On my surfing trip out on the pacific northwest coast, I got to take a pretty cool new gadget with me! Piled into my Tacoma, along with the dog gear, surfboards, wetsuits, camping supplies and people was my GoPro Surf Hero Camera. This sweet camera fits in the palm of your hand, mounts to your wrist, your surfboard (or a helmet, for other sports), and it’s waterproof! I was able to take pictures under water, in the water and take videos of my horrible attempts to surf!
GoPro Hero Cameras- The Specs
- Mounting info: The hero cameras are intended for action sports- so depending on which mount systems you purchase, you can take it on your wrist, mounted to your surfboard, mounted to a helmet, or mounted to a part of your car. The specific model I tested, the Surf Hero, can mount to your surfboard (via a sticky plate on the front, or a mounting system that uses the hole in the back of the board where your leash threads through), or you can wear it on your wrist. I opted to wear it on my wrist when I used it. Couldn’t quite bring myself to permanently mount anything to my baby.
- Camera: The Hero series cameras now come in High-Def. So when you purchase a HD Hero, you are getting a 1080p 5 megapixel HD camera.
- Audio: Built in microphone, with automatic gain control. I was really impressed with how well the camera picks up sound.
- Storage: The Hero uses an SD card to store pics and video. Not included. I’d recommend a larger card, so that you don’t have to deal with clearing out video and pics during the day.
- Power: Runs on 4 AAA batteries. Recommended lithium.
- Housing: Waterproof to 180 feet.
- Size: 1.6” x 2.4” x 1.2”
Surf Hero- The Good
- You can take pictures and video while surfing! I know, this sounds stupid as one of the “good” features, but really! Helmet cams have been around for a while now, but GoPro ventured into the water with the Surf Hero, and it’s awesome. Now, you can show your friends videos and pictures of all the sweet waves you rocked, instead of just talking about ‘em.
- Excellent picture and sound quality considering the size of the camera! Check out some of the pictures I’ve loaded- all were taken with the Surf Hero.
- Super lightweight! Despite mounting it to my wrist, I hardly ever noticed it when I was paddling out. With housing, the Surf Hero weighs about 6 oz.
- Photo modes: When you’ve got the Surf Hero in Picture mode, you have a choice of single shot mode, triple shot mode, self timer mode, or auto shoot mode, which will take pictures every 2/5/10/30/60 seconds, depending on how you set it. Awesome for getting pictures of a whole ride in! You don’t have to stop and snap, it does it for you.
Surf Hero- The Bad
- Buttons- with gloves on, it’s hard to manipulate the “shoot” and “select” buttons for choosing which mode, and then taking pictures.
- After reading the manual, and playing around with the camera for a bit, I still had a fair amount of trouble selecting the correct mode. I would end up with continuous pictures shooting when I wanted video, video when I wanted self timer, etc. While I’m sure that this would ease with more use, the overall initial user friendliness was a little dissapointing.
- Wrist mount- awesome for when you want the camera to go with you, not your board. However, the wrist mount clearly wasn’t made for people with smaller arms. I had to rig my own duct tape deal to make sure it stayed on, because even secured at the smallest setting, it was too big for my wrist.
- Battery life: even with the lithium batteries, I was getting about 2 hours of use before having to change the batteries.
- If you’re used to immediate feedback when taking digital pictures, don’t expect that from the Surf Hero. To keep it light and small, there is no playback LCD screen on the camera. You just have to wait til you upload those pictures and be surprised!
Surf Hero- Bottom Line
I was impressed! Despite some technical difficulties, I was stoked to have my Surf Hero with me. I got some beautiful pictures, and I know that as I get more familiar with how to operate it, I’ll get even more. It’s already packed in my “Surf Box,” along with my wetsuit and board wax, ready for my next surfing adventure.