GoPro Hero3 Black Version assessment: taking motion cam high quality to the subsequent degree

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition review: taking action cam quality to the next level

GoPro’s lineup of mount-anyplace cameras has been dazzling excessive sports activities lovers for years. The unique HD Hero first delivered stills and vast-angle HD video in 2009, and people capabilities improved with a better-res sensor, quicker burst mode and a wider subject of view within the Hero2. Now, GoPro has rolled out the Hero3, which packs even larger efficiency (as much as 4K video!) in a dice that is virtually a full centimeter thinner than its predecessors.

What sort of highly effective imaging gear did the corporate boffins shove in that diminutive package deal? Simply how professional do movies from the brand new GoPro look? To seek out out, we took a Hero3 up in a jet, strapped it to the roof of a automotive and recorded a base bounce out of a scorching air balloon (from the security of the basket, in fact). Be a part of us after the break to see the outcomes and learn how we received alongside filming with the Hero3.

Gallery | fifty six Photographs
GoPro HD Hero3 Black Version

eighty four

GoPro Hero3 Black Version


  • Excessive-high quality, excessive-decision video
  • Small measurement
  • Excellent construct high quality


  • Brief battery life
  • 4K video hamstrung by low body price


GoPro’s Hero3 Black Version is probably the most succesful motion digital camera out there in the present day. It provides customers greater decision and better body fee choices than the competitors, however its battery life leaves a lot to be desired.


We acquired a Black Version Hero3 for this evaluation, which is GoPro’s prime-of-the-line digital camera packing an f/2.eight broad-angle lens in entrance of a 12-megapixel sensor and constructed-in WiFi. That lens / sensor combo enables you to shoot in 4K at 12 fps, 2.7K at 30 fps, 1440p at forty eight fps, 1080p at 60 fps, 960p at one hundred fps, 720p at one hundred twenty fps and WVGA decision at an unimaginable 240 fps. So, regardless of the way you wish to get your video gnar — by way of tremendous-hello-res or tremendous-sluggish-mo footage — the Hero3 Black Version may give it to you.

GoPro hasn’t modified the look of its cameras a lot because the introduction of the unique HD Hero. Prior Heroes are silver bins with stubby fisheye lenses jutting out subsequent to a 2-centimeter monochrome LCD show on the entrance. The Hero3 measures fifty eight x forty x 21mm (2.28 x 1.fifty seven x zero.eighty two inches) , whereas the Hero2 checks in at 60 x forty two x 30mm (2.36 x 1.sixty five x 1.18 inches). Except for being thinner than its predecessors, nevertheless, the Hero3 is not clad in all silver. As an alternative, it is coated in clean smooth-contact black plastic on the again and a textured model of the stuff on its sides. Not solely does this make the digital camera simpler to carry, however it additionally supplies a pleasant visible distinction — to not point out it is a end that’ll maintain up higher to the tough and tumble way of life most Hero3’s will lead.

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition review: taking action cam quality to the next level

Moreover, the facility / mode change on the entrance and document button up prime have grown to roughly twice the dimensions of these discovered on elder GoPros, a welcome change, particularly for these with stubby fingers. A pair of LED indicators — one pink to function an influence / capturing indicator and one blue to inform you the WiFi’s on — and Hero3 branding take up the remainder of the area on the digital camera’s entrance. Smaller secondary LEDs doing double obligation as each energy / report and WiFi indicators are on the highest, backside and again as properly, so excessive auteurs can maintain abreast of the digital camera’s doings from any viewing angle.

Situated on the correct aspect are micro-HDMI and mini-USB ports together with a microSD slot. On the left resides a small WiFi key, the microphone and a trio of pinholes that function an outlet for audio alerts. The beeps emanating from there inform you when the Hero3 is powered up and inform you once you’ve began consuming up area in your reminiscence card with pictures or video recordings. There’s additionally a trough for latching on an exterior battery or LCD touchscreen BacPac.

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition review: taking action cam quality to the next level

The rear is the place you will discover the battery door, which, do you have to handle to pry it open together with your fingernails or a enterprise card, reveals a 1,050mAh rechargeable cell. Subsequent to the door is the corporate’s proprietary 30-pin Hero port for connecting the digital camera to both of the aforementioned BacPacs.

General, the Hero3’s construct high quality is exemplary.

General, the Hero3’s construct high quality is exemplary. All of its elements are nicely-fitted, with no ugly seams or blemishes to be discovered. What’s extra, the WiFi, energy and report buttons all have a pleasant, deep journey and have interaction with a satisfying snick. Such strong development imbues a way of confidence that it will possibly take the abuse it’s going to doubtlessly obtain when within the subject. Our solely complaints with the design are the dimensions of the WiFi key (gloved or ham-handed customers might discover it troublesome to press) and the shortage of some kind of tab, notch or spring to assist open the battery door. The latter problem is especially vexing because the digital camera’s meager battery life had us swapping cells throughout prolonged shoots, a shortcoming mentioned in additional element under.


