And Now For Something Completely Different: Speakers

The coins in the register ring ...
the fans to heaven they spring?
Imagine the fidelity of this miniature speaker: chrrrrrr ... hchchchchch ... chchchcrr...

Any attempt to return them is probably spoiled right from the beginning. Come one, you knew what disharmonic factor to expect, didn't you?!

Personally, I would rather opt for the Lord Dark Helmet merchandise instead, if at all.

There is one thing left that leaves me still puzzled: what are they pouring into their coffees over there at The T HQ? Maybe we can expect a new Espresso capsule series «Imperiale»?


Hero Under Water Basic Equipment

So what equipment does it need in addition to a GoPro HD Hero 3/3+ to shoot good videos below the water line? Apart from that it takes a different camera, that is? Of course, it depends: on your demands and standards. However, if you want more than just shooting some short and shaky fun clips à la smart phone quality: please read on for my highly subjective suggestions. From my own experience, these suggestions proved to be practical so far to improve my standards.

But of course, equipment is just one part of the overall equation. Without any skill, competence, and pain even the best equipment never cuts the mustard. But one step after the other...


Impression: Dive Vader and his Light Sabres

Poking the Pike Lightly (BY/D)
Axel again showed his clear eye and shot this funny photo in Friedberger See (a former dredging lake). It was a cloudy, overcast, dull, and cold day. In return, we were the only divers below the wakeboard complex ... and we saw fish, a lot of fish.

Much whiting, and that of course draws a bunch of pikes. There were almost fed up, hanging around motionless, barely taking any notice of us divers. The land of plenty for them, it seems.

Here, I've discovered a tiny pike, just from this year. It tries to not move at all, lurking at the rim of some sea plants, waiting for prey. And it probably hopes that Dive Vader won't grill him with his laser swords...


Hero Protection

In some situations it is impossible use its protective case when shooting footage with your GoPro HD Hero 3. For instance, when I'm filming aerial videos using my DJI Phantom Quadcopter I need to directly mount the cam into the Zenmuse H3-2D gimbal for weight reasons. Unfortunately, dirt and dust stirred up by the propellers' air blast may some day cause scratches on the lens.

Fortunately, GoPro finally took notice of this problem and now offers remedy...


Hero Lights: Light and Motion Sola Video 2000F LED Lamps

Neufelder See (LA/Ö).
When filming under water a well-proven rule of thumb applies in many situations: you need a lot of light to get good footage. Without light you quickly hit unpleasant limits and all you get are grainy shots in dull colors.

However, the wide field of view a GoPro HD Hero 3 cam has to offer isn't exactly easy to illuminate: your lights should feature evenly distributed light cones and yet still cover a significant area, and all this without bright spots. Otherwise you will get the desired bright colors only in a small spot and everything else drowns in darkness and flat colors.

After my previous LED dive and video light had bugged me long enough, I finally made up my mind and invested in decent video LED light: I allowed myself two Sola Video 2000F's by Light and Motion which give real good light. Luckily, they arrived in time to give them a first try in Neufelder See, just at the gates of Vienna...


Big Frame Hunter

Ready to Shoot: The Big Frame Hunter.

Don't get bogged down by these tiny little critters: think big ... think big game hunter. You got the cam, we've got the specialty.

Correct Sidemount!

Make sure your bottles contain only the best stuff...

It was surely about time: the one and only true sidemount specialist training. Deep down you simply want the best ... stuff in your bottles, that is.

PS: Many thanks to Axel for this shot he made in Neufelder See near Vienna.


Evening Gold & Hero Red: Protune Grading

Burg Thann, Nuremberg county. (BY/D)
This time in my series «one video lies more than a thousand words» I'm showing how to carefully emphasize an evening mood in Protune footage. This gives, for instance, castle Burg Thann more atmosphere.

Without further manual grading, Protune footage may appear rather very neutral and even appear to be slightly cold. But adding some nice touch to your footage is really easy. Just take Kdenlive, no need for any professionals' tools or similar marketing balderdash...


