First GoPro HD Hero Helmet Camera Review



gopro hd hero camera review

We're stoked to be the first people to get their hands on the new GoPro HD Hero cameras. GoPro HD Heros are the first video cams from GoPro that shoot at full 1080P resolution. GoPro bypassed the whole 720p era and jumped right to 1080P at an amazing price. The GoPro brand is well known among sports enthusiasts and can boast to be the best selling helmet camera for the last couple of years. The GoPro HD Hero 1080P is one at the pinnacle of the latest camera improvements. We had a chance to check out an early prepoduction model at Crankworx this year. This is our earlier Gopro HD Hero review review, which you can compare to our final one here.

GoPro HD Hero Specs At A Glance

  • 1080p = 1920x1080 pixels (16:9), 30 fps, 15 Mbit/s data rate
  • 960p = 1280x960 pixels (4:3), 30 fps, 12 Mbit/s data rate
  • 720p = 1280x720 pixels (16:9), 60 fps, 15 Mbit/s data rate
  • 720p = 1280x720 pixels (16:9), 30 fps, 8 Mbit/s data rate
  • WVGA = 848x480 pixels (16:9), 60 fps, 8 Mbit/s data rate
  • Large 1/2.5" HD Cmos sensor
  • Waterproof camera housing good for up to 160 feet/60 meters depth
  • 5 megapixel sensor
  • single and burst mode still photo options
  • H.264 codec, saved as PC & Mac-compatible MPEG4 (.mp4) file
  • Auto exposure controls with user selectable center weighted average and spot metering settings
  • Auto white balance
  • 127 to 170 degree wide angle lens
  • AAC audio, 48khz compression
  • built in mike with auto gain control
  • SDHC memory card support up to 32GB (largest supported industry) – Up to 8 Hours of video
  • Rechargable lithium Ion Battery – Up to 2.5 hours per charge
  • Charging via USB to computer or optional power adapter
  • HDTV Out: HD NTSC & PAL, component cable included
  • Audio Out: Combo 2.5mm jack, includes combo stereo audio and composite video out cable
  • Full line of mounting accessories
  • Innovative Hero Bus expansion port accepts LCD and extra battery Bakpacs with more on the way

Huge Resolution In Only A Slightly Larger Box

The first GoPro cameras shot video at a relatively low 512x384 video resolution, similar to other first generation helmet cams. Unlike the other helmet camera manufacturers, GoPro decided to bypass production of a mid range 720p camera and went straight to building 1080p models, resulting in the GoPro HD Hero series. In the hand the exterior of the GoPro HD Hero is similar to the earlier GoPros but slightly thicker. The seemingly extra denseness of the new GoPros is due to a new lithium ion battery pack that encompasses the full width and height of the camera back. Previously, the cameras used 2 standard AAA sized batteries housed in a compartment that stuck out in a bump.

gopro hd hero helmet cam review

Smokin' Hot Video Quality

We have had a chance to play with the other new 1080p sports videocam and upon our initial review we think the GoPro has the absolute best video quality of any HD point of view camera out there. GoPro apparently hired the best video people in the business to help them tweak the HD sensor to best represent outdoor video colors and contrast and it shows.

Additionally, GoPro does not go overboard with their H.264 compression settings meaning you get slightly less video recording time per GB but that is made up by video sharpness and color that seems is bright, vivid and almost 3d in clarity. Having a good monitor to view it on really makes the distinctions obvious.

Overall, we are blown away by the video quality of the GoPro. We will have further videos posted here over the coming days. We are more than anxious to do more testing of the GoPro HD Hero. With only one camera in the office at the moment everyone here is fighting to take it out so we will probably have some videos out even over this Halloween weekend.

Subtle But Critical Differences To Older GoPros

So you may be wondering what the differences are between the previous GoPro Heros and the new GoPro HD Hero cameras besides the obvious bump in superior video quality?

The differences are actually very subtle and it's not until you start using the camera that you notice them.

We mentioned the size difference earlier but in actuality once you put the camera in the plastic waterproof housing the camera size variation disappears as the case is the same size. The new camera weighs and extra ounce over the older model, 5.9 ounces vs 4.9 ounces with battery and case. It is hardly noticeable on a helmet and becomes moot when mounted to handlebars or other equipment.

Multiple Video Recording Options

The previous GoPros only shot at a 512x384 but the new GoPro HD Heros offer a range of high def options and frame rates. You get:

  • 1080p at 30 fps
  • 960p at full frame for wide field of view at 30 fps
  • 720p at both 30 fps and 60 fps
  • WVGA at 60 fps

We find this a very usable range of recording options and will be testing them out over the next several weeks. Check back for new video comparisons.

