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Using GoPro Night Mode

GoPro night mode

GoPro action cameras are the top pick if you are wanting to capture some amazing video’s of skydiving, snowboarding, skiing, throwing your baby in the air (your wife might not like that last one but it’s been done) or just about anything.  A growing number of people including me are really enjoying the photo capability of these little cameras.  Now I know a GoPro is not the ideal camera for every situation they have a very wide angle (170 degrees) and you need to be close to the subject.  These cameras can capture some amazing shoots that a regular DSLR camera can’t.  With the release of the Hero4 Silver & Black models a GoPro Night Mode has been added giving you control over the shutter or exposure time.  You don’t need to fear if you are not a photography geek, the GoPro Night Mode is relatively easy to use.

Getting Started with GoPro Night Mode

There are two main Keys that you need to keep in mind when shooting in GoPro Night Mode. First is that you will need a tripod or stable place to mount the camera on.  Second is using the GoPro app or remote to control your GoPro.  When shooting long exposures or in GoPro Night Mode once the shutter is open you do not want the camera to move at all.  GoPro night mode on Hero4 cameras have exposure settings ranging from auto to 30 seconds.  I always like to take at least one photo in auto just to see how it looks.  Surprisingly the GoPro Night Mode in auto is usually right on and it gives you a really great shot.  Shooting in GoPro night mode takes practice so I suggest trying it whenever you have a chance, the more you use it the better your photos will get.  For more on GoPro night mode check out this article.

GoPro night mode

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I have to admit I tend to shoot a lot of footage with my GoPro cameras without creating a video with that footage in a timely manor.  I have been trying to change this for two reasons.  First off if you edit soon after you shoot its easier to remember where certain points or moments are.  Video’s are like short movies they usually are telling a story, when you get to editing

GoPro footage

Editing with GoPro studio

a video soon after it was shot you are more likely to easily put that story together.  The second big reason to get footage edited quickly is to share and document those memories.  More often then not you will not edit up a video or even a vacation video several months after.  You may not even make that video at all, I didn’t.  I would just fill hard drives up with great GoPro footage and never get around to making a video from it.  Here is a video that I made from a recent trip to visit family in California.

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I am always trying to learn more about editing and making video’s so I welcome all comments and critiques on this video or any of my work.  This video was edited using GoPro studio, it is a free software from GoPro and it does a pretty good job for me.  I have herd a lot of more advanced users say it is not for them, but it works just fine.  It’s available for both Mac and PC users.  I am imagining GoPro making it easier in the future to compile and edit footage quicker right from the camera or camera app.  Get out and capture some great moments.  Follow it up with editing that GoPro footage soon after it’s made.  You will create better video’s while building a library of video’s instead of just hard drives full of footage.

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You have made the decision to get a new GoPro Hero4 camera great, the one piece of hardware you need to start capturing epic shots is the correct Hero4 memory card to maximize your new GoPro’s capability’s.  Having the right Hero4 memory card in your GoPro Hero4 Silver and Black camera is key to capturing the best footage.  The GoPro Hero4 Black is capable of shooting 4K video at 30 FPS (frames per second) to record at these higher resolutions the camera has write data at higher bit rates than any other GoPro camera ever made.  The GoPro Hero4 black records booth 4k and 2.7k modes at 60 mbps.  There are a few other modes that also use this higher bit rate 1080 90 & 120 and 720 240 FPS.  For the GoPro Hero4 Silver & Black cameras I (and GoPro) recommend booth the Lexar 633x and the Sandisc Extreme for optimum Hero4 memory card performance.

Hero4 Memory Cards

Hero4 Memory Cards

Hero4 Memory Card

Lexar 633X  Specs: microSDHC/microSDXC UHS-1 card speed rated at a class 10 95MB/s read speed

Although Lexar does not not an exact write speed (from tests around the internet people are getting 40-44 MB/s) for this card just listing it at less than the read speed this card works perfectly when recording 4k with protune on.

Sandisc Extreme Specs: microSDHC/microSDXC UHS-3 60MB/s read & 40MB/s write speeds

This card works great when using a Hero4 shooting in 4k with Protune on.

Yes this may add another $50-$75 to the cost of your GoPro purchase but if you don’t not have a card the complements the performance of the camera those settings are useless.  Some say well I may not be shooting in 4k yes that is understandable.  I don’t either but, every time I have tried out a cheap “discount” cards in any of my GoPro cameras I have had some sort of problem.  Whether it is a corrupted file, incomplete file or just a failure to record and the camera just stops recording.  No one wants this right in the middle of an epic moment on that once in a lifetime cruise or vacation.  Get a GOOD Hero4 memory card!