Kdenlive Video: Color Grading Protune Footage

Following my motto «a picture lies more than a thousand words» I produced a short video tutorial: color grading Protune footage. I'm demonstrating my technique on a short but vivid autumn scene. My goal is to achieve almost the same result as if filmed without Protune and thus with the camera-integrated automatic image processing.

While working on the specific video effect set to reproduce the genuine GoPro video look I noticed something interesting going on color-wise inside these cams...


Castle Burg Thann

Nuremburg county is rich of relicts from our ancestors. This is giving the landscape its flair. After my friend Wolfgang had infested me to film in somehow ruined locations I had to throw up my little cam copter into late Autumn air...


Kdenlive Effect: Protune

In my article Grading of Hero 3 (Above Waterline) Footage I've shown how to create a new effect template in Kdenlive for uncompressing the tonal curve of Protune raw footage. This effect is really useful for working with Hero 3 video footage.

You can also directly create the effect outside of Kdenlive without fiddling around with the curve handles...


Post Processing Protune Video Footage

Graded Protune footage in Kdenlive.
Before color grading (just luma correction).
Are you asking yourself too: how do I set up my GoPro Black Edition or Silver Edition for filming under water? How do I avoid tinted images? How do I process my Protune footage shot with a Hero 3?

Over time, I will post here several blog articles covering these topics and I will show you the aces up my sleeve when it comes to post processing Protune footage. I'm in no way a professional, so please be forgiving. Hopefully, you can benefit from my posts. Of course, useful feedback is always appreciated.

In case you are working with Kdenlive to cut and grade your footage, then you should take a look at my post Effectively Working with 2.7K Video Footage in Kdenlive. In it, I'm showing you how to create proxy clips to speed up your editing work without having to wait all the time for the project preview or clip view to update.

But the main starting point is Helpful Hero 3 Practice Above + Below the Waterline: so what is this Protune and how do I avoid color faults and tints in my footage? While Protune allows us to switch off white balancing this all comes at the price of post processing your footage.

Next comes my post Grading of Hero 3 (Above Waterline) Footage. In it, you'll learn how to uncompress the tonal curve that Protune uses, so you get back good-looking video. I'll also show how to properly increase color saturation and sharpen the footage to get the decent GoPro look. If you want to create the Protune custom effect in Kdenlive for easy work with Protune footage, then head over to Kdenlive Effect: Protune.

When you have mastered this step, you are ready to do Grading of Hero 3 (Diving) Footage. In this post, I tackle the specifics of grading underwater footage. In particular, I show how to deal with underwater footage shot in difficult light conditions that are typical for coldwater freshwater lakes.

Grading of Hero 3 (Below Waterline) Footage

In a previous article I've shown how to post process GoPro HD Hero 3 Protune footage in Kdenlive. On purpose, this previous article covered only footage shot above the waterline. In this second article I'm now focusing on the specifics of underwater footage.


Grading of Hero 3 (Above Waterline) Footage

In this article I'll show how to post-process video footage that was shot with a GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition (or Silver Edition) in Protune mode. In order to better understand the details of what really is going on in post processing, I'll show the necessary steps using the non-linear video editor Kdenlive.

On purpose, I'm not using proprietary software packages for demonstration, but instead open source software. However, with the knowledge gained here you should be able to easily transfer my description to any decent other video editor software ... as long as your software gives you the required basic tools.


Effectively Working with 2.7K (Protune) Footage in Kdenlive

Working with high-bit rate footage that was shot with a GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition easily eats up all your available computational resources in post production. Especially for footage shot in the 2700×1520 dimension and with Protune switched on your video editor needs to process around 45MBits per second for real-time playback, applying all the required effects such as color grading, sharpening, et cetera at the same time. However, unless you happen to possess a really highest-end system, these image bit rates are still too much for effectively working in your video editor software. You will quickly grow tired of heavy delays when editing. Luckily, Kdenlive has something to speed up your work again...

Helpful Hero 3 Practice Above + Below the Waterline

GoPro's HD Hero 3 action cams are very popular for sure. Especially GoPro's top of the line HD Hero 3 Black Edition delivers stunning pictures above and below the waterline. And this despite its small size.

But right out of the box, video footage shot with the HD Hero 3 below the water surface still sometimes really sucks heavily, so how do we properly configure a Hero 3 Black Edition and then post-process (color-grade) the resulting footage to avoid such mishaps?


