I can sum my review up in one word, "FUN!"

If I had to sum the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition camera in to one word it would FUN!

I loved getting angles that would have been a bear with my Canon 5D3, like going really low and running with it.

I just liked putting in places that would have been harmful to the 5D3.

I have never had a lens this wide, while I could have corrected the distortion I didn’t want to because for right now I think it looks cool. I’m sure that will wear off after a while.

GoPro Makes You Think Differently

  • My girls and other people respond differently to this camera compared to 5d. I asked strangers if I could go close on their sunglasses and they had no issues with that, they seemed very relaxed.
  • Great for vacations when you want to experience it in the moment without looking through a viewfinder or the back of a camera but watch it in real life!
  • My wife told me we need two of them for next time because I missed a lot of the stuff she saw.
  • Using this camera is a great exercise to find better composition and put it in different places I never thought of. So small and light I can just hang it over the edge and get the underside of the boat.
  • This video was taken from three boat trips with Trilogy Excursions out of Maui.
GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
GoPro Hero3 Find Price

GoPro HERO3 Mountain Bike Ride

Big Picture from a Tiny Camera

  • Protune feels a little like a Cinestyle, a bit desaturated, definitely flat, and perhaps a little un-sharpened. But I think I like it better than CineStyle or Neutral with contrast all the way down to be honest. Look at this shot with my oldest, to me that is the prefect flat image, I can definitely work with this in post. So much detail in the shadows.
  • The GoPro seems to have white balance issues outside it would go from spot on to warm all of sudden without any change in light, never had a problem with DSLR with WB outside before. I think when you have some clouds going in a out might be the cause to that. But you can manual adjust and fix the WB to the temp that you want.
  • I find it works great outside, but inside the quality quickly goes down hill, I had a hard time getting any of my shots with indoor lighting to look awesome. Even with indoor pools I had issues getting a awesome image out of it.
  • I didn’t do low light test because it was pretty evident that it is not a low light performer. Get my best results with lots of natural sun light.
  • I like to saturate the hell out if these images to make them fun. Once the sun goes all the way down the quality goes quickly with it. The noise looks nasty compared to a DSLR.
  • Check out James Drake’s review for resolution tests between all the GoPro cameras which I didn’t do.
  • Time lapses are fun and easy to do with it, blown away that at 2.8 everything is in focus.

Tips for Using it

  • Keep your fingers far away from the lens as I learned.
  • Finding something to slide it on, that works well. Like on sand.
  • Twisting at you torso worked really well for smooth pans.
  • Since it’s so small you can physically attach it to something like the side about airplane window and get much better smooth shots. Compare to 5D3 which it hard to anchor to the plane. If you lock the camera off on a subject like a car that takes up at least a 1/4 of the frame it doesn’t matter how jittery the other part of the frame is, the cars are being stationary anchors the shot.
  • I found when getting water on the port that just blowing on it when I didn’t have anything to dry it off with worked OK.
  • Forgot my pole on the last boat trip! I so wanted to dip it in the water when we had the dolphins with us.
  • Thanks to Thomas Brent for providing his underwater footage of the whales and dolphins since I forgot my pole. He was using the GoPro Hero3 White edition.

Strap it down

Auto Everything!

  • Auto exposure, which is a good thing in some cases in sports everything changes so fast!
  • The exposure on this thing is so quick and pretty seamless. But not perfect all the time however, in this tunnel shot it worked fine, but not in this tunnel shot.

Windshield mounting

Fast Shutter Speed, ISO and Aperture Numbers

  • Does not follow the 180 shutter rule. Much faster. Shutter (30 to 2,000?).
  • Waiting to hear back what the range of the shutter is.
  • Not a big fan of how some of my clips with the fast shutter do not mix well with ones with smoother motion blur.
  • You can get ND filters to slow down the shutter speed.
  • 100-400 ISO.
  • Fixed at f2.8 all the time!

Slow Motion at 240fps!

  • Lot of fun with this on the slide at 60fps at 720p.
  • If you think you can’t use the low resolution that the 240fps gives you, you can always do a tile picture-in-picture like this, which is fun.

Not a Comparison Review – Is this something I would Use?

  • Not a comparison video like my other reviews. Not going to compare it to the Sony or Contour or even my iPhone. I just want to see if this type of camera is worth owning. Would I use it enough or would it sit in my camera bag unused after the novelty wore off?

Camera Locks Up – Freezes

  • After a whale breached 3 times in front of the boat, my wife comes to find me and said you got that right? I said no, and she said ahhh, how could you miss that?
  • Does lock up. Take battery out.
  • Lock up when you turn it on and see the movie icon an that’s it, can’t do anything including turning it off. Pain to pull the battery, wait for 10 seconds while missing a bunch of shots, try doing this when it is freezing on a ski slope with gloves on. If I didn’t turn it off and let it run it would be fine, but if I turned it off to save the battery it might or might not work when I go to turn it on.

