The GoPro Hero 4+ Silver: The little camera that could.
When I started shooting more, both for training and competition, I decided I wanted some way to shoot video from my point of view (POV). While having video shot from the side or behind was great, I just couldn't see what my hands were doing or how I was holding the gun.
The idea behind having video of me shooting was really two-fold. One, I wanted a way to be able to go back and review what I was doing during training/competition and see if there were places I could improve. How was I gripping the gun? Where were my reloads going wrong? How was my sight alignment? The second, was to post video on YouTube so my friends and family could see my competitions and I could capture video for my blog.
So the hunt began with a slim budget and no idea what I was looking for. I tried a couple of the cheaper POV cameras I found. I used my cell phone. I even found a pair of shooting glasses that had a camera and microphone built into them on sale and tried them. With all of them, the video and audio were just lacking. The glasses even died after only a few months of use.
Then after Christmas, I found a GoPro on sale and snagged it.
In the Box
When I got the camera home, I unboxed it and the accessories that came with it. It was like Christmas all over again.
In the box was:
- the camera
- the battery
- USB cable
- waterproof case and the backs for the case (waterproof, touchscreen, etc.)
- the various mounting brackets
- a hard side carrying case
- a 16-gig microSD card for the camera.
I plugged in the battery into the camera, slipped the SD card into the slot and got the battery charging right away.
When comparing cameras, it finally came down to what features I wanted. A lot of them are one-button operation and provide no preview; no way to remote activate them from something like a smart phone and no way to view the video that was just saved. I also wanted the camera to shoot in HD video mode for best quality. I wanted all those features so that once I was wearing the camera, I wouldn't need to touch it or take it off to work it and I could view the video that was just shot in case I needed to redo the video.
The GoPro had all those features plus more. It shoots in 1080p60 and 720p120 video and can take 12MP still photos up to 30 frames per second. It also has the ability built in to take time-lapse video. It has Bluetooth and WiFi built in to connect to any smartphone running the free GoPro app. The app allows you to control the camera, view clips already stored on the camera and preview the video, all from your phone. Connection with the camera and the phone is very straightforward and easy to accomplish. The app will walk you through that process and you are then able to connect and control the camera.
The camera itself also has a touch display that allows you to preview the video as well. You can use the touch display to navigate through the menus and start and stop the camera.
It also comes with a number of different mounting brackets for mounting the camera in various places. It has a sticky curved and straight base plate and three different-sized articulating arms to place the camera at the best angle for you. There are also so many other mounting accessories that you can purchase separately, from a headband to a body rig to even a mount that will let you put the camera on a standard picatinny rail on your gun.
Put to Use
After I got the camera charged, I decided it was time to mount it and get it working. So after some trial and error, I mounted the camera to my electronic ear protection. This gives a pretty interesting point of view, as if you are looking over my shoulder, but it does have some downsides. The camera puts a lot of hash noise into my ear pro. Also, if the camera gets behind cover, you can't see what I am doing to the right side because the camera view is blocked. Clear open stages aren't bad.
The free GoPro Studio, you can download from GoPro themselves, makes editing and converting video very simple and easy. You can convert multiple clips, add text, music, transitions between clips and many other things just from the program.
I am thrilled with the camera. The video is great, the audio is okay, but that is to be expected with the application I am using it for. But I have accomplished my goal; I have a camera system that I can use to capture my shooting exploits. Plus, the GoPro is rugged so it can take some abuse during competition.
I would highly recommend looking into a GoPro for your sport camera needs. There is a mount out there for you, and if not, you can certainly modify or make one easily. The camera works great, takes great video and is reliable. If you get one, make sure you get the most out of your GoPro. You won't be disappointed.