Hands-on Gear Review

GoPro HD Hero2 Review

GoPro HD Hero 2 Outdoor Edition
By: Matt Gerdes ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 1, 2013
Price:  $300 List
Pros:  Great image quality, comes with many mounts and waterproof case, 11mp camera, great value, LCD display
Cons:  Bulky as a side mount, Tele-tubby look, no (optional) smartphone viewing/streaming until February.
Manufacturer:   GoPro

Our Verdict


The GoPro HD Hero2 is a big improvement over the original Hero and winner of our Editors' Choice award in 2011. But now there is the GoPro Hero5 which is our top rated camera.

We frequently used the Hero2 and the HD Hero attached on us at the same time for POV angles. The Hero2 performed noticeably better than its predecessor and the Contour+. The low-light conditions were challenging, to say the least, and the Hero2 consistently delivered richer colors and seemed to cut through the haze better than the Hero. In short, the footage looked a good bit nicer on the Hero2. Given the choice, I would not hesitate to spend the few bucks extra to get it instead of the original Hero. The first generation GoPro HD Hero still delivers a great camera with loads of mounts for $240. However, we really do feel it is worth spending the extra $60 to get the Hero2.

Overall, GoPro has delivered a very powerful little camera with this Hero2 and it is a solid choice for any POV use. However, the Contour+ remains more extra-feature-rich and will appeal to users who value its Bluetooth capability, GPS recording and configurability. Check out the complete Helmet Cam Review.

Our Analysis and Test Results


Hero2 at a glance: how it differs from the Original Hero

  • Improved image quality. Much better image quality than the Hero and better than the Contour+.
  • Now has external mic jack. This was one of the key benefits the Contour+ used to have over the Hero.
  • Viewable on a smartphone through WiFi. However, this feature will not be available until Feb 2012 and will require purchasing and extra adapter that goes on the back of the camera. Smartphone viewing is available on the Contour+ today and does not require buying extra adapters.
  • Price didn't change! Still $300. The mid-range Hero is now $240 with a sport package or $200 naked. The 960 is only $150.
  • Now has an 11-megapixel camera (Hero and Contour have 5mp cameras). Also, the camera shoots up to 10 frames a second for action photo sequences.
  • Improved LCD Screen.


As we were about to go to "press" with the first generation HD Hero vs. Contour+, GoPro announced the release of the Hero2. The news was not shocking, as we had already had the opportunity to play with the Hero2 in China while on the Jeb Corliss cave flight adventure. GoPro sent one of their minions to film us BASE jumping in the Hunan province, and our tests with it there consisted mainly of sticking Hero2s all over ourselves for a variety of angles and shots in what was consistently hazy, less-than-perfect light.

Apart from a sharper, more color-rich image, the Hero2 also boasts a range of new photo modes and an improved 11mp still image. Incredibly, it is capable of taking ten 11mp images per second, which will make for some pretty sweet action sequence shots. And, if you want both still and video images of the same action… then get two cameras. It's not capable of unbridled magic, yet.

The LCD screen resolution is far higher and this somehow makes the camera feel a bit more modern. This allows for more info (and by virtue of that, fewer cryptic symbols), to be displayed on screen. The record mode light is larger and more visible in daylight. What is unchanged is the size and shape of the camera and housing. This means that, conveniently, it will fit all of your old Hero cases and mounts, but don't expect it to have a larger lens or a slimmer body. There is a full comparison on the GoPro site.

All these packages stayed about the same except the surf edition has smaller mounts and comes with two. Also, they changed the name of the Helmet Hero package to Outdoor Edition.


No major dislikes; it is an improvement over the Hero in every way. However, it still has some of the minor dislikes we had with the Hero. It is much bulkier than the Contour+, especially if you want a side mount on a helmet. It does not have the best look.

The Contour+ has more features for the techy user that the GoPro lacks:
  • Contour+ streams to smartphones now with no extra accessories needed.
  • Contour+ and Contour GPS have GPS.
  • All contour cameras let you configure the settings with your computer.

Matt Gerdes

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: September 1, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Average Customer Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 67%  (2)
4 star: 33%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
goofing off at pine creek

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Nov 30, 2012 - 07:20pm
jfailing · Climber · Lone Pine

I bought a Hero 2 at Elevation in Lone Pine, California about almost a year ago and have been using it mostly for climbing footage.

The features are awesome - picture quality is fantastic, multiple camera modes and resolutions, and an (almost) bomb-proof enclosure system.

I shoot video mostly in wide-angle 1080 30 FPS, take 8 MP pictures, and use the timelapse feature often. Once you figure out how to make your way through the menu features on the small LCD screen, it's very easy to switch in between different modes.