Call support, talked to Collin from GoPro, he said the locking up issue can be cause my three things.

  1. Firmware not up to date, but mine was: {
    “info version”:”1.1″,
    “firmware version”:”HD3.03.02.00″,
    “wifi version”:”3.4.2.9″,
    “wifi bootloader version”:”0.2.2″,
    “camera type”:”Hero3-Black Edition”,
    }
  2. Not formatting the card, but I think I was, when you ‘delete all’ it formats the card
  3. Or low quality Micro SD card, but my was a good one he told me.

If not those 3 above then it could be “faulty hardware”. My guess is I need to reformat each time, now that I know how.

Where is the Battery Life!

  • With Wi-Fi turned on it is very disheartening to see the first battery bar disappear in what seems just minutes after turning it on.
  • One hour and 15 minute time lapse with the Wi-Fi turned off.
  • When the GoPro is charging you have no indication out how far along it is in terms of the charge, seems to take forever to charge too. With the GoPro BacPac battery back I was getting about 100 to 150 20 sec clips before it would die which was perfect leaving it on for 2 hours straight.
  • Oh there’s a cool shot I want to do. Oh bummer the battery still not charged. 3 sometime 4 hours!

Wi-Fi Remote and iPhone App

  • The iphone app is awesome because you can change settings so quickly without fumbling around all the menus. It is also great for framing up your shots if you need to.
  • Amazing that the Wi-Fi can pass no problem thru multiple walls in my house but can’t do more than an inch underwater.
  • The GoPro also comes with WiFi remote, I didn’t get the kit. I never used it.

GoPro Pole Mount

Suction Cup Mount

  • GoPro Suction Cup Mount
  • I didn’t trust this thing, because after mounting really well on a clean super smooth surface, some 15 minutes later it would fall off.

GoPro Car Mount

Chesty Mount

  • Chest Mount
  • I used it mountain biking
  • Used it snorkeling.
  • This worked really well.

Ride and Pole Mount

  • I really used the GoPro ride mount a lot.
  • Doesn’t have a tripod mount on the camera itself. Mistake.
  • I need a better pole than the little monopod I have because the camera would swivel when in moving water.

Timelapse on sand.

Optional LCD Touch BacPac

  • I also got to test out the optional GoPro LCD touch BacPac.
  • The only place I use the GoPro is out in bright daylight and that is the one place you can’t see the screen. Polarized sunglasses didn’t help either.
  • Unfortunately you can’t see the back of the image no screen the Wi-Fi during a time lapse when you need it most. Can’t see the battery life because if you look at the front of the camera it’s so wide you’ll be in the frame.
  • I liked actually not using it, it was kind of like film, you didn’t know what you got until later which I think works great for vacations where you want to be present in the moment.
  • Much rather use the extra battery pack than the LCD any day so I know it wouldn’t die on meย  after a short time.

GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition

Helmet Mount

  • I never used it for some reason, I should have tried the helmet mount but I just didn’t have time.

Hard to edit with than Red Footage

  • My computer has a tough time with footage. Like playing it backwards.

Misc

  • You can damage it if you fly with it within it’s case, when I opened it I hear a vacuum.
  • The hero3 is a perfect match for the DJI Phantom quadrocopter which costs about $700.
  • SD card so small, terrified I will lose it. ย Port cover so easy to lose.

Audio

  • Audio is useless you, are going to need some good background music for you videos. But kind of works for sync audio.
  • For audio with the GoPro Hero3 which I didn’t test check out Chad Johnson’s video.

So Will I Buy One?

  • So should I be a hero and buy one?
  • $400 is a lot, but it is such a very powerful tool in such a tiny package.
  • Yes I want one! But I don’t want this one I reviewed because it has issues, I guess I will wait until they fix the locking up issue, or keep buying them until I find one that doesn’t lock up. When I go to NAB next month I will stop by their booth and ask how they are coming fixing these issues.
  • The GoPro is not a DSLR but it’s a good supplement for your cameras ย package. Crazy idea instead of buying 16mm 35 l lens by GoPro don’t have enough money. But this thought processes only applies outside shooting of course.

Quick GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition Test

From my GoPro Review Video Opening

Wave at Big Beach Maui - Fail

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GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
GoPro Hero3 Black Edition

19 comments

  • really disheartening the hear all the lockup stories about the hero3. really would like to buy one but can’t take it on a paid gig with issues like this. i hope they get this sorted out soon. everything including lousy battery life i’m willing to overlook but not hard lockups…

    thanks for the review!

