You've labored for hours and finally arrived at your wilderness paradise. Tired but ecstatic, you've got all the fishing gear you need to complete your adventure and send the line. You also have that expensive camera gear, and the sunset has illuminated the entire glorious scene in a surreal glow. But there's not enough time to make the most of both.
Will you satisfy your passion to land a lunker, your favorite thing in life? Or will you sacrifice in the name of artistry, and capture the beauty and energy on camera?
This is easily the worst part of being an adventure photographer: forsaking total immersion in the moment to create a visual feast for later consumption. Fortunately, with the advent of wearable, high-end micro-cams, the days of having to choose are over. Skiers, climbers and adventurers worldwide are recording their exploits in HD, without ever having to take eyes—or heart—off the line. There are about a half-dozen wearable cameras on the market, each with its own benefits and pitfalls. None are as popular as the GoPro HD Helmet Hero ($300), which comes with about everything you'd want—full 1920 x1080 HD (high-definition) video, a shock-proof and waterproof case, and the fisheye lens required to score a "you-are-here" perspective.
The Hero also shoots up to 60 video frames per second, just the rate you need if you want to slo-mo your gap-hucking buddy.
If you prefer still images, the Hero accommodates that, too. Just set it to capture a 5-megapixel frame every 2/5/10/30/60 seconds—from a perch on your helmet, bike, vehicle, surfboard, wrist, and so on. You can get up to 2.5 hours of shooting, all without needing to touch or adjust the camera.
A camera the size of a cell phone that weighs 94 grams (twice that with the housing) is not without shortcomings. Battery life can be limiting, and batteries are expensive. The Hero has only two buttons, but there are many settings, and figuring out the menu isn't always intuitive. Since there's no viewfinder or viewing screen, you have to experiment with camera angles and essentially roll the dice your first few times out. (An $80 LCD screen accessory lets you see what you're recording, but it drastically increases the camera's size and weight, and it's not a necessity.)
In the meantime, GoPro is continuously improving its cameras through user feedback and firmware updates, and the company doesn't nickel-and-dime users on things like electrical cords or helmet mounts—mine came with six.
So if you continually find yourself in photo-worthy places, but rarely have the time or extra hand to pull out your camera, don't leave it at home. Just strap on the helmet cam and go.