Different Camera Angles Dependent On Resolution

Whereas the previous GoPros only shot a one set camera angle. The new GoPro HD Heros shoot at different angles depending on the recording resolution chosen. 1080p recording gives you a 127 degree field of view. At 960p and 720p, video is captured at an ultra wide 170 degrees. We hope to get some comparisons going on how videos look shot at the two different angles.

Much Improved Wind Noise Reduction

Poor sound quality has always been the bane of helmet cameras and GoPro seems to have done more than most to alleviate the problem. They claim to have spent a lot of money in the HD Hero's sound quality to eliminate wind noise and other unwanted sounds. Our first tests seem to bear that out. Our first videos seem to have a LOT less noise than any of the other cameras we carry. We want to take it out during a windy day and do further tests against our other vidcams. This is one area where we are glad point of view camera manufacturers are paying more attention too.

Same Tough, Waterproof Camera Housing

Here is one thing we are glad GoPro left alone. The GoPros have always separated themselves from other wearable camcorders by providing 100% waterproofing at an affordable price. Where other digital camera housings can cost as much as the camera, GoPros have always included a rugged, waterproof clear plastic case with their cameras. GoPro HD's retain this housing. This is good news for all previous GoPro owners who want to upgrade as it is compatible with all existing mounts and accessories.

gopro hd hero camera case

Largest Memory Card Capacity

One of the limitations of the older GoPros was the maximum 4gb SD card limitation even after the recent firmware update. It seems like GoPro has recognized the problem and upped the maximum now to handle 32gb SDHC cards, higher than any other helmet camera currently available. You now have a lot more breathing space in terms of recording time and get HD resolution to boot.

Video Resolution vs Storage Chart

Memory: SD card, up to 32GB capacity (SDHC), highest in industry.
Average recording times (using 32GB SD card):

  • 1080p (30 fps): 4h 21m
  • 960p (30 fps): 5h 26m
  • 720p (60 fps): 4h 21
  • 720p (30 fps): 8h 09m
  • WVGA (60 fps): 8h 09m

Video Output Options

A camera that records in HD should output to HD right? GoPro thought of that by including two video output options with the GoPro HD Hero series. You get one component video (HDTV) cable and one composite video with audio out cable for plugging the camera straight into your HDTV for video viewing. GoPro is very thoughtful to include both component and composite connectors which should cover the majority of user's home video systems and a huge improvement over the older GoPro's svideo cable. This should save you an extra $20 or $30 on a cable purchase if you need to upgrade to component.

gopro hd helmet hero cables

GoPro HD Hero with usb cable, component cable and composite cable with audio.

Better Battery, Longer Recording Time

GoPro totally redesigned their battery requirements for the old 2xAAA batteries to a proprietary lithium ion pack. This new pack fits over the whole back of the camera, getting rid of the AAA bump of the previous GoPros. This new battery should give longer recording life to the new HD's. The old AAA's lithiums we used got just under 2 hours but the new HD battery should give about 2.5 hours of recording in HD. This is pretty impressive seeing as the old cameras record time was only for standard definition.

hd hero camera

Back of camera with shot of battery.

Room For Future Hardware Upgrades

See that small slot on the left of the camera in the photo above? That is what GoPro calls their HERO Bus, a new expansion port that will accept future hardware options called Bakpacs which will expand the HD Hero cameras functionality. Planned for the future is an LCD Bakpac for on camera preview and playback and an extra battery Bakpac for double the battery life. This sounds interesting but that would add to the camera depth so a new protective camera housing may be required to use them.

gopro hd cameras

GoPro HD Hero: User Videos

Ok, enough with the specs. Here are a couple of videos to give you an impression of the sharpness of the GoPro HD Hero.
First one comes courtesy of Kevin Sansalone from Sandbox. He used the GoPro HD Camera Test with Suction Cup Mount.

The second "GoPro HD - Skimboarding In A Storm" is from Patrick Lawler. Patrick says "I pretty much just filmed my friend David wiping out in extremely choppy horrible storm waves on his skimboard. I attached a GoPro HD Hero to a broom pole and we had a fun (yet freezing) time throwing the thing around!] " This is where we can appreciate the waterproof GoPro housing that we normally take for granted.

