GoPro HERO3: Black Edition Review

  • Design
  • Video Performance
  • Battery Duration
  • Accessories
3.5 Star Rating
Reviewed By Nathan Watson Video & Media

GoPro Hero3: Black Edition is the most powerful and versatile camera currently available from GoPro. This new addition is smaller, lighter and 2x faster than the previous model. This camera is the perfect piece of equipment for filming family and friends in quick motion and retain HD videos. Whether it is riding a dirt bike, jet ski, snowboarding, surfing or skydiving, this camera is powerful enough to film it with high quality imagery.

If you didn’t know yet, GoPro had more than ten years worth of experience in delivering premium cameras capable of retaining videos and pictures of extreme sports. They are definitely one of the leaders due to their GoPro cameras.

Design of GoPro Hero3: Black

The GoPro Hero3: Black Edition has a design that is made specifically for outdoor use. It is a small and firm piece of hardware that can withstand some of the harshest conditions known to man. The camera barely weighs in at a low 3 oz. and a measurement of 60mm x 40mm x 20mm.

Also, the camera is designed to be very simple to use. There are 3 pushable buttons for operating this camera and they are:

Mode Button: This is the button used to switch between modes such as single shot, time lapse, burst or continuous. This button also acts as the power on/off button.

Shutter Button: The shutter button is the one used to either capture pictures or record videos.

WiFi Button: The WiFi button is used to pair the camera to the remote or a phone with the GoPro app.

The GoPro is protected in a waterproof polycarbonate housing. Although the camera isn’t waterproof, the polycarbonate housing is waterproof up to a depth of 60 meters. This protective shell also protects the GoPro camera from scratches, drops, bumps and water. But with the protective shell on, the 3 buttons are more difficult to push. I like it, but others may not.

I genuinely love the design of the GoPro Hero3: Black Edition. Not only is it marvelous to gaze at but it can also take some damage. Unlike a DSLR camera, I am never afraid to bring the GoPro camera with me to go surfing or dirt bike riding.

Video Performance

With the GoPro Hero3: Black Edition, I can capture both pictures and videos. For pictures, there are 4 different modes available to get different types of pictures at 12MP. The different modes are single shot, time lapse, burst and continuous. The quality of the pictures are decent. I don’t mind the lower quality pictures because I didn’t purchase this camera for taking pictures.

The video quality, on the other hand, is extremely good. This camera captures video at a fix 2.8mm focus at resolutions such as 720p, 1080p, 2.7k, 4k. Capturing videos at both 2.7k and 4k is one of the new features of the Black Edition. I have tested each resolution settings and I am very surprised at some of the results.

4k Resolution: At 4k resolution, video can only be recorded at 15fps. That is very slow and not for practical use. The videos I recorded were very choppy and just isn’t worth fiddling with.

2.7k Resolution: Recording at 2.7k resolution is really nice. I can record videos at 30fps. That is just about enough to where the videos aren’t choppy and I can get very detailed and smooth videos.

1080p resolution: Having my GoPro camera set at 1080p is definitely my favorite setting. It is the most versatile setting where I can record up to 60fps and at multiple FOV such as ultra wide, medium and narrow. I can clearly see the different between 1080p and 4k resolution as the video has a more fluid motion when I slow down the video.

720p Resolution: I can go up to 120fps in 720p resolution. I don’t recommend recording in 720p much unless I want some really awesome slow motion effects. Try it for yourself. I can make some fun adrenaline-filled videos with the slow motion.

If I was only allowed to choose one resolution to record in, I would have to go with 1080p. Seeing as at that resolution, I am allowed more flexibility to craft my videos. It also has the best balance between HD quality videos and slow motion.

WiFi Remote

One of the best additions for the GoPro Hero3: Black has to be the WiFi remote control. This is the most convenient device to allow filming extreme sports or movement at unique angles. Also, it has been reported that the WiFi remote can work from 600 feet away in prime conditions. I haven’t tested this yet but I have no reason to doubt them.

The WiFi remote allows me to control the camera while it is at a position that I find difficult reaching. Here are some places to mount the GoPro camera to get the full experience of the WiFi remote:

  • Anchoring it to the side of a car
  • Mounting it on top of a helmet
  • Strap it to¬† a pole for extra height
  • Mount it on top of a surfboard

With the WiFi remote, I am allowed plenty of flexibility for filming at different and unique angles. There is no longer that restraint when filming when I use this WiFi remote control. Basically, it allows my creativity to prosper.

Battery Duration

The battery duration of the GoPro Hero3: Black Edition is disappointing to say the least. When I tested the GoPro: Black, the camera only lasted for about half an hour! With such a small battery, I find it very difficult to fully enjoy all the functions of the GoPro: Black.

But there is a solution to that problem. GoPro offers a battery BacPac accessory that can be attached to the back of the GoPro. With the battery BacPac, the improve battery duration is now increased up to over 2 hours of constant use. 2 hours is still nowhere enough for me, but it is a great improvement over the previous 30 minutes.

Although with the external battery accessory on, using the LCD touch screen will no longer be an option since both the LCD screen and the external battery BacPac uses the same docking in the back. So, there will have to be a choice made between the two.

As for me, the choice was easy. I chose the battery pack. I have already tested the LCD touch screen and it is hardly visible while the sun is out. Not only does the LCD screen drains extra battery, it is basically useless when outdoors.

GoPro Accessories

The GoPro Hero3: Black Edition comes with loads of accessories. With the standard Black Edition kit, I received the camera, waterproof housing, WiFi remote control, 3-way pivot arm, assorted adhesive mounts, rechargeable battery and a USB charging cable.

Aside from the accessories I got from the standard Black Edition kit, there are plenty more accessories available for purchase seperately. Here are 2 of the aftermarket accessories that I found useful:

Wall Charger: The wall charger is very convenient to have. Where ever I travel to, I can just plug it in to any international plugs. This charger also has a dual USB output. This means I can charge two cameras at the same time.

Battery BacPac: For me, the battery BacPac is the most necessary purchase for the GoPro camera. With this battery pack, I had my camera last over 2 hours. It is a major improvement compared to the standard battery provided.

The Good of GoPro Hero3: Black

  • WiFi remote control
  • Has a lot of aftermarket accessories
  • Adapts quickly to new exposure of light
  • 2.8 fix focus
  • Has WiFi connectivity

The Bad of GoPro Hero3: Black

  • Software is limited
  • Battery duration is horrible
  • WiFi does not work when camera is submerged in water
  • Audio is only decent

Overall Verdict

If you want to capture videos of extreme sports or going on adventures, then GoPro is for you. If you want a camera that you can strap on and capture action, then GoPro is for you. And if you want a camera that can withstand harsh environment conditions, then GoPro is for you.

Essentially, GoPro Hero3: Black Edition is the best video camera with capabilities of capturing action and movement right now. Even with the horrible battery duration, I would still recommend getting this amazing piece of hardware for any future adventures.

Buy GoPro HERO3: Black Edition

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