Last summer I purchased a camera that I could mount on my helmet or handlebars to record my motorcycle trips.
Winter is long where I live and I wanted to be able to watch my summer adventures on the big screen, while the bike was put away and there was two feet of snow on my porch.
The High Definition Motorsports HERO
I became interested in these incredible pieces of technology when a friend burned a DVD of a trip to Utah riding dirt bikes. The quality really impressed me, especially how smooth the video was even on a dirt bike going over very rough ground. I never go off road–well not on purpose, so I was sure I would be happy with the results on a smooth highway.
If you have never used a helmet cam before there is a bit to learn. I did have some complaints about this camera and software but the bottom line is that I would buy it again. I am glad I waited for the HD 1080 version because once I saw the results on my widescreen TV, I was anxious to record my own trips. I had problems with the mounting hardware and the software leaves something to be desired. Both of these things hopefully will be improved in the future. On the other hand, there are some really cool features too, like the single photo options that takes stills every 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds, as well as the 10 second timer if you want to take a picture of yourself. I do think the good out-weighs the bad and I will give this camera a thumbs up.
Choosing the Right Package
I ended up choosing the Go Pro HD Hero Camera. There are four packages to choose from with the HD Go Pro Hero. They are the HD Helmet Hero, the HD Motosports Hero, the HD Hero Naked and the HD Surf Hero. The camera is the same in all packages, so it comes down to the mounting hardware that you require depending on how you plan to use it.
I picked the Motorsports Package with the Mega Pack because I thought it was the best value because I wanted the extra battery and the larger SDHC memory card. I bought it online at the Canadian Point of View Cameras .
What You Get
(this is the HD Motorsports Hero with the MegaPack)
|5 Megapixel HD MotoSport HERO Camera||Rechargeable 1100 mAh Lithium-Ion Battery|
|Waterproof Quick-Release Housing||Skeleten Backing for Quick-Release Housing|
|Suction Cup Mount||Curved, 3M™ Adhesive Mounts|
|2 Flat 3M™ Adhesive Mounts||Three-Way Pivoting Side Arm Assembled|
|Vertical Surface “J-Hook” Buckle||2 Quick-Release Buckles|
|HD HERO Instructions and 1 Year Warranty||Bonus: 4 GB SDHC Memory Card|
|USB Cable||Component Video (HDTV) Cable|
|Composite Video + Audio Out Cable||Extra GoPro HD Li-Ion Battery|
|USB/AC Power Adapter||USB/Car Charger Adapter|
|*16GB SDHC Memory Card in lieu of 4GB card||Roll Bar Mount Clamp|
|Tripod Adapter||Bonus: POV Filming Guide|
Right out of the box you have everything you need to use the camera right away, however I am glad I purchased the MegaPack because it has the extra battery because I don't have my bike wired to charge the battery on the road. The MegaPack also has the larger memory card which I would recommend. With prices dropping on memory cards, I will purchase another one for longer trips because I like to use the highest resolution HD format for recording. So far I used it on day trips and was able to get to my computer to transfer the data and clear the card for the next trip.
♦ You have the following resolution choices: 1080p, 960p, and 720p HD resolutions record at 30 frames per second (60 fps in 720p) I like using the 1080p setting because it gives me the highest quality video, but if my memory card is getting full I can switch to the smaller resolution if needed. Also, the 60 fps setting in 720p is great if you plan to watch your footage in slow motion. I have even tried software to extract stills in all video modes by going frame by frame and it worked quite well.
♦ Record up to 2.5 hours on a single charge and up to 9 hours total if you have a 32GB SD card
♦ The sound is good, wind noise is minimal and you can hear the sound of the bike. There was a rattle on one of our bikes that it picked up and I had to mute the sound or put music on the track but that was a bike problem. On the other bikes the sound was good.
♦ The camera can also shoot automatic 5MP photos at 2/5/10/30 and 60 second intervals. I really liked this feature, I tried it once at the lower resolution setting which produces some distortion as you can see but for these city shots I thought it was kind of a nice effect. There is no distortion if I used the higher resolution mode.
The pictures were clear and sharp when enlarged to 16 x 20. I haven't tried larger sizes yet. You can see some of the images I took by clicking here and going to the SBR Gallery.
♦ Replacement housings and lens kits are available. This is essential in my opinion and they are reasonably priced. I can see how over time these things are going to become pitted or scratched because of the elements. I am going to order them now so I have them on hand if I do need them.
♦ You can delete the last file, all the files or format the card from the camera. This is handy if you forgot to delete files after transferring them to your computer or if you want to free up some memory.
♦ Optional Expansion BacPacs. This was not available when I purchased my camera but are promised soon. I am anxious to see the added features this will provide. The port for these pacs is already on the camera.
♦ The Rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery has a built in battery warmer. It can be charged to 80% capacity in one hour when plugged into a USB compatible wall or car charger that is included. The battery also stays warm when used in cold weather. I only use it on my bike but I can see how it would be great on a snowmobile as well. You can also run the camera while charging if you choose to mount it on the dash of your car.
♦ The price, in my opinion was reasonable for the high quality it is capable of producing. As I said earlier I would recommend the camera and I would buy it again. I can say I am a fan.
♦ I did not like the mounting hardware and had to adapt what was in the package to fit my handlebars and the one mount I used on the fairing of another motorcycle. I would like to see better quality and adjustability. I did not try the helmet mount or the suction cup mounts for my car yet.
♦ The software was another complaint. The ease of use can be improved. It is a bit confusing trying understand the small status display on the front of the camera. I made some mistakes during my first test runs but I am getting the hang of it over time. The larger problem was when I transferred the data on the SD card to my computer. There was no mention of the SOS mode in the documentation that came with the camera so I had to contact Customer Service for more information. SOS saves a file that was somehow corrupted before you transfer it to the computer. I found it was confusing and easily missed. If you don't use it before transferring the data to the computer for viewing, the file is not repairable and cannot be viewed. I have tried numerous third party utilities to try to repair the files that are corrupted and have been unsuccessful as of this posting. Customer Service was prompt in answering my email regarding this problem but had no solution other then to test my SD card to make sure it was functioning properly. It is possible to upgrade the firmware on the camera so I am hoping this will be one of the future fixes.
♦ There is no LCD screen on the back to preview your recordings. This is one of the things they will be offering with the expansion Expansion BacPacs, and that is something I will want to try, however, I think you may need to also purchase a larger housing to accommodate the change.
Overall I have to say this was a good purchase and I find it very valuable. I still carry my little pocket digital camera to take pictures off the bike but for the purpose it was intended this Go Pro HD Hero cannot be beat. I even use it occasionally in my car.
The Go Pro has some sample video you can watch to see for yourself. My experience in my own videos is just as clean and clear as shown in their samples. I really enjoy watching my trips, and I notice a lot of things I may have missed the first time. Its a great toy at a good price and I encourage anyone to give it a try, you won't be disappointed.