GoPro, Stay Pro: GoPro HD Hero Naked Review


My new GoPro HD Hero Naked ( came in last Friday, just in time for me to take it along with me on my trip to Fort Bragg. I did some test shooting and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. I paid less than $500 (taxes and express shipping included) and got the Hero Naked, the LCD BacPac (, the Battery BacPac (, and a bunch of different mounts. The quality of the HD is top-notch, and creating time lapses is a piece of cake.

I’m going to start with a little bit about the camera. It’s got a 170° angle lens, so it’s pretty wide. The lens also fish-eyes if a point of focus is too close. The housing it comes in has two different backs: waterproof and what I’m calling the “audio back.” The GoPro housings are waterproof up to 60 meters, if you use the waterproof housing. The alternate housing has spaces cut out of the back, which means that the camera’s on-board mic can pick up more audio. The battery lasts roughly 2.5 hours (a little less with the LCD BacPac attached), or can run for roughly 5 hours with the Battery BacPac attached. Although there are different variations on the camera (Surf Hero, Helmet Hero, Hero Naked) there is no difference in the body itself. The only differences are in the mounting. Surf is for surf boards, Helmet is for helmets; but the Hero Naked was meant as an all-purpose mount. The idea behind it is to “make it what you need” by buying various different mounts (

Here’s my video review of it:
(please excuse the audio, I didn’t record externally)

There are a few downsides to the camera though. It doesn’t have interchangeable lenses and doesn’t have a focus option. Which makes sense because it’s meant to be a light weight, sport camera. Also, if you’re using the waterproof backing, the lens tends to fog in cold/muggy weather (or if it’s a hot day, and you’re dipping the camera in cold water). It’s an easy fix, just pop open the housing and let it air out for a few seconds, or GoPro sells Anti-Fog Inserts ( that absorb and moisture and reduce the amount of fog. There is no way to manually set exposure, but the camera does have two pre-set options, center average and pin point. Either it will set exposure to the average of everything, or if you’re shooting from a dark spot into a bright spot, you can have it set exposure to the brightest spot it sees.

Overall, the pluses of this camera WAY outweigh the minuses. It’s price point alone makes it worth investing in. It wont become the primary camera in your kit, but it could be a nice add-on/ secondary camera. And if you’re the type of person that likes to have BTS footage, the time-lapse shooting on this camera is clean and easy. The camera can be mounted to 99% of surfaces that you’d want to mount it to, and even some that you would never think to mount it to. Transferring footage and images off the SDHC card is simple (just like any standard SD card) and is easy to work with in any video editor.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this nifty camera (accessories included) from for less than $500.

Here’s the time-lapse I shot driving from Fort Bragg to Petaluma:
(Warning: because I drove through bright and dark spots, parts of the video create a strobing effect. Take caution when viewing, your eyes will thank you.)

13 Responses to “GoPro, Stay Pro: GoPro HD Hero Naked Review”

  1. Digital is amazing at times but overall, I feel like it’s killed the magic of photography. There used to be a feeling of being in a secret club when one developed your first photo in a darkroom. I miss that.

  2. I bought this HD camera to replace a VholdR Wearable Camcorder (Black) which didn’t survive getting run over by my SUV. The Hero is a well constructed camera, very solid feeling with quality construction.

    Pros: The camera has four modes – video (in several resolutions), still pictures, self-timer still pictures, and interval photos (pictures every few seconds). The lens gives a tremendously wide wild view which is nice for HD’s 9:16. It will shoot 1080p, 960p 720p (at 30 and 60 frames per second), and 480 (at 60 frames per second) line resolutions. It uses standard SDHC memory cards and has an internal battery which recharges via a USB cable. The recorded audio is very good both inside and outside of the motor sports waterproof case that came with my kit. Video is relatively good, not as vivid as a dedicated camcorder but the resolution is good. My kit came with a variety of mounts and a suction cup mount for windows and car body use. The waterproof case comes with two backs, one that is watertight and one that is not for better audio when waterproof use isn’t required. The kit comes with connectors for connecting the camera up to an HDTV monitor (component video) or a TV monitor (composite video). A neat feature in the menu is that you can flip both the video and still photos so you can shoot with the camera upside down without a problem.

    Cons: The quick release mounts have a bit of wiggle to them. The back of the waterproof case can be difficult to lock closed. The menu system is a bit troublesome to use as there are only two buttons and three LCD characters to use. Once set you’ll not have to go into the menu very often.

    Future: There’s a connector on the rear that GoPro plans on using for an external battery or a monitor. Neither are available at the time of this review but they are being worked on.

    In use on the trail the mounts worked very well. I used the suction cup primarily to mount the camera to my windshield, bumper, side body panel, and side window. Across rugged rocky trails the camera held firm and the video came out very well. The simple interface was easy enough to use. One button to turn the camera on and select the mode and another to stop and start the recording.

  3. I do video production and photography for a living and also into motorcycling and water sports. I had considered one of these cameras, but figured I would be disappointed in the quality. I had a coupon and got it pretty cheap so I went ahead and pulled the trigger and was really impressed by the quality. If Planet Earth on Blu-Ray is a 10, then this thing is capable of at least a 7. I have shot a Canon 5D MII and think this video is better as far as sharpness. The videos you see loaded up on Youtube never look good, so its hard to tell much about this kind of stuff. I took the raw video, loaded it on a hard drive, hooked it to my WD HD player and ran it through my 42″ Panasonic HD TV and it looked amazing. Even on my dirt bike on really nasty, rocky trails it looked great and because the lens is so wide it looks pretty smooth. I can’t wait until boating season to mount this thing on my jet ski and wake board. Also I hope I can get back to mtn biking after a crappy winter and try some there as well.

    I really like the perspective of the 960 for what I will be doing, so I saw no point in spending the extra money for the 1080, and I have heard that the 1080 had issues of freezing up, but that may have been resolved in firmware. Another nice thing is that accessories are reasonable, even batteries are only $20 unlike what my other cameras charge 2x that for something similar. It also comes with a lot of goodies, enough to keep you busy for a while.

  4. I found the LCD screen to be quite clear even though it is small. This BacPak does add about 1/2″ of additional bulk to the camera, so if weight or size is an issue, then it can be easily removed and used with out.

    What I really like about it is that the menu system displays now on the BacPac LCD in real words instead of only those cryptic letters on the front LCD screen That is a big plus in my opinion!

    As far as battery life, the screen can easily be shut off in order to conserve battery life.

    I really do like the flexibility of now being able to view pictures and videos immediately instead of having to wait to access a computer. This can make a BIG difference between getting the shot you are looking for instead of a shot of the sky or ground!

    As a final comment, make sure you install the new firmware BEFORE trying to use the BacPak. Instructions are easy to follow and are available on […]

  5. 5 John MacDonald

    Very good cam for aerial photography in R/C planes. The three ounce weight allows carriage in very small models, although ideally a wingspan of at least three feet better, giving more stability and thus better camera platform. Little models tend to be skittish; although the wide angle lens helps to smooth things out. The “wide angle distortion” not a problem bexause there are “undistorter” fixes free on the Net to modify images.
    Great product!

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