Hands-on with the GoPro Hero3 (part 1)

Time to give the GoPro some SERIOUS consideration!
Jeff Foster
By Jeff Foster 10.22.12

So GoPro had this little "launch event" this week to introduce the new Hero3 to the world and invited a bunch of media folks from all over the globe to San Francisco to take part in it and get a hands-on experience. Little did we know that even included race cars, motorcycles, hot air balloons, jets, catamarans and diving with sharks! It was an amazing experience to get a real feel for what the GoPro can do, so let's take a closer look at the Hero3...

The Hero3 Overview

First of all, this amazing new camera is completely redesigned from the ground up... about 30% thinner than it's predecessor, the Hero2. And with an improved sensor that gives 12MP still images and up to 4K video @ 15fps, and the new anamorphic glass lens is beautifully sharp and has less barrel distortion. There are really so many enhancements in this camera that I'm going to have to break this review into two parts, just to get enough comparison data and hands-on examples to cover it all. But first, let's take a look at the Hero3 and some specs:

The Hero3 comes in 3 versions: Black, Silver & White Editions

GoPro will be discontinuing production/sales of the legacy cameras (though still supporting them and the accessories, of course) and will now be offering three different versions of the Hero3: Black Edition ($399), Silver Edition ($299) and White Edition ($199)

The Black Edition features 12MP stills, several video rates up to 4K/15fps, 2.7K Cinema (17:9)/24fps and increased 1080p/60fps and 720p/120fps, a glass lens and Simultaneous video+photo capabilities up to 45/Mbs. This is truly a big leap in quality and capabilities for the GoPro line. The Silver Edition is capable of 11MP stills, 1080p/30fps and up to 35/Mbs. The White Edition delivers 5MP stills, 1080p/30fps and up to 15/Mbs. There are complete comparison and camera specs on the GoPro website.

While all 3 editions have varying levels of capabilities, they all have built-in Wi-Fi, are Protune capable and accept the same accessories, but only the Black Edition comes with a Remote. This is the same Wi-Fi Remote that GoPro recently released earlier this Summer, so if you have one with your Hero2, it will work with the new Hero3 cameras. I did however, find it difficult to pair up my Wi-Fi remote to both a Hero2 and Hero3 simultaneously, but that may just be operator error on my part.

The Hero3 Black Edition comes with a Wi-Fi Remote - the blue light indicates Wi-Fi is enabled

And of course, the Hero3 works great with the new iOS Wi-Fi App with your iPhone and iPad! Be sure to see my review on the new mobile app here on ProVideo Coalition

The Hero3 with the iPad Wi-Fi App

You'll notice a lot of changes in the Hero3 over the Hero2, and I'll be doing a follow-up review showing detailed comparisons not only in the product itself, but in side-by-side shootouts.

A Comparison between the Hero2 w/Wi-Fi BacPac (left) and the Hero3 with built-in Wi-Fi (right)

Physical Features of the Hero3

One thing I noticed right away (besides the smaller size) are the nice large power/trigger buttons. They're easier to press, even inside the water-poof housing. That means fewer missed shots (for me at least!).

The Hero3 power/select/trigger buttons are much improved

The new 3.7v 1050 mAH li-ion battery is easy to access and pop-out/replace with a freshly-charged one (for about $20 ea)

Easy access and removal/replacement of the new battery

The data connection/card slot door is located on the side and it's not attached to the camera body so you WILL LOSE THIS within the first week of using your Hero3. Thankfully it's not critical if you keep your camera in a clean and safe environment when not in a water-proof housing.

The data door/cover plate is tiny and not attached... so don't get too attached to it either!

The Hero3 also takes the Micro SD cards, which can hold up to 64GB of data but also something that can get lost very quickly/easily - especially if you're swapping data cards on location. Forget about trying to remove or replace these cards with gloves on... or with cold/numb fingers!

The Hero3 uses Micro SD cards - handle with care!

Continued on next page...

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