While activities like skiing, surfing, kayaking, and even motorsports can serve as incredible subject matter for the GoPro photographer, I could never wrap my head around using one for OCR. I’ve always taken note of the relatively large number of people wearing GoPro cameras on their heads or strapped to their chests during races, but I was certain any footage they managed to capture would be more likely to induce motion sickness rather than enthusiastic repeat viewings. (I’ve watched enough of them posted on YouTube to know this is definitely possible if not always the case.) Since I started writing for ORM, I found myself in need of a way to better capture my race experience for readers. As wonderfully talented as the professional race photographers are, waiting a few days for their images to be available isn’t always conducive to a time-sensitive piece and rifling through stock photography for hours on end to find an applicable shot is quite a time suck and incredibly tedious to put it mildly. To that end, I put forth the effort to learn more about the GoPro and get a much better understanding of what it could do.
First, let’s dispense with dedicating more ink to the GoPro camera itself. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome tool and a fun “big kid toy” for us techno gadget fans, but an absolutely staggering amount of information is readily available about it online and in print already. I probably don’t have much to add that hasn’t been documented elsewhere many times over. What I want to focus on is the wrist housing I used with it. As a side note, many online reviews begin with extremely detailed descriptions of the packaging and presentation or even video of unboxing the subject widget. I refuse to subject you to that. In my opinion, in the vast majority of cases, this doesn’t add anything useful to a review of the widget itself. The GoPro wrist housing as well as the standard accessory back doors and wrist strap adapter are inside the clamshell. Moving on.
As I mentioned previously, I’ve seen obstacle racers use head mounts and chest mounts a lot at events in the past, but until I researched GoPro accessories in detail, I had no idea this thing existed. After stumbling upon it, my immediate response was that it definitely could be a potential alternate solution for capturing imagery while running an obstacle race without having to wear anything on my chest or head. Keep in mind I want to grab mid-race photos, not necessarily video, so that first person perspective the more common body mounts offer isn’t a requirement. Conversely, I don’t think those body mounts would be useful for this specific purpose. I can’t imagine running an obstacle race with anything strapped to my head or my chest anyhow. For me personally, either would be quite a distraction when my focus is required to succeed and more importantly to remain safe.
Right out of the gate I felt I spent too much time finding exactly where to separate the Velcro and was terribly embarrassed for myself. As it turns out, the connection point for which I was looking was somewhat masked by the rubber retention ring that holds the camera in place when the wrist housing is worn.
(GoPro Wrist Housing Velcro connection point is directly adjacent to the retention ring)
Despite figuring it out on my own, I’ll admit I turned toward the all-knowing Internet just to confirm I’d done it right. I am a technical writer by trade and I appreciate good, concise instructions or even a simple infographic that gets the job done. Unfortunately, this accessory didn’t have any included material which I found sufficient. I think it’s worth noting that I believe there are companies that exist who limit the distribution of instructional content with their physical products to drive website traffic. In this case, the strategy is sound. GoPro’s support site, as well as their tutorial-specific YouTube channel, provide a wealth of extremely useful instructional content for all their products. Their documentation and video offerings are some of the best I’ve seen in the industry. While I didn’t need to reference any additional instructions, it took me a few seconds to figure out the latch for the camera housing as well. It’s quite obvious the first step is to slide the release button to unlock the housing thanks the arrow icon emblazoned upon it, however, the next step isn’t as clear. This wrist housing has what can only be described as a latch within a latch in that not one but two actions must be performed after you slide the release. While holding the release button in the unlocked position, you lift the hinge side of the latch on the front of the camera. That releases the opposite edge of the latch which unhooks it from the back door of the camera. The latch configuration holds the GoPro securely within the plastic housing, however operating the mechanism seemed somewhat counter-intuitive given the operation of similar closures I’ve encountered.
(GoPro Wrist Housing latch operation)
When I first had the wrist housing on my forearm, I was surprised by the weight and bulkiness of it. It felt somewhat awkward initially. Also, the hinged clip that connects the camera housing to the retention ring came undone until I resecured the Velcro strap to sit much tighter. (The wrist strap adapter that came with the wrist housing also connects the retention ring to the Velcro and can be used in place of the clip, but seems better suited to securing the mount when wearing heavier sleeves. I couldn’t find any reason to use the adapter in place of the clip) I was having my doubts on whether or not this was going to work for me. Fortunately, it was short lived. Once I began running, the clip stayed in place and I was too focused on using the GoPro to worry about the weight and virtually forgot about it. I discovered the retention ring actually serves a dual purpose. You can unclip the camera housing, rotate the camera housing away from your wrist, and view the display screen when using the GoPro. This feature is cool if you’re capturing pre or post race footage while wearing the wrist housing, but pretty worthless mid-run. After trying this, I did feel the need to tighten the Velcro again.
(GoPro Wrist Housing unhooked and rotated for screen access)
Once in motion, I felt the need to steady the camera with my opposite hand to avoid bouncy video and/or blurry photographs. Since I plan on capturing still images from my video footage in post production, this approach worked fine. I only used my support hand for a few seconds at a time to ensure a crisp shot. It took 27 minutes of running hard before I felt the wrist housing slipping slightly and felt the need to secure the Velcro again. Again, this was fine with me. I have no illusions about an accessory like this staying perfectly in place for hours on end when rough motion, mud, and sweat are constant factors. I appreciate quality gear, but I keep my expectations realistic.
(GoPro Wrist Housing + FitBit + Huskies = The OCR PowerGlove!)
Overall, this is a cool alternative to other body mounted GoPro housing options if you plan on taking photos during an obstacle race and would recommend it for that purpose. It could also be useful for taking short video clips as well if you can accept hitting the pause button on your race for a moment to capture the footage. GoPro probably didn’t have OCR in mind when they designed this particular mount, though. I think it’s best applications would be water sports which lend themselves to much smoother motion, but it’s definitely an accessory to consider if wearing a chest or head mount doesn’t appeal to you; it just takes a few minutes of acclimation and a little getting used to.
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