Camera or GoPro?

YYJ Paddler

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My old Olympus Tough waterproof camera finally became un-waterproof and died on my Deer Group trip. The others on the trip all had GoPros, which had no trouble with the water.

So rather than replace my camera (perhaps with a new version of the Tough: https://getolympus.com/tough-tg-6.html), I am wondering if I should consider a GoPro instead. The thing is, I don't really want video, just to be able to take photos. However, they definitely seem to be pretty bombproof! I use my phone for photos. It is waterproof, but tougher to tether to my PFD and even though it's technically waterproof, the connections don't really like the salt water.

Any thoughts on choice of camera vs. GoPro? I'm looking for something that I can just slip in the pocket of my PFD and easily access.

Thanks.
 

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My old Olympus Tough waterproof camera finally became un-waterproof and died on my Deer Group trip. The others on the trip all had GoPros, which had no trouble with the water.

So rather than replace my camera (perhaps with a new version of the Tough: https://getolympus.com/tough-tg-6.html), I am wondering if I should consider a GoPro instead. The thing is, I don't really want video, just to be able to take photos. However, they definitely seem to be pretty bombproof! I use my phone for photos. It is waterproof, but tougher to tether to my PFD and even though it's technically waterproof, the connections don't really like the salt water.

Any thoughts on choice of camera vs. GoPro? I'm looking for something that I can just slip in the pocket of my PFD and easily access.

Thanks.
Hello YYJ, for years I wanted to get a GoPro but weren't really sure it was worthwhile. I was on a budget and $500 was a lot, so I waited til Bestbuy had a Sale at $370... I decided to take the plunge and bought a GoPro Hero 7 Black@! OMG , best experience ever. My first dunk test was at Casell Falls, West Redonda. The camera is small and indeed waterproof. There are so many accessories you can get like a GoPro stick, chest harness, or even wear it on your head or attach it to your helmet ⛑. My favorite pastime is recording it while I'm sailing ⛵ on my Hobie Adventure island... never have to worry about dropping it or water damage.

My recommendation... GET IT!!!! You won't regret it. I should have gotten mine a long time ago but thought I should wait until they improve the image stabilization and they did... in fact the newer ones are now even smoother. Mine still has that "dinosaur movement" after I record and view it... LOL Here's a sample of my lowest setting of 2.7K recording which I freeze frame and screenshot. It still looks very good
 

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jefffski

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Gopro for me with my T5 as back up. I have an attachment on deck where either one lives, which makes accessing it even in tough conditions easy.
 
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Mowog73

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If you don't want video (doesn't interest me either), then just replace your Olympus Tough with a new one. I bought a Fujifilm XP140 this spring and am very happy with it. I have it tethered to my lifejacket (I'm good at dropping stuff) and it goes in a pocket when not needed.
 
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AM

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I’ve used Olympus, Canon, and Pentax waterproof cameras. I have also used a GoPro. There is no doubt that for action shots the GoPro is the best (even without the video): you can mount it, set it for interval shooting, and surf a wave, enjoying the fun shots after your session is done.

But if you aren’t interested in ‘action’, but rather in capturing beautiful landscapes to document your travels, I would go with none of the above. Instead, spend $100 on a Lifeproof case for your smartphone and tether it to your PFD. Smartphones take better landscape shots than any P&S camera on the market. And their videos is excellent (the stabilization on my iPhone really amazes me).

Where smartphones and the point and shoots all fail is in zoom. Never zoom. With one exception…video. I find that iPhone zoom is pretty decent on video mode.

As far as video goes, I find that if I have a wildlife encounter, I am much likelier to get an interesting video than a decent photo, unless I am carrying heavy duty camera equipment (ie: DSLR or an ultra-zoom). So when I see something, I automatically go into video mode to capture it.

Cheers,
Andrew
 
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sofstu

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I love still photos and honestly still shoot and develop my own film.
However on the kayak it's goprp all the way.

Oddly enough, when I was designing my kayak I designed it to hole a wooden tripod and a 4x5 large format camera right behind me.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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A friend told me that the newer GoPros have voice control, so the user can just 'tell' the camera to take a picture, 'no hands'.
Is this correct?
How well does this feature work?
 
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cougarmeat

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One problem with the iPhone in a waterproof case is the heat buildup inside the case - especially on a hot day. Maybe an occasional dunk (the case w/phone, not just the iPhone - which is mostly waterproof) would help minimize the heat.

