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Sometimes half the fun of riding a personal watercraft is sharing the stories afterwards with your friends. Today, that often means going beyond simple talk and sharing video, typically via YouTube. And when it comes to video, high-definition, first person point-of-view footage is where it’s at.
Looking to record your own next watercraft adventure? Here are some of our favorite ways to get the job done.
The name is quickly becoming synonymous with video footage in almost every sport, extreme or not. The latest model, the HERO 3, is both thinner and easier to use than its predecessor. A small LCD display and red light lets you know when you’re shooting and in what format. The now-familiar waterproof case guarantees that little camera will stay protected should you go in the water.
The HERO 3 comes in three versions. The base White model ($199.99) records 1080p or 960p video at 30 frames per second, 720p video at 60 frames per second, and captures 5 megapixel still images, in as much as three frame-per-second bursts. It’s also got built-in Wi-Fi, meaning you can control it via the GoPro app on your smart phone or via GoPro’s own Wi-Fi remote. The Silver Edition ($299.99) ups the ante to 1080p30/960p48/720p60fps, and captures 11 MP stills in as much as 10 frames-per-second bursts. It too has built-in Wi-Fi and is compatible with the GoPro Wi-Fi remote and app. The big daddy, the Black Edition ($399.99) includes that Wi-Fi remote, and increases the video capture to 1080p60/720p120/1440p48/4kp15/2.7kp30/WVGA-240fps, the captures 12 MP stills in as much as 30 frame-per-second bursts, and also offers superior low-light performance.
All three use the familiar GoPro mounts. Attach an adhesive mount to your PWC or helmet, use the suction cup mount to attach to your ski and leave no residue (or mount) behind, a chest or helmet strap to attach the camera to your person, or even use a handlebar mount if you’ve got aftermarket bars.
Worthwhile upgrades? Consider the Floaty back door. It will keep your camera afloat should it get tossed into the drink. The LCD display is also worthwhile in that it lets you see the action you’re recording (or just recorded), meaning you won’t have to wait until you get back to your computer at day’s end.
Rather than a rectangular camera in a waterproof housing, Contour dishes up a cylindrical, aluminum housing with a 270-degree rotating wide-angle lens. The ROAM2 can capture 1080p/30/25 fps, 960p/30/25 fps, or 720p/60/50 or 30/25 fps. It can also capture 5 MP photos, and offers a photo mode which can capture pics every 1, 3, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds. The ROAM2 comes in a choice of four colors (black, blue, red, or green). It also features a locking, instant-on record switch. The latter eliminates a secondary on-off button, simplifying the process when you’re ready to start filming. Another cool feature is the built-in laser level. The laser lets you know precisely where you’re shooting, which is a bonus when mounting the camera.
The CONTOUR+2 ($399.99) does all of the above, but adds mobile connectivity, GPS video mapping to overlay speed, elevation and distance, increases the frame rate to up to 120 fps in 480p for super slow motion, offers live streaming, and includes an external microphone jack and, for truly submerging the camera, a waterproof case rated to 60 meters.
A wide variety of mounts ensure you can position the camera right where you want it. Contour offers a suction cup, as well as a flexible strap mount, goggle-strap mount, helmet mount, an adjustable rotating flat-surface mount, bar mount, even a super low-profile mount for tight spots you might not normally think to fit a camera. A smartphone app allows you to connect with the camera via Wi-Fi to control all the major functions, and monitor the action on the fly.
Though not as sleek as the GoPro or Contour, Nikon’s rugged Coolpix AW110 ($349.95) can mimic their basic functions…sometimes more. Built to withstand drops (up to 6.7’), freezing temps (as low as 14°F), and serious dunkings (up to 59’), the Coolpix can shoot all the cool water shots you could want at 16MP and features a 5X zoom leans. It can also shoot up to full HD1080p video at 30 fps, or HD 720p at 30 fps.
Built-in Wi-Fi lets you share photos with a smartphone, tablet, or any Wi-Fi device, where you can then text, email, or upload to your favorite social media sites. The AW110 also records the exact GPS location of every shot, and includes built-in mapping and electronic compass.
In terms of mounting options, the camera features a basic tripod socket. Aftermarket options include both adhesive and suction-cup mounts.
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