this review was is a time lapse shot at One frame every five seconds, 1145 photos. I reduced them in size, then used Quicktime Pro to make the movie. The extreme color shift towards the end is the camera automatically switching settings when it grew darker out.

So I used it every day for a week, plus every few days since then (When not shooting skiing, I shoot a lot of time-lapse.) No issues, no problems - the quality is stunning. I think my earlier complaints concerning customer service were due to the rush accompanying the Hero2 introduction.

I still have complaints with the Scuba aspect of the camera, plus I can't even use it in our pond and produce usable results.

Underwater? The specs have an impressive "Waterproof to 197 feet." Except the thing can't actually shoot any usable underwater footage. How many snorkelers and SCUBA divers have purchased this thing, only to find out that EVERY video and photo are totally out of focus? The curved lens cover acts with the water to create a second lens - this shifts everything out of focus by about five feet! Since the camera has no manual focus, you're stuck. So all your underwater photos and videos will be nothing but blurs. Doubt that? Just check Youtube. Gopro will be offering an optional housing with a flat port to correct this problem - and will charge another $75 or so for it! So you'll be paying extra for a feature they brag is included - underwater use. Of course you can shell out $55-$100 for 2nd party modified housings or replacement lenses. I have been taken to task for criticizing the "SCUBA" aspects, as Gopro never specifically mentions SCUBA. They do, however, actively market the cameras to SCUBA stores. I have personally spoken to employees of several SCUBA stores selling the Hero cameras. Only one was aware of the focus issue! So, yes, the housing can be used underwater, but not actually *work* underwater. Check the various SCUBA store websites - many sell the Hero line - none mention the focus issue.

The 120fps is amazing. The video quality is much improved over the Hero - I looked at the same footage from both cameras - the Hero2 is obviously better. The time lapse? Fool proof. In warm weather, I can shoot around 6000 photos on a single battery. I use Quicktime Pro to create the final movie, as it has a one-step time lapse feature.

Previous review

If you've used the original Hero, this updated version will be a real treat. The menu is so much easier to navigate - no more obtuse codes to decipher. You can use the camera without ever looking at the user manual. Other improvements include LED's on top and bottom (as well as the front,) a more informative display, higher resolution for still images - this of course includes time lapse, and a 10 photo burst mode (the camera takes a few moments to store these out.)

If you're new to the Hero line, this beats the pants of any competitor. The vast array of mounting options, both from GoPro and third party vendors make mounting this puppy anywhere a breeze. The fact that it uses SD cards (class 4 or above) keeps the cost down. and the tons of options make this a no-brainer. There's a Streaming video back being released shortly - yes - streaming video! You can add extra power using the USP port and any generic power supply (Aluratek, Belkin, or Tekkeon) for those really long shoots. The affordable replacement housing and parts are another big plus. I've seen this thing survive being tossed from a go-cart doing 50mph (It needed a new housing, but the camera was undamaged) and being knocked off a ski-helmet and tumbling down a rocky mountain face.

The slo-mo and new super-slo-mo are really cool - watch those trick jumps and stunts in all their glory. You can always speed them up in most video editing software! When I first saw this unit online I thought it looked a little strange and was larger than it actually way. Once I actually held one in my hands, I was shocked by it's tiny size, negligible weight and variety or mounting options.

For the most bang-for the buck, the motorsports version is your best deal - you can purchase the vented helmet mount for about 1/2 the price of the suction-cup mount - that's the main difference. That suction-cup is a must-have for automotive shooting (unless you want to permanently stick a mount to your dash.)

In case you're not sure, it's the same camera in all three Hero sets (the original Hero) and it's the same Hero2 camera in all Hero2 sets. The differences are the included mounting accessories.

Special mention goes to the anti-shake/anti-vibration the GoPro has. It's amazing. It cancels out 99% of the vibration from motor vehicles and rough ski-runs! The camera is so light, some model helicopter flyer's use it mounted to the chassis.

