Review: GoPro HD HERO2

Cameras Pro Reviews

Palmer Park TGap Trail – GoPro HERO2 720p Full Light Test:

The HD HERO2 can shoot in High Definition, in four video resolutions, which are all recorded at 11MP. It can shoot in widescreen 1080p at 30fps (frames per second), full frame 960p at 48 fps or 30 fps, widescreen 720p at either 30 fps or 60 fps, and SD at 120 fps or 60 fps. The 960p 48fps, 720p 60 fps and SD 120 fps allow for slow motion playback, which is pretty interesting to watch, and in addition; it gives normal viewing a smoother and more fluid stream. Each of the video resolutions is captured at different bit rates, which entails varying recording times and storage requirements, meaning greater resources are needed for in the higher usage formats. The resolution settings are done within the camera’s menu system, which is managed by its two buttons. In fact, any of the programmable features and settings can be done through the menus, allowing for the field changes as required. The camera records in different viewing angles or FOV (field of view), including an ultra wide 170º, a wide 127º, and a narrow 90º FOV, and each of them is unique to specific video resolutions. The 1080p has three FOVs, 170º, 127º and 90º, while the 960p , 720p and SD only use 170º. Supposedly, GoPro will be releasing a firmware update to allow a FOV of 127º for 960p and 720p? It uses the H.264 video codec, AAC audio compression, and a .mp4 file type. Everything defaults to the NTSC standard, but it can optionally record PAL video in 25fps and 50fps increments.

The HD HERO2 can shoot still photos in manual, self-timer and time lapse modes. In the manual mode, it can be set to shoot a single photo or do a burst of ten photos in 1 second. The self-timer mode just takes a single photo after doing a 10-second countdown. The automatic time lapse mode allows photos to be taken every X number of seconds, where X is 1/2, 2, 10, 30 or 60-second intervals. The megapixels for photos can be set to 11MP with a 170º FOV, 8MP with 127º, and 5MP with 170º or 127º. The 11MB sensor gives some really nice pictures with a lot of clarity and sharpness, and makes the photo feature a lot more useful. The ability to do some sports specific action shots with the 1/2 second time-lapse, and ultra fast 10 shot burst, should provide for some interesting shots and more versatility.

Camera Features
On the front of the HERo2 is the power/mode button, which turns the camera on and off, and makes changes for its recording modes and setting’s menu. It works in junction with the top located shutter/select button, and together they perform all the cameras modal and setting changes. The shutter/select button starts and stops the video recording, initiates picture taking and does selections in the menu system. There are four LED recording lights, located on the front, back, top and bottom, which quickly flash when turning the camera or recording on and off, and they’ll slowly pulse during actual recording. On the back is the connection port for their optional BacPac’s, and a pop off door for accessing the battery.

The front LCD status screen displays a variety of icons, numbers and language-based data, which gives mode information, menu items and camera configuration settings.

There is a small speaker located on the bottom, which beeps during shutter and power initiation, and a microphone on the top that picks up audio. On the left-hand side, there’s the SD card slot and mini HDMI video port, while the right side has the USB and composite video and external microphone connections.

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on the trail.

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  • Francis says:

    I’ve been using the Hero 2 a lot lately. I think it’s the best in the POV category cause the quality is awesome and the selection of mounts is second to none. But it’s not perfect. Here’s my pros and cons.

    - impeccable video quality
    - ruggedness, durability and versatility of mounts
    - chest mount design is worth noting

    - way too expensive
    - no screen and have no idea where it’s aimed
    - user interface is still bad. It took me 10 rides to be confident that it’s turned on.
    - battery life is so short. it seems battery life is wasted as it is always heating itself
    - construction and button feel is very far below regular ‘camera’ or ‘phone’ quality.

  • Donny says:

    Excellent write-up and videos!

  • russ says:

    Thanks for the review! Is it best for the battery to be topped of with a charge after each use even if it won’t be used again for more than a week?

    • Brian Mullin says:

      Russ: It depends on how long you go between periods of usage. If it ends up being a couple of weeks, then top it off, otherwise it should be fine. And as I mentioned, get a spare battery and carry it with you!

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