GoPro HD Hero 2 Review

Mar 14, 2012
by Fraser Britton  
The original GoPro Hero action sports camera was a boon to professional film makers and weekend warriors alike when it launched. From bike movies, to ski movies to television series', the GoPro Hero has been a mainstay in the POV camera domain since it launched. Recently, GoPro launched the HD Hero 2; dubbed as the "world's most versatile HD camera". At first glance, the HD Hero 2 looks much the same as the original Hero. Same boxy form factor, same waterproof case, same mounting system. That is where the similarities end. Let's address the actual changes, some of which are apparent upon further inspection, and some of which aren't. The HD Hero 2 ships in three different kits, depending on your needs. The Surf Edition, the Outdoor Edition, and the Motorsports Edition. All three are priced at $299 USD, with other accessories available for purchase.

GoPro HD Hero 2
The HD Hero 2 mounted on the Motorsports' kit suction cup mount. You can see the new LCD menu, which is now actually decipherable and includes words.

GoPro HD Hero 2 Outdoor Edition details:
- 11MP sensor
- Full 170 deg, medium 127 deg, narrow 90 deg FOV in 1080p
- 120 fps WVGA, 60 fps 720p, 48 fps 960p, 30 fps 1080p video
- Full 170 deg and Medium 127 deg FOV Photos
- 1 11MP photo every 0.5 Sec timelapse mode
- 3.5mm external stereo microphone input
- Waterproof Housing (197' / 60m)
- HD Skeleton Backdoor
- Rechargeable Li-ion battery
- Includes helmet strap, head strap, two curved surface mounts, two flat surface mounts, three-way pivot arm, other assorted mounts
- MSRP $299.99 USD

The details
The first thing you will notice when you turn on the new HD Hero 2, is a fully revamped menu system and LCD. It actually makes sense now and isn't a load of cryptic jargon with numbers and random letters. The menu is much more descriptive and user friendly. Great job by GoPro of getting a ton of information onto a tiny little screen. The new camera packs a lot of power into a small plastic box, especially when it comes to still images (the main reason I wanted the HD Hero 2). You now get 11mp images when in photo mode, meaning they are now potentially useable as commercial print images. This is a huge. Megapixel count isn't everything, but you do need a bare minimum of them to at least fill the page at 300 DPI, which the HD Hero 2 now delivers. The new image processor is twice as fast as the original Hero, meaning images write to the card much faster, allowing faster burst still shots, and higher resolution slow-mo video. You can now fire off 11MP still images every half of a second until your card is full.

Go Pro HD Hero 2 Mounts
The GoPro Chesty mount is a MTB favorite.

The glass lens is billed as "twice as sharp" as the older model. Of course, not being a physicist this is impossible to quantify, but the still images as well as video that the HD Hero 2 produces are indeed much sharper, although this could be in large part due to the new image sensor as well. If you're a video shooter, you'll be happy to know that there is now a 3.5mm microphone input jack. This is a great addition which will lead to much better audio. Low light performance is still lacking, however, although noticeably better than the original Hero. Finally, a small but important change, is the addition of three more status lights. No matter where your camera is mounted, you can now check to see if you are rolling or not without repositioning your shot.

Go Pro HD Hero 2 Mounts
Each GoPro HD Hero 2 ships with a wide variety of sticky mounts.

The Outdoor Edition features the helmet and head strap, the Motorsports Edition (what PB was sent) features my personal favorite suction cup mount, and the Surf Edition features a floaty and surfboard specific mounts. In addition, each kit includes a variety of curved and flat sticky mounts, and angle adapters. One option not included in any kit is the Chesty, probably the most used mount in mountain biking at the moment, as it allows you to see the bars and get a bit of perspective.


