cozumel-hammockI recently picked up a GoPro HD Naked camera specifically for a vacation in Cozumel. We had scuba dives scheduled, and I wanted a simple point and shoot option to capture video and stills with a minimum of mess and annoyance. Sure, I’d have loved to rent a full housing for a 5DMK2…but that’s relatively bulky, and I wasn’t looking for perfect quality; I wanted simplicity on this trip. After all, who wants to work on a vacation?

From that standpoint, the GoPro really fit the bill. It’s a simple little camera, with very few controls and not even an LCD for framing. You just point it blindly, trusting that it’s ultra-wide fixed-focus f2.8 lens will get the shot. And along the way, can capture some really pretty stuff. It’s actually a little bit freeing to not be able to see the LCD…you just “spray and pray,” and the results can be surprising. And did I mention it’s cheap? The HD Hero Naked is only $260.

cozumel-dive-stills-1Underwater, the current stock GoPro housing has a bit of an issue. It is waterproof to beyond normal scuba depths, but there is a problem with soft edges in the video frame. Apparently this stems from the curved-lens housing design. It is my understanding that GoPro is aware of the issue and is officially working on an updated housing for divers.

Knowing this in advance, I picked up an Eye of Mine flat-port housing, which is basically a DIY mod of the stock GoPro housing. The Eye of Mine housing will vignette a touch in the stills mode, but the GoPro’s slightly cropped 1080p mode doesn’t have any issues with vignetting. This modded housing looks a bit ugly, but performed perfectly for me at depths up to 85ft.

cozumel-dive-stills-2Battery life on the camera is excellent. The small rechargeable battery is good for upwards of an hour of on-and-off shooting. I was able to get two full dives out of the camera, with plenty of battery to spare. I recorded to an el-cheapo 16GB Transcend media card.

The size of the camera is both a pro and a con. On the pro side, you can just stuff it in a pocket on your BCD and just pull it out when you wish. But that svelte size also means that the footage can be shaky as there is very little inertia and it’s difficult to grasp well with two hands. Thankfully, the wide lens hides some of these small camera indiscretions. You could easily attach handgrips or even headmount the camera to help avoid handheld shakes. I’m sure Zacuto or someone else as prolific will release full rigs for these cameras at some point. GoPro also has a number of mounting options, though they tend to market towards extreme sports shooters.

cozumel-dive-stills-3I shot quite a bit of video from our dives, and will be doing some CC and editing on that footage for a later post, but for now here are some stills snapped with the relatively low-res 5MP GoPro stills mode. Some of these have had minor retouching. Click through for larger versions, and enjoy!

Full disclosure: FreshDV is now a GoPro affiliate (because we think they make cool gear), you can shop via our link here: Official GoPro® Store.

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