Alan's Blog

 

Photography

     
 

Gear that changed my (photographic) life:
GoPro Action Cameras

Making movies has never been a great passion of mine, unlike still photography. I bought my first movie camera (second-hand) in about 1970 or 1971. This used Super 8 film and, of course, never recorded sound. It was also very expensive to run as every minute of film recorded cost about £1 – a huge amount for me in those days. I sold it fairly soon afterwards for the same price as I paid for it - £30.  In about 1995, I bought my first video camera – standard definition in those days, and used it to record my first trip to the Philippines early in 1996. It eventually failed and I couldn't get it repaired so I bought another camera whilst we were in Kuwait in 2001 or 2002. I still have that camera although its never used these days as it too is standard definition. My first Full HD camera was a Black Magic Design Pocket Cinema Camera for which I bought a Panasonic 7 mm to 14 mm lens. I was never very impressed with this camera, particularly as it just eats batteries. I still have it but it is rarely used. I can now record in Full HD using my Canon EOS 5D Mk.II DSLR.

Some years ago, our son started to use a GoPro Hero action camera. In fact, he used it in preference to his DSLR as he is more into making movies than taking still photographs. I didn't take much notice of it at the time. It wasn't until we returned home from our one and only epic bicycle ride following the course of the River Rhine in 2016 that I realised what a marvellous little camera it was – and still is (refer to URL: https://cyclingtherhine2016.blogspot.com/p/day-one-wednesday-27-july-2016.html).

When I saw the video recording he'd taken of his descent from the Oberalppass, I was astonished at the quality of the image. It was far better than I expected from what I had considered something of a 'toy' camera. Far from it. This is a seriously good camera.

Some time ago, Grace asked me what she should buy me for a Christmas present – seeing as I had everything I wanted (in her eyes). I suggested that I would quite like a GoPro Hero 7 Black edition – the top of the range at the time and only recently updated by the GoPro Hero 8 (which is only a minor upgrade on the '7'). You can see just how small this camera is in the photograph below. It can record image stabilised 4k UHD at 60 fps, as well as other modes - and has a full colour screen on the back - amazing technology.

For some time, it went unused as I didn't have a need for it. The winter weather continued its onslaught on my morale and health, as usual. I rather fancied using it for recording some tours in our car, but never actually got round to doing so. I'm often full of ideas but never seem to have the motivation to put them into operation. The only recordings I made with it, somewhat half-heartedly, were during our tour of France and Switzerland in the summer of 2019. Since then it's sat in my camera bag unused until very recently. I took it out sometimes to record a walking tour inside a stately home but found that in poor light the image quality deteriroated considerably - and the interiors of stately homes are often very gloomy.

A few weeks ago, I had the idea of recording some of the walks I took with our dog, Kanga. The GoPro was ideal for this being so small and recording a stabilised image as we walked along. This was a great success and I now carry the GoPro with me quite a lot, inside my jacket pocket ready for use - something I couldn't do with my DSLR.

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