Go street, GoPro
Some of you have asked me how my GoPro Hero3 performs when used for travel and street photography. I just came back from a trip to Japan, where my GoPro was directly mounted (without its waterproof case) on the top plate of my Leica M6 by using a strong, double sided adhesive tape. By dropping GoPro’s original case the two cameras together are lighter and way less obstrusive and prominent than they get if you mount the GoPro with case and all that’s necessary for a hot shoe mount.
In this post I’m going to share a few shots and few comments on how this little POV camera performs when used for street photography, meaning for still shots, not videos.
Well, first of all, GoPro is wide, really wide. Only if you treat it as a superwide will you possibly get anything decent out of it. If you treat it as a 28 mm, you’ll only get terribly boring shots where everything seems to be miles away (like the drunk guy I almost stumbled upon in the shot below).
But get closer, say between 0,5 and 1 m from the nearest subject, and things will soon start looking more interesting. The good thing about it is you’ll most likely go totally unnoticed or ignored, as no one will think they are within the camera’s field of view, even when they are well in it.. Here are some examples of closer shots.
The fact that you need to be THAT close may in fact pose a little practical challenge (beside the need to get out of your comfort zone): To get really interesting shots, you need to be seriously on a collision course with your subjects, to the point where either of you (or both) adjust the route to avoid bumping into each other. In other words, you’ll get some shots where the subject is looking towards a side and not straight into the camera as you may want. Well, unless you stick the camera in front of their nose while walking by, of course..
But all in all I love it. The perspectives you can get from this camera are sometimes amazing and enable pretty cool shots. Sure, if you get too close you will end up with some bizarre deformations (like the poor Bambi below), but everything will still be in perfect focus, as the depth of field of this camera is virtually infinite.
Another fine feature of this GoPro is the unnoticeable shutter delay. You depress the button and the shot is there, even though the display takes one second to update the image count.
Now, if you are thinking that all of this anyway is only usable for facebook and blog pictures, think again: GoPro Hero3 delivers very usable 12 Mp files, and even bursts of 30 shots/second. Unfortunately only as JPGs, though. My hope is they’ll give us the possibility of saving RAW files in a future firmware update. The only point where GoPro does not perform that brilliantly for still images is in very low light. The camera does increase the ISO value automatically but not that much, it seems: As available light diminishes you will unavoidably get some blurry shots (more food for your creativity?). Enjoy it, and bring a few spare batteries as they’ll go low relatively fast.