Dave wants me to start writing blog posts for us and when I proposed the obvious "about what?" he tells me that I'm the resident camera expert. This causes me fear, because what do I know about cameras? Enough to know I don't know anything that's what. But then I started thinking about it and I know a little more than the Average Joe who wants to jump in and buy a DSLR and start filming. So, what the hell, let’s do this. To start it off I'm going to review a piece of hardware that I've been working with for about a year now; the GoPro Hero 2.
This camera is a little three by two box that you can put literally anywhere. I was first introduced to them by my favorite movie, Crank II, which used them in every conceivable setting, including driving over several in the hopes that one of the SSD cards would survive. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and it is tasty.
Originally developed for the downhill mountain biking market, the GoPro is interesting to work with because it is constantly white balancing. Downhill racers go from light to dark environments (in and out of the forest) at incredible speeds. With access to amazing vistas, it was a no brainer that someone else would want to see what the rider was seeing, but the problem was getting a camera small enough to fit on a helmet that could handle the constant blow out of the forest/clearing light. The original GoPro was born. Success couldn't be handled more eloquently. GoPro has now signed major deals within almost every outdoor sporting market, and their newest camera, which I got my hands on in January, is a fantastic tool.
My GoPro came in a watertight case, with a clip assembly including three extra "attach anywhere" mounts and a helmet strap. It has another housing back so that I can access the 3/4' headphone jack and that's nice too. The lens is about a 20-22mm lens, and warps slightly around the sides. This can be put to good use when doing extreme close ups and whip pans. I've played around with the watertight thing, but haven't found a need for it yet. I can imagine a million uses and hope to put it to the test SOON.
I've had this thing for a while now, and I think the ad-on of the screen on the back is about the only addition I'd like to see; and I’m still unsure about that. I've been getting some really nice footage with just guess work. Knowing that the lens is at about a 22 and beveled around the edges has been giving me some interesting angles and what's better is that the whole click and shoot thing has been freeing up my mind to take images I "think" will turn out well.
The auto white balance is both amazing and a hindrance. Amazing because you keep a really high level of viewable image, but at the sacrifice of being able to "know" what the light is going to do to the image. In test footage I've been able to get some really cool manga looking effects, and with the help of the HD cam on my iPhone and some post production software, I shot much of this music video.
Having used the GoPro on our Long Slide Back web series, I am entirely happy with it. My one piece of advice is to add time to your color timing process because you're never going to get the same white balance out of the GoPro that you do with your main camera. Which is fine, all things considered, but it did come and bite me in the ass because I didn't know about it. Just schedule yourself a bit more time and you'll be fine.