GoPro HD Hero

You want the review? Here it is: GoPro HD Helmet Hero review (Note: The newer GoPro HD HERO2 Camera is now available). This article, however, is intended to be informational, answering the most frequently asked questions about the Gopro HD camera. It contains solutions to some GoPro related problems, and also some hints and tips about using the GoPro HD camera. I will update it regularly, so if you have anything to add, please comment or contact me.

Now, about the different GoPro HD Hero camera models. GoPro sells several flavors of the HD Hero camera, which are:

  • GoPro HD Helmet Hero
  • HD Motorsports Hero
  • HD Surf Hero
  • HD Hero Naked
  • HD Hero 960

Just to be clear, all of these, except the HD Hero 960, are the same camera. The difference is in the accessories, mainly mounts, included. Look at the table below for a comparison between the different GoPro HD Hero packages.

Product Name:

GoPro HD Helmet Hero

GoPro HD Motorsports Hero

GoPro HD Surf Hero

GoPro HD Hero Naked

GoPro HD Hero 960

GoPro Camera Included: HD HERO HD HERO HD HERO HD HERO HD HERO 960
Mounts:
  • 1 Head Strap (Headlamp-Style)
  • 1 Vented Helmet Strap
  • 2 Curved, 3M™ Adhesive Mounts
  • 2 Flat, 3M Adhesive Mounts
  • 1 Three-Way Pivoting Side Arm Assembly
  • 2 Quick-Release Buckles
  • 3 Flat, 3M™ Adhesive Mounts
  • 2 Curved, 3M™ Adhesive Mounts
  • 2 Quick-Release Buckles
  • 1 Vertical Surface “J-Hook” Buckle
  • 1 Suction Cup Mount
  • 1 Three-Way Pivoting Side Arm Assembly
  • 1 3M™ Adhesive Mounting Base
  • 1 FCS™ Plug-Compatible Mount
  • 1 Quick-Release Buckle
  • 1 Leash
  • 1 Curved, 3M™ Adhesive Mount
  • 1 Quick-Release Buckle
  • 1 Curved, 3M™ Adhesive Mount
  • 1 Flat, 3M™ Adhesive Mount
  • 1 Helmet Front Mount
  • 1 Head Strap (Headlamp-Style)
  • 1 Quick-Release Buckle
Housing: Shockproof HD Hero Housing. Waterproof to a depth of 180 ft/60 meters. Quick-Release.
Battery: Rechargeable 1100 mAh Lithium-Ion. Provides up to 2.5 hours of runtime on a full charge.
Cables: 1 USB Cable, 1 Component Video (HDTV) Cable, 1 Composite Video + Audio Out Cable.
Price: $299.99 $299.99 $269.99 $259.99 $179.99
Order from Official GoPro Store: GoPro® HD Helmet HERO™ Camera GoPro® HD Motorsports HERO™ Camera GoPro® HD Surf HERO™ Camera GoPro® HD HERO Naked GoPro® HD HERO™ 960 Camera

HD Hero and HD Hero 960 difference:

GoPro HD HERO 960 can't shoot 720p @ 60 fps and True HD 1080p video. Also, the HERO BUS expansion port is missing from the 960 model. This port is located on the back of the HD Hero models. It's necessary if you want to connect the "Battery Bacpac" or "LCD Bacpac" extensions to the GoPro cam. You don't want to use these extensions, and don't care about the above mentioned video resolutions? Then get GoPro's HD Hero 960 camera. It's 40% cheaper and you still get great quality videos.

Camera:

HD Hero

HD Hero 960

Supported Resolutions (the ones in bold are not available in the 960 model):
  • 848x480 @60 fps* (WVGA, 16:9, r1**)
  • 1280x720 @30 fps  (720p, 16:9, r2)
  • 1280x720 @60 fps (720p, 16:9, r3)
  • 1280x960 @30 fps (960p, 4:3, r4)
  • 1920x1080 @30 fps (1080p, 16:9, r5)
  • 848x480 @60 fps (WVGA, 16:9, r1)
  • 1280x720 @30 fps  (720p, 16:9, r2)
  • 1280x960 @30 fps (960p, 4:3, r3)
Port for the optional GoPro LCD and Battery Bacpacs: Yes No

* The camera records 60 fps and 30 fps with NTSC (North America). If set to PAL, the camera records 50 fps and 25 fps.
** r1, r2, r3, r4 and r5 are the symbols shown on the GoPro's  LCD screen on the front of the camera.

GoPro HD Hero takes 5 megapixel pictures (2592 x 1944 pixels). Their average size is around 2.5 MB (megabytes). The size varies from 1.5 to 3 MB, and depends on the amount of details in the picture. The camera can be set to automatically take pictures every 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds. The original firmware doesn't offer the 1 second option, so make sure to update the firmware.

GoPro HD Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Can I shoot videos at night or indoors with my GoPro HD Hero camera?

A: It is possible to shoot videos at night if there's an artificial source of light, but don't expect miracles. It's just not the right tool for low light conditions. GoPro cameras excel in daylight, so this is where they should be mainly used. If you occasionally want to use it indoors or at night, see the low light conditions tip below about which mode to use.