Bellow are Amazon links to both of these cards.

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Green Day Trail Moab Crawling Area BFE

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Every year a myself and a group of friends head out to Moab, Utah for some 4Wheeling fun.  This year I made a video of the group (not me) tackling the Green Day trail at Area BFE off road park just outside the city of Moab.  (Here is is a link to last years video also.) Most of the guys in the group drive Toyota trucks we also have one Jeep guy that comes every year.

Green Day Trail

Headed up Green Day Trail Area BFE, Moab

I currently have a Toyota tacoma and love it.  My tacoma is basically stock just 33″ tires vs 31″ stock, front and rear bumper along with rock sliders on the sides.  Toyota tacoma’s with the TRD package come equipped with a rear locking differential.  This makes a huge difference when crawling on Moab’s tough trails.  I actually like days when the group chooses a hard trail like Green Day trail so that I can do some filming.  I do 100% my filming using GoPro cameras.  The GoPro cameras are perfect for getting the action from both on the vehicles and around them.  The mount I use most on this type of filming is any kind of roll bar mount.  I use GoPro brand and a few custom ones that I have made specifically for this trip.  Like these on this page here.

Moab Rim Trail

Going up Moab Rim trail

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GoPro BacPac Extension Cable Video


GoPro recently introduced an accessory called the BacPac Extension Cable.  It is basically an extension for both the Battery BacPac and the LCD Touch BacPac from GoPro.  GoPro BacPac Extension Cable allows for control of the camera remotely with an LCD Touch BacPac, change out a new Battery BacPac without un-mounting your GoPro camera.  This is ideal in time lapse situations when you don’t want to change or move the cameras mounting position.  At a suggested retail $39.99 the GoPro BacPac Extension Cable is a little steep for just a cable.  I am A fan of GoPro design and craftsmanship in all it’s products, but this one I think should be about half the price.  Non the less it is a nice accessory to have, hope there will be some good aftermarket copy’s that offer this type of product.

A modification for the GoPro BacPac Extension Cable

GoPro only says the BacPac Extension Cable can only be used with a frame housing.   So after got a hold of one of these cables I wondered if you could modify the rear door of a waterproof housing for use with it?  Yes you can with a little grinding modification.  All you need to do is cut a notch out of a back door of a standard housing or grind a little away from a skeleton housing back door.  Just put your GoPro in the case you want to modify and mark the area to be removed with a sharpie or marker.  I personally used a mill to carefully cut this notch in the back door.  This could also be done with a Dremel tool or small die grinder.  I tried to make it as tight of a fit as possible for use in dusty situations or maybe even water by applying silicone around it.

GoPro BacPac Extension Cable

Tight fit on extension cable

GoPro BacPac Extension cable

Housing with cable installed

modified GoPro backdoor

Milled out backdoor

GoPro BacPac Extension Cable

GoPro BacPac Extension Cable

GoPro BacPac Extension Cable door mod

Milling out backdoor on the mill

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GoPro Hero4 Session Is This a Game Changer?

GoPro has just introduced their smallest GoPro yet in the form of a cube called Hero4 Session.  In the past two GoPro iterations we have seen incredible jumps in technology like 4k video at 30fps.  Some of the other big technology jumps were wifi, Protune, 30 photos in 1 second burst mode and many other incredible firsts in the action camera world.  Hero4 Session is a huge leap in the form factor or size.  Measuring half the size of previous GoPro models and 40% the weight the Hero4 Session is a huge deal.  It is hard to predict but I would imagine this will be the new size of all new GoPro models including the flagship Hero4 Black.  Back in March Forbes featured an article pointing at a new patent issued to GoPro highlighting a square or cubed housing.  Hero4 Session although it lacks 4k its still boasts 1440p 30fps and 1080p 60fps for capturing incredible slow motion shots.   Featuring just has one main button and a smaller wifi button making the Hero4 Session a bit more complicated to adjust and use.  This camera is a simple capture device, no LCD screen, and non removable battery.  This allows for even tighter places that this model camera can be used.  It is waterproof without a housing only requiring a slim frame to mount it I would suspect this is why the battery is not removable.

new GoPro patent

New GoPro patent

Hero4 Session Specs/Features

Hero4 Session

Hero4 Session

  • 1440 @ 30fps
  • 1080 @ 30fps, 60fps
  • 720 @ 100fps
  • 8MP Photo with 10/1 burst mode
  • Protune for video
  • Support for up to 64gb micro sd

