Testing and Usage
A difficult issue is that since the camera doesn’t have an onscreen video monitor you cannot examine your footage until you get back to a computer or another video monitor interface.
At first, I noticed the extra weight on my head when I installed it, but after a while I no longer noticed it was there. The weight is comparable to a small bike light, although you can sometimes feel the extra height flopping around on your helmet, and you do need to be careful of trees, just duck when needed.
Weight statistics (for helmet mount only):
Helmet strap – 28g
Housing – 81.7g
Camera – 51.5g
SD card – 1.7g
Batteries – 25.2g
Total – 188.1g or 6.63oz or .41lbs
One of the issues I have is the short battery life. I bought a set of AAA 1000 mAh batteries along with a charger to alleviate the issue. I went through a lot of Lithium batteries, which are not cheap, before I decided to go to the Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) rechargeable battery route. The unit will eat normal alkaline batteries extremely fast, and still eats through Ni-MH, and Lithium, albeit at a much slower rate. I have been getting just a tad over 2 hours of burn time from my Ni-MH 1000 mAh batteries.
The camera is turned on by pressing the power/mode button on the front of the camera. Once the camera is on you can keep pressing the same button, and select different modes depending on the camera activity that you wish to perform. When the video icon is seen on the LCD status screen, you then press the shutter button on the top of the camera, and a red indicator light on the front of the camera, and in the viewfinder starts to flash to inform you that it’s running. Hit the shutter button to stop the video, and to turn the camera off just hold the power/mode button for a few seconds. All buttons function from the housing unit. The unit beeps when doing some functions, but if you are outside, or when it’s in the housing, the sounds are too subdued to hear very well.
It’s sometimes easy to not realize you did not put it into a video mode before riding down the trail, there were more than a few times I thought I was doing a video capture of a 30 minute ride, and later found out I had not much of anything. After some trials and errors, I got used to the buttons and screen. I always make sure I am in the video mode, and that it’s running, and that the batteries have enough power. I still make mistakes and end up thinking I am running a video and find out, I took a single picture instead. The information icons on the camera screen are small, but are easily understood after you have read through the instruction manual. The screen information appears upside down since it was meant to be read in that manner, such as when using it with a wrist mount, so it takes some getting used to reading it properly.
The camera can capture up to 56 minutes (verified) of video at 30 frames-per-second using an optional 2GB SD card. It can also be used as a camera and can take up to 1945 pictures using the SD card. It can take photos in single, burst (3 shots in single sequence) or timed (every 2 or 5 seconds) modes. The camera comes with 16MB of internal memory which is not enough for any useful length of video, so a SD card is a requirement. I used a beta patch of GoPro’s newer firmware, and I got 1 hour 50 minutes on a 4GB SDHC card, which is a welcome addition to the camera. In the future, there may be a firmware update for 8GB SDHC cards, but battery life will be a limiting factor. NOTE: new firmware for the HERO camera’s should be out soon.
I found that it was best to always carry an extra set of batteries and an extra SD card. On long rides or when you are taking longer video’s it’s nice to swap out SD cards so you don’t miss any action. I also suggest a swap out of fresh batteries at the same time.
Another strange issue I noticed is that sometimes when the camera rolls around and gets the Sun directly I get a small black spot, almost like there is a large spec of dirt on the lens. The issue has to do with the CMOS sensor in the camera, and that the Sun’s brightness is outside it’s dynamic range, the camera’s exposure keeps it composure, and it does not complete wash out the scene.
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