T14SG Telemetry: Setting the Warning Level for the Flight Battery

Personally, I really like Futaba's telemetry function: this way, I can always accurately see how much juice my Phantom's flight battery still has. In this article, I will show you how to configure the T14SG to warn you when the voltage of the flight battery drops below a certain level.

T14SG Phantom Programming: More Sensitive Control Sticks

When I set up my Futaba transmitter T14SG for the first time for use with my Phantom I also programmed a mixer: this mixer allowed me to change the rate (stick curve) for the rudder, in order to get more precise control during filming.

Of course, there is a better way to set up dual rate functionality. Almost any half-decent computer transmitter now comes with such a function already built-in. Time for an upgrade of my transmitter setup!


DJI Phantom and Futaba T14SG/R7008SB

Some time ago, I had this great idea to replace the original DJI transmitter and receiver units in my Phantom with with something better and more robust. I opted for a Futaba transmitter T14SG and an R7008SB receiver, complete with telemetry.

I've even upgraded my Phantom with a Zenmuse H3-2D gimbal recently; that required replacing the original main board.

For those interested in these upgrades I've documented both the hardware upgrade side, as well as the gory details of programming (or configuring) the T14SG transmitter. As there are quite some things to take care of, I've cut down the rather big topic into a series of blog articles:
In addition, you can find more articles with respect to the Phantom quadcopter and the Futaba T14SG transmitter:

    GoPro HD Hero 3 in Practice

    Always diving with the little cam cubes...
    (In Fernsteinsee TY/A)
    So you've got this tiny little cam cube that pretends to be a full-blown video camera...

    ...but what equipment do I need and how do I get proper colors even under water, for heavens sake?!

    And what is this Protune thing, do I really need it?! What's this crap anyway, it produces awfully dull images??

    If you somehow care about the later results when shooting video and if you want to achieve more than just Apple's iRrespective video effects, then you will find in my blog some helpful tips for working with Protune and Kdenlive. My examples are real-world examples taken from the videos I shot.


    Working with the GoPro HD Heroes becomes more fun when you make sure that you get some more equipment. You may get away for some time without them, but in the end, you will need additional equipment. Please head over to my blog post GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition equipment for my subjective list, based on my own experience for working with the HD Heros for over three years now. Also, not least when diving, proper light is of much importance to getting good footage from your HD Hero 3.

    Protune For Starters

    In Helpful Hero 3 Practice Above + Below the Waterline you'll learn how to start shooting in Protune. I'll show you step by step how to enable Protune and how to switch off the annoyingly bad automatic white balancing.

    Effective Kdenlive

    Those working with the open source non-linear video editor Kdenlive may benefit a lot from working with the so-called proxy clips. In Effectively Working with 2.7K Footage in Kdenlive I'm explaining how to set up proxy clips and I show the proxy-clip rendering profile I'm usually working with.

    Grading Protune Footage

    In Grading of Hero 3 (Above Waterline) Footage I'm showing and explaining my basic set of video effects I typically use when grading Protune video footage. I'm only working with really basic effects, so you can easily transfer your knowledge to any other decent video editor software, as long as it offers you the necessary basic tools. Albeit I use a simple set of effects, I've found them to be highly effective in many situations. Of course, I'm using real-world examples instead of artifical scene to show you my simple basics of how to grade footage.

    Protune in the Evening

    When you need to work on Protune footage shot in evening light, then this additional grading effect may come in handy: in Evening Gold and Hero Red: Protune Grading I'm showing you how to improve the appearance of evening footage even more. This is a more specific topic. Nevertheless, it's again a real-world example I ran into, so you may learn from it and may put it to good use even in other situations.

    Protune Below the Waterline

    In Grading of Hero 3 (Diving) Footage I'm dealing especially with the situation of filming in Protune under water. Starting from my basic set of video effects, I'm now making some changes to accommodate to the specifics of under water lighting conditions and even the water conditions itself. Again, I'm explaining my grading process with the help of several (bad?) real-world examples, fresh from mountain lakes and other filthy water holes.


