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Wednesday, 05 June 2013 21:41

GoPro HERO3 Black Edition

Written by  David Hurd
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gopro hero3 smI really like my GoPro HERO2 camera, but the new and improved GoPro HERO3 Black Edition is even better. The HERO3 is smaller with housing that’s about 30-percent lighter. It also has a new LCD Touch BacPac, so you can see what you’re shooting and have a viewable playback of the shot. The images are better too. With 12MP images and ProTune firmware, RAW images are possible, and the HERO3’s easier-to-use images are available in higher resolutions and frame rates. The Black Edition also has a more powerful DSP and a larger sensor, giving it better in-camera processing and noise-reduction capabilities.

ProTune is a setting included in the HERO3’s new firmware that allows you to record more dynamic range and higher resolution. In this mode, the camera records the full RAW color space, rather than the broadcast HD color space, which is called REC 709. These RAW files contain all of the data coming off of the camera’s imaging sensor, not just the REC 709 portion of them, so you can take the RAW files into Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve software and have much more data to work with since you’re no longer limited to just the REC 709 color space. This means much more control over your exposure, white balancing, color gamut, contrast and saturation. Also, if you’re using a camera like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera to record your project in RAW, this setting will help match your GoPro HERO3 footage with your other RAW footage. Using the ProTune settings in 2.7K and 4K resolutions, you can record at a data rate of up to 45Mbps at 24, 25 or 30 fps. While 45Mbps may not sound like a lot compared to uncompressed, by reading the full 16x9 image off of the sensor, and then scaling it down and oversampling the data at 2.7K, it will look great. 

The new lens has less of the fisheye effect, so the HERO3’s footage should be easier to cut together with your other footage in post. Apple Final Cut Pro X users can use the Fisheye Fixer Plug-in from CrumblePop, which I use to fix up the footage shot with my GoPro HERO2 camera. On HERO3 footage, I like to crop the top and bottom of the frame to give it more of a film aspect ratio. With footage shot in the ProTune mode, the results are amazing.

GoPro6 sportbike ggb duo Sm 2With the new design, the GoPro HERO3 Black Edition offers 12MP photos (up to 30 photos per second), 1080p/60fps, and a wide-angle 1440p/48fps to capture a wider field of view. Lately I’ve seen some really impressive time-lapsed footage shot using a motorized slider and a DSLR. Using the HERO3 in 4K mode, you would have 4096x2160 time-lapsed images. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds nice — and the slider is already on its way, so I’ll let you know how it turns out. And if you’re strapping the HERO3 onto an athlete to capture a first-person action angle, the 4x3 960 mode gives more vertical space for seeing the action or cropping. For slow-motion effects, there’s a new 720p/120fps mode that produces much nicer images over the old 720p/60fps mode. 

The HERO3 is so small that it may be difficult for handheld shots, but the Norbert Jr. from K-Tek is a small cage that works well with the camera, making it easy to hold steady. Norbert Jr. has cold-shoe mounts and lots of holes for mounting O/C lights, recorders and mics. The accessories and attachments from previous GoPro cameras will also work with the new HERO3 (but the batteries and the SD cards are different). 

The GoPro HERO3 Black Edition with the new LCD Touch BacPac is awesome, especially because you can see what you’re shooting and playback what you’ve shot. And with features like its ProTune settings, RAW files, improved frame rates and resolutions, this little giant of a camera is well worth owning.

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