The HERO3, and now the HERO3+, are the most recent cameras released by GoPro. There are three editions of HERO3 – Black, Silver, and White, with each of these models available for a discount at a refurbished price. Despite being more powerful than its predecessors, the HD HERO and HERO2, the HERO3 is about a centimeter thinner.
The HERO3 measures 2.28 x 1.57 x 0.82 inches. The front side of the camera comes with a larger power switch than previous models had. The front of the camera also features two LEDs on the front- one which acts as a power indicator and the other as WiFi indicator. The HERO3 also comes equipped with smaller LEDs on the top, back and bottom, which make monitoring things like WiFi status easy from any angle.
The right side of the camera features a micro SD card slot, along with mini-USB and micro-HDMI ports. The microphone, WiFi key and audio alert pinholes are placed on the left side. The audio alerts will notify you when the device is powered up and when it is running low on space. On the rear side, there is the battery door and 30-pin Hero port for connecting BacPacs. The device is powered by a rechargeable 1,050mAh battery.
Every HERO3 package includes a waterproof case, and the Black Edition comes with adhesive mounts, a three-way pivot arm and assorted mounting hardware along with a WiFi remote, which GoPro claims to work to a distance of 600 feet. For such extras, the Black Edition is he highest of the HERO 3s. The Silver Edition and the White Edition might be better options for those who want cheap GoPro Cameras, but these editions do not include WiFi remotes and are less powerful overall. For example, while the Black Edition has a 12 megapixel sensor, the Silver and White Editions have 11MP and 5MP sensors respectively. However, all three editions of HERO3 can shoot 1080 pixel videos at different frame rates, with the Black Edition capable of recording 4K video. According to GoPro, the HERO3’s lens has a resolution twice as sharp as that of previous models, and its improved sensor provides better low-light performance.
The camera takes decent still images, but as there is no display screen through which to view your shot, it is difficult to keep the frame right. The shutter release button and the mode buttons are used to navigate through menus and are pretty straightforward. The package does not come with a user manual, but an hour or two spent on GoPro’s website should be all you need to familiarize yourself with most of GoPro’s features.
The Black Edition comes with GoPro’s signature Protune technology, which can be activated from the settings menu of the camera. Once Protune is enabled, you will be able to record video footage in raw mode, which is very useful for further editing. The neutral color palate makes sure that no color is lost on the way. However, sharpness and saturation can be tweaked after wards.
The built-in microphone is strong enough to pick up the surrounding conversation and other sounds. The one weak point of the camera is its battery. Though it is still sufficient for an ordinary day, you should not expect it to last that long when you are using WiFi or attaching LCD BacPac to it. Luckily, the company provides an extra battery pack, which can also be purchased for 20 apiece. For even lengthier backup, there is the Battery BacPac, priced at 50, which will last more than a day of shooting.
The HERO3 is complimented with a free app for Android and iOS that will turn your smartphone into a remote control for your camera. In order to connect the camera to the phone, users have to upgrade its firmware from GoPro’s website. After setting up the ad-hoc WiFi network, you can easily connect your HERO3 to your smartphone. The app offers an almost real time preview of the field of view of your camera on your mobile screen and lets you control the camera directly from your phone. You can start and stop shooting, change frame rate, resolution, switch recording modes, check the battery status, memory status, delete clips and pictures and more.
GoPro also provides a free download of Cineform Studio, a basic editing software, to its users. Cineform Studio lets users make basic edits like rotate clips and trim clip length, as well as adjust elements like sharpness, white balance, exposure, contrast, and saturation. An interesting feature of Cineform Studio is that it allows you to create 3D videos by combining footage from two HERO devices and 3D system housing.
The one thing we find the software lacks is the ability to splice together multiple clips and provide transition effects between them but we expect that, by the next version of Cineform, GoPro will include such features. Overall, our opinion of Cineform is that it works for most users, but if you are expecting serious editing capabilities, you’ll want to use a professional editing program, at least until the next version of Cineform Studio is released.