Yes some would say this cube shape has already been done by both the Polaroid Cube and SJCam M-10.  Those are cube shaped cameras true but combined with the power and design genius of GoPro I think this Hero4 Session is most definitely going to soon be the cube shaped camera world will see as a GoPro.  Here are my reasons for saying this Polaroid makes an “ok” camera with it’s cube, but thats all just ok.  There are not many accessories to mount it and use it in different ways.  To me what makes GoPro cameras so good is everything around it that enables you to use it well.  Was GoPro the first to make a cube shaped camera? No. Will GoPro be the first company to make a cube camera work amazing? Yes. GoPro makes cameras that do everything an action camera can do really good, other manufactures make just a couple nice features but sacrifice on others.  This is why I believe Hero4 Session is a game changer.

Let me know what you think with a comment bellow.

 

 

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GoPro Drones A Perfect Fit

 

GoPro’s Nick Woodman while at Code Conference May 26-28 in Rancho Palos Verde, California revealed what was rumored that GoPro drones were in the works.  The GoPro CEO described drones as the ultimate accessory for action cameras.   With just about every consumer drone you see flying around the sky these days having a GoPro camera attached to it this is a good move for GoPro.  I think GoPro drones aligns much better than GoPro being a “media company”.  Being an avid GoPro gear enthusiast I believe GoPro makes the best accessories for their cameras and GoPro drones while a bigger accessory it just fits with what they do.  From the plastic they use to the design GoPro drones I anticipate will be very well designed and tough as nails.

GoPro Drones Expanding the EmpireGoPro Drones

DJI one of the leading drone makers with it’s “Fantom” model of drone used to mainly GoPro cameras now has it’s own propriety camera.  The GoPro drone will just be the opposite of this move by DJI.  If GoPro drones can be just as easy as current drones to fly I think GoPro will have it’s next hit, the GoPro drone is planned to be released in the first half of 2016.

GoPro also filled us in on why they had recently purchased Savoie, France based virtual reality company Kolor.com. Kolor’s software lets users to stitch together multiple photographs or videos to make 360-degree panoramas and videos, that is called “spherical content”.  Here is a link to one of the mounts pictured with Mr. Woodman.  This allows viewers to control what angle of a video they see, again another great fit for GoPro.  GoPro drones and spherical content both emerging markets that are in perfect alignment with GoPro moving forward.  As GoPro expands the empire it looks like they are making good decisions, I personally look forward to seeing the incredible products that GoPro brings to these two growing markets.

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GoPro Thumb screw Wrench a must have accessory

Having some sort of GoPro thumb screw wrench has become for me one accessory that is a must have.  GoPro Thumb screw Wrench to me is now a must have accessory for every GoPro users gear bag.  Tight pivot arms enable no camera movement so you wont miss any great shots. There are several different options out now days, some better than others.

GoPro thumb screw wrench 4 different options

GoPro The Tool  is not unlike a lot of the other GoPro accessories well designed and thought out.  It even has a bottle opener integrated into the opposite end.  It comes bundled together with one of GoPro’s other great accessories the handler or can be purchased separately for only $4.99 cheap stay tight insurance if you ask me.  GoPro thumb screw wrench

GoBudi Another company that makes a good GoPro thumb screw wrench.  GoBudi sells their GoPro thumb screw wrench in a bundle also with five long GoPro thumb screws for $9.99.  The GoBudi wrench is just a small plastic wrench that fits over the thumb screw giving you more leverage.

Smatree is probably better known for their GoPro batteries of which are very good and a great deal.  This GoPro thumb screw wrench has been made out of aluminum and works on both GoPro thumb screws and aftermarket aluminum style thumb screws. These are $7.99 by itself or $14.99 in a bundle with some fancy aluminum thumb screws.

EEEkit GoPro thumb screw wrench is also made of plastic making it nice and light to carry in your pocket.  These can be found at Amazon.com for only $5.00.  This wrench, The tool, and the GoBudi all have a feature that I really like in that it can’t slide past the end of the thumb screw.  With the Smatree wrench you have to hold it at the largest part of the thumb screw for it to work not a huge deal just a difference I found in using these four wrenches for the last few months.

