Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition review

Hello all, I recently purchased a Go Pro 3 Black Edition and wanted to share my initial thoughts. I am not going to go into a really technical description of this product. I am unqualified for that.! What I can tell you is how it has worked so far and what problems, if any, I have encountered.

First I want to say I bought this at REI, one of my favorite places to go.! I am a member and it only cost me $20 about 4 years ago. This is Incredible and here is why :

1. You get 10 percent back as an annual dividend on most any purchase you make with few exceptions.

2. You also get a 20 percent Membership Appreciation coupon when they send out your Dividend.

I got lucky and just when I was ready to buy the GoPro , I got my 20 percent coupon in the mail. I was very happy to see that it could be applied to a GoPro and therefore I received $80 off my purchase which is by far the best price you can find anywhere for a brand new GP3 black edition. $320 compared to $400 everywhere else.! And all for my initial $20 membership years ago.

First thoughts, it comes very nicely packaged. Sturdy construction which just helps the presentation of any product.

GoPro in the box

GoPro in the box 

It does not come with a Micro Sd card, which is critical so remember to pick one up or else you won’t be able to play with your new awesome toy.! I bought a

SanDisk – Ultra 32GB microSDHC Class 10 Memory Card

at BestBuy and it was on sale for $30.! It’s amazing how cheap memory has become, and how tiny 32 gigs of storage is these days.!

Update: found it even cheaper through Amazon.!

32 gigs on a finger Tip.!

32 gigs on a finger Tip.!

The above card is the exact one I have in my GP3 and it does seem to function perfectly. I read a few reviews where people said certain brands didn’t seem to function properly in the GP3 model camera. This one works for me so I’d say it’s safe to buy.

 

 

 

I also downloaded the GoPro app for my android powered phone. I have a galaxy s2 and the camera links with the phone very easily and quickly through WiFi. There of course is a little lag but if you want to see what your GoPro is looking at, this is an easy way to do so if you don’t have the option LCD back. You can also set all options of the camera through the app which is much faster than using the 2 button interface through the camera.

I also purchased the handle bar and seat post mount while at best buy. This seems great, at first, more info on that later.

Update: Again found this a little cheaper on Amazon.

With barely reading any of the manual, which is available for download here, I snapped this thing to my handle bars and hit a trail.

I recorded at 1280×720 resolution @ 120 frames per second. The trail took me an hour and 10 minutes to complete. The GoPro was recording the entire ride and when I finished I was pleasantly surprised that the battery lasted the whole ride. It even displayed one bar of battery life on the lcd which could have meant 5 more minutes or another 30 minutes. The unit never shut down while riding and all seemed to function as should. Click here to see a time lapse style presentation of the video. Keep in mind this is compressed by me and then compressed again while uploading to vimeo.

 The Construction:

The GoPro feels solid for such a small device. I love the rubber grip around the edges and the buttons have a good feel when pressed. The unit comes with the fully waterproof( to 197 feet ) housing which I used to mount to the handle bar accessory mount. The housing itself feels nice and solid too and it should be if it’s going anywhere near the rated 197 foot depth.! The WiFi remote that ships with the unit also feels very well made, like one of those computerized keys for the newest luxury cars.

The handle bar mount I bought feels solid out of the package. It’s a little bit of a different story when actually on a trail. I tightened the unit pretty hard and it still ended up slipping and pointing up on some of the bumpier, fast downhill sections. I had even coated the prongs that interlock to the enclosure with black electrical tape to try reducing any gap or slip that would occur and it still slipped a little on the trail. I then tightened the mount as hard as I could and it didn’t seem to slip anymore, but this I felt was over-tightening and I don’t think you should have to do that. I tightened so much I felt like the mount might crack. Maybe it’s stronger than I assume and it will last for many rides, only time will tell.

UPDATE: After going on a faster bumpy downhill track last weekend, I find this mount still slipped even tightening it as much as I could with the bolts that come with the mount. I have made my own from a few parts I picked up at home depot for just a few bucks. If anyone is interested in the parts list then leave a comment with a request. The most expensive part of the project is the liquid Rubber to coat the ends with, but a $7 tube will make dozens of these things.

The Footage:

Like I said I recorded the entire ride which was close to an hour and ten minutes. The footage was saved in 4 files, each a little over 17 minutes and 3.66 gigs each. I had also downloaded the GoPro Cine Form Studio software that is available for free from GoPro. It is pretty nice software and does allow a decent amount of editing. I did not see however any way of splicing together the 4 sequences together and writing them out as one.? Let me state now I read absolutely no form of documentation on the software so I could easily be overlooking a feature. Or it just can’t do it.!

The Quality:

I think the footage turned out alright for a first time user with no real knowledge of the device. I have used Digital Camera’s in the past but never a GoPro, not even one of the earlier models.

Here are two frames taken from the footage. These were slightly edited to boost saturation and a minor amount of sharpening. These were saved out as jpeg at 100 percent quality.

decent footage for basically taking the camera out of the box and strapping it to my bars.!

decent footage for basically taking the camera out of the box and strapping it to my bars.!

the end of the trail. Unfortunately.!

the end of the trail. Unfortunately.!

 

I’m confident with more knowledge of the camera the footage will improve. It’s not bad really, but doesn’t look nearly as nice as the footage on the GoPro website. I am going to try setting the camera in pro Tune mode on the next ride and also use the cameraRaw mode which supposedly gives you the most faithful image to what the camera sensor is recording with minimal processing to the image.

The Glitches:

So far I have not had many malfunctions. Honestly, I have had no malfunctions when actually using the camera on a trail. The only few times I had a problem was when I was messing around with the camera at my house. It was exiting the menus much quicker than it should have been one time when I was trying to adjust resolution, and another time It was acting up and I had to pop the battery out and put it back in. I don’t have much time using this device so I can’t tell you if this is going to be a recurring issue or if it was a fluke. I did update the unit to the latest system update as of April 12th, so it should be as current as it can be.  And to be clear, these glitches did occur after the update.

Oh and almost forgot about this. I left the WiFI on one night even though the unit was off the WiFi can stay on if you don’t shut it off. The next morning the unit had no battery life left even though it was fully charged the night before.! So if you turn your GoPro off and see the soft blue led flashing on the front of the unit, turn the WiFi off by holding down the little button on the left side of the camera.

UPDATE: So I took out the GoPro this last weekend and did seem to find a glitch or a possible conflict with using the SanDisk memory card I purchased. When I tried recording 1280×720 video at 120 fps in protune mode, the camera would randomly stop recording.?! The device stayed on but would stop recording anywhere for 15 seconds to about 45 seconds after I started the recording. After googling around for a little bit, it seems that it could be a problem with the SanDisk memory card not having a fast enough write speed. Even though this is a class 10 card, they apparently are not all created equal.! After some more researching, it seems like the card below from samsung is one that is fast enough to record in protune mode. Keep in mind, the sandisk card has worked fine in all other recording scenarios I have encountered so far, but if you plan on shooting in the protune mode frequently then investing in a more expensive, faster card is required.

 

UPDATED PRODUCT:

The Summary:

So Far I really like this camera. I cant wait to get many more trails recorded so I can share them with everyone. I am worried that on longer rides, I will need to either bring a backup battery, or buy the extended battery pack in order to capture the trails in all their glory.! And of course an extra memory card.

Hope this info is useful to anyone interested in a GoPro. I’m glad I finally pulled the Trigger.!

E.

 

2 thoughts on “Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition review

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