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GoPro Hero3 Black Edition review

Audley Jarvis

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Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
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  • GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
  • GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
  • GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
  • GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
  • GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
  • GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
  • GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
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  • GoPro Hero3 Black Edition

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Pros

  • Huge range of movie quality settings
  • Useful 30fps max still image burst rate
  • Remote and app control
  • Top-notch video and photo quality
  • Good range of accessories

Cons

  • Supplied software a little limited
  • Built-in microphone is overly directional

Key Features

  • Large range of movie quality settings incl. 4K and 1080/60p
  • 12MP still image camera with max 30fps burst mode
  • Still image time-lapse shooting
  • Built-in Wi-Fi with supplied Wi-Fi remote control
  • Compatible with GoPro Android/iOS app
  • Large range of specialist accessories
  • Manufacturer: GoPro
  • Review Price: £360.00

What is the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition?

The GoPro Hero3 Black Edition is a small but tough camera and camcorder designed to be used in the harshest of conditions. If you've ever watched the Deadliest Catch you'll know the astonishingly exacting the conditions it is filmed in are. Can you guess what they use to film? That's right it's GoPro cameras. That's how tough they are.

With more than ten year's experience in manufacturing top-of-the-line extreme sports and adventure cameras GoPro certainly has the pedigree. GoPro has become the industry leader, although there are a number of big and small companies looking to capture its crown.

The GoPro Hero3 Black Edition is the flagship product in the Hero3 range, which includes the mid-range Silver Edition and the entry-level White Edition. We have the regular GoPro Hero3 Black Edition, but there's also a Surf Edition that comes with special adhesive mounts designed especially for mounting the camera to a surfboard.

In all other respects, however, the two cameras are identical in spec and design.

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition - Features

As the flagship product in the GoPro range, the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition has a number of upgrades over its cheaper siblings. First and foremost, the big addition for the Black Edition package is the supplied Wi-Fi remote control that lets you control the camera – handy if the camera itself is attached to a helmet or anywhere else that might make reaching the buttons tricky. We’ll deal with the set-up and operation of the remote in more depth later on, but for adventurous souls looking to mount their camera somewhere they cannot physically reach it, the Wi-Fi remote is sure to appeal.

In addition to the supplied Wi-Fi remote, the Black Edition also has a beefed-up, higher resolution 12MP camera. By way of comparison, the Silver Edition gets an 11MP snapper, while the entry-level White Edition only gets a 5MP sensor. In addition to the full 12MP, the Black Edition also shoots at 7MP and 5MP if needed.

Perhaps more useful to the camera’s target audience is the Black Edition’s 30fps maximum burst rate. This is considerably higher than both the Silver Edition’s 10fps and the White Edition’s 3fps. It’s a useful advantage because, in the fast-moving world of adrenaline sports, the ability to fire off 30 consecutive shots is much more likely to bag you exactly the shot you want.

For those who don’t require quite so much speed, the Black Edition has 3fps, 5fps and 10fps continuous shooting speeds, too. Last but not least the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition has a time-lapse mode, where the camera can be set to shoot at 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 and 60-second intervals. It all adds up to plenty of scope and flexibility.

Of course, the majority of people looking to purchase a Hero3 will probably be much more interested in its video capabilities than its still image prowess, and here again the Black Edition enjoys a distinct advantage over its two supporting models. While the Silver and White editions support a maximum resolution of 1080p at 25fps, the Black Edition can capture 1080p Full HD video at 50/48/25fps in PAL mode (60/48/30fps for NTSC capture). Furthermore 720p recording can be captured at 100/50fps (120/60fps for NTSC), which enables smooth slow-motion playback of high-def movies – something neither the Silver or White editions are capable of.

The Black Edition also supports 4K capture at 15fps, or 4K Cinema at 12fps.

Alternative video settings include:

  • 1440p at 48/25/24fps (48/30/24fps for NTSC)
  • 2.7K at 25fps (30fps for NTSC)
  • 2.7K Cinema at 24fps
  • 960p at 100/48fps
  • WVGA capture at 240fps.
You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to video recording options.

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition - Design

Given that it’s specifically designed to be used outdoors in the kind of conditions that would wreck regular cameras, it comes as no surprise to find that the overall Hero3 Black Edition package is tougher than Chuck Norris. The camera itself is tiny though, measuring just 60mm wide by 40mm tall and 20mm deep. Indeed, GoPro claims the Hero3 is 30% smaller than its predecessor. At just 74 grams, it’s also 20% lighter than the Hero2.

Housed within a tough polycarbonate shell, the camera gets three buttons: a Mode button, a shutter release button and a Wi-Fi pairing button. The camera’s rechargeable 1,050mAh Li-ion battery resides in the back of the camera, hidden behind a protective cover that’s unclicked via a quick-release switch. Also on the back is the Hero Port, which is used to connect the optional Touch BacPac LCD display (£80) that relays live images of what the camera can see.

On the front of the Hero3 you’ll find the LCD status screen, which displays all the important shooting information as well as menu navigation when setting the camera up or adjusting its settings. Below this is the Mode button that doubles up as the On/Off button. To the right of this are two indicator lights – a blue Wi-Fi pairing light and a red status indicator. On the top of the camera is one further button, which acts as the shutter release and movie-record button.

