Like many paddlers, I bought a GoPro camera. I used it for a season to shoot lots of video, but didn’t do anything with the video — because most of it was pretty boring. Eventually, bored of shooting action video, the GoPro sat in the corner of my office gathering dust. That is until I got my hands on an XShot Dome Port to review.
The XShot Dome Port is a 6-inch dome port designed to allow you to use your GoPro Hero 3 or Hero 4 to get “half-and-half” waterline shots. This gives you a picture that is half above the waterline and half below the waterline. It also moves the waterline away from the lens to improve the quality of the images you make. XShot made the main body of the Dome Port from aluminum and an acrylic dome with a anti-droplet and anti-scratch coating. It includes a dive handle and a lanyard. The housing for the GoPro camera allows you to access most of the buttons in a similar way that the waterproof GoPro housing does.
The Dome Port looks surprisingly big, but once in hand it feels well balanced. The way that I used it was to flip the view of the GoPro upside down and connect the GoPro to my phone. That allowed me to see the images I was capturing and frame up the shots. The flipped view let me hold the handle out of the water and wade in the water or hold the port outside of the kayak or canoe. This made getting shots easy. Most of the images that I got were made this way.
The downside to shooting this way has nothing to do with the Dome Port, but the wifi of the GoPro eats batteries quickly. So, I’d get about 20 minutes of shooting before having to break open the case and change the batteries. The only issue that I saw with the Dome Port was an occasional ring-shaped flare or optical aberration. I couldn’t figure out what was causing it, but it didn’t show up often.
The most successful underwater shots I made with the XShot Dome Port were in shallow areas. The shallow areas added something interesting underwater other than just water. With just the water under the surface, the picture wasn’t that interesting. I received the XShot later in the northern water season and the water was already pretty cold, so I didn’t have a chance to try any shots of people swimming, but I’ll take this to Florida with me in March and use it in the Gulf of Mexico. I suspect it will be good fun on the beaches.
Overall, the XShot Dome Port extends the usefulness of your GoPro Hero3 or Hero4. It allows you to make images from your GoPro that aren’t possible without the product. And half-and-half waterline shots are fun to make and will get “Wows!” from your friends when you share them.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received XShot Dome Port for free from XShot in consideration for a gear review.