GoPro is one of those brands that seemed to appear out of nowhere and explode in popularity overnight. While it’s a favorite “must have” accessory for many mountain biking enthusiasts and other extreme sports fanatics, nearly everyone has heard of GoPro cameras.
Whether you’re interested in buying your first action camera for an upcoming mountain biking trip or you’ve been thinking about upgrading your GoPro camera, we will tell you what’s currently available for GoPro cameras in 2018 and a few things to consider when buying one of the action cams.
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What Is A GoPro Camera?
If you are unfamiliar with what a GoPro HD camera is, it’s an action camera (also known as a point of view or POV camera). Action cameras have been around, in some form or another, since the 1960’s, but didn’t become streamlined in size and weight until the last decade or so.
Lightweight, compact, shockproof, and often waterproof, action cameras are often referred to as helmet cameras when mounted to a bicycle helmet. They can also be mounted or strapped to the rider’s body, bike, or other gear.
Action cameras, like those made by GoPro, are designed to take high-quality photos or video footage and allows the user to view and edit the material later on.
Who Is GoPro?
GoPro was founded in 2002 by Nick Woodman, a 35mm film camera salesman, who was sleeping out of his van. Always having a passion for cameras, Woodman came up with the idea of a simple wrist strap that surfers could tether to their camera and wear while surfing.
After visiting Indonesia and Australia, and testing his prototype out on surfers, Woodman made some a few design changes and sold the first camera, the 35mm HERO, just two years after he started the company.
Two years later, Woodman began selling his GoPros and added video capabilities the following year. As high-definition (HD) video became more popular and in-demand, in 2010, Woodman introduced the GoPro HD camera.
With more improvements every year, GoPro now has the Fusion, Hero, Hero 5 and Hero 6 available; including upgrades for earlier versions of the action cam.
GoPro’s Latest Cameras
While you’re likely to find an older version of a GoPro HD camera that works well (and the price is right), some of those versions may no longer be in production; which means that they may not have tech/customer support or updates available.
Here are the GoPro cameras that are currently manufactured and distributed by the company, as well as some of the specifications and features:
The Fusion camera takes spherical, 360-degree 18 MP photos and 5.2K videos. Using the feature, OverCapture, Fusion users can turn spherical photos and videos into a traditional format.
The action camera is waterproof in up to 16 feet of water and has advanced video stabilization. Fusion has voice control, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth capabilities, GPS, and four microphones. Battery life lasts a little over an hour when using full 5.2K resolution.
Compatibility with the Fusion varies on earlier devices, but it’s compatible with iPhone 6s, iPad mini 4, and later Apple devices.
A grip is included with the Fusion, but additional accessories may be required such as memory cards and mounting equipment. The current price for the Fusion is $699, which makes it GoPro’s most expensive action camera.
The Hero is a budget-friendly option for anyone who wants to experience the high-quality features of a GoPro HD camera. While the Hero is one of the least expensive cameras (at $199), it is a new version.
The action camera takes 10MP photos and 1080 videos, standard video stabilization, voice control, and Bluetooth/Wi-Fi capabilities. It also has GPS, three microphones, and is waterproof in up to 33 feet of water. Like other GoPro cameras, the battery life of the Hero is approximately one hour (when using all features).
The Hero has the Quik Stories feature which automatically turns your footage into a video with the GoPro App.
Hero 5 and Hero 6
For anyone who had previous versions of GoPro cameras, Hero 5 and 6 are “new and improved” models.
The Hero 5 has 4K video and 12 MP photos in various modes. Like the Hero, the 5 is waterproof up to 33 feet. The battery charge lasts approximately 60 to 90 minutes when recording continuous 4K video.
Priced at $299, the Hero 5 has the Quik Stories feature, standard video stabilization, voice control, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, GPS, and three microphones.
The Hero 6 has many of the same features as the 5, but it has advanced stabilization like the Fusion and has 5GHz Wi-Fi, which allows you to upload your media to your smartphone about three times faster than Hero 5.
Which One Should You Choose?
Are you unsure of which GoPro camera to buy? Take some time to read customer reviews online; as peer reviews are often the most helpful. You can also check out mountain biking forums or even ask around your local biking community.
Many of the features depend on the type of photography or video footage you want to shoot. The Fusion gives you the most versatility, but the Hero is more than enough for some users.
You may also want to consider how you plan on using the action cam. If you’re using the camera to keep track of your progress or even as a safety cam when riding alone (and in case of an accident), you might go with your least expensive option.
If you’re making videos for your local bike shop, your biking blog, or want to share your experiences with other riders, you will want a more versatile camera with as many options as possible.
Using The GoPro App
Now that we’ve given you some of the basic specs of the various GoPro cameras, you should be able to decide which one is best suited for you. When you want to upload, edit, and share your latest photos or videos of your mountain biking trek, the GoPro app is most likely your best choice and will work best with your camera.
There are similar editing apps, such as the Pro Camera app, which may work well, but if you need customer support or have general questions about uploading and editing, using GoPro’s app will be your best option.
Where To Buy A GoPro
If you’re interested in adding a GoPro action cam to your arsenal of mountain biking gear, the price of the camera may be a little intimidating. While the Fusion (GoPro’s most expensive camera) has a lot of great features, the Hero (which is about $500 less) may have all the features you need.
The cost of a GoPro camera is about the same whether you buy directly from the company or on an online marketplace like Amazon. You may be able to find a GoPro at your local big box store or a specialty camera store like Camera Pro, but you aren’t likely to find any discounts.
If you do see a GoPro camera and a lower price than what you see online, make sure that all the parts are included.
A Few Things To Consider Before You Buy A GoPro Camera
While GoPro is a high-quality that produces some stunning footage and photographs, many users critique the limited battery life.
If you are plan on using your GoPro for a longer than an hour, between charges, make sure you have at least one charged battery on hand; an extra memory card is always good to have on hand, too.
It’s important to keep in mind that many “extras” like a charger, spare batteries and memory cards, and mounting accessories are not included in the price that we posted above. If you have a budget for buying an action camera, you will need to factor in these accessories.
Most mounts, batteries, memory cards, and other accessories that you might need when biking cost between $20 and $40.
Mounting and Using Your Camera
Buying an action camera, like a GoPro, is a financial investment, so you’ll probably want to make sure that you don’t lose it. While the official GoPro mounts are most likely your best option for mounting your camera, you can get creative you need to; try using straps or velcro strips.
Make sure that before you even hit the trail with your GoPro that you understand how it works. The voice control option allows you to keep your hands on the handlebars rather than fumbling around with buttons.
If you plan to mount your camera to your helmet, be sure that it’s not obstructing your view; getting the right angle for a shot is important, but not if it interferes how well you see the trail or the road.