By Dean Ryan
Read the below information about the various GoPro models and packages to help pick the best one for your needs.
GoPro has been around for 6 years now and has a nice lineup of various HD video helmet cameras and video camera accessories. They have been doing this for quite a while and have become a leader in the market for this type of video capture device. The cameras are mainly used for capturing photos and video from one helmet while doing extreme sports like mountain biking, skateboarding and motocross but that is not all you can use them for. They can be used for water and underwater sports, winter sports like snowboarding, high speed sports like motorcycle racing and solo sports like rock climbing. With the different cameras and the enormous selection of mounts, the uses are almost endless.
With all the different cameras, packages and accessories available from GoPro, it can be a little difficult to get the one that is going to suit your needs the most. Here is a breakdown of the different models, how they fit into the packages and a few of the essential accessories that you might want to look into for your particular sport of choice.
GoPro has 2 main versions of their camera model, the GoPro 960 and the GoPro HERO. The main difference between these two cameras is the High Definition mode that they capture video. The GoPro 960 captures video in 960p HD which is a 4:3 resolution of 1280960. This is what a standard non-widescreen TV or what YouTube natively displays video in. While the GoPro HERO captures video in 1080p HD, which is a 16:9 resolution of 1920×1080, which is what normal widescreen TVs display video.
The GoPro 960 might seem not as good as the full 1080 version but if you are looking to mainly post your videos on the Internet and YouTube or just capture still photos, then the GoPro 960 is a better purchase simply due to the price. If you want to show your videos on your 60 inch widescreen LCD or want to do more production style videos, definitely the GoPro HERO 1080p model is what you are going to want to get. The cost difference is around $100 dollars to go from the 960p to the full 1080p model.
The cameras are virtually identical in features besides their resolution capabilities. To note, the 1080p model can also shoot in 960p as well as both models can shoot in 720p 1280720 pixels (16:9) and WVGA 848480 pixels (16:9) modes. The 1080p mode is on a 127 degree angle of viewing while recording, while all other modes have a whopping 170 degree angle of viewing, allowing you to get close to what the human eyes viewing angle. This makes the 960p mode a useful mode if you want to capture what you would normally see with the human eye, for great first person view videos.
Both models sport a 5 mega pixel still mode camera that can be set to capture a photo every 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds plus a 3 shot burst and self timer function. They both feature a 30 frame per second shooting speed for video and 60 fps for the 720p modes. As well as both cameras have a built in microphone to capture sound, which is setup to capture as much audio as possible with very little wind noise.
That sums up the basic GoPro camera models themselves, now onto the different packages you can purchase them in. There are five different packages available for the different models. The 1080p camera model comes in following packages: the HD Helmet HERO, the HD Surf HERO, the HD Motorsport HERO, the HD HERO Naked and the 960p model comes in the GoPro HD Hero 960 package.
Each camera package has its own unique variation of accessories that are included with the particular camera model. The one thing that each package comes with by default is a waterproof camera housing that is depth rated for up to 180 ft/ 60 meters, well that and of course a rechargeable battery that last 2.5 hours with charger that plugs into USB.
As for differences in the packages, it all comes down to the types of mounts you want to start out with on your adventures. Each package is comes with its own set up mounts that are geared to a specific area of extreme sports in mind. This is to allow particular sports start off on the right foot when purchasing a GoPro HD Camera with the mounts that are specific to the type of mounting they will require.
As an example, the HD Surf Hero camera package comes with a waterproof 3M adhesive mounting base that can attach to surfboards, wake boards and other surf style boards (it even can work on a snowboard). Also included is a FCS-compatible plug mounting system, which works the best for mounting to the front of surf boards for an awesome viewpoint. Lastly is a quick release buckle for easy attach/detachment and a leash so you do not lose it if it does fall off your board. All in all a great package if you are looking to do any kind of surf water sport.
The HD Helmet HERO package includes mounts that are perfect for every sport that requires a helmet, like rollerblading, mountain biking, motorcycling, climbing, caving, skydiving etc. It comes with 2 curved 3M adhesive backed mounts and 2 flat 3M adhesive backed mounts which will attach to pretty much any other type of helmet or even gear, vehicles and whatever else you can think of. The headlamp style head strap and vented helmet strap add the ability to strap it onto all styles of helmet or even directly onto your head if you want. Also included is a three way pivoting side arm assembly so you can get the best video angle after you have attached with one of the adhesive mounts. Lastly, not one but two quick release buckles so you can have multiple spots to quickly attach and detach from for varied video perspectives. This is a very versatile package for the all around extreme adventurist.
The HD Motorsports HERO camera does not come with any of the helmet strap mounts as the previous package. Instead they give you an amazing suction cup mount for quickly mounting it (non-permanently) to your car, motorcycle or even boat. To add to that, there is the three way pivoting side arm assembly, so you can get the perfect angle for your videos. 3 flat and 2 curved 3M adhesive backed mounts are included with the intent of having multiple spots on your vehicle that you can have available without the hassle of buying more mounts. This also is why they include 2 quick release buckles for your 2 favorite video placement spots. Lastly is the vertical surface “J-Hook” buckle, which is meant for when you want to mount the camera to a vertical forward facing surface. You like to go fast in a vehicle; well this package will make your look great on video doing it.
The HD HERO Naked is just that, a bare bones package. It comes with 1 curved 3M adhesive backed mount and 1 quick release buckle…that is all for mounts. It is for the person that wants the 1080p camera model but does not really need anything more than 1 curved mount to attach it to their single helmet (or single of whatever they are mounting to). It is about $40 dollars cheaper than the other packages but if you are thinking you might someday use another mount. It is better to pay the $40 dollars now because those extra mounts add up in price fast. None the less, it is a great package for you if it is a gift for someone else. Save the $40 dollars and put it towards you own camera.
Lastly is the GoPro HD HERO 960 package. This is the package that comes with the 960p camera instead of the 1080p version. With that said, the package is probably the most versatile of the bunch. 1 curved and 1 flat 3M adhesive backed mount, 1 helmet front mount, 1 headlamp style head strap and 1 quick release buckle. What more could you ask for? As long as you are not planning to go surfing, the package can suit almost any need. It also is $100 dollars cheaper than the 1080p camera packages, so if you are looking to pick up an extra specialty mount, you can spend the extra saved money on that. Especially since there are tons of extra accessories that I did not even get into in this article that is great for even more unique situation and extreme sports.
No matter what GoPro HD Camera you are thinking about getting, they are great for capturing great photos and videos. You really cannot go wrong when picking any one of the packages, well unless you do not surf, then do not buy the surf package.