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Camera start-up GoPro secures funding

The camera market is overcrowded with major players, but a small company called GoPro that makes cameras for action videos convinced venture capitalists it's got prospects.

GoPro's 3D videocamera system
GoPro's 3D videocamera system GoPro

The camera market might be dominated by giants such as Canon and Panasonic, but a small start-up founded by a surfer in Half Moon Bay, Calif., has persuaded venture capitalists to invest.

GoPro, maker of the diminutive Hero line of cameras geared to record action video of snowboarding, base jumping, mountain biking, scuba diving, and car racing, announced the funding today. The "substantial strategic investment" of undisclosed magnitude is from Riverwood Capital, Steamboat Ventures, Sageview Capital, Walden International, and U.S. Venture Partners.

The company has found a niche for its products--including a range of accessories such as suction cups, chest harnesses, helmet straps, handlebar clamps, and adhesive brackets to mount the cameras. Most recently, it released a camera housing that fits two cameras side by side for shooting 3D video and acquired CineForm, a video encoding company whose software GoPro supplies to process the 3D videos.

GoPro also announced a major distribution deal: Best Buy will carry its products.

The cameras are basic--fisheye lenses that don't need to be focused, automatic exposure, one button to start and stop video and another to cycle through settings. A bubble-shaped plastic lens is designed to be replaced if you scratch it during your parachute landing. Though they're basic, they'll shoot HD video for people who don't have a spare hand to hold a camera.

Among the prices: The HD Hero 960 camera costs $180 with a waterproof housing that works down to 180 feet deep and shoots 720p and 960p video. The HD Hero shoots 1080p, and with a helmet mount included, costs $300. The 3D housing costs another $100 but also is waterproof.

Corrected at 1:41 p.m. PT to note the HD Hero 960 doesn't shoot 1080p video.