    Over time, there will be more articles related to GoPro HD Hero and Kdenlive video editing, which are...


    For the Records: Phantom Cable Spaghetti

    Luckily, newer firmware releases for the Naza-M starting with V3.16 support S.BUS2 operation. The english articles already base on a S.BUS(2) setup. Having only a single cable between receiver and Naza-M is a great improvement, no more cable spaghetti.

    For the records, I'm documenting the mess that was my interim setup, using seven servo patch cables to connect the receiver to the Naza-M flight controller. You need to see this...


    Horka-Werbellin: a Short Dive Trip

    Marco of Tauchrevier Deutschland fame was watering my mouth for quite a time already to do some dives in the lakes in the larger region around Berlin. Some weeks ago I got the opportunity to go on a short trip, starting at former stone pit Horka and travelling North until Werbellinsee. Of course, there are so many more dive spots in this area, so my wish list hasn't been checked clean so far. It was a really pleasant experience visiting the region, the landscape, interesting dive spots and with even more interesting people. Enjoy the video!

    First Under Water Cyclist with Full Face Mask?

    As if cycling under water wouldn't be bizare enough. So I couldn't resist and add a full face mask on top. This is now my personal, inofficial world record. Probably I'm the first one to do it in this combination... so a good reason to celebrate this with its own dedicated video clip. Enjoy!


    Trimming Video Files Lossless Using ffmpeg

    Recently, I needed to trim an H.264 video file of several megabytes size down to a few seconds worth without loss of quality. I simply didn't wanted to deal with this big video file in my editor and wasting space on an enormous proxy video file. Of course, ffmpeg immediately comes to mind, but how to tame that beast...?


    Upgrading My Phantom With a Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal

    Unimpressive box containing impressive tech!
    Welcome to another upgrade (or add-on) story for my ready-to-flight quadcopter! Rrrriiing ... my doorbell proclaims new work arriving. The kind delivery man hands over a small parcel containing pleasant work. At least for now I consider it to be pleasant, so let's enjoy the moment.

    The parcel contains my long-awaited Zenmuse H3-2D gimbal system. This upgrade should bring me into the league of super stable aerial filming.

    I couldn't resist so I immediately opened the next chapter in the book of my flying construction site. Today, it seems ages ago that I purchased that ready-to-flight kit...


    Test Flight of Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal

    Taking aerial footage now is a great pleasure using the cam gimbal system Zenmuse H3-2D. You have to see how incredible stable the camera point of view now is, so here's a little video showing some simple footage. Now seeing such stable footage is great earnings for the effort I had to suffer when upgrading my Phantom quadcopter with the gimbal. More on the upgrade details will come as a separate blog article. Update: see here for my Zenmuse H3-2D upgrade experience.

    SanDisk Extremes Without Problems So Far

    I now could test the new SanDisk 32GB Extreme microSD cards both in the air as well as under water. They performed without any problems so far. Since their writing performance includes a good safety margin with respect to Protune requirements there is hope that these cards will also perform okay over a longer period of time. But only time will tell...

    Replacement Superlative: and Now for the Extremists...

    We now opened a new chapter in the probably never ending story of class 10 microSD cards from SanDisk. The currently heavily marketed Ultra series turned out to be an underperformer when used in HD Hero 3s, as they weren't up to the required writing performance of Protune. Now SanDisk marketing sends its extremists to the Protune race, as a replacement superlative for their ultras that took a big hit. Since one of my dealers wanted to only replace my Ultra cards with other SanDisk cards I bit the bullet and agreed to start the experiment...

    World Records Day Under Water Video

    Now you can also get a more vivid impression of our world records day under water. Enjoy!


    World Record Day Under Water

    Yesterday, we saw two new world records under water (2013-09-07)


    CCW Motor Upgrade Correct...

    In the meantime, I've found a DJI tutorial video that is proof that my musings about upgrading my DJI Phantom with CCW motors are correct...


    Law & Order Below the Waterline

    Roundabout/Rotary Specialist.

    As proper citizens we always engage in getting even more proper citizens. Thus we now offer the Roundabout Specialist to be better citizens also below the waterline.