  • Dave, great review of the GoPro Black. I had some issues until the firmware update myself.

    Some things I have learned:

    1) Always cover the lens – I use a lens cleaning cloth and rubber band on the case, then on the camera itself when changing batteries, LCD pack, memory card, etc. I never let the lens touch a surface.

    2) When taking photos for time lapse, the first photo you take is used to measure the exposure and “Lock it” for each photo to follow in sequence. Can get tricky when going from very bright to very dark quickly. Seems to do quite well with sunrise and sunsets though.

    3) LCD is a must – Why not include just a little window to view for shot set up? Who knows. Get the LCD, set the shot up, turn it off, then start recording. Great for getting through the menus, for a faster setup.

    4) GoPro Camera mount – not the best mount for the camera at all. I like the mount to not be extended and have a lover, and a head with more rotation options.

    5) Dependable? – lol, I could lie and say I can count on it all the time, but I had it hick up on me a couple of times in the field. I would rate it at 85% and worth keeping in the bag for sure.

    6) Shooting modes – For video I use 1080p, 60p, very smooth. For time lapse I use 12mp wide, and crop in post.

    7) Find one in good condition used, a lot of people do not have the time and patience for the camera. I really do not consider it a consumer level camera myself with all of the prep and care needed to maintain and operate it. They can be found from $200-$230.

    * Would recommend the Camlapse Timer (or a DIY egg timer setup). Great results with this camera.

    I think the GoPro company needs to figure out a fix for the cameras that are locking up constantly, or REPLACE them. I would think any future success on their end will depend on taking care of these customers.

  • Great review Dave. We seem to have a delivery delay in Spain. Maybe they are working on fixing some of the issues you mentioned. Anyway looks like you had good fun with it anyway, which is A big +. Thanks again, as always enjoyed your review:

  • Great review. Just a comment on the issue that the camera “locks” when turned on. Me too have the same issue. I found out that pressing the on-button longer, until the camera icon disappears, and you get the video information on the screen, it doesn’t lock.

    So don’t just push the button quickly. Hold it for like 3-4 seconds. This works for me anyway. But this is a really annoying bug, and should be fixed…

  • Hi Dave!

    Great review on the little cam – I’m definitely selling my HeroHD1 and getting this one soon! ๐Ÿ˜€

    I come from a radio control background and have come across the underwater range problem a bunch of times. The issue is in WiFi format itself – it uses the 2.4GHz spectrum, which is a pretty short wavelength. The shorter the wave, the more trouble it has passing through water, I believe. This is why all those remote control ships and submarines use double-digits MHz wavelengths – those have a far greater range than WiFi-style transmissions. This is something that simply cannot be fixed so long as we use 2.4GHz as our wireless standard (and that’s not likely to change any time soon!) ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sad to learn about the lock-ups – I had experienced a bricked LCD BacPac when I hooked it up to the first iteration of GP2, which my friend had. GP soon released firmware that made GP2 able to un-brick LCDs and not brick them again, so I trust their engineers are working to get all the problems you mentioned fixed shortly!

    I don’t think I heard that in your review, but do you have the ability to hook a USB power cable up to the unit and run infinity-lapses (limited by card capacity, of course), like you could on GP1?

    thanks and best wishes from London!
    Mike

  • Good stuff Dave. I agree… I wish the Hero 3 wasn’t so buggy! Maybe by NAB they’ll release new firmware to help smooth things out… or a Hero 4 that shoots 4k… ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I always tethered my suction cup mount also. Very nice video. Are you going to meet up with any group at NAB.

  • Cool! love the angles GoPro gets.

    “there’s our hero shot” 10:49 (can you guess what film that’s from? Hint: the hero was on a sailboat.)

    Wish the buggy issue was resolved. It’s on my want list. (Would you get it from B&H or GoPro?)

    thanks for taking us on vacation with you. Looks like fun.

  • @Dave ๐Ÿ™‚ “The Truman show” 1998 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120382/

    You need to add it to you watch list if you haven’t seen it. It has many nontraditional “GoPro” shots in it.

    Beware though it will make you laugh (family safe):

    No joke though… There is a real physiological disorder attributed to the film that occurs in rare cases.

    I think it was CBS or NBC that was sued because one film viewer thought that the companies were plotting against them. LOL ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hey Dave when you mounted the GoPro from your windshield,with the suction cup,its upside down. Will it work upside down? Do you flip it in post? If so how?

  • Fantastic post. As a cinematographer with a lot of toys, this is one I haven’t jumped on yet – though it’s been in the back of my mind of course.

    You’ve definitely swayed me to play with at the least as it does give you another arsenal of “looks” to work with and like you said, makes your think differently.

    Nice work on this one Dave – huge effort on this post, it shows.

    Aviv Vana

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