Here’s at alternative to GoPro for $200:
The Amazon link is too long but “DJI Osmo Action" should do it.

Note that DJI also makes several Drone models equipped with hi-res cameras.
DJI Osmo Action - 4K Action Cam 12MP Digital Camera with 2 Displays 36ft Underwater Waterproof WiFi HDR Video 145° Angle, Black
 
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AM

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One problem with the iPhone in a waterproof case is the heat buildup inside the case - especially on a hot day. Maybe an occasional dunk (the case w/phone, not just the iPhone - which is mostly waterproof) would help minimize the heat.
I can see how in theory that would be a problem, but it’s not something I ever experienced. Getting a light coloured case would certainly help. The big problem with Lifeproof cases is that they last about a year before leaking, in my experience. But for using your phone hard in a wet environment they are excellent.
 
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YYJ Paddler

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Wow, thanks for all the great replies. From photos and videos here, it may be the person taking them that matters as much or more as the tool! I hadn't heard of Lifeproof cases, but will take a look. Maybe a GoPro is the way to Go. I will do a bit more research. It's about the same price as the Tough-6, I think. Lack of telephoto is definitely an issue that I hadn't thought of. I know my older Samsung phone is pretty terrible at it. That said, I'm not going to bring my excellent (and unused for the past several years) 80-400 with me for quick pics in my kayak :). I have some great telephoto shots from a canoe, though!

More research to do...
 
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sofstu

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I used to use a Sonim military grade phone in my kayak until I took a dunk and thought I recovered everything.
It wasn't until an hour later I was reaching for my phone to take a photo I realized I was wrong.
That's when I bought a gopro and started locking my phone in the car, where I truly believe they belong.

Oh if you are looking for a phone I highly recommend Sonim phones.
Although lacking a few features they are truly built for active people like most of us.
 

CPS

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I've been pondering the Olympus for a while, mostly because it has a bit of optical zoom and seems quite, well, tough.
The videos I could produce with a GoPro are probably not worth watching anyways! I didn't realize the quality of GoPro photos was so decent, though.
 
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VIP

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I’ve used Olympus, Canon, and Pentax waterproof cameras. I have also used a GoPro. There is no doubt that for action shots the GoPro is the best (even without the video): you can mount it, set it for interval shooting, and surf a wave, enjoying the fun shots after your session is done.

But if you aren’t interested in ‘action’, but rather in capturing beautiful landscapes to document your travels, I would go with none of the above. Instead, spend $100 on a Lifeproof case for your smartphone and tether it to your PFD. Smartphones take better landscape shots than any P&S camera on the market. And their videos is excellent (the stabilization on my iPhone really amazes me).

Where smartphones and the point and shoots all fail is in zoom. Never zoom. With one exception…video. I find that iPhone zoom is pretty decent on video mode.

As far as video goes, I find that if I have a wildlife encounter, I am much likelier to get an interesting video than a decent photo, unless I am carrying heavy duty camera equipment (ie: DSLR or an ultra-zoom). So when I see something, I automatically go into video mode to capture it.

Cheers,
Andrew
I agree with you ... I've used Canon, Pentax and Fuji cameras in the past. The GoPro is my favorite by far when shooting action shots especially out on the water. I take it with me wherever I go now and if there's wildlife, i would record video and freeze it and screenshot for the photo that I want. The only setback is no zooming feature. Inside my pfd is my iPhone with a waterproof case as a backup in case my GP battery dies.

On dry land, I generally use my iPad Pro 11... LOL set it on a log and do the time lapse to capture sunrise and sunset. It's amazing with all these wonderful toys ... LOL also, the screen is much bigger and easier to read and occasionally play Bejeweled (very evil game...LOL )
 
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JKA

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As always, what is YOUR situation?

Regarding cameras, I liken it to vehicles.

A person who uses their vehicle only for transport, and wants to put as little effort as possible into driving and/or maintenance, will probably go for an auto gearbox in a 'standard' car. Or an EV!

A rally driver, who wants the maximum performance from their car, will have a manual/semi manual gearbox, the skills to drive it, and will be forever working on it.

Same with cameras.

No interest in learning control skills? No interest in editing/post-production? Happy with lower quality and screen-shot presentation?

The GoPro will probably do all you require.

