Being there with a GoPro HD HERO2

I saw John Anderson’s “fish volcano” for the first time on his iPhone at a cafe in Mooloolaba.  An eNews item with a working title of “sardines from a can” seemed appropriate for 50 seconds of school fish pouring from the foredeck of the ex-HMAS Brisbane. I wanted to get my facts right with the idea of connecting John’s fish volcano to the famous “sardine run”. It was John who first brought my attention to the sardine run and shark action off the South African coast. Dive buddy, Allan Nash, captured some of that action using an original GoPro HD HERO. He had purchased it second hand from a customer at his El Galleon Dive Resort in the Philippines only days before joining me in Africa for a NOMAD dive safari. I showed Allan’s video clips to John and that was all it took for him to purchase a GoPro HD HERO 2 with an aftermarket lens and cyan filter. See John’s comments below this eNews.

When the ex-HMAS Brisbane was scuttled on the 31st July, 2005 it was only weeks before baitfish like hardyheads and yakkas crammed into the protective cabin spaces like sardines. According to baseline surveys Australian sardines/pilchards (Sardinops neopilchardus) were first seen after 3-6 months PDF – HMAS Brisbane: One year on . While I have seen cardinal fish and bullseyes in schools of many thousands inside the wreck, I cannot be sure of the species that featured in the fish volcano. Images with this eNews might help divers to take a closer look at these seemingly seasonal swarms. Perhaps we can identify them with a name that is a step up from the generic sardine or baitfish. It doesn’t change the fact that being there with the GoPro HERO2 enabled John to show me something that was worth sharing. I “liked” it on FACEBOOK.

Those of us who travel to dive know the challenge of 23 kilo baggage limits and choices that have to be made re dive gear, cameras, underwater housings, laptops, chargers, strobes, lights, torches, a change of underwear and something for the fancy dress night. As “scientist in charge” for a USC/Reef Check on Moon Reef in Fiji, I need to carry extra survey gear, Reef Check cameras and a First Aid kit. I can see an excess baggage issue looming for June and July. If I had my own GoPro HD HERO2 I could slip it into my pocket, wear it on my wrist or on a headband. I know that an eco-tourism student at USC is taking one to Moon Reef. Will GoPro sponsor me to try their 3D configuration with the sharks of Beqa Lagoon to secure more diver focussed promotion? I believe that a new standard is evolving for social media and the adventure diver community. Being at Fiji’s Ultimate Shark Encounter with a 2D/3D GoPro HERO there would be opportunity to raise the bar from what is on You Tube now.

I’m indebted to Michelle Beatty for her candid comments about the GoPro HD HERO 2. With the research and testing that she has done there’s probably nothing about the GoPro that Michelle doesn’t know. Find out what Michelle has learned about this compact, affordable and versatile action camera with comments by John Anderson below. I close with a clip using Allan Nash’s original GoPro HD HERO with a plastic orange filter inside the housing at the end of an hour with a sardine’s worst nightmare – too many oceanic black tip sharks to count. Yes, that is a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ3 that has yet to be drowned in action as I timed out. Allan Nash of El Galleon Dive Resort & Asia Divers

The good news – GoPro HD HERO 2 is now available from Scuba World and Michelle Beatty will show some of her edited underwater scenes at the social event on Thursday May 31.

Best wishes,
Tony Isaacson

A swarm of hardyhead silversides (Atherinomorus lacunosus) in Milne Bay Papua New Guinea. Similar schools took refuge in ex-HMAS Brisbane in August, 2005. Photo: Tony Wu

So many Hardyheads that they were landing on Sunshine Coast beaches in April. Source: Sunshine Coast Daily: Saturday, April 21, 2012

Australian Sardine/pilchard (Sardinops sagax neopilchardus) appeared on ex-HMAS Brisbane within 3-6 months of sinking. Are they back as John Anderson’s “fish volcano”? Source: Photo: Ian Banks