For some additional fun, you can make a mechanical kitchen-timer rotating base for 360 degree time-lapse movies. The camera, including mount and housing, is light enough to make this work. Check out YouTube for samples and how-to videos. One final tip - the packaging has a base that the camera comes attached to. This base is great for clamping to surfaces, for use as a extra-stable base, or for screwing to an outdoor surface where you'll use the camera a lot. I'll attach it to the starting house for our ski races so I can do some motion capture from the same spot and edit them together.

One final observation on the still photo quality - it's using the video sensor, so don't expect it to be as clear or crisp as en equivalent resolution camera. The photos show a lot of compression artifacting and noise.

Update: 11-6-11 - I've shot over a dozen time lapse indoors and out with the Hero2, both at max quality and lowest (wide angle.) The results were about the same. Decent, but not fantastic. Indoor shots with varying light conditions tend to "blow-out" - brights are white with no detail and darks are lacking detail. Outdoors is decent, in bright light. For short time lapse shots, you're better off with video and speeding it up in a video editor. I shot an approximate 4 hour bodybuilding show - almost 8000 exposures. In every shot, The stage was too dark and the bodybuilders blow-out and lacking detail. I'm going to try and batch adjust them in Photoshop.
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Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 5, 2011 12:32:02 AM PDT
truthiness says:
nice review, one correction: Uses SD cards, not CF.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2011 12:49:43 PM PST
Thanks - I'll fix that. I use CF for my DSLR

Posted on Nov 10, 2011 10:10:25 AM PST
JS says:
Good review.
Re: update...if you learn how to use spot metering you will have much better luck exposing the body builders.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2011 10:55:07 AM PST
Yea - I thought it might. I have uploaded several videos to Youtube from the show, plus several other time lapse videos.

Posted on Feb 8, 2012 3:21:38 PM PST
G. Cruz says:
Has anyone considered a Olympus TG-310 Tough 14 MP Digital Camera, 3.6x Wide Optical Zoom (28mm), 2.7" LCD or Pentax Optio WG-1 Adventure Series 14 MP Waterproof Digital Camera with 5x Wide-Angle Optical Zoom over a Hero? At least you get an LCD?

Posted on Feb 9, 2012 7:47:22 PM PST
Nick Nish says:
I've seen on Youtube videos that people recommend the flat lens for underwater use, mentioning the problem you stated and gave the product a one-star rating. Although I have heard problems of tech-support which is disappointing to the very least from a company with a solid product. Don't dog the product so hard man, I doubt it only deserves a single star.

Posted on Feb 19, 2012 9:31:27 AM PST
NKSR says:
I was one of those divers misled by the advertising of GoPro. Prior to buying, I contacted GoPro (directly) to discuss the GoPro2's ability to produce in-focus video / photos when scuba diving. I was personally assured it would.
Contacting GoPro again after a one week dive trip with no usable underwater recordings, GoPro advised they were 'working on a new lens' that would resolve the problem. Needless to say, all the gear went back to GoPro for a refund, but I missed out on any video of my trip.
Above water and in good lighting, the GoPro2 is great. Now that the port is available, and I have better lights to compensate for the units low-light limitations, I'm going to try it again as it's price and size can't be beat.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2012 11:07:12 AM PST
Gopro read my review and replied to me via email, stating that the Gopro was fine for Scuba, but there would be a "slight" focus issue. I replied that 3 feet out of focus is not an "issue" it makes the thing useless for Scuba. Objects close to the lens are colored blurs. I pointed out that I instructed underwater photo and video for almost 20 years, and that the housing has a fundamental design flaw for Scuba. I also mentioned that I thought the housing designer had no concept of underwater optics, refraction, magnification or the fact that water forms a lens on the dome port. Never received a reply to that.

Posted on Feb 21, 2012 6:12:03 PM PST
ZoomZoom says:
I don't understand: is this an issue affecting the Hero 2 only or did it affect the original Hero as well? I own the original Hero and I have used it numerous times in the pool over the summer. The footage came out fine. I didn't take it for (scuba) diving though. Can anyone with experience with both comment and clarify if both models are affected or if this is new to the Hero 2?

Posted on Feb 25, 2012 1:01:03 PM PST
Thank you for your review! Helped me to save some bucks!

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