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Review of GoPro “Hero” Wide Angle Lens Video Camera
Friday, August 21st, 2009

Review of GoPro “Hero” Wide Angle Lens Video Camera

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The GoPro Hero Wide is an extremely tiny video camera originally designed for the Motorsport scene and basically for activities that are fast paced and require the mounting of the camera for “in your face” action.  We decided to try this Camera out to see if the GoPro Hero could transcend the hunting scene. 

When we received the GoPro, the first thing that struck us was the cool packaging it came in.  It comes inside a thick, clear, plastic box with the camera mounted on top and all the attachments in the bottom. 

At $200 this thing is the ultimate of gifts for someone with an active lifestyle and who wants to record some of those “you should have been there” moments.  Another thing that was immediately noticeable was the lightweight nature of this camera.  Outside of the waterproof case, the camera resembles one of toys my kids get out of those gumball machines at the Mall.  Boy was I surprised at the quality of video this thing brings to the table.  Finally, we were quite surprised at what the folks at GoPro include with this camera.  As we kept pulling various mounting brackets from the plastic box, our heads filled with ideas of how to attach this thing to guns, bows, and various other hunting implements.  Here’s a list of what’s included with the Hero Wide:

5 Megapixel Camera with 170º Wide Angle Lens
1 Shockproof/Waterproof Quick-Release Housing–100 feet/30 meters
3 Flat Adhesive Mounts
2 Curved Adhesive Mounts
2 Horizontal Surface Quick-release Buckle
1 Vertical Surface “J-Hook” Buckle
1 Suction Cup Mount
1 Three-way Pivoting Side Arm Assembly
1 USB/RCA Combo Cable
Warranty: 1 Year 
Note: SD card not included
   

One look at the Specs of this camera tells you that it packs a punch:

Resolution: 5 megapixel (2592×1944) photo, 512×384 video
Sensor: CMOS
Video Format: MJPEG, 30 fps, saved as .AVI file
Optics: glass lens, f/2.8 aperture, with ultra-wide 170º angle of view
Modes: video, standard photo, photo every 2 or 5 secs, 3x photo burst sequence, self timer, upside down photo/video flip
Exposure Control: auto
White Balance: auto
Self Timer: 10 seconds
Microphone: built-in with adjustable recording/input level
Audio Format: 8kHz, mono
Memory: 16 MB internal, expandable to 2GB with SD card (not included), expandable to 4GB with SDHC card (not included) via free software download from GoPro website—available soon
Capacity: 56 minutes video (incl. audio) or 1,945 photos with optional 2GB SD card. 1hr 52min video (incl. audio) with optional 4GB SDHC card—available soon
Power: 2x AAA batteries (not included), lithium batteries highly recommended. 3hrs. video recording with lithium, 2hrs. with NiMH
TV Out (with RCA cable): NTSC or PAL
PC Connection: USB + RCA combo cable
PC Compatibility: Windows ME, 2000, XP, and Vista; Mac OS X 10.2 and later
Dimensions: 1.75″ x 2.30″ x 1.25″/4.45cm x 5.84cm x 3.18cm (H x W x D)
Weight: 4.9 oz/139 g

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Pictured: The GoPro Hero along side my daughter’s Ipod Nano.  This thing is tiny! 

Although impressed with the quality of video this tiny gizmo offers, there is a touch of “bubble effect” when using the camera inside the waterproof housing. 

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GoPro shown inside waterproof housing mounted to head strap

This effect is not at all distracting once you get used to seeing it and is a small price to pay for a true waterproof camera.  When using the Hero Wide inside the waterproof housing, we found the sound to be muffled as well.  This made sense to us since the microphone is behind waterproof plastic. Once again, there will be a trade off for its waterproof ability. There is no LCD viewer on this camera so in order to see what you’ve attempted to capture, you’ll need to hook it up to a TV, a computer or simply take the SD card out of the camera and use a card reader.  Since this thing is designed to capture video while actively doing something (motorsport, skiing, shooting, etc) we were too busy doing the activity to worry about whether we caught the action on camera.  We were pleasantly surprised to see how easily it picked up our intended events.  Here are just a few activities that we tried videoing using the GoPro Hero Wide:

Gun
Bow
Skiing
Extra Camera Angle

Check out this Video to see the GoPro in action:

This is also the camera we used in our last Fast Facts Bow Review to show Point of View during the shot

Here are our marks on the GoPro Hero Wide Angle Lens Video Camera:

Video Quality: 4.5 out of 5 : This camera exceeded our expectations for its price and size. 

