Our family recently took a vacation to Florida, and our dad bought us a GoPro before we left, so we could record what we did on the beach without fear of ruining any of our cameras. The GoPro worked like a charm, capturing shots underwater, above water, and on the beach, and I decided to review it.

The GoPro has only two buttons, and a 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch screen, which makes complicated shots and settings impossible, but on the beach that was almost a good thing. With the 170 degree wide-angle lens (which shrinks down to 127 degrees when you record 1080p video), you capture everything you point the camera at, and since the camera has so few settings, it becomes much less intrusive into what you are doing. You don’t have to be actively worrying about keeping your subject in frame or of getting your camera ruined by having it dropped, dunked, or splashed, so you can relax and have more fun with the people you’re around.

You have 5 different resolution options when you record video: 30 fps at 1080p, 30 fps at 940p,  60 or 30fps at 720p, and 60fps at VGA, and picture mode lets you record 5 Megapixel stills individually, in 3 shot bursts,  2 to 60 second intervals, or on a timed delay. Their is distortion from the wide-angle lens, but it’s not that noticeable unless the picture or video you shoot has lots of straight lines in it.

The only real con that I saw while using the GoPro didn’t have to do with anything the GoPro did or didn’t do, it just had to do with the fact that, except in certain cases, it isn’t that useful. If you went to the beach or on a river trip, or wanted to mount a camera on your bike, go-cart, or body, then the GoPro would be an amazing camera to buy. The original GoPro is currently selling at only $130 apiece, making them a very economical option for people that like to go to places that would be inhospitable to a normal camera, but if you wanted to record in “normal” conditions, you’re better off spending that $130 on a good point-and-shoot camera that records decent video, rather than buying a GoPro.

Comparing a GoPro to a normal camera isn’t really like comparing two models of normal cameras. The areas where a GoPro excels rarely overlaps to include the areas where a regular camera would work well. The GoPro works well in more extreme situations, while a normal camera does not. A normal camera works well taking pictures on dry land and on solid ground, while a GoPro doesn’t. It isn’t really fair to compare a GoPro to a normal camera- it’s almost like comparing a skateboard to a surfboard-They both work well in the situations they were designed to work well in.

My final verdict is this: If you’ve ever wanted to go to crazy places with your camera, then the GoPro is the camera for you. If not, it’ll probably end up being a cool toy that you use a few times and then forget about. If you can’t think of why you would need a GoPro, you probably don’t! (It’s still a pretty cool camera to have around though)