Performance
So now that the laundry list of changes has been taken care of, how well does this $300 wonder perform? Well in a word, fantastic. The video is better than the original Hero in both contrast and color, due to a combination of the new lens and new processor. It offers frame rates up to 120fps in WVGA, 60fps in 720p and 30 fps in full HD 1080p. The iris seems to adjust much faster in changing light conditions, and video looks great, even in extremely low light. The HD Hero 2 is broadcast quality POV video for $299, not a bad deal at all. Just ask the crew at Mythbusters who use them extensively on their Discovery Channel program. The high frame-rate footage definitely looks better on the HD Hero 2, with less noise and the dreaded "Jello" look you sometimes get.


Cedric Gracia testing out Pinkbike's new HD Hero 2 high above Valparaiso, Chile

Views: 19,178    Faves: 54    Comments: 8


Where the HD Hero 2 really outshines the original Hero, however, is in its versatility for shooting still images. If you wanted sweet, useable POV images before, you needed to somehow mount an expensive DSLR in some sort of a chest harness and hope your rider didn't crash on it. No longer. As mentioned, you now have an 11mp image to work with, which opens up a lot of doors. Couple that with the fact that the HD Hero 2 can shoot either a 10 frame burst (in under a second) or fire an image every half of a second and you are golden. The only downside to an image every half second is a lot of files to sort through when you get back to the bottom. The Wifi Bacpac system will ship soon, so complete wireless control of the system will be available. This means you can wait until that perfect moment to get on the shutter button.

I follow Mikey Haderer and Chris Van Dine as we drop into a 10 500 descent towards Santiago over an hour away - downhill.
Doing some serious product testing at a hair over 10,500 feet behind Chris Van Dine and Mikey Haderer. Decent overcast light, and the images are already stellar.
Chris Van Dine navigates some of the steep trails on La Parvaso in Chile.
CVD blew through 16gb of memory cards while shooting an hour plus descent. He didn't run out of battery though, thanks to the Battery Bacpac. Even heavily backlit, the HD Hero 2 was pumping out great stills.

Introduced with the Original Hero, the new BacPac is GoPro's own accessory system. Want an LCD to review shots of check angles? Now you can have one. Our LCD screen works very well, and allows for an even easier menu system. It has a built in speaker tool, so you can even hear how things went. The BacPac system also currently includes a second battery pack model for extended recording and a soon-to-ship wireless remote control system. The wifi BacPac also allows for wireless streaming directly to the web, and control from a smartphone, which could come in handy for some projects. Hopefully GoPro will keep coming up with innovative features using this system.

The HD Hero 2 still can t quite hack in in low light.
Low light seems to be the Achilles heel of the HD Hero 2 system.


Specification difference GoPro Hero HD and GoPro HD Hero 2

HD Hero : 1/2.5″ CMOS
HD Hero 2: 1/2.3” CMOS

HD Hero : Light Sensitivity 1.4 V/lux-sec
HD Hero 2: Light Sensitivity 0.84 V/lux-sec

HD Hero : 5MP photos
HD Hero 2: 11MP photo

HD Hero: 127º wide angle in 1080p mode
HD Hero 2: 170º Wide FOV in 1080p mode

HD Hero: 960p = 1280×960, 30 FPS
HD Hero 2: 960p = 1280×960, 48FPS

HD Hero: 960p = 848×480, 60 FPS
HD Hero 2: WVGA: 848×480, 120FPS


Issues
Unfortunately, the low light sensitivity of the system still isn't quite there yet for stills. You're best to stick to good light, as the shutter speed drops too low in the dark woods, and you just end up with a blurry mess with a lot of digital noise. In fair to good light however, the HD Hero 2 is exceptional.

There are various anecdotal reports of the LCDs failing prematurely and having to be warrantied, however. Pinkbike's own Justin Schroth had a week old one die while on a recent shoot, but has since managed to get it back up and running with some phone support from GoPro. It seems that removing the LCD, turning on the camera and then installing the LCD while holding down the playback button on it brings it back to life. This sounds like a firmware issue as GoPro had him download a newer firmware from the website before he completed the reboot. Official word from GoPro is if it is within the warranty period, they will replace it no questions asked, but that the firmware update and the reboot procedure should fix this problem.