    In case you noticed: the card really shows a roundabout and not a rotary. You may count this as a tiny glitch, but who cares. For the latest right-hand rotaries we lacked the necessary widest angle lens, and well-known TV channels couldn't lend us one as they desperately need them for themselves all the time.

    PS: Many thanks to Michaela Heinlein for the great shot taken during a training pool lession.

    Going Cycling with a Full Face Mask

    Slowest biker under water wearing a full face mask.
    Call me nuts. We had much fun yesterday when we did some training for an upcomming Guiness record attempt. I'm going for a win in the new category of «slowest biker under water wearing a full face mask». I'm unrivaled, I'm sure, in both dimensions: slow and full face mask.

    Unfortunately, the pool won't be filled with Guiness. That would otherwise be a good reason to even dive this time without my full face mask.

    However, I suppose that after the record attempt the pool fluid will be rather more like Kölsch (Cologne beer) than water. But not served in small tube-like glasses as it is custom in Cologne, but rather in a pool...

    PS: Thanks go to Axel Eisel for this finish photo.

    This is the End ... to SanDisk Ultra microSDs

    Total loss: the final three cards
    out of originally six cards
    also went nuts.
    Enough is enough. First, problems with filming where when filming with my GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Editions filming suddenly stops. Now a complete loss of filmed footage due to the SanDisk microSDs failing. Luckily, the footage wasn't of great importance, but this is annoying nevertheless.

    So these remaining three cards out of originally six cards I've purchased from this brand finally have proven to me to be unreliable. I'm going to return them in order to get a full refund and purchase from a different brand known to be working. No more SanDisk for me.

    The final result now is: six out of six SanDisk cards failed. SanDisk really has come a long way ... in direction of Earth gravity.  At least for me, as 100% of their products I purchased for use with GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition cams failed within some months of use.

    And before someone knows better: I've purchased these cards through renowed channels, such as specialized dealers and large chain retailers. There is, for all it is worth, zero change of getting fake brand cards. And then, several independent dealers would have to get the same fakes over a period of several weeks where I purchased through different retailers. There is, for any practical reason, zero change of this going to happen, unless you are a believer in tin foil hats.

    What I notice is that GoPro that once treated SanDisk as its one and only memory card supplier for their web shop isn't on the list of recommended microSD cards (as of end of August 2013). We find only three other companies here: Delkin, Lexar, and Samsung. Outch, this is a first class punch.

    Spin Me Around Like A Record ... Or the Other Way

    As one of the motors of my Phantom quadcopter developed a bearing damage I had to service the hardware anyway. And then I had this glorious idea to upgrade my first generation Phantom a little bit...

    T14SG Switch Assignments

    After all the detailed programming of your Futaba transmitter T14SG you may now wonder what switch does what? So, here's a quick reference at your convenience...

    T14SG and the Phantom Failsafe

    In this article, I'm going to take a closer look at the topic of failsafe. The Futaba transmitter T14SG and receiver R7008SB both come with failsafe functionality, as does the Naza-M flight controller inside the Phantom too. Now how do all these failsafes work together? As usual, no warranties given, this is just how I did it and I may be perfectly wrong...

    Programming the T14SG for the Phantom

    Futaba T14SG: 2.4GHz transmitter,
    12+2 channels and telemetry.
    In a previous article I described how I upgraded my DJI Phantom quadcopter with a Futaba R7008SB receiver. In this follow-up article, I'm now showing how to program the T14SG transmitter in order to fly the Phantom. So let's start...!


    Phantom Transmitter/Receiver Upgrade Futaba T14SG/R7008SB

    My DJI Phantom with Futaba R7008SB receiver and
    T14SB transmitter. Telemetry now included!

    The international version of my blog is still lagging behind, but I try to slowly catch up. So here we start with Pimp My Phantom...

    The DJI Phantom comes ready to fly and so the box includes only a simple and inexpensive 2.4GHz transmitter to keep the box price low.
    Update: Meanwhile, DJI has improved the Phantom's transmitter and receiver. While the company now markets this improvement as a frequency hopping system, measurements show that the new system only uses four discrete frequencies, so this is still a very simple system.
    After having flown the Phantom with great pleasure for several ten of hours I wanted more comfort and more reliability than just what the beginner's level has to offer. I wanted more reliability of the radio link even in difficult locations with many reflections, automatic timers for monitoring the flight battery, and also a proper slide lever for controlling the camera for my future gimbal upgrade.