Q: Should I update the firmware?

A: Yes, you should! Updating the firmware not only fixes certain bugs, but also introduces new features, which were not available in the original firmware.

Q: I just bought a new GoPro HD Hero camera. Does it come with the newest firmware?

A: Most likely not. Here's how you can check the firmware version of your GoPro camera. Switch the camera to photo mode, and take a photo. Connect the camera to the computer, or take the memory card out of it and into a card reader, and connect that to your computer. In the file properties of the picture you just took, check the EXIF data. Depending on the operating system you use, under Program Name (Windows 7) or Software (Ubuntu) you should see the firmware version, something like Ver01.01.54. The most recent firmware can be downloaded from GoPro. GoPro's older firmware started with Ver02.xx.xx. The newer firmware now starts with Ver01.xx.xx, so if you have 02 in the beginning, don't think that it's newer than 01. It's weird, I know... I don't know why they named the versions like this.

Q: Does GoPro HD take good photos?

A: The photos' quality is surprisingly good for GoPro's small sensor. It wouldn't be fair to compare them with DSLR photos, of course. I'll upload some photos in various conditions to show you what you should expect. If you already have a GoPro camera, please consider sharing them via the upload section at the end of this page.

Q: What's that rattling sound in my GoPro videos?

A: The rattling sound may come from different places. Let's try to diagnose this problem step by step:

  1. Rattling sound caused by a button, especially the GoPro shutter button. Take the camera out of its housing. Turn it on and start shooting a video. While shooting, shake the camera up and down, and side to side. While shaking it, don't let your fingers touch any of the two buttons. Now go watch the video. Is the rattling sound there when you play back the video? If yes, then repeat the above, but this time touch the buttons with your fingers. Go watch the video. If the rattling sound is gone, then now you know that one of the buttons is the problem. The shutter problem in my GoPro caused this. I fixed it by taping over the button with some 3M scotchgard paint protection film leftovers. It's thick, doesn't come off easily and the camera won't be sticky if I decide to remove it. Any tape will do the trick though.
  2. First step didn't solve the problem? Then the rattling sound might be caused by some play between the mount and the quick release buckle. Two pieces of electrical tape applied on either side of the raised center part of the mount solves this problem. The orange or white C-shaped rubber piece that comes with the newer GoPros might help, too.
  3. Still hearing rattling noise? Maybe the sound is coming from your bike, or maybe even your helmet straps. If you have any more ideas, please let me know.

Q: I have a Micro SD card. Can I use it with an SD adapter in my GoPro Camera?

A: I have a Transcend 8GB Micro SD card myself, and I used it successfully with an adapter. Keep in mind that even if it works, you have to thoroughly test it. Because if the GoPro is used in rough conditions, there's a possibility that the connection will be lost between the Micro SD card and the adapter. Use a little tape to prevent the card from shifting inside the adapter, or even a very small amount of super glue for a more reliable and permanent solution.

GoPro Tips:

In low light conditions, use one of the 30 fps modes instead of 60 fps. This allows for a twice longer exposure time, so the videos turn out brighter. Also, if you set your GoPro camera to PAL instead of NTSC, it will shoot videos @25 and 50 fps instead of 30 and 60 fps. The might help you get brighter videos.

Shooting 720p videos @60 fps (r3 mode) should be used when you're planning on adding some slow motion to your videos, which is done with video editing software. 60 fps means you'll get smooth slow motion. If you slow down the video to 25% (by 4 times), the edited video will have 15 fps. Compare that to shooting @3o fps, when you get 7.5 fps (jerky playback) after slowing down the video to 25%.

You should use 1080p @30fps (r5 mode) when you need maximum detail. It also gives acceptable results if you plan on slowing down the video to 50%, i.e. 15fps. Using this mode will yield the highest quality videos. You must use it if you want to capture cars' license plates as evidence.

GoPro just released the Floaty Backdoor. It consists of a floating device securely attached to a waterproof backdoor. The latter is just like the one that came with your GoPro HD. The floaty backdoor will keep your GoPro from sinking, and its orange color will make it easier for you to spot. If you're into diving, surfing, or any other water activity, this will prevent you from losing your GoPro camera. You can order it now from the Official GoPro Store.

I will update this page regularly, so if you have anything to add, please comment below or contact me. I'll give credit where it's due, of course. :)

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2 Responses to GoPro HD Hero

  1. James Twogood says:

    i cannot get into my sd card using ubuntu do you have a suggestion for that? if so what is it. i am running ubuntu 10.10

  2. Tony says:

    Hi James,
    Can you please be more specific? Can you use other SD cards than the one you use in the GoPro? Are you using a card reader or are you trying to copy the files from the GoPro directly? If you’re using your GoPro HD camera to access the SD card, make sure the camera is ON before you plug the USB cable in it. If it’s OFF, then it’ll just charge the battery, in which case the red LED on the front will turn on until the battery is charged.
    I recommend using a card reader, as copying the files to the computer will be much faster than from the GoPro HD!
    Please let me know how it goes.

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