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GoPro HD Hero 3

GoPro HD Hero 3 – first look

GoPro have just announced the release of their third generation of wearable HD sports cameras – the GoPro HD Hero 3. The Hero 3 will be available in three “flavours” – white, silver and the top spec black. All have a form factor that is 30% smaller and 25% lighter than the previous models, and all now feature built in wifi so they can be controlled with GoPro’s own iOS app on an iPhone or iPad. In terms of photographic and video resolutions and frame rates, the white and silver look to be upgrades to the original GoPro Hero (reviewed here) and the GoPro Hero 2 respectively, albeit with a sharper lens and better low light performance.

However, it’s the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition that’s really exciting. It’s getting headlines due to its almost unprecedented 4k resolution – that’s 3840 x 2160 pixels; over four times more than found in full 1080 HD. Impressive stuff – but maybe something that isn’t all that useful to the average user yet – after all, Sony has only just released its first 4k television – it’s 84 inches across (since at anything below that size there apparently isn’t any real benefit to 4k over HD) and costs a cool $25,000… ouch. Also, shooting at 4k the Hero 3 can only manage 15fps, which is not likely to interest many skiers or boarders wanting to capture smooth footage.

What is likely to get their interest those is the range of other shooting modes at the standard HD resolutions on the HD Hero 3. This includes full 1080p at 60fps (up from 30fps on the old Hero and Hero 2) and a huge 120fps at 720p (again doubling from the 60fps found on the previous models). To put that in perspective, 120fps is going to allow the action to be slowed down by a factor of 4 in an edit while keeping the playback framerate  a silky 30fps – not bad at all, especially considering that pro users will be able to push even further by using after effects plugins such as Twixtor. Expect to see even more slo-mo action videos in early 2013! The Black HD Hero 3 can also shoot a burst of 30 photographs at 12MP resolution, and can take 8MP photos at the same time as shooting 1080p footage. Impressive stuff.

We also really like the design of the new Hero 3 – somehow, the slimmer shape and larger, squarer lens enclosure make the camera look more ‘pro’, and a bit less boxy, particularly when mounted on a helmet. The mounting system is unchanged, so the new Hero 3 should work with all your existing mounts, though it is worth noting that it now works from MicroSD cards, so you may have to invest in some new high capacity cards if you plan on exploiting the full resolutions and frame rates.

Ultimately, we love the GoPro range, and we can’t wait to get our hands on a GoPro Hero 3 so that we can test it fully and report back!

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