[Coral-List] 4. Have anyone used GoPro cameras for coral surveys?

Gustav Kagesten - NOAA Affiliate gustav.kagesten at noaa.gov
Mon Dec 3 12:50:34 EST 2012

We tested a GoPro camera during a habitat mapping ground validation drop
camera survey in shallow waters 0-30 meters in St.Thomas USVI this fall. We
had the GoPro mounted on a weighted SeaViewer camera with a fin in order to
both get a live feed in the boat used to maneuver the camera (by pulling
the rope and the cable attached to the SeaViewer) and classify the habitats
in real time, while also collecting HD videos or photos with the GoPro. We
had no artificial light source. It was a pretty successful setup and the
GoPro produced substantially higher resolution and quality footage compared
with the SeaViewer camera which was helpful for analyzing the habitat data
in more detail back at the office.

Some main points
1. We used a GoPro HD (2010) with a modified flat lens port which you can
get from multiple 3rd party manufacturer (the key to get sharp footage).
2. We collected both HD1080 video, and also tested collecting 3 mp photo
time series with 1 second intervals. Both turned out well, the time series
transects provided higher resolutions stills and made it easier to identify
corals to the species level.
3. We tested with and without a red filter, and the red filter photos and
videos was looking better with better natural color representation.
4. Obviously the images look better in the shallow water, at 30 meters it
is getting a little dark, but still ok quality. If you have an external
light source I am sure it could be useful when you are below 20 meters or
6. Make sure to have a couple of spare batteries to be on the safe side.
We actually got by with one battery per day for the work we were doing
(50-70 drop camera sites/day), the battery is good for about 2 hours of
5. Make sure to time sync your GoPro camera if you are also collecting GPS
data that you want to use to position your transect later (Anyone have
experience on how to sync time stamped video data with GPS NMEA data for
display in ArcGIS? I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts, I
have yet to find a good way to scroll the movie and follow the position on
the ArcGIS map).

There are now a couple of new models out there, GoPro2, and GoPro3, If you
can afford the extra 100 dollars I would get the new GoPro 3 black edition
as it has the most light sensitive sensor in it, and should produce
substantially better footage then our camera did. You can record up to 4k
HD Video that will enable you to get very high resolution video still
shots. Also, it comes with a flat lens port housing so you do not have to
modify the housing to produce crisp underwater photos.

I have some photos of our setup and some images on my private blog that you
can look at (there is nothing from this trip on the NOAA website yet)

Good luck, and please share your experience if you get the chance to try
the new GoPro, or any other useful camera!


NOAA/NCCOS/CCMA/Biogeography Branch
gustav.kagesten at noaa.gov

>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>From: K-le Gomez-Cabrera <klegomez at uq.edu.au>
>To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2012 23:53:51 +0000
>Subject: [Coral-List] Have anyone used GoPro cameras for coral surveys?
>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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