Pinkbike's take:
bigquotesThe GoPro HD Hero 2 is a huge evolution in GoPro's product line. For the same price, you get a camera that really is just about twice as good, particularly if you are a still shooter. The large, clean photos are a massive leap forward, as is the much less confusing menu system. Would we suggest an upgrade? If you are a video shooter, it's hard to say. The mic input is nice, and the quicker metering could be good for fast patchy light shots, but the video quality itself is not far off of the original Hero. If you are a still shooter however, it's a no brainer. For $299 USD, you get an incredible new tool to add to your arsenal. The armored, waterproof GoPro case will allow you to stick it in places you would never have considered with a DSLR to get that new angle without a very large insurance policy. Burst mode alone means I've been using it while snowboarding to grab a quick shot or two of buddies while shredding pow, knowing I won't have to worry about the shutter lag of a more expensive, non waterproof, pocket sized point and shoot.- Fraser Britton

http://www.gopro.com


89 Comments

  • + 82
 I crashed into straight into a tree with mine on, turns out my ribs aren't as hard as the casing. Frown
Gopro + 1.
  • + 33
 Upload the video, That would be awesome to see
  • + 10
 Vid or it didn't happen!
  • + 5
 The same here..I broke 7 ribs but the case is not damaged! But unfortunately the cam was off! I'd like to know how I nearly killed myself!

Btw low light is still a problem for the hero 2 but the difference between 1 and 2 is HUGE
Here's a test I made
vimeo.com/32583603
  • + 5
 Isn't it funny how whenever I do something dumb my gopro isn't on... Razz
  • + 4
 Its the other way around for me. haha
  • + 2
 Lucky... lol
  • + 2
 I'll post the video up later, I'm at school right now! Wink . The video doesn't really give it justic, but it hurt like hell.
  • + 16
 Great review but honestly, does the gopro even need a review? Everyone knows its the shiz.
  • + 5
 Every product needs reviews to prevent us hardworking Mtbr's from wasting our money.
  • + 2
 i totally agree with rccannondale. as if there was even a product that can trump the gopro HD hero 2. oh, that would be the gopro HD hero 1. everything else just won't cut it, IMO.
  • - 12
flag mtnbyker (Mar 14, 2012 at 13:20) (Below Threshold)
 I love my Contour.
  • + 11
 I have a GoPro Hero2 its amazing, very clear HD video can do so much with it.
Sadly they not built very well, mine is going back on warranty because it wont charge, its only a month old, Forums are full of issues with the camera, GoPro warranty must be very busy, but they are helpfull and will repair / replace.
Best camera on market when its working haha..
  • + 2
 i to had this problem, thought it had been fixed then it stopped working again, missed a full day of skiing in powder was pretty gutted. when it works though the image quality is fantastic, a million times better than my old contour. highly reccomended
  • + 1
 I got my GoPro for a week in Queenstown riding Downhill, it worked fine but near the end of the trip I got the charging issues, which sucked I had just got the hang of the new trails.
I got a external battery charger from Ragecams on eBay, fully charges the battery in 2 hours, works good now Smile cheaper than paying shipping for warranty..
  • + 11
 too bad that Pinkbike doesn't have an HD button !!
  • + 3
 Now it does!
  • + 7
 are you kidding me? You really dare to say this is a REVIEW ?!!!! no video samples (the CG footage has terrible quality), no comparison wiht GoPro HERO HD.
Really don´t understand this kind of reviews.
  • + 6
 i agree the cg footage is poor
  • + 3
 LOL. I saw it like 100x times. And that footage and quality is far far away from reallity... it is only a promo video...
  • + 1
 I find it quite strange how the outdoor and the Motorsport one differ, check out the supercross video's on go pro's page the quality is so much better than the cg video above.
  • + 1
 i know tons of people who have had both who say to buy the motosports ones.
  • + 3
 same camera, if you want top quality view it in HD, not pinkbike, and if you want highest quality you have to render your footy in an editing program
  • + 4
 The quality is down to the editing program that renders the video, so you can have an extra quality footage, if your editing program screws it up....
  • + 3
 The CG footage was straight from the camera raw, the Hero 2 commercial would have had weeks spent colour correcting and editing.
  • + 3
 Also the camera on CG was mount on chest...what shakes quite a lot :/
  • + 3
 video editing program output qualities differ from program to program. the best that i've tried is sony vegas. the worse video output is windows movie maker, LOL!
  • + 2
 WMM FTW! lol
  • + 1
 The chesty of the gopro comes with a mount that doesnt allow u to insert the anti viber accesory.. but u must only change the mount to eliminate that horrible sound of the vibration -Big Grin
  • + 7
 I literally just bought one today!!! So Stoked to get out tomorrow and rip
  • + 3
 "Unfortunately, the low light sensitivity of the system still isn't quite there yet for stills. You're best to stick to good light, as the shutter speed drops too low in the dark woods, and you just end up with a blurry mess with a lot of digital noise. In fair to good light however, the HD Hero 2 is exceptional."