Conclusion

Overall, we are greatly impressed with the GoPro HD Hero. It has arguably the best video and sound of any camera in it's price range. GoPro has done a remarkable job of packing a great, sensor, lens and rugged enclosure all at a consumer friendly price. We clearly see this camera as the one that breaks helmet cams out of the specialized niche category into the mainstream where almost every outdoor sports participant will want one. It is a great time to start shooting your own action sports videos. The breakneck pace of technological advances in recent months have pushed once an intriguing niche into a product that can rival better cameras at a fraction of the price. Now excuse us, we've got some more videos to shoot in HD!

Interested in what others have to say about the GoPro's?

Read customer reviews of the Gopro HD cameras

Want to buy a GoPro HD?

Check out the different Gopro HD bundles at our store


See • BrandsGoProHelmet Cam ResourcesHelmet Cam Reviews //
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Comments

By matt
02 11 2009 at 10:28 AM

Is an unboxing coming up soon?

I’m ready to order but which to get the GoPro HD or Contour HD?!


By Will
02 11 2009 at 12:41 PM

GoPro HD looks much quality compared to contour HD if you ask me. Can’t wait for stock to get in? Anyone know the latest?


By pointofviewcameras
02 11 2009 at 03:18 PM

@matt. Yes unboxing is coming up. The first demo unit we got came with cardboard box grin  We will film box opening as soon as we get inventory.


By pointofviewcameras
02 11 2009 at 03:47 PM

@ Will. The latest from GoPro is that they are hoping to start shipping to seller this Thursday which means we should be able to start shipping on November 9th. Keep your fingers crossed.


By Chris
03 11 2009 at 04:45 PM

This is fixed focal length right?
According to the catalog it is a 2ft, Wide Angle at 127 degrees @ 1080p.
I wish this could be changed as it is really a fish eye, especially demonstrated in the Vancouver demo.

Any plans on making a version with true POV field of view?
Thanks.
-C


By Peter
03 11 2009 at 11:03 PM

AWESOME review guys!  I’ve been anticipating this helmet-cam so badly for so long… and this review confronted so many of my concerns! 

I pre-ordered this from PointOfviewCameras(US) on September 30th, and I was curious if they’ll be shipping them out to those who pre-ordered first.  I’m just so anxious because I’m taking my friends skydiving on the 14th of November so I’m REALLY hoping to have it by then!


By Ki
04 11 2009 at 09:55 AM

I’m stoked on my ContourHD 1080p version. Haven’t tried the new GoPro out yet, but wasn’t impressed with the video quality of the last GoPro compared to the CountourHD.


By Johan
05 11 2009 at 01:05 PM

I’ve preorder mine since one week on pointofviewcameras.
and i’ve take all the different mount possible + the 32gb card.
OH man my credit card is on fire and so do I…

But I’m in France so I think that will take longer for me to have it…

I CANT WAIT !!!!!!!!!

gogogogo ship it ship it !!!


By steve
10 11 2009 at 04:46 PM

any more of an idea when we can expect shipments on pre-orders? specifically in canada?


By Nick
11 11 2009 at 07:41 AM

Any word on when these are going to ship out yet?  I’ve had a pre-order in since the beginning of October and just wanted to make sure I’m going to get one of the first shipments.


By PointOfViewCameras
20 11 2009 at 11:15 AM

For every one waiting on GoPro’s. We have shipped the first batch of pre-orders (HD Helmet Hero’s) and more are on the way.

Still waiting on ship date from GoPro on Surf HD, Motorsports HD Hero’s and batteries.

Will keep every one posted


By erik
21 12 2009 at 09:52 AM

Is there any list of dealers where it is possible to buy the Go pro HD on site?????


By Top Rated Cameras
26 10 2010 at 12:11 AM

This is such a wonderful helmet camera specially to those who love extreme sports! smile Awesome review! And the pictures are beautiful!


By PointofViewCameras
26 10 2010 at 08:36 AM

it absolutely is, thanks for the love - we love it too!


By Doug K
28 10 2010 at 01:19 PM

I just bought a ATC9k and it’s failed on two counts. The 1st is the tri-pod mount broke off in the 1st five minutes of riding my bike. The 2nd failure is the video and still photo’s keep switching to a purple-ish B/W resolution so…. I am thinking of going with a GoPro. Do you know if GoPro is going to be adding a GPS unit to their back pack?


By montee
14 12 2010 at 08:36 AM

ya bro that s**t is sick as hell


By Aleziss
20 12 2010 at 09:12 PM

what are the cons of this camera (if there are any) ?

