Be a Hero with GoPro Hero3+
GoPro and Be a Hero – as the slogan of the GoPro point-of-view (POV) camera. Clearly the founder of this company, Nick Woodman, which is billionaire now (as of 2013), would like this professional camera to inspire you and become a hero =)
Hero3+ is the camera GoPro launch in Oct 2013. It is a 12MP (4,000 x 3,000 4:3 aspect ratio) high resolution camera that equipped with ultra sharp 6 elements aspherical f/2.8 glass lens. The lens view angle cover from 170 degrees (ultra wide) to 127 degrees (medium) to 90 degrees (narrows) angle.
According to iFixit.com, the 12MP sensor was the Sony IMX117CQT 1/2.3″ 12.4M effective pixel back illuminated CMOS sensor. Although the sensor specification stated it can operate up to 4k (4096 width x 2160 heigh pixels) at 48fps, GoPro only allow the maximum video recording performance at 4k 15fps. Not sure if this is due to image processing power, battery consumption or safety compliance issue.
Here are the focal length equivalent table:
Wide – 14mm, 170 degrees
Medium – 21mm, 127 degrees
Narrow – 28mm, 90 degrees
Hero3+ Black Edition can record video quality up to 4k but only up to 15fps (NTSC). To be frank, this is almost useless for my application as I still believe 24 fps was the lowest frame rate that human eyes could watch with the video motion still appearing smooth. I need to admit most of the time I will use it at 1080p mode.
The available settings for photo capture are as below. The great fact about this is the 12MP is native from the sensor and no i terpolation.
a. 12MP (Wide, 170 degrees, 4000 x 3000 pixels = 12MP)
b. 7MP (Wide, 170 degrees, 3000 x 2250 pixels = 6.75MP)
c. 7MP (Medium, 127 degrees, 3000 x 2250 pixels = 6.75MP)
d. 5MP (Medium, 90 degrees, 2560 x 1920 pixels = 4.9152MP)
Another interesting feature that I like on this Hero3+ Black Edition is the slow motion recording, which run at 720p with 120fps. Based on my initial research (through YouTube), 120fps is the minimum rate you need to play back the video in slow motion effect. I will upload more sample videos once ‘play’ with this camera unit.
Seriously I am not sure what kind of application I could use this feature for? It has the ability to take 30 photos in a split of second. Below are the specification stated in GoPro website. Another question that I will answer is, what is the image resolution when capture at 30 photos/1 sec? 12MP each?
- 30 photos/1 second, 30 photos/2 seconds, 30 photos/3 seconds
- 10 photos/1 second, 10 photos/2 seconds
- 5 photos/1 second
- 3 photos/1 second
The GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition is using Li-ion cell with 1180mAH capacity. Depend on your application, the battery life will be ranging from 2 hour (without LCD Touch BacPac + WiFi off) to 1 hour (WiFi On + GoPro App).
For my application, mostly I will run on 1080p 30fps with LCD Touch BacPac (Wifi off). So battery life is about 1:30 minutes. If taking time lapse, I will turn off the LCD once find my view angle. This will help me get slightly longer battery life.
Cons on GoPro
First, there is no LCD to view your captured videos or photos. Well, good and bad. Good is the GoPro can be made smaller. Cons is you need to use external LCD to view your work, either connect through GoPro App using smart phone or tablet, or use the LCD Touch BacPac, which cost you $80.
Another bad thing about GoPro, which is not that bad actually is, it doesn’t come with wall charger. It only comes with an USB cable for charging. Well, that isn’t that bad as we can charge the GoPro with any 5V power output from either smart phone charger, which there are plenty in our house nowadays. Or just charge with your laptop/desktop computer USB port.
Another design feature that I really don’t like is the Hero3+ is using the Mini-B USB USB instead of commonly used Micro-B USB type (almost all the smart phone used Micro-B USB type nowadays). This make it hards to simply use any commonly available USB cable to charge/transfer data for the Hero3+.
After using the camera for a few outing, I found it was pretty hard to work in the dark, especially if you want to capture sunrise or sunset time lapse where the environment is dark. There is no backlit illumination for both the camera unit display LCD as well as the WiFi remote LCD. This make it almost impossible to know the camera status under those environment. The only solution to this is by using your smart phone to light up the LCD or bring additional torch light.
If you are taking video or photo of a high dynamic range frame, then you will face another challenge. The main aspect of you photo might be overexposed due to auto metering. Understand there is a Spot Metering feature build in, but that isn’t good enough. For certain application, I wish to do a silhouette to my foreground. I wish there is exposure (EV) compensation available on the camera. Since it is just a software improvement, I hope someday GoPro can provide this feature to its users.
Looking Forward for Improvement on Next Release
– Change from the Mini-B USB connector to Micro-B USB connector, as most of the devices in the market currently using Micro-B USB. It is easier to share the USB cable or charger.
– Add in image/sensor stabilizer like the Sony Action Cam. Image stabilizer is really a crucial feature especially if you are using the camera in a moving environment. It helps a lot is stabilizing the recorded video and viewing pleasure. You can check on YouTube on the Sony Action Cam stabilized effect.
competitor: Sony Action Cam, Contour, Drift, ION, Veho, Polaroid, Swann, Garmin, Toshiba
GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition Open Box
LCD Touch BacPac
One of the issue with this touch sensitive backdoor is using it to go for underwater. Whenever you are entering into the surface of the water, the water pressure will put a pressure on the membrane and that pressure will touch on your touch screen LCD, in a random manner. Which means, it might accidentally change your shooting mode, turn into play back mode, delete your media, turn on your wifi and so on.
That’s why the GoPro officially announced that the touch functionality does not work underwater. If you plan to use the BacPac underwater, they recommend using the solid, waterproof backdoor.
GoPro Suction Cup Mount
Floating Handle for GoPro
This is a $8.50 Pannovo floating handle for GoPro.
Disclaimer: Paul Frank is not include in the GoPro package. Mr. Paul was added into this review for purely entertainment purpose only.
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