While almost razor sharp topside, when underwater, focus and clarity were non-existent while using GoPRO's own underwater housing.
October 11, 2010
Eye of Mine Underwater Housing
An alternate housing for the GoPro HERO HD
Professional version:$99.00 - Standard version $79.00
by Steve Douglas
Not too long ago I reviewed an amazing little camcorder called the GoPro HERO HD. With multiple frame rates and sizes, a surprisingly inexpensive cam of this type simply lends itself to so many POV and other uses especially when attached to the handlebars of a motorcycle, mounted to a helmet or surfboard or on the dash or hood of a car. However, underwater, the housing for the GoPro HERO HD left a bit to be desired. While the primary intention of the GoPro company is not for this to be used as solely an underwater camcorder and housing, when used as such, the major fault I found, during a recent excursion to Roatan, Honduras, was that the edges of the frame were fairly soft and achieving sharp focus was darn difficult if not impossible. While used above water, the GoPRO HERO HD was really quite excellent for its Mpeg 4/ H.264 compression but at 60 feet below the ocean, not so good.
An offshoot distribution company called Eye of Mine decided to come out with their own version of a housing for the GoPRO HERO HD cam which has a large flat port which enables the camcorder to achieve both focus and a lessening of the fish eye type of clips it records. The GoPRO lens is 127° when shooting at 1080 and 165° when shooting in 720. The Eye of Mine housing improves that to 170°.
The Eye of Mine Professional housing is pressure tested to 200 feet while the Standard housing is tested at 4 feet for two hours to check for pinhole leaks. Eye of Mine claims a 95% success rate in their water and pressure testing of all housings. The housing is really hand made to order and the only difference between the two models other than testing is that the professional version has an extra flat rubber ring glued onto the port. This extra ring, probably due to the corrosiveness of salt water and the glue that is used, came off after the first dive. When speaking to the owner of Eye of Mine, this, unfortunately, has been a common occurrence but, never the less, the housing held up without a flood or any problems at all through out a weeks worth of diving to as deep as 108 feet. My guess is that both the professional and standard models are, for all intent and purposes, the same in their construction and build. The important aspect of the Eye of Mine housing is that, due to its flat port, for underwater use, it greatly improves the footage you might shoot as compared to the GoPRO underwater housing. My only criticism, as with the GoPRO housing, is that there is no protective cap for the port. Couple that with the fact that, even though it works on land, it isn't recommended for extensive topside use because water drops don't fall off the lens as well as the GoPRO's curved lens, and the lens is acrylic which scratches easier than the GoPRO glass lens.
Sharpness, focus and color resolution are now present without the blur or edge softness found when filming underwater with GoPRO's own housing.
When shooting still images with the GoPRO HERO HD and Eye of Mine housing, which I only did for testing purposes, there is a real vignetting issue but with the GoPro's still images being only 5 megapixels, I don't think anyone would use the still images for professional purposes anyway.
Unfortunately, the water was too warm at 88 degrees in Roatan which drove the larger fish down deep so I was not able to get the footage I was hoping for, however, I recently saw a film by world famous photographer Eric Cheng, who attached the Eye of Mine housings with the GoPRO HERO HD cams inside to a long pole. He tied bait around the housings so that the sharks would try to bite off the bait around the housings and he would be able to get some footage from within the sharks mouth. The footage came out beautifully and the Eye of Mine housing stood up to the abuse and biting pressure. While I found that when shooting topside either the GoPRO or Eye of Mine housings functioned equally well when filming with the GoPro HERO HD camcorder, the Eye of Mine housing was far superior for underwater use. The GoPro HERO HD, in the Eye of Mine housing, is a back-up and POV system I will always be taking on any of my diving excursions.
Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 7 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, and productions for National Geographic and the History channels. Steve was a feature writer for Asian Diver Magazine and is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition. He is available for both private and group seminars for Final Cut Pro and leads underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to the Cocos Islands, Costa Rica, Lembeh Straits, Indonesia, and Wakatobi. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips. www.worldfilmsandtravel.com
copyright © Steve Douglas 2010
copyright © Steve Douglas 2010
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