    After touring the local electronics chain store I picked up a Futaba T14SG transmitter that also comes with a suitable R7008SB receiver. This combination features flight battery telemetry, that is, the receiver send back the battery voltage to the transmitter. Don't declare me nuts, read on for my story of upgrading my Phantom...


    Pure Sight: Above & Inside Sameranger See and Fernsteinsee

    Panoramic view in any aspect. ;)
    Sameranger See (T/AT)
    Top notch mountain lake diving: Sameranger See and Fernsteinsee. Extraordinary sight that even make tropical waters cry. Both mountain lakes are side by side in between Fernpass and the town of Nassereith, Tyrol, Austria. But sight is not only top notch below the water surface but also above; filming at this beautiful location is a real pleasure. My DJI Phantom quadcopter is a great tool for aerial filming. Enjoy the video!


    Summer Ice Diving Speciality

    I want to ice dive NOW!

    With the present hot weather for the past few weeks that seems to last some more weeks to come I desperately want to have an ice diving specialty!

    Pure Natural Diver (EAN21)

    Perfectly tuned to Nature: 21% O2.

    Natural diving is Green.

    No, not because of all that damn green algae in our diving waters, caused by the big bad farming and so.

    Diving is Green because we're perfectly pure in what we breathe when we dive: 21% Oxygen, as made by Mother Nature. Only EAN21 makes us properly tune in to Nature. No more industrial breathing gas crap, such as EAN32. No way!

    Be part of the Green Whole! Get certified as a Pure Natural Diver today!


    **** Deep BBQ Expert

    Four-Star BBQ Expert certification.

    Our brand new diving special of the year! Get it while it's still hot. Perfect for those four-star-instructors that already achieved almost anything you need to pay for.


    More Hero Juice...

    The GoPro HD Hero 3 series cams are performing excellent in many aspects, except battery lifetime. At least for surface use I've come across something that helps in those cases where you drained all your spare Hero batteries and still want to shot more footage: a comparably small USB battery tank with quite some capacity. It is perfect to give your GoPro HD Heros some more juice, as well as to your mobile phone.


    Impressions: TheDiveO 50+ FFM Dives

    New pictures of me diving the Dräger Panorama Nova Dive full face mask ... I've now dived the Dräger in 50+ dives in open water, without even the slightest problem. I'm glad, I've purchased this full face mask, as it is a professional and rock-solid mask.

    A Crabby Motel: Sundhäuser See and Möwensee

    The plashy weather left room for improvement, yet our dive trip to the southern foothills of Harz was worth it. The two lakes Sundhäuser See and Möwensee are pleasant to dive, it's easy going in comparably clean waters. This year we had an incredible amount of tiny young crabs floating in the waters, looking like «snow» in the video footage. The perches were rather bored these days, hang around everywhere and sometimes even remotely glad for some fun they had with us divers ... but then it became booooring again fast.


    Fly & Dive: Echinger Weiher

    A Phantom in the air.
    Mysterious bubble circles.
    Psychodelic lights.
    The Holledau below the water surface.
    The Bavarian Cenotes.
    And all this in a single small waterhole: Echinger Weiher. As always: enjoy the film!


    Transporting a Phantom

    Albeit the DJI Phantom quadcopter is light and small in size, you always need to carry additional things you'll need, such as the transmitter, battery packs, et cetera. In order to have all things ready that one may need on a trip I went for a transport case. Luckily, Globe Flight sells a suitable one, albeit it needs some DIY work.

    It Only Happens to Me: Computer Communication Problems

    Every electronic nowadays seem to come with USB connectivity. So the DJI Phantom quadcopter doesn't want to be the only exception. Using a USB cable you can update the quadcopter's firmware and tune several parameters of it's flight control unit. Easy, just install the driver software as well as the Naza-M assistent software (grrrr, Windows only). According to the manual, I powered up the Phantom, then connected the USB cable that came with the Phantom to my computer. Beep, beep, Windows recognizes the new USB device ... so I'm starting the assistent software ... and then nothing happens...