 

 

 

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Memory Card Care, Best Tips For GoPro Memory Card Care

Taking good care of your memory cards is just as important as caring for your camera. A camera’s memory card is essetialy the heart of your camera and a key element to capturing great video and pictures with your GoPro or and any digital camera. Good memory card care is not something to take lightly  you can spend upwards of of $80 dollars on a single memory card.  Taking good care of them is essential to long life and optimum performance in your GoPro camera.  This does not effect you as much when you have only one card in your gear bag, but as you aqquire more and more cards you need a good place to keep your memory cards.

Memory card care with SDcardholder.com

SDcardholder.com memory card holder

I have found a personal favorite in SDcardholder.com these little holders are the size of a credit and make memory card care easy.  The come in all a bunch of different colors to suite your needs.

Memory card care tips

  • Delete images & videos on your computer not in camera

Deleting images and video’s from your card while in your camera can actually shorten the life of your memory card.  To increase your memory cards life erasing all your images at once after uploading to your computer only uses one erase cycle instead of multiple cycles.  As a general rule of thumb the fewer times you add or remove data from memory card the better life you will get out of that memory card.

  • Use more than one memory card

Using more than one card is just like having more than one hard drive in your computer.  If there was a failure with your memory card you would not loose an entire trips worth of video and photos.  Example: you are going on a trip to Hawaii and thought you would buy one 64 gb card, the better idea is to buy two 32 gb cards and use both while on your trip.  You will also get more use out of two cards versus using one card all the time.

  • Don’t fill your card to its max capacity

It is not the worst thing to do to a memory card but it is a good idea to avoid recording to the max that the card will store.  There could be a write error if the camera is trying to write to the card and runs out of space.  Most likely this will just effect that last file but I don’t like to chance it.

  • Don’t remove card while camera is on

Memory card care Hero4

Remove memory card with camera off

When digital cameras were new there was a risk of a voltage shock to the memory card while being inserted and taken out.  Most camera manufactures have solved this possible problem but I still like to keep this a good safe memory card care.  You especially don’t want to remove the memory card while the camera is writing to the card.

  • Don’t run your camera battery all the way out

This is a another way to both miss great action and to have a write error is if the camera power runs out while it is writing to the memory card.  When your camera battery indicator is flashing with zero bars left, power down and change the battery.

  • Format your Sd card for each camera you use it in

Memory card care starts from the beginning that si with a good format.  It is not a good idea to use the same card for multiple cameras.  You are probably ok to use the same SD card in multiple GoPro cameras but I try to format the card every time I switch it between camera’s especially if it is a different model or firmware version.  It is also good memory card care to reformat cards ever so often just to make sure the format is good.

  • Ad contact info on your memory card

This one is not necessarily memory card care but, Lately I have seen a lot of lost GoPro camera’s on the Redit GoPro page.  Most GoPro owners would save themselves a lot of heart ache by either adding and keeping the first photo on there GoPro with contact or business card info.  Most people in the end are good people and will return your camera if found.

Good memory card care is mainly simple common sense camera care and use.  I also advise buying good quality cards to of my favorite are Sandisc and Lexar.  Saving a couple $ could and very likely will come back to hurt you by loosing photos and video’s.  Take these precautions, be smart and your memory cards will treat you well.

 

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DIY GoPro camera dolly

I made this DIY GoPro camera dolly a few years back when I had a GoPro hero2 camera.  I really enjoy both making things and close up photography so this was right up my alley.  This was one of my first DIY GoPro projects my first was making a hand grip.  My DIY GoPro camera dolly has a couple pieces that I did machine so it is not completely “DIY”, but those parts do not need to be machined to get yourself a functioning camera dolly.  I based my design of of the Pico dolly found here at FilmTools.

Making DIY GoPro camera dolly

DIY GoPro camera dolly

DIY GoPro camera dolly

First off you will need a set of four either skateboard wheels or what I used and prefer is inline skate wheels.  Then I used a 3″ wide X 1/4″ thick X 10″ long piece of aluminum.  These specs could all be different depending on what you are wanting to do.  I ended up making three different places to mount to one center and to either end.  The axles is where I did the machining and this could be done any number of ways just anything to attach the wheels to and then attach to the middle of each end of the aluminum.  A simple camera dolly can be made any nuber of ways you don’t even need to get brand new parts.  You could easily build this all from parts that you may already have or that are easily aquired from a thrift store pawn shop.  Use your imagination and you can find the parts.  You can use your DIY GoPro camera dolly for all kinds of low angle shots either in a circle or curving motion or in a straight line.  These are fun little tools to get interesting smooth flowing shots with your GoPro camera.

DIY GoPro camera dolly with Hero2

Camera dolly with Hero2

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