A mixed school of yakkas (Trachurus novaezeladiae) and black-tipped fusiliers (Pterocaesio digramma) on ex-HMAS Brisbane 26th April, 2012. Photo: Tony Isaacson

Yakkas, black-tipped fusiliers and possibly pilchards (Sardinops neopilchardus) at the rear dodging yellowtail kingfish, trevally and big mackerel, ex-HMAS Brisbane, 26th April, 2012. Photo: Tony Isaacson

Michelle Beatty attached to a GoPro HD HERO 2 on a head mount. Photo: Michael Klupfel

Andy Beatty up close with a GoPro HD HERO 2 headmount aka AndyCam. Photo: Michael Klupfel

Aftermarket red filter attached to GoPro HERO. Read customer comments by John Anderson and Michelle Beatty below. Source:

Every diver I know with a GoPro HERO has experimented with aftermarket filters. The product is rapidly evolving for adventure divers. Source:

A sardine’s nightmare. Oceanic black tip sharks off Aliwal Shoal, South Africa. Being there with a GoPro HD HERO made a difference for those who weren’t with us on the day. Photo: Tony Isaacson

Use anti fog inserts and remember to remove filters after a dive!! GoPro HD HERO with orange filter insert and fog in the housing after an hour in the water with oceanic blacktip sharks, Aliwal Shoal, South Africa. Photo: Allan Nash

GoPro GoPro HD HERO 2 – The Beginners Guide – John Anderson

I acquired my GoPro Hero2 (11mp pics and 1080p HD Video) in January this year after seeing a number of great images that Tony Isaacson brought back from a dive trip to Africa. It had all the items I wanted in a camera – small, easy to use and I could get good pictures and video. At that time they were not readily available on the coast so I ordered over the internet – this brought with it some challenges – see below. I am pleased to say that these cameras are now readily available on the coast and come with local information and hints and tips on basic use.

I acquired the GoPro 2 with the add on LCD screen (must have). The first dives were at the Manta festival on Straddie in February and I was disappointed straight up – al the pics were blurred. There were three reasons for this:
• The standard housing lens is concave and NOT made for underwater
• When shooting there is a “hold down to focus” and then shoot function which is not evident in the manuals
• Set up – wide angle plays havoc with underwater pics (better with video)
In speaking with a number of other divers and trying things I have rectified most of the issues and have started to get some results.

The steps I have taken are:
• After market lens. There are numerous available and I believe GoPro will be coming out with their own soon. I acquired a “Snake River Prototyping” flat lens with a 55mm Cyan filter. This is a larger lens but it has the advantage of having a standard size for filters and they are easily changeable to different colours for above water pics. The Cyan brings back the most amazing colours underwater without any artificial light. You can see reds in the pics at 20+ metres.
• Settings I am currently using (see images)
o Video – 1080p, 25 fps and Narrow FOV
o Pics 8mp and Narrow FOV
• I also recommend that you get some anti-fog inserts and a spare battery

I will start experimenting with some artificial lights in the near future.
The only area that I am a little disappointed with the GoPro is that it cannot do macro but at this cost and for what it is – I love it.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any hints and tips for me and/or I can assist you in any way.

My Go Pro in action @ Thailand – Michelle Beatty

My first experience with a Go Pro was on a trip to Palau in April 2011 when one of the other divers on the trip was using one with a variety of different attachments on different dives: a wrist strap; head strap and a chest strap. He got some great footage of my brother and “the Big Maori Cod Egg Snatch” which he copied for me. Being an avid underwater photographer (Sealife DC1200 with 2 strobes) the idea of having a GoPro to use underwater as well appealed, especially after the model was updated to the Hero2 edition which has 11mp photos and 1080p (30 frames p/sec) HD video.