GoPro Hero3 Black Edition review: taking action cam quality to the next level

Each Hero3 additionally comes with GoPro’s venerable waterproof housing. It is just like the previous mannequin, besides the lens window is flat and sq. (for decreased picture distortion) as an alternative of domed and spherical, whereas the latch that holds it closed is a twin-hinge articulating design that is safer than the earlier mannequin. Naturally, the case can also be thinner to accommodate the svelte profile of the Hero3, although it has the identical interchangeable backplate design as its precursors. Swapping backplates is not terribly troublesome when you get the hold of it, however the quantity of torque required to pop them out and in is considerably disconcerting — it is foreseeable that one might snap off a plastic mounting clip within the course of.

A pair of adhesive mounts, assorted mounting hardware and a 3-method pivot arm — all backwards suitable with previous GoPro hardware — are included with the Black Version, as is a WiFi distant able to controlling as much as 50 GoPros at a time. GoPro says the distant works as much as 600 ft away in “optimum circumstances” however in our clearly much less-than-optimum neighborhood, vary was restricted to about one hundred twenty ft. Ought to the $four hundred price ticket of the premier Hero3 mannequin show an excessive amount of, silver ($300) and white ($200) editions are additionally out there. These decrease-priced fashions do not include the WiFi distant, which prices $eighty by itself, and now have downgraded lenses and sensors. Each prime out at 1080p recording at 30fps, with lesser body price recording at decrease resolutions than the Black. Stills are additionally restricted to a max of eleven megapixels within the Silver Version and 5 megapixels within the White Version.

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition review: taking action cam quality to the next level

Along with the usual Black Version package, we additionally received to make use of GoPro’s $forty wall charger, $forty Body mount and $eighty LCD touchscreen BacPac. Whereas the 5V Wall Charger’s a pleasant luxurious for world vacationers with its number of worldwide plug attachments and twin USB output, it is hardly vital given that almost all of us already personal a USB charger or two. The Body mount is equally superfluous, because it leaves the Hero3 vulnerable to the damaging powers of the good outside in change for a thinner and lighter profile than the bombproof case the digital camera comes with. The LCD BacPac is sort of the helpful add-on, nevertheless, because it allows you to change digital camera settings extra simply than utilizing the cam’s buttons. Plus, it allows customers to right away assessment photographs, video and even audio utilizing its tiny constructed-in speaker or three.5mm headphone jack.

Software program

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition review: taking action cam quality to the next level

GoPro offers rudimentary modifying software program, referred to as Cineform Studio, as a free obtain on its web site. This system supplies primary instruments to trim clip size, rotate clip orientation, regulate white stability, distinction, sharpness, publicity and saturation. Its principal function is to create 3D movies ought to customers have two older Heroes and a 3D Hero System housing. We did not have the twin shooters wanted to create a 3D video, however we did discover the software program fairly straightforward to make use of for trimming and adjusting our clips. That stated, it presently lacks the power to string collectively a number of clips and transition between them — although GoPro has pledged so as to add extra modifying options to the software program sooner or later — so that you’re greatest served sticking together with your present video modifying program of selection.

Gallery | 12 Pictures
GoPro HD Hero3 Cineform Studio and GoPro app screenshots

GoPro has additionally launched a free, self-titled app for iOS and Android that turns your handset right into a distant management for the Hero3. Connecting your telephone to the digital camera is an easy, if multi-step affair. First, customers ought to improve the digital camera’s firmware by way of the GoPro web site, throughout which you identify the WiFi community and set the password for the advert-hoc community the digital camera creates. With that completed it is merely a matter of turning on the Hero3’s WiFi and connecting a handset to that community.

As soon as related, the app supplies each an actual-time preview (on a few 1.5-second delay) of the digital camera’s area of view and a full suite of controls for the Hero3. Meaning you can begin and cease recording, change between capturing modes, change decision and body price, delete footage and clips, and even examine the digital camera’s battery standing and remaining SD card area. The one function it lacks, a slightly obtrusive omission on this editor’s opinion, is the power to evaluation pictures and movies. That stated, it is simple to make use of, and we have been grateful for it throughout our testing — like utilizing the LCD BacPac, it is much less time consuming and simpler to vary settings within the app than it’s biking by way of and choosing choices utilizing the hardware buttons on the digital camera or WiFi Distant.


As a result of the Hero3 Black Version is an motion digital camera, and GoPro’s halo gadget at that, we used it to shoot some correct motion, together with filming from a scorching air balloon, in a fighter jet and taking it for a drive by means of the Marin headlands simply north of San Francisco. Earlier than getting began, we charged up our Hero3 in somewhat over two hours and popped in a microSD card (not included). Upon the recommendation of GoPro’s boffins, we arrange our digital camera at 1440p48 for capturing the flight parts, whereas the street check was shot in 960p48 — all of our movies have been shot in a large one hundred seventy-diploma subject of view.