Sound Quality: 3 out of 5: You probably won’t be able to pick up the “crunch, crunch” of the leaves as the buck walks into your shooting lane on this thing, but you will be able to use it in a torrential downpour with no worries.

Battery Life: 4.5 out of 5: Use the lithium AAA’s as recommended and you’ll be fine. 

Durability: 5 out of 5: As long as you keep this thing in the waterproof housing, it’s almost indestructable.

Overall Value: 4.5 out of 5: If you would like to get into videoing your hunts yourself and don’t want to spend a lot of money on a camera and camera arms, this little dude may be for you.  Plus, the stuff that’s included with this camera rocks!

For more info on the GoPro line of cameras, visit their website

Review of the Turkey Light Vest by Mother
Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Review of the Turkey Light Vest by Mother

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We’ve tested Turkey Vests before, but the Turkey Light from Mother has got to be one of the coolest we’ve seen.  It does have its limitations, but there are a couple of features that drew us to test this vest.  One was the magnetic closures on the pockets and the patented “Slider” seat that slides out and stows away with the tug of two straps. 

Here are some of the Features of this Vest:

Sternum Strap: The low profile sternum straps has split tactical webbing to provide lash points for a variety of electronic gear  (GPS, Radios, Dog receivers), making this vest just as versitile for a variety of types of hunts.

Hip Harness: The hip belt of this vest allows the load to be evenly distributed to the hips and eases the strain on the shoulders.

Slider Seat: The foam Slider Seat deploys by pulling it out of the integrated pocket in the lower rear of the vest and stows back in the same pocket with a tug of 2 straps located on the sternum straps.

Silent Strength Fabric: The vest is made from a special brushed material that results in a soft touch and strong seams.

Magnetic Pockets: Not only are there magnetic closure points on the pockets of the hip harness, they are also found within and on the side of the game bag.

Game Bag Pockets and Blaze Flag: The Turkey Light Vest boasts two pockets within the game bag as well as a blaze flag to alert other hunters that you’re not a 6 foot, 210 pound forest chicken.

Hydration Compatible: Although the Hydration Bladder is sold seperately, the Turkey Light can accept one without hassle.

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Pictured: Easily Stow the Slider Seat with a pull of 2 sternum straps!

For those of you that like to bring along a larger array of calls and gadgets into the woods, we suggest the Chest Pack that easily attaches to any Mother Pack by an integrated harness system.  We did find the Turkey Light to have a few less pockets than we’re used to but I guess that’s why they call it the Turkey “Light” right?  Because of it’s lack of weight (more pockets mean more weight), this vest allows you to be able to “run and gun” those birds with ease.  No more fumbling, trying to fasten that seat in place either.  Just pull the straps and keep chasing.  If you’re in the market for a lightweight, comfortable turkey vest that’s tough as nails, give this vest a look.

Here’s our Marks on this Vest:

Function: 4 out of 5
What this Vest lacks in pockets, it more than makes up for in lack of weight and ease of seat deployment.  This is truly a “wear all day” vest due to its comfort and suspension system.

Quality / Durability: 5 out of 5
The vest is rugged and soft.  It appears to be extremely well made and we’re looking forward to giving it a run for its money this waterfowl season.

Design: 4 out of 5
We would like to see the vest come with the Chest Pack to give the option of a few more pockets.  The seat deployment gets big points for ingenuity however.

Price: 4 out of 5
At $99 for the Vest, and $39 for the chest pack the combo is a little steep.  However, the good news is that it’s a rugged, soft vest that can be worn all day in comfort.  We don’t see this vest wearing out in the field.

