Just when we thought we’d seen it all, GoPro introduce the HERO3
and put 4K in the palm of your hand – quite literally!
The mark of a successful company is that it never stands still – and GoPro certainly can’t be accused of doing that! All around them, competitors were coming out with products that were challenging the supremacy of the HD Hero 2 and then, just when we thought we’d seen it all, they announced the imminent arrival of a whole new family of GoPro products that are clearly designed to seize back the high ground.
I haven’t got my hands on any of them yet, but I have been able to take a view based on their specifications. They emanate from the States, so they don’t make a big deal of it but THEY ALL ARE CAPABLE OF SHOOTING 25fps… Happy, happy, happy!
BABY HERO – The WHITE edition (approx £199 inc. VAT)
On the face of it, this seems to be an upgrade on the original HD Hero – but this time around it’s much lighter, better constructed and with vastly improved ergonomics (it’s predecessor’s most-criticised feature). The Hero3 has built in Wi-Fi (so no need to fiddle round with the silly BacPacs as on the previous versions) – this is a great addition and probably its best feature, especially at this price point. The White still uses a waterproof housing which now has a flat lens built-in to avoid distortion and increase sharpness above and under water which means there’s now no need to purchase two separate housings. The camera’s general specifications are still appropriate for the price point – a 5MP stills capability, time lapse mode with shots up from 0.5 up to 60 seconds apart, 3 shots per second on burst mode and 1080p/30fps, 960/30fps, 720p/60fps in video mode. GoPro also claim to have re-jigged the audio system but we’ll have to wait to discover what this means in practice.
The range of mounts remains unchanged but there are some new options which include Wi-Fi remote and the new GoPro App which enables the user to control via iOS Smartphone or tablet.
What you get is the camera, a 60m waterproof housing, rechargeable battery pack, QR buckle, curved mount, flat mount, other assorted mounts and hardware plus the USB cable – all for a whisker under 200 quid. Nice!
MUMMY HERO – The SILVER edition (approx £279 inc.VAT)
You could say this is a fancy looking HD Hero 2, because it sort of is – but with a host of improvements! It’s 25% lighter, 30% smaller and twice as good!
Take the WHITE model, add 8 & 11MP stills photos, 10 shots per second picture burst mode, manual white balance control video mode, 960/48fps, 120fps @ VGA, the Protune update and you have the Silver model – and it’s a stonkingly good little camera.
The new Protune firmware update technology offers 35mpbs data rate, colour grading and 24fps video mode, giving users the chance to vastly enhance their footage (albeit after bit of tweaking in post). The base package is as the WHITE but with a new 3-way pivoting arm thrown in for good measure.
The DADDY! – The BLACK edition (approx £359 inc. VAT)
If someone said to you – “I can get you a camera that is the size of a couple of matchboxes can record in 4K, and better still will cost under 400 smackers” – you’d be forgiven for calling in the men in white coats to whisk him/her away. Astonishingly though – they’d be right! The new BLACK Edition Hero 3 does just that. The same size, shape and weight as the WHITE & SILVER, the BLACK Edition can indeed record in 4K – albeit at 15fps. But still, 4K is 4K – and whilst most consumers and TV adverts are still banging on about 1080p HD TV’s and the like – to be able to offer 4K in this market, in this camera, and at this price point is pretty amazing. Whilst the 15fps will be a limitation for most people, it does have the following brilliant resolution modes to fall back on: 2.7K/30fps, 1440p/48fps, 1080p/60fps, 960p/100fps and 720p/120fps! It can shoot 12MP stills and 30 – yes 30 shots per second in burst mode! If the SILVER is an improved/beefed up version of the HD Hero 2, you could say the BLACK is a protein shake induced, steroid pumped, energy drink drenched Edition! Another key feature is the inclusion of a Wi-Fi remote (an optional accessory for the WHITE & SILVER packages), making it perfect for on the go shooting. Waterproof, wearable and durable, the remote will go anywhere you and your BLACK can go.
The BLACK Edition comes with everything the SILVER package contains, plus a whole heap more! It really is a stupidly powerful camera at a stupidly good price. Without being too greedy I’d love to see their next move!
Read DAVMO’s assessment of GoPro’s competitors in the ACTION CAM market in the Iris magazine, 3rd issue of 2012. Back issues of the Iris are available to read online; go to www.theirismag.com/irisonline