Mine works at night!
  • + 5
 Isnt there already a 3D option with gopro but you need two cameras or something?
  • + 0
 Yepp there is the option Wink
  • + 2
 I'm looking to get a camera and of course I'm looking at the GoPros and the Contours. I'm not a serious filmer, just looking for something to screw around with when I go out biking and snowboarding with friends. From everything I read, in terms of the camera, the GoPro is better than the Contour, but its the mounting options that concern me. I want to use it for biking and snowboarding. The GoPro looks fine for biking bc you can use a chest mount, but that's not an option for snowboarding. And it seems the GoPros mount best on top of the helmet, unless you want a huge camera sticking out of the side of your helmet. A top mount to me just wouldn't work when ripping through the trees on a snowboard. I feel like the camera (or my head) would get ripped in the first 10 minutes.

Anyone have any experience and or advice?
  • + 3
 sino - for snowboarding I think the contour or Drift mounts are better. It's just the way snowboarders are oriented and the lower profile of the Drift/Contour. See this

www.feedthehabit.com/skiing/gopro-hd-hero2-review

www.feedthehabit.com/skiing/gopro-hd-vs-vholdr-contour-hd-camera-review-snowsport-focus (GoPro vs ContourHD)
  • + 2
 thats exactly it, any type of body mount would seem to be out of the question for snowboarding since the rider is always sideways and the body faces all different directions.
  • + 0
 i have experienced go pros snowboarding and biking the mounts are poor and fall of all the time and you usually cant even tell what your looking at unless its blue skies because yo need perfect light for a gopro. Id go with the contour if i were you.
  • + 3
 I have a ContourROAM and it's pretty sick.
The biggest feature is definitely the fact that I don't have to worry about if the camera is on or not. If the switch is forward, it's on and filming. If it's back, the camera is off. That saves battery, and I don't have to look for a little blinking light. Plus the laser level actually does help you set your mounts correctly, and the high end models have a smartphone pairing so you can use it to adjust settings and use it as a viewfinder (GoPro is still working on this feature, and it's an additional cost).
Its low-profile mounting systems are super easy to use and way less obnoxious than the GoPro, especially if you want to mount it to your bike in interesting locations. The T-Rails work super great and are super clean compared to all the straps and pivots on the GoPro mounts.
  • + 3
 The video quality is pretty decent, comparable to the original GoPro, maybe better. It's night filming is spectacular compared to any GoPro model too. I use 1080p except for when I use it at hockey, where I use 720p with the 170° angle (I can see almost the entire rink with this FOV). Sometimes too wide of an FOV can make your video look odd and super fish-eyed.
The Contour's pictures are awful, but I've found I'm just gonna use my phone if I'm gonna snap a picture. It hasn't been an issue yet. I really do wish it had 60 fps video, but that feature is only on the high end Contour.
It's waterproof without a case (the waterproof accessory case is buoyant as well), and it's aluminum construction is super solid. I believe you can find 3rd party chest mounts for Contour too, probably would be a bit more awkward though.

