Believe it or not I started filming my kayak fishing outings on a Sanyo Xacti WH1 Camcorder mounted to a cut down pool cue positioned in one of the scupper holes on the kayak. This sort of worked but it didn’t give a very wide angle so most of the footage was of fairly close up face shots. Not ideal for demonstrating the art of kayak fishing. It also wasn’t full HD only standard 720 HD but it was waterproof which was handy. It wasn’t long before I was looking at the Gopro cameras.
My first Gopro camera was the Gopro Hero or Gopro 1. I purchased a RAM arm system which consisted of a couple of 12 inch arm sections with joints either end and in the middle. This was then fixed to the scotty mounting plate using the bolts supplied. This worked well and allowed plenty of adjustment to get different angles of footage. The only problem with this setup was the battery life of the Gopro. I would get about an hour of footage before needing to replace the battery. I’d already purchased a couple of spare batteries ready to swap out but you could guarantee that they’d run out just when I needed them the most and I’d hooked a decent fish. This was frustrating as I would lose all the best footage. I tried only turning the camera on when I’d caught a fish but you’d miss the bite which wasn’t great. A battery backpack was my next purchase which more or less doubled the recording time but was nowhere near long enough to capture my full days fishing. Another problem with this Gopro was the fact it had no built in display or wifi so you had line up the camera and hope for the best. Half the time it wouldn’t be lined up correctly and you wouldn’t know until you got home and viewed the footage. The lens also had a habit of steaming up so I had to use anti-fog strips
Next was the Gopro 3 silver. It had more features and a built in screen at the back and was a bit lighter. With a 64gb micro sd card I could get just over 9 hours of full 1080 HD recording at 30fps. In fact this is the camera I’ve used for most of my Youtube footage. I purchased a usb battery eliminator which allowed me to use a powerbank to power the camera. This gives me a full days uninterrupted recording without the need to swap any batteries. I connect to the camera using my smartphone to make adjustments to the camera angle etc then just press record. Every now and again I’ll use the phone to change the camera’s field of view but apart from that I could just forget about it and concentrate on the fishing. A couple of years later the internal mic stopped working so I was able to purchase an external microphone which plugged into the side usb connector. Ok now for the not so good points of this setup. I had quite a few issues with this camera freezing when I needed it the most and also connecting it to my smartphone was pretty hit and miss. It wasn’t the phone that had the issue as I tested it on 3 different phones. I lost a couple of SD cards full of footage when it did freeze on a couple of occasions. Yes I installed all the latest firmware updates and tried numerous brands of SD cards (recommended by GoPro) but that didn’t fix the issues. I even went through many recovery processes to try and recover the data but no, it was lost. Maybe I just had a faulty Gopro.
In my quest to find a better system I purchased a Sony HDR-AS100V. This came with a rather nifty Live view Remote, basically a screen that you wear on your wrist like a watch and it promised image stabilisation which was a first for me on an action camera. I tested the camera at home and all seemed well but after my first outing there was an issue. Due to the way I use my action cams (head mounted) I purchased a head mount system for this camera which placed the camera on the side of my head. Unfortunately the wide angle lense was too wide and it captured the side of my face in the shot. At the time there were no other suitable head mounts for this camera. OK back to the drawing board.
By now the Gopro 4 had just been released so I purchased one of them. I wanted to upgrade from the Gopro 3 as that was starting to fail. When I eventually started to use it the following summer I came across a couple of issues. Firstly I was only getting half the recording time of the Gopro 3 using the same 64GB micro SD card recording at 1080 @ 30fps, about 4.5 hours. OK the bit rate may be higher @30mbps therefore giving a better image quality but that was of no use to me as I could hardly see a difference between the two. Not suitable for recording a days fishing and I didn’t want to start swapping SD cards whilst out on the water, or reduce the recording resolution. My GoPro 4 was also difficult to turn on, sometimes it would, sometimes it wouldn’t. Often I would need to remove the battery and reinsert it to get it to turn on. So I went back to my trusty Gopro 3 Silver.
Then in early 2017 I decided it was time to move over to 4K recording. I already had a drone which could record in 4K, the DJI Mavic Pro so wanted an action cam which could also do the same. Along came the GoPro 5, now this looked promising so after checking the specs online I purchased one. On arrival I spent an hour or so testing it and was impressed by how easy it was to use. No finicky menus and the touch screen on the back made life so much easier to adjust settings on the fly. I paired this with my smartphone and use the phone to manage the camera. As it is able to take a 128GB card I now get my full day’s recording again @1080. I looked into using the 4K recording but the image stabilisation is not available in 4K mode and a 128GB card would only give me so I had a choice to make. Shaky 4K footage or smooth, nice looking 1080, I chose the 1080 and I’m very happy and results. Hopefully the next GoPro will have stabilised 4K recording at a decent frame rate.
Would you believe it, just as I complete this post the GoPro 6 is announced which promises double the power of the GoPro 5 and offers 4K recording up to 60fps. I may invest in a GoPro 6 next spring if the reviews are favourable. Maybe this is the one I’ve been waiting for.
Gopro cameras: http://amzn.to/2ya3Pt6