GoPro announced the release of the new HERO3+, and it will come in their Black and Silver Editions. The camera comes with a 20% slimmer waterproof housing, 30% better battery life, improved audio and faster Wi-Fi. In addition to those features, the upscale Black Edition gets a new SuperView video mode, Auto Low Light and a lens that boosts a 33% increase in image sharpness. Down deep in the innards of the camera are improved hardware and software, which will enhance overall performance and image quality. The HERO3+ Black Edition retails for $399.99 and the Silver for $299.99. The White Edition remains unchanged and still retails for $199.99.
The HERO3+ Black Edition gets their new SuperView video mode which available in the 1080p and 720p resolutions. The GoPro sensor captures things in a 4:3 aspect ratio, and the SuperView mode shoots the video using the entire sensor and then alters it to 16:9. The usual method is to crop the top and bottom of 1080 and 720 to 16:9 during recording, essentially losing part of the viewpoint. The SuperView captures a more immersive wide-angle perspective, so you’ll see more of the surrounding during a shot. I am really looking forward to this feature, since I always reverted to 960p so I could capture more height of the trail that I was riding, albeit with a loss of some action on the sides.
Improved Lens and Imaging Software
The HERO3+ Black Edition gets a new f/2.8 lens which is supposed to boost image sharpness by 33% and reduce imaging artifacts by two times. I assume that they have altered the imaging software to assist in this endeavor, and we should also see better white balance and dynamic range.
Improved Battery Life
The HERO3 cameras had mediocre battery life compared with their predecessors, and I resorted to either using the Battery BacPac or carrying a spare battery to alleviate any issues during usage. GoPro has addressed this issue by swapping out the 1050mAH (3.7V, 3885mWh) HERO3 battery to a more robust 1180mAh (3.7V, 4366mWh) one in the HERO3+. They stated that this change should increase the battery life by 30%, but we’ll have to validate that during real time use. I wonder if the batteries are the same size so that I don’t have to go buy a new one for my backups.
Smaller Waterproof Housing
GoPro has lightened and slimmed down their waterproof housing by 20% for the HERO3+, and it will be waterproof down to 131 feet (40 meters) instead of the HERO3′s 197 feet, which isn’t an issue for mountain biking. If desired the HERO3+ still fits within the confines of the HERO 3 housing. The buttons appear to be fatter, which should hopefully resolve its predecessors stiff actuation issues, which were especially evident when using them with gloves.
The camera’s hardware has a new Wi-Fi chip, which is supposed to make the GoPro App video preview, photo and video sharing four times faster. I’ll be interested to see if the faster Wi-Fi helps the latency of the Apps video preview, which was a slightly annoying factor when trying to get the camera viewpoint set up properly. A small rumor is that the next App release will let you wirelessly upgrade the firmware, instead of the current process of having to connect it to a computer for a semi-manual download.
New Auto Low Light mode
The new Auto Low Light mode is supposed to automatically adjust your frame-rate on the fly when the camera encounters low-light conditions. For example, if your recording at 960p 60 fps and sensor detects low-light it drops things down to 960p 30 fps. The slower frame-rate allows more light in, for enhanced low-light performance. This sounds like an intriguing feature, and should make recordings during those late evening forays on the trail greatly improved.
They have upgraded and relocated the microphones on the HERO 3+. The new mics will have a 10db increased audio range and two times more volume, and I am hoping that the changes might reduce unwanted noise, which was especially noticeable on the HERO3 when riding at speed.