GoPro HD Helmet Hero: 9.0 / 10
(Note: The newer GoPro HD HERO2 Camera is now available.)
I'm not an impulsive buyer, so I decided to buy the Gopro HD Hero after doing a lot of research on the subject. What I wanted is a small video camera that I can take with me on my rides. So I was specifically looking for a cycling oriented helmet cam, which can also be mounted on the bike's frame.
I needed a camera that could do the following:
- High definition video.
- Readable car plates, just in case I need them later for evidence. You definitely need an HD camera for that.
- Wide angle of view.
- 60 fps for smooth slow motion playback.
- Take good quality photos, and has an intervalometer (take photos automatically at set intervals).
- Good battery life.
I found all of that in GoPro's HD Hero, the camera that's included in the GoPro HD Helmet Hero, Motorsports Hero, Surf Hero and HD Hero Naked packages. Yes, they are the same camera, but have different mounts and accessories included.
GoPro HD Helmet Hero Camera Specs:
- Video modes: 1920 x 1080 pixels 30fps (r5), 1280 x 960 pixels 30fps (r4), 1280 x 720 pixels 60 fps (r3), 1280 x 720 pixels 30 fps (r2), 848 x 480 pixels 60fps (r1).
- CMOS sensor
- 170º angle of view in r1, r2, r3 and r4 modes; 127º in r5 (1080p) mode.
- Saves videos as .mp4 files (H.264 compression).
- Photo resolution 5 MP.
- Photo Modes: Single shot; photo every 1,2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 secs.; 3 photo burst; self-timer. Photo every 1 second becomes available once you update the firmware to the latest version.
- One battery included.
- 1 year warranty.
You can see what's included and the full technical specifications on the official web page of the GoPro HD Helmet HERO Camera.
I ordered my HD Helmet Hero directly from the Official GoPro Store. Ordering directly from the manufacturer is usually the best option. In this case, I absolutely recommend it, as it gives you not only a full year warranty from GoPro; these guys have one of the best customer support, so if you have any questions or problems, they'll make sure you're a happy customer. I contacted them twice myself. They replied the same or next business day.
Gopro shipped my HD Helmet Hero the next day after I ordered. I received it several days later. I knew that the unboxing of the GoPro is not an easy task, so I was prepared for it! But I was glad that they package it the way they do, because nasty stuff happens to our precious packages in the hands of delivery companies!
Click on a thumbnail for a larger view. Press arrow keys or click on the left/right of the picture to see previous/next one.
I knew the GoPro camera was small. Still, I was surprised by how small it is when I saw it, even with the housing. I started appreciating that when I got used to taking it everywhere with me, even when I'm not riding my bicycle. If you have kids like I do, you'll be glad you ordered this little camera. I used it to shoot videos of my 5 year old daughter riding her bike, and my 2 year old son doing whatever toddlers do!
GoPro HD Hero's picture quality is fantastic. It requires good lighting to shoot high quality videos. So don't expect miracles from this camera. Daylight is optimal, and overcast weather is never a problem. However, I don't recommend it if you're going to use it primarily to shoot after sunset or indoors with little light. At night the quality is quite poor. You'll have to spend a lot more money and get a bigger camera to shoot HQ videos at night. I shoot indoors quite often, and the quality is acceptable when there's enough light (2 x 20 watts energy saving lamps) .
Here's a video sample I uploaded to Youtube. The original video's quality is better, as Youtube compresses videos. Watch the following in 1080p, full screen:
GoPro HD Helmet Hero's still photos turned out to be better than I expected. The camera shoots in full auto mode. But you can set the metering to Center (default) or Spot. The fish-eye effect is a result of the extreme wide angle of GoPro HD Hero's lens. Some like it, some don't, and it can be corrected using post processing software. The resolution of the pictures is 2592 x 1944 pixels (5 megapixels). Just like in the case of videos, the quality of the photos degrades in low light conditions.
I had a problem with my camera. It would only record less than an hour on a freshly charged battery. I contacted GoPro, and the next day they replied. They asked me to make sure the battery is being fully charged. I replied that it is, so they replied by sending me an RMA# and asked me to send the camera for evaluation. Which I did. 36 hours after they received it, they sent me a brand new, fully tested camera. The new camera has the advertised run time of 2.5 hours. GoPro support also updated to the latest firmware before sending it to me. Thoughtful and thorough, don't you think?
The original camera also had a rattling sound coming from the shutter button. The new replacement camera didn't have that problem. This rattling is easily eliminated with scotch tape over the shutter button. The tape doesn't affect the button's function, though. If you have this problem with your GoPro HD, and don't want scotch tape over the shutter button and your warranty period isn't over, contact GoPro. They'll ask you to send them the camera, and will more than likely send you a new fully tested camera.
I found that the R5 (1080p 30fps) mode was best for my style of riding, which is 90% road cycling. To eliminate motion blur use the R3 mode (720p 60fps). 60 fps also lets you slow down your videos in post processing software and have smooth slow motion. Of course 1080p offers the best picture quality. In that mode you can shoot a little less than 16 GB (~2.5 hours) on a fully charged battery.
Whether you commute by bike to work or you're into extreme sports, GoPro HD Helmet Hero is a very good choice. An their support is excellent, they won't let you down. Get the GoPro® HD Helmet HERO™ Camera from GoPro.