By site editor Dan Chung:
Over three million GoPros have been sold already and the third incarnation of the world’s most popular action camera was unveiled today. The diminutive action cameras give exciting point-of-view shots in all sorts of news and documentary productions from places where a bigger, less robust camera cannot venture.
The GoPro Hero 3 comes in three versions; White, Silver and Black. The new models are about 30% smaller than the previous GoPro HD Hero2 and have an all new lens with less distortion. The Black edition is claimed to have much better sensor technology for low light performance. They models vary in price with the entry level ‘White’ model costing a mere $199 and offering 1080P video and 5MP/3fps stills. The intermediate ‘Silver’ model has same 1080P video but 11MP/10fps stills.
The premium Black model features an impressive headline top video resolution of 4K – but only at fifteen frames a second. More practically it can shoot 2.7K video at regular 30,25 and 24 fps frame rates and 1080P/60 fps or 720P/120fps for slow motion. This combined with a sensor that can generate a number of different crops that effectively change the magnification of the image gives the user plenty of options.
Higher bitrates are a key feature of the new cameras and they can also utilize the recently launched ProTune – GoPro’s equivalent of the popular flat cine style image curves that allow for greater manipulation of the image in post processing.
All GoPro Hero 3 models also have built in wi-fi. A remote control included in the price of the Black edition – a great feature that was an optional extra with the GoPro HD Hero 2.
Underwater shooters will be pleased to know that the new model has a flat port on the front for sharper underwater imagery. Again, this was an optional extra on the GoPro HD Hero 2.
One thing that remains the same from previous models is the mounting system for adding suction pods, chest straps, bicycle mounts etc, which is great if you are upgrading from a previous model.
A touch LCD backpack was also launched today offering not only the ability to control the camera via touchscreen, but also a 3.5mm headphone jack. This is an interesting addition although it’s not clear if this is purely for playback or for monitoring recording as well.
Alongside this, you can add a 3.5mm mic jack via an optional dongle – a very welcome addition for many video journalists who want better sound from external microphones.
To me the most impressive thing about the launch was the sample video that the company posted to demonstrate the camera’s abilities. The different crop modes seem to work very well and the images are pretty impressive on YouTube. Hopefully full resolution samples will be available shortly, as the cameras are set to ship as soon as next Monday.
For me the biggest questions about the performance of these new cameras centre around low light performance, battery life and the functionality of the HDMI output. Hopefully we will be able to test this out in due course.