Is the GoPro HERO2 a Good Vlogging Camera?

Is the GoPro HERO2 a Good Vlogging Camera?I’ve been searching for a good camera with a wide-angle lens to do some basic vlog-style videos, and the GoPro HERO2 would appear to be the perfect answer. It’s durable, waterproof within the included case, and can be mounted to both your head and several other objects like bike handles and helmets.

Unfortunately, the GoPro HERO2 turned out to be a disappointment when used in any way that doesn’t include outdoors activities taking place in the daylight. In fact, using one of these indoors or in a dimly lit situation was a great disappointment.

There are plenty of reasons to buy and use a GoPro HERO2. When it comes to sports, there isn’t another camera on the market that comes anywhere close to this one for clear, reliable video. In addition, this camera is built to go where standard handheld cameras simply can’t. I’ve seen it used on survival television shows when film crews would disturb any animals the host came across. That speaks volumes for the quality and dependability of the device.

When it comes to shooting footage of yourself and people around you, a 170-degree shooting angle is a great thing. With this particular camera, the wide angle comes at the cost of an extreme fisheye that is somewhat obvious on the open road and extremely obvious in close quarters. The fisheye was reduced by switching from a wide to a 4:3 aspect ratio. There is a way to reduce the viewing angle without switching aspect ratios, but this results in a zoom effect that does little to improve the quality of the image. You can also reverse the fisheye in some video editors, but this is a step that results in reduced image quality.

Audio is a mess on this thing. It’s designed to capture some audio but mostly videos with rock music playing in the background of skateboarding, BMX biking, and skydiving. Let’s be honest here: None of these things would happen in anything I record… well, maybe the biking.

To mount the GoPro HERO2, you’ll need to put it in a skeleton case that completely surrounds the unit. The microphone is covered, and even with the non-waterproof backing, it’s muffled. I’m not saying muffled like a microphone with a wind muff on it, but muffled like someone standing on the other side of a closed door. Again, great for what it’s intended for, but not great for vlogging.

Low-light conditions bring visible artifacts and reduced image quality. Rolling shutter isn’t a problem on this camera at all, but the sensor just isn’t made for dimly lit areas. It’s great outdoors on a sunny day, though.

The HERO2’s size is a great benefit. It doesn’t take up much room at all, being about as big as a double pack of gum. Even with the plastic case around it, the camera takes up very little actual room.

A time-lapse mode allows you to take extraordinary time-lapse videos of sunrises and sunsets, a great addition to any outdoorsy video.

The GoPro HERO2 is a great camera as long as you’re using it for the purposes for which it is intended. For now, my search for the perfect vlogging camera continues. Do you have experience with the GoPro HERO2? What do you use it for? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Photo: GoPro

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • http://twitter.com/captainswallow Capt. John Swallow

    A couple of notes: if using a “skeleton case” the built-in mic. is not covered (hence the name) – this is different than the non-waterproof backing. In a skeleton case it would be
    suitable at close range to the sound source.
    The HD Hero2 (not to be confused with it’s predecessor) actually has a mic input for such uses (the previous one did not as I discovered after the fact). It is also better in low light than the previous model.
    The following video was shot (on a boat) with the first gen HD Hero in a skeleton case and directly in front of the band (which was not particularly loud). Not perfect sound, but certainly listenable.