Have the technical skills to use exposure controls? Have the software and hardware (or a darkroom and printing skills) needed to maximise the information captured? Want to potentially print the results as large as the image will hold up?

Get an SLR (or 4x5, as per sofstu ;) ) and forever be worried that you'll damage it.

Otherwise a waterproof point and shoot like an Olympus TG will do very well as a compromise.
 

sofstu

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I've been pondering the Olympus for a while, mostly because it has a bit of optical zoom and seems quite, well, tough.
The videos I could produce with a GoPro are probably not worth watching anyways! I didn't realize the quality of GoPro photos was so decent, though.
Optical Zoom is the Cats Meow
The still photos from the Gopros you have seen are most likely cropped or shot from an almost still position where you can frame them in.

As for Gopro Video, it is actually decent when shot at the right distance.
I was close with this short video of a friend in his canoe.
By no extent great, but not bad either.
 

Greg_B

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Delaware
Here is another option to ponder, the Panansonic FZ300. Splash proof, but not water proof. A bit bulkier than the Tough, but very lightweight, so I find I can wear it and not even think about it being there. Has a lens long enough that I can just hand hold in a kayak. But too big to shove in a pocket. I keep it in my day hatch if the risk of it going under is too great.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 Digital Camera DMC-FZ300 B&H Photo (bhphotovideo.com)
 

VIP

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Here was the first dunk test last year when I bought the Hero 7 GoPro camera at Cassel Falls

 

Tongo-Rad

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Hey @YYJ Paddler. Great post!

Over the years I've tried out various cameras for kayak trips including a waterproof smartphone (also in a waterproof, tethered case), a small and tough FujiFilm XP with 5x optical zoom, a Nikon DSLR with a 50mm and 300mm zoom in a Nanuk 905 case (which should fit into most stern hatches), and finally this spring I bought a used tiny GoPro Hero 7 to try out.

Its stabilizing abilities are amazing for video, takes great photos, has a sensitive mic, and you can even get high detail stills-as-photos in post production from the video. When it's suction-cup mounted (and tethered) to my back deck and facing slightly sideways, it's taken beautiful videos of handrailed coastlines with paddling buddies in the foreground, really bringing in a viewer into the scene. I control it via a bluetooth connected smartphone, which I keep in my PFD pocket. The voice command isn't reliable when it's windy or with a lot of surf. Still, as some have pointed out, zoom is not its strong point. If I just wanted one decent camera to whip out to take a shot or quick video, it would be the FujiFilm XP or something similar. Their prices have gone down considerably since GoPros came to market.

About smartphone cases, I'd be wary of LifeProof cases, as there have been a lot of reports of them failing when submerged. I've used a $25 smartphone cover called a Spidercase and for the past two years it hasn't leaked at all, and I've put it through its paces. Hope that helps!
 

VIP

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Hey @YYJ Paddler. Great post!

Over the years I've tried out various cameras for kayak trips including a waterproof smartphone (also in a waterproof, tethered case), a small and tough FujiFilm XP with 5x optical zoom, a Nikon DSLR with a 50mm and 300mm zoom in a Nanuk 905 case (which should fit into most stern hatches), and finally this spring I bought a used tiny GoPro Hero 7 to try out.

Its stabilizing abilities are amazing for video, takes great photos, has a sensitive mic, and you can even get high detail stills-as-photos in post production from the video. When it's suction-cup mounted (and tethered) to my back deck and facing slightly sideways, it's taken beautiful videos of handrailed coastlines with paddling buddies in the foreground, really bringing in a viewer into the scene. I control it via a bluetooth connected smartphone, which I keep in my PFD pocket. The voice command isn't reliable when it's windy or with a lot of surf. Still, as some have pointed out, zoom is not its strong point. If I just wanted one decent camera to whip out to take a shot or quick video, it would be the FujiFilm XP or something similar. Their prices have gone down considerably since GoPros came to market.

About smartphone cases, I'd be wary of LifeProof cases, as there have been a lot of reports of them failing when submerged. I've used a $25 smartphone cover called a Spidercase and for the past two years it hasn't leaked at all, and I've put it through its paces. Hope that helps!
Right on the Nose Tongo! I agree with everything you've said. I have a cheap waterproof iPhone 6s case and it still works great Even when I submerged my surfski and practice my re-entry, forgot about it and then realized much later... next day i checked, still works, bone dry!
I turn my Hero 7 voice activation off for that same reason and stick with the tried and true!
 
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