Category Archives: Video

Videos of kayaking adventures.

Possible breakthrough on the camera front

I went for a paddle today with my GoPro Hero 5 Black, and in spite of carefully attaching my Novabeam USB battery, I only got 95 minutes from it, just as if I hadn’t used the battery. Meanwhile, I had the GoPro Hero 5 Session at home doing an experiment where I’d hooked up another Novabeam USB battery, and when I came home I discovered it had recorded 4 hours and only stopped because it had filled up the SD card.

But then I tried just unplugging and re-plugging the Novabeam on the Hero 5 Black, and it happily started recording. I suddenly realized that a light comes on in the Novabeam when you first plug it in. And it struck me that one significant difference between my “bench tests” on my desk and my tests on the water is that in both cases I plug the USB battery in and arrange the silicon putty here at my desk in both cases, but in the “bench test” I hit the Record button almost immediately, while for the water tests I first drive 20 minutes. I bet the battery is turning itself off in that time.

So next time I go paddling I’m going to have to try plugging the battery in and waterproofing it just before I hit record. If I can get 4+ hours of the battery, I can do that early in the pre-paddle preparation and still get the whole paddle or race. I’m so happy that I have probably figured this out before my first race.

More technique work.

Did some more work on technique. I took my front camera, my Motionize setup, and an idea of trying some different paddle lengths. So first off, I started off at my normal 214cm but with a tiny bit of pause to drive the paddle in before I start pulling and a mental emphasis on the catch. That actually seemed to help a lot. Then I tried some different paddle lengths. I have to say that I discovered some things:

  • The mental change made a lot more difference than the paddle length
  • Even though I changed the paddle length in Motionize before each test, the “Paddle depth” indicator on Motionize was useless. I’d increase my paddle length by a centimeter, and it would tell me that my paddle depth had decreased by 16 centimeters. So much for using it to test my catch.

Paddling the GoPro

With the GoPro mounted on my lovely Jim Smith bow mount, I took it out on the Genessee River to see how it looks. And I have to say, I think it looks awesome (ok, as I write this it’s only a few minutes after I uploaded it to YouTube and YouTube is only showing it in 360p, but trust me when I say it looks great in 4K). The GoPro doesn’t have image stabilization in 4K, but on a flat water trip like this, it doesn’t need it. And I love the position – the Jim Smith mount puts it just at about the right height, and it feels firm.

GoPro Hero 5 Black battery tests

I’m going to update this table as I do further tests. These are “bench tests” done with the camera mostly stationary in my office or in my work-out room. The idea was just to get a basic idea of whether I’m going to be able to record long kayak races with the camera as-is, or if I’m going to have to figure out how to attach an external battery to it without compromising the waterproofness.

Resolution/
Frame Rate
Wifi/
Bluetooth/
Voice
GPS Image
Stabilization
External Battery Battery Life
4K/30 On Off NA No 92 min
4K/30 Off Off NA No 97 min
4K/30 On Off NA Yes 142 min overheat
98 min
2.7K/60 On Off On No 85 min
2.7K/60 On Off On Yes 290 min
– card filled up
1080p/60 On Off On No 110 min
1080p/60 On Off On Yes 272 min

One additional test: I wanted to see whether being in “standby” mode using a remote consumed a lot of battery power, because if not I could perhaps cover a long race by turning it off and on as action warranted. However, in 4K mode (where I got 92 minutes video in continuous shooting), going 30 minutes on then repeating 15 minutes off and 15 minutes on, I only got a total of 111 minutes total between shooting (66 minutes) and standby (45 minutes). That’s not what I was hoping – basically 45 minutes in standby was equivalent to 26 minutes running.

Note: The “External Battery” in the table is a Novobeam NBP3000 Waterproof USB battery. I’m trying to figure out how to attach it to the camera without compromising the waterproofness of the camera, possibly by covering the USB and HDMI port hatch with Sugru or something similar.

First results with the GoPro Hero 5 Black

First thing I did was turn off gps but leave all the other stuff on (wifi, Bluetooth, voice recognition) and see how long it would record a 4K video before overheating or running out of battery. On the “bench test” i accidentally shut it down at 82 minutes because I didn’t realize that it would keep recording when it had a low battery warning on the screen. But no overheating problem. With the same setup I went paddling in mid to high 40s Fahrenheit and got 92 minutes before the battery completely died and it shut off. That bodes well. I plan to post the paddling video later after I give it the VIRB Edit treatment.

In order to see if it would work if I plumbed in an external battery, I repeated the bench test with a USB battery hooked up. It over heated and shut down after just over two hours. That’s not encouraging. The battery indicator was indicating a nearly full battery though. I let it cool down for 15 minutes or so and started it up, and it’s currently 75 minutes into that test and the battery indicator is saying 19% remaining, which makes me wonder if the first video before it shut down was just the external battery and after is just the internal. I’ve discovered from testing on other cameras that removing the internal battery entirely when you’re using an external battery can solve some overheating – that might be worth a test with a higher capacity external.

For my next test I want to reduce the resolution to 2.7K, increase the frame rate to 60fps and turn on image stabilization and turn off the other features and see how long the battery lasts both with and without external battery. If I could get a three hours or more with the external I might have exactly what I was looking for.

On the other side of the coin, I tried editing the kayaking video using that fancy video editor daVinci Resolver and it was slow as molasses so I gave up. So then I tried in iMovie and it was slow but bearable. I had to shut down just about everything else on the computer though to prevent it from stuttering and dropping frames. Maybe I do need that new MacBook Pro after all.