Saturday, June 20, 2015

Got myself a GoPro!

Got myself a GoPro yesterday! Long story short, I'm planning to get my PADI Open Water Certification (I wanna go diving with seals! With basking sharks! With whale sharks! With Godzilla!), and thought that having an action cam would be super. It would also be great to experiment with timelapses (the so-called Nightlapse mode is particularly intriguing) and the fast 120fps capture of some modes will be great for capturing slo-mo footage as vfx reference.

As the tides of the warp would have it, there was a sale this week and I decided to get the Hero 4 Silver.

It was a rather difficult decision to make, as the top of the line model, the Black could record a step faster than the silver could. But in the end, the decision to get the Silver fell down to these reasons:
  • LCD on the back! I never understood how people could have shot so much amazing footage without the lcd. I suppose some of them must have bought the add-on lcd screen.
  • Protune. 
  • Nightlapse - appears to be simply a timelapse mode... with a dragged shutter. Ah marketing.
  • 240fps with the WVGA resolution, 120fps at 720P!
The black has some really drool worthy features, like being able to shoot 4k at 30fps, vs 15fps on my silver. But I decided that I really don't need that! The things I'd really love from the Black, is really the  1080P @ 120fps and 720P @ 240fps - but really. I don't _need_ those.

The base model OTOH doesn't seem very appeal though - apart from price. The waterproof case is apparently permanently attached to the camera, and the battery is non-removable. What. Nope.

Having shot some test footage today, I was quite surprised at how good it was. Being used to crappy cell phone and digital camera footage, this is truly a breath of fresh air. Even indoors in low light, it does a really good job.

Focus is an issue though. It's probably focused at infinity (?) and subjects a few inches from the lens will need a diopter to focus right. Something to look into when I get to the actual diving part and doing sealife portraits :P

Now I'm not trusting the battery life of the camera just yet. Last night, after fully charging the camera, I put it away as I didn't have a high speed memory card for it. This morning, I bought the memory card, a 32GB Samsung Pro, and then went out to shoot some test footage, and the battery life was horrendously poor.

I basically shot 20 second clips, in every single video resolution/fps available. This was using the GoPro app, and thus having wifi enabled on the gopro. Barely 20 minutes passed before the battery was blinking red. I was like... (o.0)

Prior to that, I think I'd used the camera for maybe 10minutes, after putting in the sd card. Could it be that the camera somehow drains the battery overnight? I am certain the wifi function is turned off.

In anycase, after charging the gopro back up, I decided to record some 1080P footage at 60fps with the lcd screen switched on to see how long it'd last. And lo and behold, it actually ran for over one and a half hours, before the battery gave up the ghost! Pretty impressive. This gives me confidence that I can use the camera underwater with the lcd on, for I really doubt I have more than an hour and half of footage to video per tank of air.

As of this post, the gopro is already fully charged, and I'll wait till tomorrow am before I run the recording test again. This is to check out what's going on with the battery - does it drain even while the camera's inactive?

We will see!

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