I acquired my GoPro Hero2 in February 2012 to take to Thailand for a live aboard trip to the Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachi and Richilei Rock. I got the Go Pro Head Strap (included as standard with the outdoor edition but otherwise can be purchased separately) so I could wear it on my head, set it to record video and still then have my hands free to use my camera to take photographs. After a few dives when playing the footage back I noticed my camera coming into the video view whenever I took photos (not brilliant when you see 5 Manta in one dive and from holding my camera up to take pics, my 2 camera strobes are outlining the edge of the video) so I then gave the Go Pro to my brother, Andy to wear on his head. It was then nicknamed AndyCam as he used his perfect buoyancy skills to go upside down into areas to stick his head (and camera) in close to get footage. It feels like you’re actually on the dive when the footage shows you sitting on the boat then falling backwards doing your backward roll, popping up to the surface till everyone is ready and then deflating as you drop below to do the dive. A real “Point of View” camera.

I also got a LCD screen which is brilliant but it does chew up the battery life. Since I wear it on my head, I don’t use the LCD screen except for playing it back or if I take it off to use it other than on my head. I got a Battery BacPac which is a spare battery with its own charging device and which can also attach to the back of the Go Pro so it then carries 2 batteries which then doubles the recording time. In my view, if you’re going to buy a spare battery, for the little bit extra you may as well buy the BacPac instead. I got a 32gb Class 10 SD card which is essential if you want it to record high quality video fast and to use its full recording time ability. If you have a smaller card you will have less recording time.

I also got the anti fog inserts. There are 2 of them that you insert in the side of the housing which also has the added benefit of holding the Go Pro in the housing a little tighter. There are 3 sets in the pack (so 6 inserts in total) and Go Pro says you can use them at least 3 or 4 times, heating them up in a clean pan or microwave for a few minutes (to remove the moisture) between uses. I used my Go Pro on land in Thailand too and the inserts did help combat the humidity.

Before using my Go pro I tested the housing to 30m (26 degree water) first without the camera inside it. I tested the housing with a tissue inside twice, once with and once without anti fog inserts. Without the antifog inserts the tissue was damp whereas with the inserts in it, the tissue was perfectly dry.

I’d already noticed the blur issue from the Palau footage (due to the Go Pro having a curved lens) and so did some research about it before buying my Go Pro. There are some great clips on youtube that show the difference. Buying a blur fix (flat lens) and a red filter is an absolute must. Unfortunately Go Pro don’t make a blur fix yet but the one they have planned is only a plastic lens and doesn’t come with a red filter. I got the Aquapix Go For Focus Glass Flat Lens (you can get a plastic one but they scratch easy and are only $15 less – also some say they aren’t as sharp and have more vignetting) as well as a magenta filter. They sell as magenta filter for green water and an orange filter for blue water. That blur fix glass flat lens and filter works brilliantly. I found the one i bought to be the most cost effective to buy.

The Go Pro has a variety of settings. You can shoot in Wide (170 degrees), Medium or Narrow view. You can also set it to just record your whole dive in video, you can use it manually to take photos, you can set it to Photo Burst (10 photos in 1 second) or you can set it to take photos at time lapse intervals, choices being – 1 photo every half second (will need a class 10 card to do this), every 1, 2, 5, 10 or 60 seconds or on Self-Timer.

I got the Motorsports edition so although I haven’t done it yet, I plan to use it on my motorbike also. I have about 17 hours of video footage from Thailand which I’m trawling through to edit some short videos. I also have some good footage taken both while I’ve been guiding or pleasure diving on the ex-HMAS Brisbane & local reefs. I’m hoping to have some footage edited very soon which I’ll put on my facebook page and on youtube and which I’ll present at one of the Scuba World Monthly Socials – probably the May 31st one.

I absolutely loooove my Go Pro Hero2. There probably isn’t much about the Go Pro Hero2 I don’t know and I’m happy to answer any questions or chat about it. I work in the dive shop at Scuba World on Mondays if you want to call in then, am often around diving on weekends or you can contact me on