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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Use Your Head

Try a headcam for first-person perspective on your next photo adventure

This Article Features Photo Zoom
The Stealth comes with a variety of attachment options, including helmet straps, handlebar grip, goggle strap mount and sticky plate to attach to any hard surface. Another useful accessory included with the Stealth is a wristband with remote control. This means that when you're ready to shoot or record, you simply hit a button on the wrist remote control. No unwanted stills or video while your camera randomly shoots away—you control when the camera is shooting.

While these features are impressive, the bottom line is image quality. I found both stills and video to be quite good, great for such a small camera. The Stealth can capture 5-megapixel still images every time you hit the wrist remote button or select button on the camera. You also can set the camera to take a shot every few seconds until the memory card is full. I found this mode to be best when I was mountain biking and more worried about crashing than triggering the shutter. The Stealth also captures vibrant 720p and 1080p HD video. Using a 16 GB flash card, you can get around three hours of video footage. With a fully charged battery, expect about 21⁄2 hours of video time.

The Stealth is a rugged unit, and worked fine while getting beat up and wet while skiing in snowy conditions. This camera isn't meant to be used underwater, but it does fine in wet weather conditions and is splashproof.

GoPro Hero
If your main priorities are small size and waterproofing, try the GoPro Hero. I shoot a lot of water sports, and being able to use a headcam on my kayaking helmet or attached to a boat is a huge benefit. The Hero comes with an underwater housing that's waterproof down to 180 feet! If you plan to get wet, this is the camera for you.

The Hero is very small, about the size of a tennis ball. The camera offers a nice set of features, including 720p or 1080p HD video and 5-megapixel still capture. The camera comes with a head strap for mounting and two adhesive plates that can be attached to almost anything. Additional mounting options can be purchased, including a waterproof wrist mount and a surfboard mount, good options for water sports.

The Hero doesn't have an LCD to preview your images, only a small LCD on the front displaying shooting information. The shooting options on the Hero are simple. You turn on the camera by pressing the power button, then hit the shutter button, and the camera starts recording. These buttons are spaced apart so you can operate the camera by touch when it's on your head. For shooting stills, I really like the time-lapse mode. This mode allows you to shoot a photo at various intervals from two seconds to every minute. Battery life is around 2½ hours, and a 16 GB SD card gives you plenty of space before you need to charge the battery.

Still and video quality are also very good. I would have liked to preview my shots in the field with an LCD, but being waterproof outweighed having an LCD on this camera. I used this camera for a paddle on my local river, and it performed without a hitch, even after being underwater numerous times. The next time I go snorkeling, I'll bring this camera with me.

Which Method To Choose
Both the Stealth and Hero have great still and video quality, considering their small size, with each camera offering a unique set of features. If you want an LCD for reviewing images in the field and a remote wristband shutter release, go with the Stealth. If you plan on shooting a lot around water or submerging your camera underwater, the Hero is for you. If you're more of a DIY person and want the best image quality, try using your existing camera attached to an old helmet. Whatever method you choose, using a headcam will give you a unique perspective and offer new shooting possibilities.

Tom Bol is a freelance editorial and commercial photographer based in Colorado. Visit www.tombolphoto.com.

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