When it comes to new products, we typically have one of three reactions – we don’t like the product, we like the product, or we like the product so much that we show it off to our friends. The GoPro clearly falls in the last category. It is both an extremely cool and incredibly useful product. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
GoPro’s cameras are known for taking incredible video in performance environments. The video below shows some of the incredible footage that can be shot with a GoPro. They excel at not just straight video but also burst picture shooting for time-lapsed photography. How many times have you seen incredible video of surfers, snowboarders, and motor sports? Most of the time it’s shot with a GoPro. We actually covered some footage from the 2012 Tour of California here that was shot with GoPro cameras attached to World Tour bikes.
We reached out to GoPro to see how a Hero3 camera could be used to help increase rider safety. Any of our readers that have spent time on the road knows there will always be that one driver that puts your life in danger. Unfortunately, sometimes you even hear about the same driver repeatedly harassing one or more cyclists, or worse, causing an actual incident. Having a camera allows a cyclist to share the incident with interested parties – creating black box for cycling.
The GoPro Hero3
GoPro’s current camera, the Hero3 is available in three versions – White, Silver and Black. Each version brings higher picture quality and frame rate. We requested a White Edition Camera since we were looking to create low (720p) resolution videos over extended periods of time rather than the super high res videos that GoPro has become synonymous with. Instead, GoPro went a step up and sent us the enhanced Silver Edition, which gives us increased photography capabilities and increased frame rate at 960p while retaining the same 720p performance.
The GoPro measures in at 2.30 x 1.55 x 0.08 inches and can be mounted from your bars, stems, or seatpost. For testing purposes we mounted the camera on our CD0.1’s stem using the Handlebar/Seatpost Pole Mount ($19.99). We found that location was going to have the least chance of affecting the bikes aerodynamics (though we would not be racing with the camera attached).
The Hero3 includes WiFi capability that allows for remote operation. The camera acts as a WiFi hotspot for an iPhone\Droid or an optional remote. When connected, you can remotely turn on the camera, start filming, and change settings. Best of all, the iPhone\Droid apps allow you to view what the camera is seeing (the Hero3 has no built-in view finder).
Using the Hero3
The first thing we did after unpacking the Hero3 was hook it up to our iPhone. AeroGeeks are also technology geeks, so we greatly enjoyed having the ability to film and control the settings right from our phone. For the first rides we went with a 720p (lowest resolution) at 30 frames per second. Once we adjusted all of the settings we got it mounted on the test bike and went for our first ride. As you’ll see in the video below, we realized the benefits of having the camera almost immediately. Mike and a car had a bit of a disagreement as to who arrived at a right-hand turn first. Luckily nothing happened, but we were able to review the incident immediately following the ride. If something more serious had happened, we not only had video proof but also the full details of the vehicle involved.
Since then we have taken the Hero3 on a number of rides, including a century ride. Unfortunately even at the lowest resolution (and thus smallest battery drain) the camera only lasted about 2:45. If we wanted to film the entire century we would need to add the GoPro bacpac ($49.95), which allows you to nearly double the recording time.
CineForm Studio is GoPro’s downloadable video editing solution that allows you to take the raw video from the camera and make some simple edits to it. You can flip the orientation—which is important when you mount the camera upside down as we have— as well as cut the length and speed up the video (as we did below). Almost no one will want to watch your five-hour century ride, but condense it to a two-minute clip and they will be quite entertained.
When we started this review we planned to use the camera exclusively on the bike. But we quickly realized how shortsighted an idea that was. The GoPro stands to be the next best thing to a good training partner a triathlete can have. Over the next four weeks we plan on using the camera to record transition practice, swim (the Hero3 is rated to a depth of 60 meters), and improve our bike position. All of this is possible with a camera that literally fits in the palm of your hand.