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|| News Item: Posted 2012-08-02

Shooter’s dilemma video or still: Go GoPro

By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro

Photo by Robert Hanashiro

Hanashiro has a GoPro mount stuck onto the end of a lens hood on his Nikkor 24-70mm for those times when he wants to shoot stills and video at the same time.
QUESTION: Hey Big Kahuna – At the Sports Shooter Academy I noticed you had a GoPro mount on the end of a lens hood. Do you shoot video at the same time you’re shooting stills with that setup?

ANSWER: Yes, I have a GoPro mount stuck onto the end of a lens hood for my Nikkor 24-70mm and if you’re a “one-man-band” like I am shooting assignments for stills and video this came sometimes be a nice solution.

A few years ago my daughter’s high school marching band was competing for their 9th straight state championship. At the end of the competition after the awards are announced, the band directors give each student a medal. I was at a quandary: Do I shoot stills as the band director walked up and down the row of students? So I roll video? Do I switch back and forth?

That’s where I came up with this sort of compromise, mount a GoPro on the Nikon D3 and shoot both at the same time.

Instead of sticking the GoPro adhesive mount directly on the lens hood, I wrapped the hood with gaffer tape and placed it there. I figured that if I ever want to remove the mount, it would be easier to just peal off the gaffer tape.

(It’s been over two years since I put the mount on the hood and I haven’t removed it and it’s been rock solid the dozens of times I have used this rig.)

Several people have asked why I didn’t just use a “cold shoe” mount and place the GoPro on the top of the camera. The main reason is the GoPro is such a wide angle of view that if it’s aimed straight on you will see the lens in the bottom of the frame. I also did not like the way it handled when in the camera’s hotshoe; it was too unwieldy (not to mention it looked too weird).

When the GoPro is mounted on the front of the 24-70, your natural handling of the camera --- right hand on the grip, left hand supporting the lens from the bottom on the focusing ring --- maintains a pretty good balance.

This is certainly not something I do a lot, but in “run & gun” situations it works pretty darn well. The GoPro is auto-exposure, auto white balance, has a wide angle of view and has a fixed focus.

I use the LCD BacPac to make sure the camera is level and pointed the way I want and then I remove the LCD screen to cut down on the size and weight. If you don’t mind the extra bulk, having the LCD screen attached on while shooting can be help since the angle of view is so much wider than 24mm.

A few things to keep in mind when using a GoPro attached to a still camera:
- The camera will hear the shutter each time it’s tripped. I have occasionally used the D3 on “silent mode” which helps some, especially if you’re in a noisy environment the ambient sound can help mask the shutter noise the GoPro hears.
- Remember the GoPro has a field-of-view of 170 or 127 degrees (by comparison a 24mm is 74 degrees). Using this set up is really for close in work.
- Since you’re composing and shooting through your still camera, you have to remember to “hold your shot”. The usual shoot and move method can produce some jerky/clips that are too short. So keep the 3-second video shooter rule in your head: Hold that shot for 3-seconds after you’ve finished blasting your still frames.
- Because the GoPro is auto-everything, you will have to tweak exposure and especially color balance during post.
- After you’ve mounted the GoPro to your still camera, turn it on and leave it on. Trust me --- trying to turn it on and off during a shoot is too distracting and you’ll send us missing something. Have a big SD card in the GoPro and just let it rip.

This can be a fun way to capture b-roll and alternative views. I have used this rig when rolling video on the D3s and D7000 so I can get a wide shot and a tight shot at the same time. Also works in some interview situations as well to get two views of a subject talking.

Obviously the best way to shoot a video gig is dedicating yourself to shooting just video. But in the “real world” of newspaper photographers we’re having to multi-task (hate that word!) more and more.

Another note about the GoPro: If you seriously use your GoPro and haven’t already picked up the new Wi-Fi BacPac --- you should! This cool add-on allows you to remotely trigger your GoPro and to me most importantly, remotely change your settings.

All for $99.99.

As I’ve written above, I use my GoPros often with assignments that require me to shoot both stills and video. If you mount your little GoPro in funky/fun places to capture different angles, you will appreciate the ability to switch back and forth from video to still capture.

(This will save you the hassle and time of say going up and down a ladder to switch settings or run after a dog you’ve attached your camera to…)

The remote combo kit includes the Wi-Fi BacPac and the remote control dongle. GoPro says that the remote control capability has a range of 600 ft. and up to 50 cameras. Also the future for this product is even cooler --- there will be the ability to remotely control cameras AND video monitoring, playback and live streaming video via your SmartPhone or tablet. The software to enable this feature is coming up and I can’t wait. (Note: Video monitoring/playback and live streaming features will only be available with the newer GoPro Hero2 cameras.)

Robert Hanashiro is a staff photographer with USA TODAY. He is also the founder of Sports Shooter. You can see examples of his work and links to other photographs and videos at:

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