Connectivity and memory storage is found on the side of the camera behind a piece of protective plastic. You get a micro HDMI for playback and a Micro USB port for charging and file transfer, plus a slot for microSD cards. The Hero3 Black Edition can accommodate cards of up to 64GB, and given the amount of data that requires processing and storing it’s strongly recommended that you use at least a Class 10 card or better.

Of course, the camera itself isn’t waterproof, which is where the polycarbonate housing comes in. This is waterproof to a depth of 60 metres and also guards against bumps, scrapes and accidental drops. The camera slots into the back of its protective case, where it’s held firmly in place via a secure latch on the top of the camera.

Getting the camera in and out is fairly straightforward too – with the camera lens facing away from, you simply slide the latch on the top of the case in the direction of the arrow and then lift/peel back the latch.

While it’s inside its protective housing, you operate the camera via three spring-loaded buttons on the outer of the case. There’s one for the shutter/movie record button, one for the mode/power button and one for the Wi-Fi connect button. You need to apply a reasonable amount of force to press them, but this is preferable as it lessens the chance of accidental button presses.

Supplied is a range of mounts, fasteners and adhesive pads. Our's came with the ‘Adventure Kit’ intended for use on dry land. Go for the Surf Edition if you're in and around water a lot.

Jeremy Rollinson

July 14, 2013, 5:12 pm

What's the battery life and memory ? - could I capture 5- 6 hours of cycling for instance

tom

August 20, 2013, 10:33 am

I've used this camera in a professional broadcast capacity. To sum it up in one word: unreliable. Three separate units from three different sources (hired, bought and bought) have all let me down on shoot. Frankly I don't think I'll ever hire one or use one again, I just can't afford the risk.

NeverBuyFromGoPro

September 7, 2013, 3:26 pm

The camera is good but the company's service is horrible. If you order direct from them, you get hit with undisclosed charges. Their solution? They issue an RMA and you send it back. Then you are out the shipping in both directions, as well as taxes, duty, etc. and you have no camera to show for the hundreds of dollars you just lost. Then they leave you high and dry and do nothing for you. None of this is communicated until after it is too late.

Daniel Hughes

October 3, 2013, 5:03 pm

Really unhappy with my gopro black 3. I'm about to contact the company for a full refund because as far as I am concerned, it is a piece of junk. Problems: Gopro studio continuously crashes, the video the camera has shot jump, freeze and stutter so badly I cannot use the footage anyway. I have recorded about 120GB of data and less than 0.5GB is of any use. The battery life is less than 2 hours as stated, sometimes just 1.5 hours. Gopro studio is absolutely unusable really angry. Also, what Gopro dont tell you is that all of the videos on their website have been professionaly edited by marketing professionals with progrmas like FCP 7 and Photoshop. So unless you have a video editing degree and a few years to learn those software packages then your videos will never look anything like theirs. The other massive down fall is that whilst your new Gopro will shoot HD video, unless you are a Youtube partner or have a premium vimeo account, you can only ever upload mp4 files. I can do that with 5 year old nokia

Dirt Bike Xpress

October 18, 2013, 10:52 am

The GoPro is pretty awesome, we have a couple of the guys in the office with them. Our team used them last year and they gave us some great footage!

We stock quite a big range of them from the cheapest to the brand new edition, and have had nothing but great feedback about them!

Murat Demirağ

November 14, 2013, 7:56 pm

Hello all,

Hero Black Edition is still cool... But now people are talking about Hero 3+. I am sure you have heard about it.

GoPro Hero 3+ release made us, GoPro fans excited. I especially use GoPro in my underwater shots. I am in love the way GOPro Hero 3 Black Edition records, but this new segment is better in a couple of ways. But there are also cons. Let me give you a few examples:

Pros of the new GoPro Hero 3+

*Wider angle to shoot
*Smaller in size
*Better low light mode

Cons of the new GoPro Hero 3+

*Warms very fast (not a problem for underwater users, but the rest)
*Still has complex menu
*Frequently looses wi-fi connection when an iPad is used

I have a detailed review in my blog about GoPro Hero 3+, for the ones who are looking for more information, videos and reviews of other owners.

http://www.divewithseaman.com/...

dustan

February 24, 2014, 3:20 pm

do something worth shooting on video and then you would have more than .5 GB of useable shots...

Martin C

February 27, 2014, 4:14 pm

Interesting to hear from a pro; what do you recommend instead?

John Richardson

June 6, 2014, 3:25 pm

i treated myself to a new gopro here 3 black at xmas for some kitesurfing moments. ive just got back from egypt where i used my gopro for some snorkeling so nothing deep. sadly my gopro leaked at around 6ft of depth. looked at the housing and there was a tiny pit of water in there. informed gopro who washed there hands of it saying they dont guarantee there products underwater as it cant be proven that it wasnt users fault, ive checked my gopro in a swimming pool and it has leaked again but sadly all gopro would offer is 40% discount on a gopro 3+ thats 40% of there website price which is more expensive than if i shopped around sadly gopro do not have confidence in there own product. id never recomend gopro to anybody 3/10 for customer service

Don Chadwick

August 17, 2014, 9:54 pm

Chances are the video stutter is down to the memory card. You need a Class 10 card ideally. Anything less won't handle the data throughput speeds. goPro Studio is certainly not in the same class as FCP, SONY VEGAS et al. those suites do take an age to master. BUT.......you can get half decent results from the GOpro Studio package...takes a little time and patience and practice. Also, it doesn't matter how great/expensive your editing/production package is, the original footage needs to good. Think about how you want the finished output to look like and plan your shots around that.

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