For $100 less than a GoPro, the ROAM is definitely worth it. If you are concerned about pictures and a slightly improved video quality, go with the GoPro. If you're going to be using any slowmo that's slower than around 50% speed, definitely get a GoPro with the high frame rate or a high end Contour. If you want something that get's the job done well and has superb functions and features, get a Contour.
  • + 1
 ^ and that's MY comparative review Razz hope it helped
  • + 2
 I also have a contour and love it! I love being able to put it on the goggle mount and just go!. I love the goggle mounts on my snowboard and bike goggles, so whenever I want to film I can just take my contour out of my bag and stick it on my goggles.
  • + 1
 i dont know if the PB boys did this or not, but there is an option on the gopro called SPOT and on the default settings it is off but when you switch it on and it increase the transition speed between brighter and dark sections. it helps to read the instruction manual!
  • + 1
 Spot metering only looks at one tiny spot to get information for ISO and shutter speed. So just say the "spot" your looking at is a dark leaf or small shadow, but the entire rest of the image is average exposure, the camera will think its too dark and ramp up the ISO and drop frame rate, over exposing the entire rest of the image except for your one tiny spot. Not good for the majority of shooting situations, but useful in some.
  • + 1
 Read this too on how to use the mounts. Seems almost too self evident but it needs to be said given the quality of footage often seen

Using the chest mount properly
www.pinkbike.com/news/gopro-mounts-part-1-2010.html

Creative mounting options

www.pinkbike.com/news/gopro-mounts-part-2-2010.html
  • + 1
 Someone else asked about more test footage and HD video viewing options - here goes - reviews.mtbr.com/gopro-hd-hero2-review. There's some good light videos, some changing light condition videos. IMO the HD Hero2 dramatically improves video quality over the HD Hero when shooting front-lit and the video's the proof
  • + 1
 i figured out a way to cut some noise on the gopro. if you take a canadian dime and slide it in between 1 of the squeeze tabs and the adhesive it will cut out the slight wiggle you get. and it works much better than the white rubber one go pro makes. i will upload a picture of how it works.
  • + 2
 Have already had to warranty mine once. Mic went out. Video and picture quality is noticeably better than the original. Its a great camera, when its working...
  • + 1
 With you there bro, best camera if its working..
  • + 3
 I get one on December and I've tested it on snowboard ... it's great in all the way but better buy an aditional battery
  • + 2
 Damn Cedric is fast! Just so you know the video quality on the vid above doesn't do the GoPro justice, It's a million times clearer sharper and smoother! Go Pro Go!
  • + 1
 Just a quick update. The wifi backpac and remote is now shipping, and I will have a test unit to play with at the Redbull Rampage this weekend. Look for a review shortly!
  • + 1
 my hd hero 2 is great, but the fact that I cant edit the videos just cuz i dont have sony vegas 10 or 11 or any of the new programs pisses me off.
  • + 1
 Anyone else the standard battery sucks? Yeah my 16GB card can take loads of footage, but the battery wont last half of what the card does!
  • + 1
 The battery should last about 2.2 hours. If not then its faulty. Are you getting that much?
  • + 1
 possibly, I've not timed it, but between shots I dont always remember to turn off. Still, I dont think it lasts long enough!
  • + 0
 I have the original (non-HD) and still love it. I really wish I could get the HD one. It sucks being poor! I think GoPro should have a deal to trade up my old one for a new one!
  • + 1
 i have it, great footage. And BTW low light is the achille's heel of almost every camera. unless you have a professional bulky camera
  • + 0
 That promo video quality is horrible. I might get Nokia's new 808 Pureview phone... 41MP sensor

