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GoPro Hero2 Digital Camera Underwater Testing in Bonaire: Pictures and Video

Shooting with the GoPro Hero2 in Bonaire

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.

Major Downsides:

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.

Solutions:

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 travelingchicha@gmail.com 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.

Pictures

Taken with GoPro Hero2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/travelingchicha/sets/72157628734135121/

Taken with Canon 1400ELPH: http://www.flickr.com/photos/travelingchicha/sets/72157628735069699/

Videos:

Taken with GoPro Hero2 (unedited): http://vimeo.com/34621374

Related Articles:

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/

 

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13 responses

  1. Pingback: GoPro Hero2 Digital Camera Underwater Testing in Bonaire … | Top Underwater Camera

  2. Great video of diving at Angel City: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9XQamIrEnQ&feature=related

    January 19, 2012 at 10:23 AM

  3. Garrick Tarver

    Thank you for the review and the photos and video to back up your statements. I was about to make the plunge and get the Hero2 for an up coming dive trip to Key Largo but after reading this and seeing that GoPro still has not released the underwater/diving housing yet, I decided to hold of instead of going the 3rd party vendor fix route. Thanks again and really love the images from Bonaire…Thats my next year trip.

    March 1, 2012 at 7:48 AM

  4. Thank you for reading Garrick! The ‘underwater’ capabilities are certainly better suited for water sports such as wake boarding, surfing, etc. I’m curious what camera you decide to bring, let me know! Enjoy your trip to Key Largo. You’ll love Bonaire, it’s almost impossible not too!

    March 1, 2012 at 9:00 AM

  5. Marc

    Wow! You just saved me almost $400 bucks. I was ready to go buy the Hero2 for my Mexico dive in 2 weeks. I’ll stick to my Canon point and shoot for now until an all-in-one solution is provided. Can’t justify buying the Hero2 and then having to spend another $100 on a flat lense housing. GoPro is seriously missing the boat on this one.

    April 3, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    • Thanks for reading Marc! It really is a great camera, just not for scuba diving! Do you already have housing for your Canon?

      April 3, 2012 at 10:23 AM

  6. boersmaj

    Thanks for your great review! I am thinking about buying a Hero 2 for my travelling trip to South East Asia. This because i believe it is less venerable, light weight and an allround, easy-to-use system. Besides diving i want to use it during jungle tracking, treetop climbings, but also for capturing experiences at a good party on the beach. What can you advise me on these things? Is this camera a good choice for taking pictures in this conditions? Or is photography not its main target? And what are your experiences with these flat glass ports? Looking forward to your reply! Thanks anyway!

    April 8, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    • Jop- The GoPro Hero 2 is a great camera for all of the uses you suggest, especially the video. With a 12 megapixel sensor, your shots will certainly be ‘good’. Note that the there is no zoom on this camera and also not an lcd backing. I recommend buying the lcd backing so that you can see what you are shooting. As far as the flat glass ports go, I will admit that I haven’t tested them out on a dive trip yet. I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:35 PM

  7. jenn6116

    Thanks for the review! We have friends who recommended this camera – but they do quite a bit of free diving, and I don’t think have taken it too deep yet. We were looking at it tonight and were almost ready to buy it. We have had bad luck with Nikon/Ikelite combos. We’ve seen good quality with other Canons and were glad to see your pictures from both camera. We are also looking at a Sealife – any thoughts on those?

    We are also headed to Bonaire in June – can’t wait! Your pictures are beautiful!

    April 13, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    • I am so jealous you are going to Bonaire! Take me with you! I haven’t used Sealife yet, but our dive shop pushes them pretty heavily. The Canon worked out very well on our trip! If you are staying at BuddyDive in Bonaire, their rental rates are reasonable, if you decide not to purchase your own. Enjoy your trip!

      April 15, 2012 at 2:22 PM

  8. Pingback: GoPro HD Hero 2 Outdoor is the best camera for extreme activities « Click It!

  9. Sharon Burkhard

    Just wondering if snorkeling would be any different in photo/video results as compared to diving, or once it is underwater at any level would the distortion be there?
    Thanks

    November 19, 2012 at 8:39 PM

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