[Coral-List] Have anyone used GoPro cameras for coral surveys?

Bureau, Dominique Dominique.Bureau at dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Mon Dec 3 12:38:53 EST 2012


We've used GoPro cameras on marine invertebrate dive surveys over the
last few years so I'll share a little about our experience with them. 

We've used the GoPro Hero2 cameras. First thing to know is that the
standard housing (with the dome lens) on the Hero and Hero2 cameras does
not focus properly underwater. A housing with a flat lens is required
for clear focus underwater. A number of third-party companies sell flat
lenses or housings with flat lenses and GoPro finally released a flat
lens housing a few months ago. The Hero3 camera appears to come with a
flat lens housing so I suspect it should focus properly underwater with
the stock housing (but I have not tested this). 
Objects closer than approximately 30cm from the camera will not be in
focus (even with flat lens housing) with the Hero2. 

GoPro cameras have a very wide angle of coverage which makes them great
for filming large animals but may limit the applications if you are
trying to film or photograph small things. 

We use the battery BacPac to double the battery life. We typically
record video at 1080p and battery life seems variable. I would estimate
we get approximately 2h of recording time, that being said we are
working in cold water (5-12 C) which I suspect is severely hampering
battery life. I would recommend using the second battery pack. 

We use the cameras mounted with the headband so they are out of the way
and not cumbersome to use. We don't use external light sources and
usually dive shallower than 20m. The new Hero3 "Black Edition" is
advertised as having better low light performance. 

Video quality is typically good. 

We tried head mounted cameras on time lapse (one photo every 10 sec) and
found that the diver's heads are moving too much to get clear photos. If
you want to take pictures with them I would suggest hand-holding the
camera to be more steady. Even for video, the footage would be more
steady by hand-holding as opposed to using the headband mount. 

Overall the cameras are easy to use and tough, we have not had flooding
issues. The small size makes them very convenient too. So depending on
your application, they may do the job quite well. 

I hope this is helpful.  

Dominique Bureau, M.Sc.,
Shellfish Research Biologist,
Pacific Biological Station,
Fisheries and Oceans Canada,
3190 Hammond Bay Rd.,
Nanaimo, BC, V9T 6N7

Tel:  250-756-7114
Fax: 250-756-7138


Message: 4
Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2012 23:53:51 +0000
From: K-le Gomez-Cabrera <klegomez at uq.edu.au>
Subject: [Coral-List] Have anyone used GoPro cameras for coral
To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
	<3DED9475F9A2194D8FC3975D7046168C0F8670 at UQEXMDA6.soe.uq.edu.au>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone have used GoPro cameras for underwater work.
Specially for coral surveys, both photo and video transects. If you
have, can you share your thoughts about:
Which model have you used?
How good is the quality of videos/images?
Do you need extra light source?
And anything else you might think important to share.



Dr Maria del Carmen (K-le) Gomez Cabrera
Marine Palaeoecology Lab.
School of Biological Sciences
The University of Queensland
Ph: +61 7 3365 7262 / Fax: +61 7 3365 4755


Visit www.australiancoralreefsociety.org

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