Features & Controls

The GoPro HERO used a fixed glass lens with a fixed aperture of f/2.8. This allows the camera to perform very well in low-light situations. The Angle of view depends on which mode you are currently in. When shooting in 720p, 960p, WVGA or Still Photo modes, the angle of view is 170º. In full 1080p mode, the angle of view changes to 127º. Either way, you get a super wide, fish-eye type view, ensuring you get all the action in the frame. The lens also uses fixed focus, with an effective focus range of 2 ft. (.6m) - infinity.

The HERO utilizes a 1/2.5″ HD CMOS (2.2µm-sized pixels) image sensor, which allows the camera to capture 5-megapixel still photos, along with recording video at various resolutions, including full HD 1920x1080 (30fps). White balance and Exposure are automatic, however you do have options to change the metering from Center-weighted to Spot. This is great for times when you are shooting from a dark area out to a bright area; like shooting through the windshield of a car from inside.

On the front, you have a single button under the data LCD, along with a red LED to the right. This data LCD is used to change any your resolution, record mode, etc., in conjunction with the button down below and the shutter release. The data LCD shows a battery level indicator at the bottom, along with mode icons at the top (video camera shown above). In the middle is the number of captured files (mix of both stills and video), and the "5" at the bottom left indicates we are in video resolution mode r5 (1280x720, 60fps). The red LED blinks when you are recording a video.

The top of the HERO shows only the built-in mono microphone (automatic gain control), and the shutter release for both video and still modes.

On the left hand side of the camera you will find the HERO's Input/Output ports. The top port is for use with composite (RGB) cables for HD video ouput to your HDTV, and GoPro does include both RGB and standard RCA cables. The middle plug is used for USB 2.0 connection to your PC, and is also used for charging the camera's battery. Lastly, we have the standard port for use with the included RCA video cables. This port also handles sound output, so if you are connecting the HERO to your HDTV with the RGB cables, you'll still need the Red and White audio plugs from the RCA cable in order to have sound.

On the right side of the HERO you will find the memory card slot and the built-in speaker. The card slot accepts both SD and SDHC memory cards rated up to 32GB in size. We recommend you use a high-speed card with the HERO, like this Sandisk Extreme Pro (45MB/s) 8GB SDHC card.

GoPro notes the following "average" recording times when using a 32GB card:
  • 1080p (30 fps): 4h 21m
  • 960p (30 fps): 5h 26m
  • 720p (60 fps): 4h 21
  • 720p (30 fps): 8h 09m
  • WVGA (60 fps): 8h 09m

For power, the HERO uses a 3.7V, 1100mAh Li-ion battery pack, which is housed under a cover which snaps into place on the back of the unit. GoPro claims this pack can power the HERO for up to 2.5 hours. Because the HERO is aimed more towards video, they do not list how many still photos can be captured on a single charge.

One unique feature on the HERO is the integrated battery warmer. GoPro claims this "heating system" will help keep your battery warm during winter activities. We're not exactly sure how this heating system works, but it's a neat feature none the less, as it's pretty much common knowledge that batteries don't last as long in cold temperatures.

The pack is charged in-camera with the supplied USB cable. You can use a USB port on your computer to charge the camera (up to 2 hours for full charge), or you can purchase an optional power adapter from GoPro.

GoPro offers several accessories for the HERO, including the Battery BacPac. This pack mounts to the back of the HERO, and includes a second 1100mAh Li-ion battery pack to double the HERO's battery life. For about $79.99 US, you get the Battery BacPac along with several "backdoors" to extend the back of the HERO's underwater housing (shown below) to accommodate the added dimensions.

Here you can see the HERO installed in the included Quick-Release Housing. They claim this case is Waterproof down to 180 feet (60m), shockproof, and even bombproof. This plastic housing is as tough as them come, with the replaceable ($20) lens housing made of rugged tempered glass. This housing is required to use the GoPro mounting system, whether you have the Surf HERO, Motorsports HERO, or the Helmet HERO like we tested.

The Quick-Release setup allows you to quickly install or remove the HERO from the Waterproof housing, or swap out the backdoor. While very simple to operate with your finger, this latch assembly seems very rigid, giving us a very secure feeling that this thing will not open on accident.

GoPro was very smart about how they went about encasing the lens in the housing. Not only did they use a high quality glass lens cover, but you can also replace the cover if for some reason it becomes scratched. This means the HERO's actual lens is always protected, and shooting through glass gives you much better quality compared to plastic. Kudos to GoPro for this idea. Replacement lens kits are just $19.99, and include two wide-angle, glass lens covers, 2 rubber o-rings, 6 screws, and even a little screw driver.

The two main camera controls are easily accessible when the camera is in the housing.

No matter which kit you buy, the HERO's housing uses a unique mounting system, which allows you to quickly and easily mount the camera just about anywhere.

Here you can see the complete "arm" included in the HD Helmet HERO kit. Above we have it mounted to the display base that the camera comes mounted to in the box. This setup gives you three points of flexibility, making it extremely customizable for various applications. Weather mounted to your helmet, your head with the included "headlamp-style" head strap, or to the side of your car, you get get the view you want.

Here you can see the two backdoors included with the kit we tested. The one on the right is for when using the GoPro in wet, underwater, or over 100mph conditions. The backdoor on the left is recommended for better audio when you're using the HERO at sub 100mph conditions; however this backdoor it is NOT waterproof.

This is the complete HD Helmet HERO mounting kit. It includes:
  • 1 HD HERO Camera
  • 1 Waterproof Quick-Release Housing
  • 1 Headlamp-Style Head Strap
  • 1 Vented Helmet Strap
  • 2 Curved, 3M™ Adhesive Mounts
  • 2 Flat, 3M Adhesive Mounts
  • 1 Three-Way Pivoting Side Arm Assembly
  • 2 Quick-Release Buckles

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.