GoPro Hero2 Digital Camera Underwater Testing in Bonaire: Pictures and Video
It was a heated debate deciding on a camera system for a recent dive trip to Bonaire. Underwater housing? Video capabilities? Weight? Cost? Depth? The arguments boiled down to two basic facts: underwater housings are expensive ($200-$400) and point-and-shoot cameras change continuously. Purchasing housing for my current point-and-shoot seemed futile, as I will likely update my camera before my next major dive trip. The GoPro Hero2 ($299), however, includes underwater housing with purchase that is rated to 60m/197ft. Other attractive features include:
– HD Video Resolution
– 11 megapixel resolution
– Small Size/Lightweight: No need to lug a bulky camera in a bulky case. I mounted the GoPro on my wrist for easy underwater video and picture taking.
– 10 pictures/second capability
Beyond diving, I imagine using the GoPro to shoot skiing, kayaking, and cycling videos. The GoPro Hero2 won the debate.
Well, I can’t say they didn’t warn me, but the GoPro performed as expected diving in Bonaire. Was it lightweight and easy to use underwater? Absolutely. Did it take high quality underwater pictures/video? Absolutely not. The resolution suffered tremendously underwater for the exact reason that it does so well above water, that being the fish-eye lens that captures the 170⁰ wide angle images. Video slightly trumped picture quality, therefore more video was shot as the trip progressed. The camera setup best suits sports needing water protection (surfing, kayaking) but not full underwater use (scuba diving).
We eventually caved and rented a Canon 1400ELPH with underwater housing to snap better images.
To adapt to the unique optic requirements that underwater photography presents, cameras must be equipped with a flat glass port to capture high quality images. Mounted at a set distance from the camera lens, the flat glass port corrects for focus concerns of the GoPro Hero2. Unfortunately, GoPro has not released a flat port product. Aftermarket options now exist on Ebay or EyeofMine(but unfortunately not during my original purchase!). For reasons I will not disclose at this time, I do not think that any of the current choices are optimal. My husband and I are working on our own design. Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know when we release the system!
** Update 8/6/12 GoPro has released an underwater housing unit: http://gopro.com/hd-hero-accessories/dive-housing/?gclid=CL–_PyZ07ECFYio4AodcVwADw **
TAKE HOME MESSAGE:
Make no mistake, the GoPro Hero2 is a fantastic camera. However, it should not be used underwater without a corrective lens.
Taken with GoPro Hero2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/travelingchicha/sets/72157628734135121/
Taken with Canon 1400ELPH: http://www.flickr.com/photos/travelingchicha/sets/72157628735069699/
Taken with GoPro Hero2 (unedited): http://vimeo.com/34621374
10 Tips for Use of GoPro Hero2 Underwater: http://damiensiviero.com/gopro-tips/
Matador Tests the GoPro by Kayak: http://matadornetwork.com/goods/testing-the-gopro-hero-2/
Underwater footage starts at 1:20: http://wetpixel.com/i.php/full/gopro-hero2-underwater-tests-from-tahiti/