    Above the Waters ... Done Right: Fly & Dive

    Roughly two years ago I rather accidentally stumbled into filming and filming under water in particular. I have to admit that I've been hit hard again ... after seeing the Ready-to-Fly Quadcopter Phantom by DJI Innovations. I immediately knew: my GoPro HD Hero 3 has to go into thin air! I want to film diving spots not only from below but also from above! And those reports were just fueling my idea as they painted a realistic, yet highly addictive image of the Phantom system by DJI Innovations.


    Sunny Moments in Lake Blindsee

    Our day trip to Blindsee (roughly 1100m above sea level, near Lermoos in Tyrol/Austria) was worth the effort: two peaceful dives in a meager, yet very beautiful underwater landscape. Featuring a pikepearch clearly demonstrating against fotographic lenses and tenches chilling in sun light. Enjoy the scenery!


    NOx Expert

    This card makes every gas blender envious!

    Some aspirants of higher diving education may sometimes miss the beauty of nature. Don't be afraid any longer, just book this specialty: it ensures unparalleled pleasure, just show the examiner how to properly take a break. Examinations were never a breeze like this before!

    PS: Many thanks again to Axel Eisele who pressed the shutter at the right time and from the right angle while I was taking a small break in lake Blindsee (T/A).


    Why Dual Heros?

    Why, oh why, does one diver needs two GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition cameras? Well, just two things: 1. battery lifetime, 2. firmware.

    A battery lifetime of at best one hour when using an activated LCD bacpac and a resolution of 2700×1520 pixels at 25 frames per second couldn't be worse. I really need to LCD in order to properly frame the scenes. So, dear GoPro, while you are boasting that the Hero 3 Black is not only 30% smaller than its Hero 2 predecessor, it also operates 30% less on a battery charge, when compared to the Hero 2. So why aren't you boasting these 30% less after all too, you really did a decent job in decreasing battery life?

    Since my typical dives last around one and a half hour, a battery lasting only for one hour is ridiculous. Unfortunately, the battery bacpac is of no help as I need to LCD display for framing since I'm holding the cam in front of me and I'm not wearing it on my head, where framing doesn't matter.

    In addition, GoPro's firmware also sometimes does its best to really annoy divers when it crashes while under water. In general, the situation has become better with the Hero 3 now, compared to the Hero 2, but there are still too many problems. Fortunately, at least microSD card problems typically don't crash the Hero 3 any more, most of the time.

    By the way: the Duracell bunny didn't get back to our inquiries about bunny cells for the Hero 3. Last time we heard of him, he suffered water damage.


    A microSD Hero? Transcend 32GB Class 10 microSD memory card

    After my mixed experiences with microSD cards of type SanDisk Ultra microSD cards (to put it mildly as one never knows whether the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition will work or not with them) I am now trying Transcend microSD cards as an alternative. Transcend is claiming whooping 16MBit/s write performance ... yet another unsubstantiated claim?


    Anti-Heros: SanDisk Ultra MicroSD cards

    Until recently, I never really had to worry about the performance of memory cards when it came to using them for video. But the GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition now pushes memory cards rather hard and suddenly microSD card performance becomes of importance. Due to the higher HD resolutions, such as 2700×1520 at 25 frames per second and with Protune switched on, the Hero 3 Black Edition now blasts approximately 45 MBit per second towards these tiny memory cards. Albeit this is less than 6 MByte/s, we are talking about writing performance. GoPro requires microSD cards of «class 10» or (how it now also called) «U1». So, where's the problem, you say? There are so many cards available! Unfortunately, these card classifications are useless.


    GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition Equipment

    After having collected some more experience with my two GoPro HD Hero Black Edition cams also under water, it think that it is time for a first summary. You could already read some early impressions in my blog articles about ice diving and my (self-ironic) disposition towards Herography. But what is now the state of affairs after a few dives?


    Self-Reliant Photographer

    Now this is safety...
    How often you don't have a buddy ... a real one ... well, a buddy that actually can properly film and take pictures under water? If the other di(v)e instruction groups can, so can we at iSS! So here is our brand-new specialty: The Self-reliant Photographer.