Will there be a release of the LCD display and second battery pack ?


By PointofViewCameras
21 12 2010 at 10:11 AM

@Aleziss Take a look at our In Depth GoPro HD Helmet Hero Review: http://pointofviewcameras.com/gopro-customer-product-reviews.html
You will also see mini reviews form our customers on the same page.

The LCD and battery packs have been in the works for over a year now. Latest ETA from GoPro is Spring 2011


By mark
22 01 2011 at 04:41 PM

the bad
on photo mode the camera is hopples in low light rubbish with to much light. camera has to be still to take a good photo dose not take photo instantly when button is pushed works like a old cell phone camera. in surf the camera fogs up within 15.  mounting clips brake easily buttons rust and are hard to push. a lot of the time the videos and photos do not work at all maybe it is just my camera i am going to try and take it back to the shop. camera menu is super slow takes for ever to change modes. camera is horrible to hold it is only good for mounting do not think you can use this camera for site seeing.

the good
if right condition’s camera can produce a great close up action video


By zach
04 02 2011 at 06:40 AM

how long does it take for a go pro helmet hero to get to canada ?


By PointOfViewCameras
07 02 2011 at 10:49 AM

@zach
As long as you place your order on our .ca website (PointofViewCameras.ca), your order will be sent out from Vancouver, BC. Delivery times will depend on your location and the shipping method you select. Feel free to Contact Us for specific details.


By Larry Cosgrave
07 03 2011 at 07:23 AM

wayyy over-rated.  I got the new HD 1080p version and on highest setting (5) video, there is noticeable animation effect on playback (max 30fps) especially with images crossing sideways - this is played back on an HD laptop screen and streamed to a 1080p 240 hz HD TV - my little Canon point and shoot does not even do this when played back and is much easier to operate AND the Cannon has a viewing/playback LCD on the back.  You can get a Canon S1400 HD for under $200 in Canada compared to GP paid $350.  This GoPro is not intuitive to use either.  Also, my case scratched right on the bulb in short order despite being treated carefully - maybe that dome over the lens should be glass rather than plastic.  Also, on a bike helmet - it is heavy (heavier than the Canon mounted on a zip-tied mini-tripod) - you will likely notice a sore neck with it way up there torquing away (go with chest strap).  On the 5 setting it is not too fish-eye but lower settings to get 60fps - way too much for my taste = big distortion.  I think there is a lot of beer group pressure going on in these reviews - just my 2 cents - if treated with considerable high maintenance - this camera can do a good job.  Would think it would be great underwater but they are revamping the case for that for some reason.


By Mike Sloan
18 07 2011 at 08:34 AM

Thanks for the helpful review


By damon
03 08 2011 at 06:28 AM

how do you you see the vids


By PointofViewCameras
03 08 2011 at 12:52 PM

@damon
You can view the videos on your computer, TV or portable LCD screen with A/V and/or component video input, iPad using a Camera Connection Kit (1080p not support) or using the optional LCD BacPac.


By Gopro dissapoints
25 11 2011 at 10:05 AM

Had great expentations of the camera (hero 2)but the gopro was very dissapointing.
- You pay allot in europe to get one (with LCD screen- outdoor edition). It costs 450 euro. thats almost 600 dollars!
(even when its made in china?!)
- Its quit heavy with battery.
- Not very small (in case).
-Buttoms (when the camera is in a case) have to be pushed hard to make a photo. Can imagine thats is impossible with gloves on.
- Changing settings costs a lot of time. Menu looks very primative.
- Always has a “fish eye” finish.

Let you know more when im back from wintersport. Hopefully it will have some bright sides!!


By Jenn
11 03 2012 at 01:32 PM

Please help, I want to get my boyfriend a helmet cam for ATv and snowmobiling, what is the best camera, there are so many choices, I’m lost…


By PointofViewCameras
12 03 2012 at 01:28 PM

@Jenn
There are several makes and models of cameras that are suitable for ATV and snowmobiling. We’re happy to suggest cameras based on his exact needs and your budget. Please feel free to contact us directly by Live Chat or phone for further assistance.


By DGARING
10 12 2012 at 12:49 PM

Can anyone tell me when a new shipment for the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition will be coming in. I would like to order this online, and no one is able to tell me when this might get in. This is an xmas gift.
Thank you


By PointofViewCameras
10 12 2012 at 02:07 PM

@DGARING
The HERO3 Black Edition is scheduled to arrive in Canada right before Christmas. We’re hoping that GoPro stays on track to get stock up here in time.


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