Here are a few screenshots of climbing and such:

GoPro - on top of pitch 14  Lurking Fear
GoPro - on top of pitch 14, Lurking Fear

GoPro - beginning the second pitch of Bony Fingers in the Whitney Portal
GoPro - beginning the second pitch of Bony Fingers in the Whitney Portal

GoPro - my friend Dan on an unnamed 5.11 at Indian Creek.
GoPro - my friend Dan on an unnamed 5.11 at Indian Creek.

GoPro - hey thanks for the beer buddy!
GoPro - hey thanks for the beer buddy!

Besides the obvious drawback of getting funny looks at the crag and being made fun of by friends (and probably behind my back) for having a GoPro attached to your head, there are a couple of issues I have with the camera with respect to using it for climbing:

-Shaky footage: if there was some way to have a built in image-stabilization internally, it would make this a 5-star product for me. Yes, we do dart our heads this way and that when we're climbing, but even when holding the camera pretty still and filming other things, the footage comes out almost ridiculously shaky sometimes. There are ways of reducing this in the editing process, but still - recording in 60 FPS mode is almost dizzying (which is why I mainly film in 1080 30 FPS now).

-Camera case: this thing is pretty bomb-proof and also water-proof, and protects the actual camera very well. However, the first thing to get scratched is the lens cover, which, when you're making your way up a route is basically inevitable. This doesn't affect footage very much, but it's still noticeable when viewing the footage at high resolution afterwards, which sort of blurs the picture a bit where the scratching is. Consequently, a replacement case is $40. A cheap replaceable lens would be nice.

-Battery life/accessories: the battery life is pretty good, but there's no way you could fill up a 16GB memory card on one battery, shooting video. I found myself very conscious of conserving battery-life while on El Cap for four days, and wish I'd had a bit more juice to film, as it was finished by the descent. The battery-pac accessory is an additional $50. Then, if you want to actually review any of the footage, an additional LCD Back-pac is $80. Adds up quick!

GoPro has a brilliant ad campaign, and it was these ads that totally suckered me into buying one. Of course I didn't immediately think about how much time was spent editing the footage using expensive post-editing effects to make it look amazing, but it's still fun to play around with the footage. Also not to mention that to most people, climbing footage is almost incredibly boring, but to climbers, it's pretty fun to watch.

Overall, it's an awesome mobile camera that shoots great footage and easily attaches to helmets, surfboards, ski-poles, etc. Very easy to make timelapse sequences, and the wide-angle views give a cool perspective to not only climbing but other sports as well. Not the best for taking pictures of distant objects or activities, but great for POV and up-close action. I'm still learning the editing process, which has proved to be the hardest part of having the camera, but I'm glad I bought it.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Dec 5, 2011 - 05:12am
Freefly · Skier · Weymouth, Dorset. UK

This camera is a beaut!

I used the Contour HD (original) during my Enduro Africa 2009 trip (what a blast) and loved it although it had some limitations (non waterproof, 720p @ 30fps etc). I recently bought the Go Pro HD about 2 days (!!!!) before they released the Go PRo HD Hero 2…so I bought that as well : )

I am a professional photographer (and videographer) and find the features of the Go Pro quite amazing (photo and video) and the application possibilities only limited by your imagination.

I have had two Go Pro's attached to my car, the original outside on the bonnet (hood) looking in, and the Hero 2 on the inside with external mic attached…great for Vlogging!

Go Pro HD on the bonnet or hood and the Go Pro HD Hero 2 on the inside with external  radio mic attached.
Go Pro HD on the bonnet or hood and the Go Pro HD Hero 2 on the inside with external, radio mic attached.

I have also used the Hero 2 for some incredibly original footage (which I can't tell you about because I don't want my competitors finding out ; ). I have also used it to film some funky footage of a Casino table and roulette wheel.

I fashioned a "dolly" from my son's lego car (basically I took the base unit with wheels and used Blu Tak to connect the two) and did some super slow motion footage as it went around the rim of the roulette wheel and the ball bounced into place on a number…I also panned/slid the camera right across the table as the croupier was doing her "thang".

As it was low light, there was some noise or grain but using "Neat Video" in Sony Vegas Pro 11, I was able to clean it up nicely.

I love the 10-shots-in-one-second feature and the time lapse too. I am today, going to attach the Go Pro to an egg timer that spins around 360 degrees in on hour taking a photo every couple of seconds for some cool time lapse footage…like I said, this camera is very versatile and the mounting possibilities are limitless.

I will be getting hold of the Wi-Fi BacPac in Feb as I already have a ton of ideas for this (clean, legal ones I might add).

Great camera, 5 stars easily but I only wish I had one of these during my skydiving days in the late 90's : (


Nick Stubbs

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...