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

Bill Allison allison.billiam at gmail.com
Sat Dec 8 11:09:34 EST 2012

I've had experience with GoPro (and wide angle lenses on other cameras -
and most of the point and shoot cameras are fairly wide angle). The
distortion can be considerable and may be material for quantitative work. I
have found considerable linear distortion when I took length-width
measurements from stills. Point count data will be likely be biased. An
easy way to assess the distortion is to photograph a ruler or better still
some graph paper under water.

On Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 4:33 PM, Holden Harris
<holden.earl.harris at gmail.com>wrote:

> Hi K-le,
> I've used GoPros (Hero 1 and 2s) for benthic surveys in Northeast Florida,
> and currently use them for coral reef surveys in the Turks and Caicos
> Islands.  I agree with everything from Dominique's post, and I'll add what
> I can.
> Our coral reef surveys are done at depths 10, 20 and 30 meters.  We use a
> point-and-shoot camera, which has a flash, to take still images, and the
> GoPros for video.
> The GoPros have a 'fish-eye' lens, which gives very wide angle of view but
> it also causes visual distortion in the image's perimeter.  In other words,
> strait lines around the picture's perimeter become curved.
> To get good colors I would recommend using external lighting.  Even with
> very clear water, images will lose all warm colors beyond 8 or 10 meters.
>  We've mounted a GoPro onto a 1000 lumen torch, which has worked very well.
>  I know you can buy professional lighting systems for GoPros.  Also you can
> buy red filters, but from my experience the filter does nothing to enhance
> images taken beyond 5 or 6 meters.
> I've sent cameras to past 60 meters have never had any flooding issues.
>  They're hardy, versatile, and have great image quality (as long as you use
> a flat lens underwater).
> Feel free to contact me if you think of any more questions,
> Holden
> --
> Holden Earl Harris
> T: 649.332.3361
> F: 649.946.3246
> *School for Field Studies
> Center for Marine Resource Studies
> Turks and Caicos Islands*
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