Ethics Statement: I am not sponsored by GoPro and they did not ask me to write about their new products. I bought and tested out the new Dive housing and wanted to share my experimentation with my readers. I made the mistake of shooting underwater b-roll for a client on a GoPro with unusable results. Don’t make the same assumption as I did. Read this blog for more information. I have an affiliation with BH Video and get a slight kick back for referring GoPro sales to their online store. You pay nothing extra and your purchase supports this website.
I love GoPro cameras. I own five of them now. I use them to compliment my shooting on various projects and my clients are always grateful for the extra “gravy” point of view shots. I use these invaluable 1080p cameras to help drive a story forward in most of my documentary work. I place them in dangerous places to show a viewer an interesting angle. Plus, at less than $300 bucks a piece, if you break them, it is not the end of the world!
But a few months ago, I got burned. I just assumed that a camera that came with an underwater housing could shoot underwater! The case is watertight and rated to go many feet below the surface, but what GoPro doesn’t tell you on the box is that the housing has a front element that cannot capture clear images in water. I found out the hard way, by trying something on a paid gig I had never tried on one of my days off. The GoPro in the underwater housing was useless underwater.
After trying everything that day and examining the footage on my laptop, I searched the problem online. Many other people had the same issues, the underwater shots were blurry. A few forums suggested a “flat lens attachment” from a handful of different companies. The way it works is much like a pair of snorkel goggles. A flat piece of glass under the waves does not have the same optical distortion as a rounded one.
I looked into pricing and almost bought a flat lens mod-kit for 80 bucks. But at that time, there were rumblings that GoPro was working on a new housing, so I waited it out. I am glad that I did.
GoPro has just released a new Dive Housing that has a flat piece of glass on the front, replacing the rounded bubble on the original waterproof housing. This new Dive housing is $50 and well worth it if you plan on taking video or stills of your friends in swimming pools, capturing fish in lakes or descending the GoPro on a real dive. Plus the new housing comes with a lens cap! The only thing that GoPro does not offer is special underwater correction filters, but I’m sure someone will figure out a way to do that.
For my purposes, like gathering creative shots from a pole, the new Dive Housing is perfect. I plan on using this system to footage of fish as it fights on the line alongside the boat on a fishing project in a few weeks.
I did a some tests at a lake a couple days ago under thin-cloud filtered sun. I mounted the GoPro Hero2 in the dive housing using the 1/4 20 threaded adapter. I put a threaded screw into the end of a wooden stick and had an instant pole cam.
I set the GoPro to record video at 1080 30p, and dipped the camera end of the stick into the water. By physically not entering the lake, I didn’t kick up any sediment to cloud the water. The GoPro was neutral buoyant about half submerged on the pole. Moving the camera smoothly was very easy. I had no way of viewing the video, so I had to guess what it was seeing. You get much better with practice.
Eventually, a few sun fish and baby bass swam by the camera and got use to my prodding. I was very careful not to kick up too much debris. This was a very efficient and effective way to capture some creative shots that would be an inconvenience to obtain any other way. I was shooting in seconds and packed everything away in the same amount of time.
GoPro is also releasing a new wireless WiFi BacPac that I am very interested in. You can view images off multiple GoPro cameras and use your iPhone to frame them up. You can also use a wireless remote to trigger multiple GoPros at the same time! Bullet Time! I will be buying one (or five) soon and plan on writing a detailed blog about it after testing. As of right now, take a look at the video below released by GoPro that showcases this awesome technology with pro skater Ryan Sheckler.