Offerings from Mother: Mother offers a variety of other hunting packs as well as products that they call “Mancoolers” and “Manduffles”.  Their website is pretty cool and we liked the way it’s set up.  The folks at Mother definately have a sense of humor.  For example, they describe the game bag compartment of this vest as a “Side loading, expandable game bag
that will easily accommodate a fat tom, a hind quarter from a whitetail, a case of beer or a four cylinder engine block.”
You gotta love that kind of attitude!  Check them out at www.mothertech.net

Over the Hill and Almost Dead
Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Over the Hill and Almost Dead
by Bob Peck 08-03-09

I could see the trespasser from a good 3-400 yards away.  I was perched on a knoll in full head-to-toe snow camo with my rifle on a bipod (also in snow camo) and enjoying the 3 ft of freshly fallen snow glassing the pinch point below formed by the confluence of two ridges.  I found myself fully content  and warm despite the 12 degree temps.  The sparkling diamonds of sun at the right angle on the surface of the snow had me snug and amazed.  I had draped my blaze orange vest over the log directly to my right and put my blaze orange hat in front of me on a twig about 3′ above the snow.

I was hoping the trespasser would make his way to the property line and disappear but his track was taking him straight up the ridge line across from me and resolutely on my Grandfather’s 150 acres.  It was slow going for the trespasser as the 3′ of fresh powder was lying on top of a 4′ base.  Through the lenses of the binocs it seemed like he was plowing the snow with his legs while simultaneously working his way up the ridgeline.  Large puffs of breath further reinforced the effort underway.

I debated standing and revealing my position but with that much distance between us I didn’t want to ruin the hunt and besides, Ifelt the blaze orange against the backdrop of sheer white would suffice.  On he trudged and with each step I felt my anger building.  Just what the hell was he doing or thinking?  In a few moments I would find out.

Without warning he suddenly stopped 50-80 yards from the ridge summit he was climbing and looked in my direction.  He stood motionless for a good 5 solid minutes, pulled up his rifle and pointed it directly at me.  Before I could yell out he fired a round so close to my position snow blasted in a cloud directly in front of me.  The adrenaline pump kicked into overdrive.  I don’t know why but I thought he must be shooting at a whitetail directly behind me so I spun around to have a look.  Nothing.

Shot number two cracked and landed even closer in front of me with dirt littering the surface of the snow.  It was clear this trespasser was shooting at me.  This time I yelled out “What the hell are you doing?!  STOP!” 

I grabbed the binoculars and watched him lower his gun.  He raised the rifle back up again and for a second I thought another round was about to be inbound.  Mr. Trespasser had no binocs so I assumed he was sizing me up through his scope.  What he saw was me flailing my arms wildly with my blaze orange hat in my hand.  I remember thinking if there is one more round I’m going to fire a warning shot over the hunter’s head but it didn’t come to pass.

We all know how sound travels in the crystal clear winter woods with nothing to abate the sound waves.  I heard Mr. Trespasser yell “Sorry! I thought you were a deer!”   His voice boomed  across the 250 yards of our separation.

Thought I was a deer?!  Are you kidding me?!  I’m blending into my environment so as not to look like anything AND there is the extra “advantage” of a blaze orange vest and hat in my direct proximity and I look like a deer to this guy?!  Man was I pissed!  I yelled obscenities across the winter woods that day and it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that I “lost it” knowing I could have been dead that day.   Mr. Trespasser nonchalantly pivoted from his course and dropped over the ridge out of my line of sight.  He wasn’t in any particular hurry.

I tried to catch up with Mr. Trespasser but under the deep snow conditions there was no way to actually span the distance and catch him but I did track him to where he must have parked his truck and then fled.

I’ve told this story many times in seminars and hunting camps and while on the surface there doesn’t appear to be ethical dilemmas, I’ve discovered over the years there are many.  As in all my Ethics Check columns I gladly write for my good friends Dan and Dale, this isn’t the end of this story so I await your observations before I chime back in.  C’mon y’all, bring it!

click-here-ethics-check

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