Preventing Fogging in a GoPro Camera

Fogging is a real problem with GoPro cameras, particularly in diving where humidity is so often an issue. Closing the camera in a damp tropical environment, then submerging the camera in cooler water to dive a tropical reef is a sure recipe to fog the inside of the optical window.

Purging the Air
Purging the air an moisture from the GoPro case with difluoroethane
I understand the desire to keep the case as small as possible. particularly for an action cam. But why? Why could GoPro not include enough room for a small desiccant package, a few millimeters would have been enough. Yes, there are the little pieces of blotter paper sold by GoPro and others, but these are not nearly as effective at removing moisture from the case as true silica gel desiccant products that absorb far more moisture per volume. I have seen GoPro cameras fog up even when properly used with the Anti-Fog inserts.

There is plenty of room in my other camera cases for desiccant packs. I keep a good pile of desiccant on hand in nice little packets just perfect for loading into the camera cases. I put the used packs in my toaster oven for an hour at 150°F to bake the moisture out and reuse the packs over and over again. Simply store in a tightly sealed, airtight container for use.

Continue reading “Preventing Fogging in a GoPro Camera”

GoPro Fun

What can you do with a little camera? A camera that is rugged and waterproof? A camera that shoots video, stills and timelapse?

GoPro Timelapse Setup
A GoPro set up with a window mount doing a timelapse of sunset as we cross the Pacific.
That is the challenge of a GoPro.

It is a fun little camera. The video quality is decent as long as there is enough light. I have been using it for diving, I know that the case is good to well over 100 feet. The little camera is a good choice when the mantas show up to dance.

Why not take the camera fishing in Alaska?

For this trip I have set up to find out just what you can do with it. GoPro camera? Check. A variety of mounting methods? Check. My friend Mark has done some fun things with his GoPro lately, providing some inspiration and setting me a bit of a challenge. I may have taught Mark a few things about video editing to get him started, he has taken those lessons and run with them.

One of the intruging features is the WiFi back. This gives me remote control of the camera from my iPad. There is no viewfinder on the back of the camera, but with the WiFi setup my pad becomes the viewfinder allowing the camera setup to be checked.

The remote option also allows me to mount the camera on the boat somewhere and control it with the tablet. Hanging off the bow? On top of the mast? The little suction cup mount should stick to the boat just about anywhere. One of the provided adhesive mounts, designed for a helmet, looks to have just the right curve for the radar mast.

The front ring of the camera case has been replaced with an aluminum ring and a mounting point for a lanyard. A ten dollar EBay purchase that looked to be a wise idea. This should allow a strong safety tether and more freedom in placing the camera in otherwise risky locations. Need to buy some strong cord in Juneau.

What do I come up with? Anything worth watching? Stay tuned to DarkerView to find out…

The GoPro HD Hero 2 for Diving

I know, I am late to this party. Not unusual, I do not often jump on the latest tech. I still use an iPhone 3GS, only three models back. It was, as usual, my wife who bequested this latest toy upon me. Without her I would be hopelessly out of date.

The GoPro HD Hero 2 camera is interesting to us as it comes with a standard waterproof housing good to scuba depths. The price was right, Deb picked it up as a Costco special.

Thus I attached it to the top of my usual rig to give it a try on a dive or two. As it turns out, it is a good thing I had my regular camera along, there are some issues with a stock GoPro underwater.

The first obvious issue is focus, as I had heard the camera will not focus properly underwater with the standard dome port. The solution to this is to get a flat port.

The more concerning issue is the burned out highlights visible in the video below. This is not unusual in a camera using a typical exposure algorithm designed for daylight above water. Underwater the red light is gone, absorbed by the water. This lack of red creates a tendency for the camera to overexpose the green or blue.

The usual solution is to set a slight under exposure in the scene using exposure compensation. However, the Hero 2 has no exposure compensation control. There are a couple possible solutions… Commonly available is a red filter for the flat port camera. Will this solve the burnouts? Another possibility lies in using a less saturated color profile as available in the new firmware.

While there were issues with the image, the sound seems pretty good for being in a case, much the same as what I hear when diving. The real test would be to dive with a few whales around to see how well it records whalesong. Alas, the humpbacks headed north a couple months ago. I miss the whalesong soundtrack on our dives. A pod of dolphins perhaps?

I plan to set up the GoPro as a stand alone camera and video rig for diving. Just the camera, an Ultralight handle and arm I have on-hand, plus a video light, which I also have on-hand. I just need to manufacture a tray for the setup, another hour in the machine shop. This should make a compact, lightweight dive or snorkeling camera rig.

I can think of a few other interesting uses for the camera, it has some nice timelapse facilities I need to test. Just the camera to use on the top of a boat. The camera does not do low light, just too small a sensor and lens. Still, there are quite a few things it should do well, a fun addition to the kit.