    Now as the old saying goes: a quiet conscience dives in thunder ... even if your «buddy» has not the slightest clue about filming and photographing. Now this is safe!

    And if you get yourself that extra large mounting tray for your cameras, you are also good for that TXR card.


    Ice Diving in Urisee, Reutte, Austria

    After some beautiful ice diving, the GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition jury's in ... and the verdict is very positive. I'm positively impressed by the sensor performance of the Hero3 Black Edition even in difficult lighting situations. Such as diving under a thick layer of snow that cuts off much light. So read on and enjoy watching ice diving!


    Ice Diving with Full Face Mask

    Urisee (T/A)
    Ice diving in Lake Urisee (near Reutte, Austria): snuggly packed we dived under ice ... that was more of a thick layer of snow than proper ice. One week ago, there was rain and later heavy snowing, so we ended up with this less-than-perfect situation.

    But it was still a real pleasure, especially with my Dräger Panorama Nova Dive full face mask on the face, keeping the cold waters at bay. And the redundant reg system was also adding to the good feelin'. Of course, there is much more to safety than just the redundant full face mask regs.


    Behind the Mask: Bilingual

    The main translation work is done so that there's now yet another English blog with personal rumbling about full face masks, drill, and filming underwater with inappropriate camera equipment. You now have the incredible choice between me producing incomprehensible English or terrible German. After all, it was to be expected that this would happen...

    Backup Your UW Video Footage On-The-Go

    When I'm away for diving and filming there's a lot of raw video footage produced by m GoPro Hero cameras. So far, I had to carry a laptop with me just to pull the material from the SD cards onto a large capacity harddisk for backup. The laptop more or less acted as an oversized HDD cabinet. Not any more: just a tablet and a slightly more mobile HDD...
    Update: I've since then upgraded to a dedicated SD memory card backup solution using a Sanho Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2. The other standard Wi-Fi mobile hard disk drive units can't offer any decent backup throughput, so I didn't really use my mobile HDD unit in the field.


    Dive Vader's Mask Defogging Force

    Imagine Dive Vader with a fogged visor? Not good at all.

    Especially in case of the Dräger Panorama Nova Dive defogging plays a role as this mask does not have a special defogging gas flow. So you need some defogging agent. Of course, you can find many commercial products for fighting the fog. The slight problem: large amount of unknown and undeclared additives and lots of annoying scent. Think about all this concentrating in your longs over the time of a dive, such as one and a half hour. No, thanks.

    Ironically, there is much fog when it comes to defogging agents. Luckily, it's really easy to avoid this situation if you know where to look for suitable agents...


    Herography in perfection?
    While one and the other diver turns away from his/her GoPro HD Hero or HD Hero 2 in total frustration, I probably need to be counted to those die-hards that stick to the style of (underwater) «Herography» ... much in the sense of Lomography.

    Why else on earth should someone accept this discoloring feature of the HD Hero2 that has been sailing under the misnomer of «white balancing» after all? Why buying another Hero model after all the adventures in GoPro firmware regression land? Die hard? Unconvinceable? Is there something interessting with the new «HD Hero 3 Black Edition»? My first glimpse...


    Impressions: The Triptych

    (In Lake Steinberger See, BY/D)
    The three shots combined in this triptych were taken by Peter von der Sitt and Marco Sattler from Sporttaucher Schwandorf during our New Year's Eve dive gathering at Steinberger See (BY/D). I then took some time to play around with the famous Gimp image tool in order to learn some new photo editing tricks. For instance, making silhouettes to separate image parts from the backdrop, blurring and adjusting the colors of the background, seamless blending, as well as some more small tricks.

    Okay, psychologists (even those working in kitchens) may now analyze as they feel an urgent need. Yet the simple truth is: having extensensively come into contact with the museum landscape in Cologne (and they have a giant amount of middle age sacral art for sure) this is just a natural type of picture composition after all...


    Now that there are a few nice impressions about diving with full face masks are hidden inside my blog here it is: my highly subjective and not seriously meant «best of». As an additional bonus you get some background stories about how the shots were taken.


    And now for the impressions...