Going Naked GoPro
Filming while flying has been one of the funniest and most entertaining things I can do with my drone.
I started buying a runcam orange, which was supposed to be ok quality, and yes, it was HD, but really left a lot to desire. The first problem was that if I selected the highest bit rate, the camera would record like in slow motion, or when a computer CPU is maxed out. Then it started to freeze mid-flight, and after just like a week I decide to stop been cheap and get myself a GoPro.
My first GoPro was a secondhand GoPro Hero 5, and the quality difference with the Runcam was huge. I then moved to try to learn as much as possible on how to use them when flying. This, as most of what happens in this hobby, was a completely new world to me. Many settings to play with, ND filters, FPS, flat colors, and so on. I spend hours just testing and failing, miserably, while recording my not so artistic flights.
After a few months, I moved to a session 5, because everyone in Youtube mention them. This was great, the weight was different, and the quality was still great, but that one suffered quite a lot with my piloting skills, and I killed it in just a few days.
I moved between sales, and secondhand opportunities to a GoPro 7, but then someone told me, or I read it, I can’t really remember, about the benefits of owning a GoPro Hero 6 and Reelsteady Go.
It was really hard to find one at a good price, but I did, and then used for the first time Reelsteady Go, and things got to a different level. Not that my films look anything professional at this point but compared to what I use to do just a few months ago looks like technology gave me a great push.
But I’ve been flying all the time my dearest 5” drone, an iFlight Cidora. This drone is powerful enough to lift a full GoPro without any issue, and still be capable of doing tricks and go fast.
In December 2020 iFlight launch a new cinewhoop, the Protek brand. This drone comes in two versions, a 2.5”, the Protek 25, and a 3.5”, the Protek 35.
The Protek 35 can lift a full GoPro without a problem, but the 25 can’t, and the size and features of this cinewhoop calls my attention very much, and since I like to film all the time, I had to start considering how to carry a GoPro in the Protek 25, and there comes the naked GoPro.
Someone with a lot of imagination, and some engineering skills decided that a full GoPro was too heavy for what he was doing and stripped down the motherboard and lens from his case. The result was a very light, something like 60 gr, camera with the beautiful quality that GoPro got us used to.
In the beginning I was completely against opening my camera. I watched some YouTube videos on how to do it, but I was somehow scared of the process. Not that I’m bad with electronics, but I thought it was a little too delicate of a work. In fact, it was not complicated at all. Yes, you need to be a little bit careful, but I will put this process on the easy side of a “easy, medium, difficult” scale.
To move the guts of the stripped-down camera to a naked GoPro frame is nothing complicated either, and with that you get a naked GoPro.
Because I thought the process was not complicated, and I think more people can do this if they want to get into filming good quality with small drones, I decided to bring the new iFlight naked GoPro cases to the store, and give more opportunity to folk that wants to test their feet into the lightweight cameras for drone filming.
There’s been some issues reported with the original BetaFPV naked GoPro case (or BEC more than case) burning down some cameras. In theory the iFlight version is more robust, and therefore I decided to go with that one. Iflight also have an external cable with a power regulator or BEC to connect to the battery balance cable and replace the internal battery of the GoPro, and people is calling this a semi-naked GoPro, another option if you don’t want to strip down your camera, but you still want your GoPro to go on a diet.
To end this story I have to also say that BetaFPV came up with a new camera together with Insta360, which is the main, or maybe even only, competitor to GoPro for drones. Some youtubers have been reviewing this 60 gr. camera with good comments. There still a lot of discussion around if the quality is at par with GoPro or not, but I think many would like to have the solution without having to go through the whole process of disassembling a GoPro and will be ok with the quality of the Insta360+BetFPV camera, reason why they are in a queue to come to NordFPV before the end of the 2020 year!