GoPro Hero3 Black Edition Review - Bring The Quality Of Action Cameras To A Next Level (Part 2)

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GoPro provides basic editing software, called Cineform Studio, as a free download on its website. The program provides basic tools to trim clip length, rotate clip orientations, adjust white balance, contrast, sharpness, exposure and saturation. Its main purpose is to create 3D videos if users have two old Heroes and a 3D Hero System cover. We don't have the 2 needed cameras to create a 3D video, but we finds that the software is quite easy to use for trimming and adjusting clips. Specifically, it currently lacks the ability to combine multiple clips and transition between them although GoPro has promised to add more editing features to the future software - so you will be best served with the video editing program you choose.

GoPro has also released a free app for iOS and Android that turns your phone into a remote control for Hero3. Connecting your phone to the camera is a simple, though multi-step are required. First, users should upgrade the camera's firmware through the GoPro website, where you name the Wi-Fi network and set the password for the special network the camera creates. With that set up, you just need to turn on the Hero3's Wi-Fi and connect a phone to that network.

GoPro has also released a free app for iOS and Android that turns your phone into a remote control for Hero3.

GoPro has also released a free app for iOS and Android that turns your phone into a remote control for Hero3.

Once connected, the app gives you a real-time preview (on about a 1.5-second delay) of the camera's field of view and a full set of controls for Hero3. That means you can start and stop recording, switch between shooting modes, change resolution and frame rate, delete pictures and clips, and even check the camera's battery status and remaining SD card capacity. The only feature it lacks, a rather clear shortcoming in this editor's viewpoint, is the ability to review photos and videos. Namely, it's easy to use, and we were grateful to it during our test - like using the LCD BacPac, it's consume less time and easier to change settings in the app than revolving and selecting options by using the hard buttons on the camera or Wi-Fi Remote.


Because Hero3 Black Edition is an action camera, and GoPro's renowned device for that, we used it to shoot some proper action, including filming from a hot air balloon, in a fighter jet and driving it to the Marin headlands in north of San Francisco. Before getting started, we charged Hero3 over 2 hours and inserted a microSD card (not included). According to the advice of GoPro's researchers, we set up the camera at 1440p48 for shooting the parts of the flight, while the road test was shot in 960p48 - all of our videos were shot in a 170-degree field of view.

We also shot using GoPro's standard settings although recording by using the ProTune format is also an option. Why? Well, recording by using ProTune is feasible for filmmakers, as it encodes video at a much higher data rate (45 Mbps) and uses wider-gamut color developed specially by Technicolor to provide more editing flexibility in post-production. While these expanded options are sure to be high-evaluated by film professionals, such capabilities weren't necessary for this review.

GoPro proclaims that the Black Edition's lens is twice as sharp as previous GoPros, and the upgraded sensor delivers improved low-light performance. During the test, the Hero3 operated well, because captured footage was bright and clear at all resolutions. However, 2.7K is the maximum resolution for capturing high-quality video recording in 4K is really a new stuff. Results are abnormal, with unsuitable footage due to a low 12 fps frame rate. Color reproduction is good although Hero3 took a few seconds to calibrate colors correctly when transitioning from a poor light area into daylight in a continuous shot.

The camera did a similarly good job in shooting, providing bright, vibrant wide-angle images. However, the lack of tweak controls prevent it from becoming a camera replacement, and without GoPro or LCD BacPac app showing you what the camera sees, it can be difficult to get the frame of photos.

The camera did a similarly good job in shooting, providing bright, vibrant wide-angle images.

The camera did a similarly good job in shooting, providing bright, vibrant wide-angle images.

So as to see how far GoPro hardware has moved, we did a direct comparison recording between the original HD Hero and Hero3. Doing that shows the new sensor's improved low-light performance, because the Hero3 reveals more detail in dark and dull spaces, although the price for that was the spoiling of some other portions of footage in mixed light. Hero3 also provides more accurate color reproduction, of which sometimes is warmer than the original Hero. Sound recorded by the Hero3's mic is pretty clear and free of distortion, and we were surprised to find that wind noise wasn't a problem during our test, although the camera was in its waterproof case or not. Naturally, if you want to use an external mic, GoPro gives you a 3.5mm to mini-USB adapter sold separately for 20 USD.

While the results produced by the GoPro belonged to some of the best we've ever seen from an action camera, its battery life leaves many things to regret. Its tiny 1.050mAh battery lasted half a day during non-consecutive use (“playing” with settings, shooting pictures and videos, and turning on / off repeatedly). And using Wi-Fi and LCD BacPac led to extremely worse battery life ran out under an hour. Besides, we didn't find the battery meter to be quite useful, as three bars offer only an equivocal impression of the remained power. We suggest carrying 1 or 2 extra batteries or taking along the BacPac battery with the price of 50 USD if you intend doing all-day shoots.


The action camera market has witnessed many new opponents in the past year, most notably is Contour+2, which have the same 400-USD price as Hero3's. However, the +2 is a much larger camera, and provides lesser recording capabilities than the latest GoPro. The Hero3 provides higher frame rates at all resolutions, records video at 2.7k resolution with a 170-degree FOV, while Contour reaches the max level at 720p to deliver the same FOV. That meant, the +2 has a nicer, lower look than the square-shape GoPro when mounted, and it has some brilliant design features like its sliding power / record switch, rotating lens and alignment laser.

Other options include Sony's Action Cam, $200 option that is remarkably cheaper than the Hero3’s price while packing 1080p recording capability and Wi-Fi in a similarly small device. Still, the Sony can't step up to Hero3's resolution, frame rates or shooting performance. Drift and ION are other options that provide 1080p recording capability in barrel-shaped camcorders with 370 USD and 350 USD, but they lack high-resolution and high-frame rate capabilities of Hero3.

Sony's Action Cam

Sony's Action Cam


It’s said that GoPro's Hero3 Black Edition is the most powerful action camera on the market at present. It provides invincible resolution from a camera of this size and does so without sacrificing frame rate or field of view. Despite its poorer battery life and inefficient shape, Hero3 provides more outstanding imaging performance than all of its opponents at an affordable price.


§  Product name: GoPro Hero3 Black Edition

§  Price: $400


§  High-resolution and high-quality videos

§  Small size

§  Outstanding design quality


§  Short battery life

§  4K videos were spoiled by the low frame rate


§  GoPro‘s Hero3 Black Edition is the post powerful action camcorder at present.

§   It gives users higher-resolution and higher-frame rate options than the opponents, but battery life leaves some regrets.



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