Gopro Hero 3 Series Review
When it comes to filming action, sports related content or deep sea diving adventures the Gopro cameras have been the brand to beat. Now with next versions of the camera coming out every year, does the Hero 3 camera line bring the series to a whole new level??
Now the draw of a Gopro camera is that you don't need a person with a film degree to operate it. The cameras are made to be a stationary point of view shot of an action driven event. They can be mounted inside of a race car, on the top of a plane or on the side of a semi truck. It is like installing a security camera on a daredevil, your going to get very original and close to the action footage. I feel the main draw of the cameras are they are in some way disposable. Not meaning you throw them away when you are done with them but that you can put them in places, spots or areas you could never put a person. Like the inside of a crush car during a monster truck show or on top of a stunt car that will jump over 100 feet in the air. You can get footage and views of events you never could before with other cameras. Gopro cameras are meant to be put in those places unlike every other camera.
With the introduction of the Hero 3 line comes a bit of confusion. This is the first time the series has released multiple versions of their cameras. Most people would think a black, silver and white version would just be the colors of the unit but its far more complicated then that. All three cameras are different handling different ranges of capture quality. The white version of the camera will no doubt be the most popular since it is sold in much more outlets and is the lest expensive unit selling for $199.99. The white version is comparable quality wise to the very first Hero camera, but since all the new models have the built in wifi control and redesigned body it is still considered an upgrade.
Now the silver version of the series is only given a minor upgrade. It captures the same quality when it comes to video, but is given an upgrade to its photo taking quality. It shadows the weak 5MP of the white versions with a 11MP with a 10fps burst. Is $100 worth twice a good photos? I see the silver version being the lest popular version of the camera since the upgrade on it does nothing on the video side. The silver version can be closely compared with the Hero 2 model in capture quality.
Now the black version is the true upgrade to the series seeing how its the only one of the group to hit higher specs then older models. The black version is truly two steps forward for the series. The first step being a large stride toward greatness and the second being a baby step towards new territory. Right off the bat, the black version comes with a $79.99 wifi remote witch that only almost makes the $299.99 silver version unnecessary. The reason to get this over any other version present or past is going to be the fact that it does 1080p video at 60fps. Now even thought it does higher capture settings, none of them will compare to how the 1080p/60fps looks and feels. That is the large stride towards greatness, being able to push that quality out of a camera so small. The baby step towards new territory is the fact this camera shoots in 4k. Now not a lot of people understand or ever see 4k or 2k on anything and that's because its such a large file size and high quality you need cameras over $4,000 to handle it.
Take a look at the image to the right and look at the different in size. You can fit 4 1080p size images inside a 4k image. Now before we go crazy and start trying to film feature films with this setting the reason this is only a baby step is the fact that it only records at 15 fps in normal mode and 12fps in cinema mode. This is not even close to ideal for such a high image size video. The 2k normal mode setting does film in 30fps but i think i would still pick 1080p at 60fps any day. 1440 is yet another option you have above 1080p, and this one mite be one to try out here and there since it does capture at 45fps witch is higher then what the white and silver version does a 1080p. The 1440 and the 2k are the only settings I can see people testing and maybe end up using. The 4k at 15fps is either a gimmick or a preview and I'm hoping for the ladder. I am a bit let down by only being able to handle an unwatchable 15fps, but i am happy that Gopro does no promote this setting in ads or previews, they just lists it as a specs.
All Hero 3 cameras have build in wifi for controlling the unit with a smart phone or wifi remote. It also has a smaller much nicer looking and feeling body style and case and they have also done away with the rounded fish-eye lens and now go with a flat one.
Overall i feel the white and silver versions are old dogs with new tricks.The white is great for its price point and any first time buyer will really enjoy it. The silver on the other hand is a $100 upgrade for just better still images witch is not what i feel most people use the camera for.
The Black version is the new top dog in town hitting quality never before seen in any camera under $400. By no means is it a perfect device. However it's triumphs heavily out weight its flaws, by far.
HERO 3 (White version)
HERO 3 (Silver version)
HERO 3 (Black version)