We additionally did our capturing utilizing GoPro’s normal settings, although recording utilizing the ProTune format can also be an choice. Why? Nicely, recording utilizing ProTune is actually for filmmakers, because it encodes video at a a lot larger knowledge price (forty five Mbps) and makes use of a particular, wider-gamut shade profile developed by Technicolor to offer extra modifying flexibility in submit-manufacturing. Whereas these expanded choices are positive to be appreciated by movie execs, such capabilities weren’t wanted for this evaluation.

2.7K is the utmost decision for capturing high quality video — recording in 4K is absolutely only a novelty.

GoPro claims that the Black Version’s lens is twice as sharp as earlier GoPros, and the upgraded sensor offers improved low-mild efficiency. Throughout testing, the Hero3 carried out nicely, as captured footage was brilliant and clear in any respect resolutions. Nevertheless, 2.7K is the utmost decision for capturing high quality video — recording in 4K is admittedly only a novelty. Outcomes are uneven, with borderline unusable footage resulting from a low, low 12 fps body price. Shade copy is sweet, although the Hero3 did take a number of seconds to appropriately calibrate colours when transitioning from a poorly lit space into daylight in a steady shot.

Gallery | 37 Pictures
GoPro HD Hero3 Black Version pattern photographs

The digital camera carried out equally nicely when capturing stills, offering shiny, vibrant broad-angle photographs. Nevertheless, the shortage of fantastic-tuned controls forestall it from turning into a digital camera alternative, and with out the GoPro app or the LCD BacPac displaying you what the digital camera sees, it may be troublesome to border photographs.

As a way to see how far GoPro hardware has come, we did a aspect-by-aspect comparability shoot with the unique HD Hero and the Hero3. Doing so showcases the brand new sensor’s improved low-mild efficiency, because the Hero3 reveals extra element in shadowy and darkish areas, although that was on the expense of blowing out another parts of photographs in combined lighting. The Hero3 additionally supplies extra correct, if typically hotter, shade copy than the unique Hero as properly. Audio recorded by the Hero3’s mic is decently clear and freed from distortion, and we have been pleasantly stunned to seek out that wind noise wasn’t an issue throughout our testing, whether or not the digital camera was in its waterproof case or not. Naturally, do you have to want to use an exterior mic, GoPro presents a three.5mm to mini-USB adapter bought individually for 20 bucks.

Whereas the outcomes produced by the GoPro have been a number of the greatest we have seen from an motion digital camera, its battery life leaves one thing to be desired. Its diminutive 1,050mAh cell lasted us half a day throughout intermittent use (twiddling with settings, capturing footage and video, and repeated energy biking). And utilizing WiFi and the LCD BacPac resulted in dramatically worse battery life — the properly ran dry in underneath an hour. Moreover, we did not discover the battery meter to be notably helpful, because the three bars present solely a obscure impression of the quantity of juice left. We extremely advocate carrying round an additional battery or two ($20 bucks every) or grabbing the battery BacPac for $50 in the event you plan on doing all-day shoots.

The competitors

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition review: taking action cam quality to the next level

The motion digital camera market has seen a spate of latest entrants prior to now yr, most notably the Contour+2, which matches the Hero3’s $four hundred worth. Nevertheless, the +2 is a a lot bigger digital camera, and offers lesser recording capabilities than the most recent GoPro. The Hero3 supplies greater body charges in any respect resolutions, data usable video at as much as 2.7k decision with a one hundred seventy-diploma FOV, whereas the Contour maxes out at 720p to ship the identical FOV. That stated, the +2 does present a decrease, sleeker profile than the boxy GoPro when mounted, and it has some superior design options like its sliding energy / document change, rotating lens and alignment laser.

Different choices embrace Sony’s Motion Cam, a $200 choice that considerably undercuts the Hero3 on worth whereas packing 1080p recording and WiFi in a equally small gadget. Nevertheless, the Sony cannot match the Hero3’s decision, body charges or basic imaging efficiency. Drift and ION are different choices that present 1080p recording in barrel-formed shooters for $370 and $350, respectively, however they lack the Hero3’s larger-decision and excessive-body fee capabilities.


GoPro Hero3 Black Edition review: taking action cam quality to the next level

GoPro’s Hero3 Black Version is, put merely, probably the most succesful motion digital camera available on the market immediately. It delivers unparalleled decision from a digital camera of its measurement and does so with out sacrificing body price or area of view. Regardless of its meager battery life and fewer-than-ergonomic form, the Hero3 supplies imaging efficiency superior to all of its rivals at a worth that will not break the financial institution.

Myriam Joire contributed to this evaluate.

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  • Type issue Sports activities mount
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  • Launched 2012-eleven

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eight.threecommon consumer score
  • Video recording high quality 9.2
  • Audio recording high quality 7.three
  • Recording capability 9.5
  • Battery life 5.7
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  • Ease of use eight
  • Design and type issue eight.eight

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