First of all, I’m sorry for the delay on posting. I have been super swamped lately and we recently had a third son, which is why I haven’t posted any reviews or tutorials lately. But, I’m back at it and should have a pretty steady stream of information coming in for awhile.
I thought I’d start out with a review of the new GoPro Hero 3. The folks at GoPro have raised the bar and added some great features to their new version. Plus, the Hero 3 is available in 3 main editions: white, silver and black (they also offer the black – surf edition). Let’s get goin’!
Click to choose an edition at Amazon.com
This depends slightly on which edition you purchase. All three editions feature full 1080p at 30fps and, for you slow-motion fans, 720p at 60fps. However, beyond this, each edition has its own features.
The white edition allows you to shoot 960p at 30 fps, while Thesilver edition allows 960p at 48fps. I haven’t heard of too many people filming at 48fps, but I presume this would be great for slow-motion if you are editing in a 24fps world – which is great for that “cinematic look.”
The black edition kicks it up a notch. With this edition (surf included), you have the option to shoot 1080p at 30fps, 720p at 120 fps (hello super slo-mo!), and 1440p at 48fps. Here’s where things get exciting: in addition to these formats, you can now also shoot in 4k (progressive) at 15fps, 2.7k at 30fps, and WVGA at 240fps.
All three editions record video using the H.264 codec (pretty much the standard nowadays) and use the .mp4 container (file format). The cameras record to microSD cards (class 10 or higher) at up to 64GB (don’t buy a 120GB card – it won’t work).
Also, all three editions are installed with an f/2.8 ultra wide-angle lens.
You may know all about 1080p vs. 180i, and fps and all that jazz. But, you may or may not know just what I mean by 4k. Just in case, I wanted to take a moment to briefly explain what all of these abbreviations mean. So, here we go:
- Frames Per Second (fps): This refers to the number of individual pictures, or frames, that you are capturing in one second of time. There are several standards, including NTSC (used in North America), which shoots at 29.97fps, PAL (used in parts of Europe), at 25fps, just plain 30fps, and then there is the movie standard, which more and more amateur film-makers are using to get that “film look,” which is 24fps.
- Progressive (p) vs. Interlaced (i): In most cases, when you are dealing with choosing a camera, you will see something like “1080p” or “1080i”. This refers to the way your camera captures an image. The “p” stands for progressive, which means that the camera is capturing the entire image in one sweep. When a camera records at 1080p at 30fps, it is literally capturing 30 frames every second (unless you are actually using the NTSC standard of 29.97fps).
-In contrast, interlaced footage is scanning the images in two passes: the first pass scans every other line of the picture, from top to bottom, while the second pass scans the lines in between. Interlaced footage records two frames within the amount of time that progressive footage records one frame. When these frames are played back, they appear so fast that our brains generally do not notice the missing information. However, a difference can be detected – especially on larger screens, such as big-screen TVs.
Also note that if you are shooting interlaced footage, at 1080 and at 30fps, you are actually recording 60 frames per second. But, since each frame is only half of the information, we are still only making up 30 complete frames per second, which is why we still call it 30fps.
The interlaced system was developed for television to aid in broadcasting pictures. The progressive system will yield a higher quality image, but can be more costly to purchase the equipment.
- 4k (or 2.7k): Television screens are made up of thousands of individual pixels. These pixels are often referred to as “scan lines,” which is just the number of lines full of pixels. Standard Definition widescreen) is 720 by 480, meaning there are 480 pixels in every line vertically. In other words, there are 480 lines from top to bottom. 1080, or full HD, gives us 1,080 lines from top to bottom.
-4k is often referred to as “Ultra HD,” and contains 2,160 pixels from top to bottom. So why is it called “4k”? Because there are about 4,000 pixels in every line of 4k (4,096 to be exact), going from left to right (there are 720 in standard definition widescreen images and there are 1,920 in regular 1080 HD). In terms of total resolution, this means that regular, standard definition widescreen images consist of just 345,000 pixels (480v x 720h); versus 1080 HD, which consists of over 2 million pixels; versus 4k, which has almost a whopping 9 million pixels (although, bear in mind, when comparing with still cameras, this is only comparable to an 8MP camera)!
As a final thought, many companies are not yet shooting in 4k, and most households do not have 4k televisions yet, due to high costs. It also takes up a massive amount of bandwidth to broadcast via the internet. So, it is not something that I would get too worked up about – yet. I’m sure that within the next several years it will take over as the standard.
The folks at GoPro have continued to enhance the photo modes for the cameras, as well. Each edition has its own specs. The white edition records photos at 5MP, with bursts of 3 fps (frames per second). The silver edition records at 11MP and can shoot bursts of 10fps. The black edition features a 12MP sensor and can shoot up to a staggering 30 frames per second – that’s faster than the Canon 1D!
The black edition only allows for simultaneous HD video shooting and 12MP photo shooting. This is a feature that really impressed me, as there aren’t too many cameras out there that are capable of this.
All three editions allow for time-lapse shooting at 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 and 60 second intervals.
I can’t find the audio sample rate for the older Hero camera. But, I know that audio was a common complaint for the older GoPros. To me, this was not an issue, because I tend to either record with a separate device, like the Zoom H4, or apply ADR after the fact.
Anyway, the new GoPros have definitely improved the audio. Still recording in mono, the GoPro (all three editions) continue to record using AAC compression and have automatic gain control (AGC) applied. AGC means that the camera attempts to automatically adjust the gain (loudness) of the audio to a somewhat uniform level. The camcorder also has a 3.5mm stereo mic jack for plugging in an external microphone.
For a great audio test, check out the video below, posted by Chad Johnson. He lets you hear the audio from the built in mic using the different housings supplied with the camera. Then, he runs through several shotgun and lavaliere microphones to sample the different results of these. It’s a great example of what the GoPro can do, as far as audio goes, but it’s also fantastic at illustrating the point that different microphones have different results.
The Hero has the following ports: micro-HDMI, composite A/V, USB*, Micro SD, HERO port and the 3.5mm mic input.
The HERO port can be used to connect two Heros together to record 3D, if you purchase the 3D HERO System, for 79.99. Click here to purchase the 3D system from Amazon.com, or click here to go to the GoPro website to find out more.
*The camera only ships with the USB charging cable.
The GoPro Hero 3 can be controlled via remote control. All three editions have Wi-Fi built in and all three editions can be controlled using the GoPro app installed on your smart phone or tablet! What’s more is that the black edition ships with the Wi-fi remote control (normally an $80 accessory)!
I am very excited about this camera and I hope you are too! It is a great point of view camera and would also serve as a descent B-Camera, if you are in a pinch! Would I use the audio from this camera? Only for shots where I have the camera mounted to an athlete or something to that effect – definitely not for any production audio. As for all of the other features – especially the slow-motion – I am happy to have this camera as part of my gear! Shoot me an email or a message below if you have any questions. Oh, and be sure to bookmark it at Amazon.com by clicking here. Enjoy!