GoPro Copycat Or The Real Thing?
Last year while on holiday in the UK I bought a couple of copycat action cameras (pictured above) in a local supermarket for £30 each, knowing that I’d probably bought a couple of pups. Indeed, when I mounted one on my bike and recorded a countryside ride in the advertised 1080p, the results were pretty dismal. The image was immersed in a kind of drunken heat haze and the sound had a distinctly underwater feel to it as you can see here. Good enough to see where I was, but a million miles from the kind of quality that a decent action cam like GoPro will produce without even breaking a sweat. This realisation brought on a sudden attack of shiny thing syndrome (STS) and so the hunt was on for a genuine GoPro. But they are not cheap, with the latest Hero 8 Black going for around $400. I would have to investigate earlier models in the used market and get as many features as I could in the right model at the budget I had set. In fact, even second hand, GoPros still command a fairly hefty price. Or, to put it another way — reassuringly expensive — as Stella Artois used to put forth in their advertising campaigns.
After a few weeks of research, I realised that my criteria would just get me a used GoPro Hero 5 Black, which was released in September 2017. This would get me video up to 4K, image stabilisation, WiFi and Bluetooth, GPS, voice control and many more features not available in previous versions. After all, 4K is the new 1080p, is it not? And I was chomping at the bit for some ultra HD action on my motorcycle. Well, after weeks of searching online, I finally found one in Facebook Marketplace that ticked all the right boxes and was being sold by a lady who said she’d bought it for her teenage daughter who had hardly ever used it. So, after a clandestine meeting in a charming cafeteria in downtown Buenos Aires, I handed over a wad of cash at least three inches thick (don’t ask), the deal was done and I zoomed back home on the bike to see what my new toy could do.
First of all, I was struck by the reassuring weight of the Hero 5, the quality of the rubberised housing and the intuitive, easy-to-use touch screen. The kit I bought included loads of accessories, including a tripod and numerous attachments for bikes and other modes of propelling oneself around at hideous speeds.
It also contained a headband attachment which I haven’t tried yet, so I quickly went out and bought a chest harness which gives the viewer a more immersive experience when I’m filming on the bike.
The fittings themselves are of very high quality with numerous adjustments but to be on the safe side, I added a couple of cable ties to secure the mounting to the bike handlebar– a good seaman-like precaution, I like to think.
Filming In 4K
I also splashed out on a 64GB micro SD card which needed some research because filming in 4K requires an SD card with a fast bitrate transfer read/write of at least 100MB/s and 60MB/s respectively.
The GoPro Hero 5 is incredibly easy to use and the touch-screen is very intuitive, enabling you to choose resolutions, frame rates, field of view, and many more features with simple swipes.
The screen also shows you how much video you can film based on the size of your SD card and the resolution you’re filming at, so in my case, it would be about four hours at 1080p 60fps and two hours at 4K 30fps. Although I only have a 64GB SD card, I understand that my camera will work with cards up to 512GB.
Finally, the quality of the video is simply incredible, especially in 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels), as you can see from the short clip I made on the banks of the River Plate a few days ago.
I would point out here that I have no affiliation with GoPro but sometimes you come across a product that is so well designed, easy to use, and produces such fantastic results that you feel like shouting about it.
(Ed note: You can check out all of Marc’s wonderful videos on YouTube at Rufinoman. Smash that “Like” button if you do, and Subscribe to his channel so you don’t miss out on new videos as they are posted.)