The HD Hero 2 is built for extreme sports; either taking HD video (at various frame rates) or high-res images via time-lapse while mounted on a helmet, bicycle or other mode of transport.
This on-board camera may not be inconspicuous, but the quality more than makes up for it. The HD Hero 2 is built for extreme sports; either taking HD video (at various frame rates) or high-res images via time-lapse while mounted on a helmet, bicycle or other mode of transport.
The HD Hero 2 comes in a number of parts, the most significant being the camera and casing. The camera unit itself is the very epitome of basic, with no colour LCD display and a distinct lack of controls. The mode change and illuminating record button are the only controls of note outside the power button, making the unit quite simple to operate from the get-go. An SD card can be inserted in the spring-loaded slot while various connections, such as USB, are elsewhere. There’s little flair but the HD Hero 2 is all about function. The small two-colour display relies on simple symbols and digits to relay information, both of which do the job required in an acceptable fashion.
The casing clips onto the body of the camera easily, and the record button is accessible from this arrangement. Although the casing is sturdy, on at least one occasion during our testing moisture infiltrated and obstructed the lens, which is slightly worrying for a supposedly waterproof housing.
Attaching the camera is relatively straightforward, with brackets that attach via a plastic-coated screw. From there the strappings, mounts and other attachments can be used, making it simple to adapt fitting the camera to a number of items. With the supplied collection it was, however, difficult to fit Hero 2 to a bicycle frame, though attaching it to a bicycle helmet was no problem.
Once mounted the camera is quite conspicuous, and adds a small amount of weight. The collection of mounts and harnesses that are included will cover most jobs, but there is also a group of more-specific attachments that are available from the GoPro website.
The HD Hero 2 shoots at either 1080p at 30fps, 960p at 30fps or 48fps and 720p at 30fps or 60fps. This means the two alternate lower-resolution frame rates are capable of slow-motion shooting, perfect for extreme sports. The lens is a fisheye, giving around a 170 ° field of view. This means the very edge of the frame distorts, but a far larger field of view means a final image that’s well beyond what a standard compact camera lens would record.
The HD Hero 2’s focus is fixed, with an aperture of f/2.8, meaning the end results are bright even in duller conditions. The 11MP stills were well exposed, with a wide range of lighting conditions being competently dealt with. Granted, the end results aren’t going to compete against a dedicated compact camera, but are impressive enough. And let’s not forget: the HD Hero 2 is all about movie and motion capture.
The only stumbling block for many will be the price, at a penny shy of £300. Extra mounts range between £8 and £40 which can further add to the overall cost, though, compared to a compact camera with waterproof housing and all the mountings, the HD Hero 2 is ideal and affordable for the niche market it’s aimed at.