Review: GoPro HERO3 Black Edition

Cameras Pro Reviews

In the very competitive world of the wearable HD sports camera, the new GoPro HERO3 Black Edition stands tall above the rest of the field with the most exceptional video quality of the bunch, but the others have caught up with better features, functions, usability and form factor.

The GoPro HERO3 Black Edition has quite a few excellent features on top of its already outstanding functionality, the most prominent being the 12 megapixel sensor, which is accompanied by a sharper glass lens, both of which result in photos and videos with increased clarity and sharpness and more vibrant colors. It has built-in Wi-Fi, a wearable Wi-Fi remote with an LCD screen and buttons to emulate the camera, and Wi-Fi smartphone App capabilities, which give full camera control and scene preview. The camera is encased in their waterproof and durable housing, and has a plethora of mounting accessories, so that it can be attached to just about anything. It records in a vast array of high-definition video resolutions, frame rates, and viewing angles, making for an incredibly versatile camera. It now includes professional-level resolutions and frame rates and modes, which will be useful for post editing by videographers.

Video: HERO3 promo video shot entirely with the HERO3
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The HERO3 comes in three incarnations, the top of the line Black Edition, the middle-of-the-road Silver Editor and the entry level White Edition, retailing for $399.99, $299.99 and $199.99 respectively. Each of the cameras has built-in Wi-Fi, so there is no need for an additional BacPac, and they’re 3o% smaller and 25% lighter than their predecessors.


GoPro HERO3
The HERO3 Black Edition is a POV (point of view) high-definition sports camera, which uses a 12MP CMOS sensor that can record video footage in 1080p, 960p, 720p and SD formats, and photos in several modes, including still, time lapse, burst and continuous. In addition, the Black can record at 4K, 2.7K and 1440p. It uses a ƒ/2.8 aperture and six element aspherical lens, which is fixed focus and has a 170º viewing angle. It records data onto a microSD card up to 64GB in size, and is powered with an internal rechargeable Li-Ion battery (swappable) that gives one to two hours of recording time depending on load and air temperature. The camera has a built-in Wi-Fi to wirelessly converse with the GoPro remote or GoPro App on iOS and Android based mobile devices. The Wi-Fi remote and App interfaces allow camera settings and resolutions and modes to be changed, and with the mobile device, the viewpoint can be previewed. It has ports for a mini USB for computer connection and recharging and external microphone, a mini HDMI for live streaming to a TV or other source. The small and light camera is mostly made of plastic, and is encased within a tough and robust polycarbonate waterproof housing, which protects the fragile camera from impacts, shocks, and the environment. The housing attaches to an assortment of mounts, including a seatpost, curved and flat surface, wrist, tripod, vented helmet, and handlebar, and others, and usually snaps into the mounts using their proprietary quick-release buckle. It’s convenient that the HERO3 has the same height and width size as their older models, so mount systems, and BacPac’s are all interchangeable.

The HERO3 Black Edition kit comes with the HERO3 Black camera, a waterproof housing with optional slotted backdoor, a rechargeable 3.7V 1050mAh Li-Ion Battery, a USB cable, curved and flat surface mounts, a three-way pivot arm, J-Hook and QR buckles, Wi-Fi remote with USB cable, and a vibration plug.

Weight:

  • 51 grams – camera
  • 25 grams – battery
  • 76 grams – camera with battery
  • 19 grams – quick-release buckle
  • 106 grams – waterproof housing with quick-release buckle
  • 182 grams – total

Size:

  • 60mm x 40mm x 20mm – camera size
  • 72mm x 65mm x 37mm – housing size
  • 13mm x 16mm – LCD screen size

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About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • Brandt says:

    Gave up on the Black after 2 weeks. 1080p @30fps in 30 degree temps won’t last more than an hour. Also jammed up countless times. Super disappointed in the reliability despite following all the tips online. Swapped out for Silver and much more stable and battery also last much longer. Still recommend the bacpac though to last same duration as GP2. Great pics and video but battery life the issue. Good thing it will be warming up soon. Check out the boards/online reviews and you’ll see I’m not alone with the results.

  • Dabberdog says:

    I spent a lot of time comparing different brands and models, ultimately deciding between the contour roam+2 and this unit. Ultimately I saved a lot of money by going with the Contour Roam2. I didn’t need the GPS, or the remote viewing, or any of the other extra features. I just wanted a higher frame rate than 30 fps. The Roam2 has 60 fps at 720p. It isn’t quite the outstanding image quality of this unit, but its close, and I only paid $175.

  • Barry says:

    Interesting to read there are issues with it. I had the original GoPro (used AAA batteries) and the videos were exceptional. I sold it to get the new one mainly so I have a rechargeable battery. I have all the mounts so was just going to get the White Edition. Will do more research, thanks for the review MTBR.

  • Jerry Hazard says:

    Its funny with all the different resolution settings, you’d think there is a constant level of quality between them. Not true, there are favorable settings to use, see here:
    abekislevitz.com/understanding-your-new-gopro/

    Still, imo, the most versatile cam on the market…

  • ReductiMat says:

    After 40 days on the hill with a Black this year, I can state with certainty that the video quality of this thing in certain modes is simply amazing.

    I can also say that these things are completely half-baked. Of those 40+ days, I’ve had less than ten days where I DIDN’T have corrupt video files or hard-freezes that required the removal of the battery to get it going again.

    I’ve tried many different flavours of SD cards including the SanDisk ones they suggest and nothing makes a difference.

    This includes an RMA replacement that is only slightly better than the original. Even though they know they have major issues with these things, they still strung me along for over a month before they set up an RA number for me.

  • Tony says:

    Nice you get the remote with Black version, but GP has totally cheezed on mounts vs what you got with the Hero2. The velcro strap for the remote isn’t even included! Of course, true to GP form, they have an “additional” remote pack you can purchase, go figure. So far I’m happy with operations, but peeved at the company nickle & diming me at every opportunity.

  • Armando Gomes says:

    At the moment i am happy with the GOPRO 3 Black Edition, but sometimes it jams a little bit if i play the movie directly from the gopro (ON) connected to the laptop by the USB cable (exploring and playing the movies on the laptop, but running on the SD card inside de gopro).

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