europe.nokia.com/find-products/devices/nokia-808-pureview

It's not being sold in North America though.
  • + 1
 hey guys check out this go pro hero 2 filming www.youtube.com/watch?v=36gO3yQNirY
  • + 1
 What stem was the guy using? looked a bit like the production privee 548 CG
  • + 2
 Can you plug it in to a ps3 via usb and see your pics and vids ???????
  • + 1
 I'm curious to !
  • + 1
 You can plug directly into HDTV with a miniHDMI to HDMI cable, or put the SD card into your TV if it has a reader.
  • - 2
 I like the gopros, and I'm NOT trying to start the whole contour vs gorpo thing, just wondering if since PB tested the gopro, they'd give the new contour ROAM or GPS a test. I own a GPS, but I've also had a gopro or two. Image quality so far looks schweet!
  • + 2
 I now have 2 production versions of the Contour +2 and have been using some prototypes for the last couple of world cup rounds and Crankworx. Look for a review in the next month or so.
  • - 2
 wowThumbs Down ,i think im going to stick with my contour HD ,works great supper clear..its just a better set up for on board footage go pros are cool but they have this chattery sound they make& i just feel like they are shaped odd aswell,personally i like the contourtup
  • + 1
 see from that comparison, im not actually entirely sure i want the new gopro. Half the time the other one is better
  • + 1
 I am waiting for GoPro 3D Blue Ray
  • + 2
 1: 3d is out, need more than one camera and the housing
2: Blue ray is purely a medium on which media is stored on, like the memory card. The camera already records in full HD resolution which can then be stored on a Blue Ray for consumption.

If you wish for something, wish for an even larger sensor and 4k resolution Wink
  • - 4
flag WAKIdesigns (Mar 14, 2012 at 1:46) (Below Threshold)
 I was sarcastic - I find it very amusing when meeting people with GoPro mounts everywhere, especially on XC rides. How fun is that to watch, a 2h XC ride!

Oh, just wait until 53:21, there will ba a rear tyre view, this mount is awesome, yea! Then an 1:24:05 I switch to downtube mount, mmm! FUN!
  • + 1
 Sarcasm doens;t translate in a short response, especially on Pinkbike, where I take the immediate assumption that the vast majority of posters are of inferior intellect and knowledge Smile

Still unsure what your point is though, so you're saying HD "action cams" = "Meh, dont care"?
  • - 4
flag WAKIdesigns (Mar 14, 2012 at 5:27) (Below Threshold)
 Mah not much point in it, sorry. Yea I do not care that much, for 10% ppl it works fine, for the rest I think it's "Facebook - look I do extreme sports" - you don't see many fast ppl in bikeparks riding with these, rather rotor-burners. Then there is a dick in my town riding an MX with it, riding stairs up and stuff. Wanker. I wouldn't like to be associated with such people, that's why I would never buy it, but not everybody has such issues and insecurities as I do.

Props to you for being "explanatory" instead of "inferior in manners" Smile
  • + 1
 Not sure if i should upgrade from my old hero, it seems to work fine...
  • + 1
 then keep it
  • + 1
 ^^Haha
  • + 1
 i got you babe~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • + 1
 good review, very informative
  • + 1
 banyak cekadak lak mamat nih! poyo betul la.
  • + 1
 so everyone rides on riser bars?
  • + 1
 i love my gopro!!!!!
  • - 1
 (Here come the negative props!) Bad experience with GoPro. Contour GPS blew it out of the water for me. (Just my opinion)
  • - 1
 that trail looks gnar!!!! next GoPro 3D!!!
  • + 8
 Next? It's already out!
  • + 2
 I think he ment tested.
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.076334
Mobile Version of Website