PHOENIX - If you've watched much reality or sports television lately, you might have noticed some pretty cool camera shots. Cameras mounted on the side of cars, cameras mounted on helmets and cameras mounted on surfboards. Chances are almost every single shot you're seeing came from a GoPro camera . A weird name for a pretty slick piece of new technology. If you haven't seen a GoPro, it's a tiny little nondescript camera that is making impossible angles possible in full HD.
The camera itself is about as simple as it gets. It shoots video and stills in HD and has a super wide angle lens. There is no LCD screen on the back (an attachable one is available as an accessory). There is only a black and white display on the front to show you what mode the camera is in, how many seconds of video you have recorded and other basic info. There is a red light so you know what the camera is recording and 2 buttons. Operating the GoPro is simple but can be a bit confusing if you don't know the drill. Press the front button to turn the camera on and the top button to start recording. Typically the GoPro is used in the rugged GoPro waterproof housing. It can be attached to almost anything. The company offers a suction cup mount, helmet mounts, a chest mount and so on and so on. The possibilities are almost endless. A quick youtube search for "GoPro" will prove that.
So what? Really, who cares about a simple HD camera that's being used to shoot TV shows? Typically I would agree but in this case, this high-end equipment is priced for the rest of us. GoPro cameras start at just $199. This means, the same equipment that major networks are using to capture impossible angles can also be used by Joe Blow in Mesa. Strap the camera to your kid's bike and you'll have some pretty slick home video of those first moments without the training wheels. Take the GoPro to the water park in the waterproof housing and I promise your videos will be the envy of your friends. Even shooting video with the GoPro in your hand creates some great moments because of the versatility of the 170 degree wide angle lens. It won't replace the camcorder but it's a great camera to take along on vacation for those unforgettable shots.
The GoPro is cool. It's not a camcorder replacement. The latest model, Hero 3, does allow you to connect the camera to your iPhone to remotely view and control the camera but otherwise you don't have an actual viewfinder on the camera. You'll have to point and guess. Controlling the functions can be a bit confusing until you get the hang of it. Audio recording is good but not great. Again, it's not designed to shoot typical video. Johnny's first birthday; stick with the traditional camcorder. Johnny's first trip to the beach; take the GoPro!
For $199 and up, the GoPro camera is a fun addition to your camera bag. Strap it in places you never thought you'd put a camera and you'll grab some home video that will make your friends and family say, "How did you do that!"