GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition: A much-improved sports action wearable camera – UPDATED for 2017

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GoPro’s personal cameras are more often described as action cameras than anything else, but they are also wearable cameras that you can place on your clothes, bags and even mount on cars, tables and other places.  Today, GoPro has three different flavors, HERO3 White Edition, HERO3+ Black Edition and HERO3+ Silver Edition.  For this review, focus would be on the GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition.

GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition takes a lot of what users have loved with the HERO3 White Edition, and added in some subtle improvements to make the new camera even better.  The camera measures 2.30 inches long by 1.55 inches high.  But even with the smaller size, the camera is still packed with better features and more functionality.

These improvements include a faster Wi-Fi, new f-stop 2.8 lens and an enhanced imaging software.

New f-stop 2.8 lens.  The new lens allows users to have sharper photos and videos than before.

Better imaging software.  The manufacturer has included an imaging software that is better than the ones used in the past, giving you better color balance and better shots even when done against the light.  The better imaging also gives you less problems with ghosting and distorted images.

Faster Wi-Fi chip.  The new HERO3+ also features a faster Wi-Fi chip.  What does this mean?  You get less delays when you are working with the remote control and when you are working with the mobile app.

But even with the lighter weight and the improved features, you can still use the cases from your old Hero 3 if you have them.

What other improvements are there?

First off, there is the better camera. The HERO3+ Black Edition gives you the chance to shoot photos with resolutions of up to 12 megapixels, with burst capabilities of 30 fps.

With the latest device, you can take still photos with:

  • A resolution of 12 megapixels, or a screen resolution of 4000 pixels by 3000 pixels having an ultra wide field of view.
  • A resolution of 7 megapixels, or a screen resolution of 3000 pixels by 2250 pixels having a medium ultra wide field of view.
  • A resolution of 5 megapixels, or a screen resolution of 2560 pixels by 1920 pixels having a medium field of view.

You can set bursting at something as fast as 30 photos per second, right down to 3 photos every second.

It also supports time lapse photography at intervals ranging anywhere from 0.5 seconds to 60 seconds.

Can’t decide whether to capture time-lapsed photos or record a video?  You can do both simultaneously.  You can get 12 MP at 5 to 60 second intervals while also capturing 1440 pixel videos at 24 fps.  You can adjust the photo resolution to get faster frame per second for your videos.

It also allows you to record videos at:

  • 1080 pixels at 60 fps
  • 960 pixels at 100 fps
  • 720 pixels at 120 fps
  • 4,000 pixels at 15 fps
  • 2,700 pixels at 30 fps
  • 1,440 pixels at 48 fps

 

long-battery

Longer battery life.  If the previous versions of GoPro’s cameras suffered from a lousy and very short battery life, then you would be pleasantly surprised with the GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition.  The HERO3+ now sports a 1180mAh battery, giving you two hours and nine minutes of continuous shooting at 1080 pixels at 24 fps.  In the old HERO3, you could only get an hour and thirty-seven minutes.  That is more than 30 per cent more recording time.

Waterproof.  Unlike regular wearable cameras, you can take your GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition swimming, surfing and doing other water activities. That is because it is waterproof.  The new HERO3+ Black Edition can resist water damage as far down as 40 meters or 131 feet underwater.  This is actually lower than the previous 197 feet of waterproofing that the old HERO3 offered, but this time around, the casing is much smaller and lighter.

However, this is not much of a downgrade.  If you need to go deeper than 131 feet, you can still use the waterproof housing from the old HERO3!

More than being smaller and lighter, the new housing also has bigger buttons that allow you to easily press, unlike in previous editions.

Better sound.  The new HERO3+ Black Edition has repositioned mics.  Instead of having mics on opposite sides, now you have a microphone on top and on the side.  This helps reduce the noise being recorded in the video and it also helped that the microphones are much more sensitive now.  This means that you can be biking at very high speeds and your video would still be able to capture everything you say clearly without the sound of the wind obscuring your words.

The GoPro App.  Almost as important as the camera itself is the apps and software that come with it.  GoPro does not disappoint with the GoPro App.  The GoPro App allows you to view your pictures and watch your videos.  It also enables you to share you content on Instagram, Facebook and other social networking sites, or to send it via MMS message or e-mail.

It also helps you control your camera remotely.  Even without touching your camera, you can adjust its settings, start recording, stop recording, switch between two different modes, monitor the battery level and basically operate the GoPro HERO3+ Black remotely.

The app also acts as a viewfinder for your camera with the live preview feature.  You can use your smartphone to frame your shots properly!

But most importantly, the GoPro App allows you to make sure that your camera’s software is not outdated.  You can update your HERO3+ Black Edition over the air using your tablet or smartphone.  No need to connect your camera to the computer, no need for cables, either!  You can keep your software up-to-date and make sure that you can take advantage of new features and the best performance.

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New SuperView.  The HERO3+ Black Edition camera now has SuperView.  SuperView simply stretches a video that you record in 4:3 aspect ratio to 16:9.  In this case, however, only the edges are stretched while the center part of your video remains unchanged.  The effect is that you have a very wide angle while also getting more of the environment in the shot.  For instance, if you are aiming at the horizon, your video will have more of the sky and the ground.  SuperView should be able to give you great videos and photos when you have your GoPro HERO3+ Black mounted on your chest or head when skiing, biking or hiking.   At the same time, you could switch SuperView off when there are people at the edges because these people would be stretched out.

New Auto Low Light Detection.  Your HERO3+ Black Edition also comes with an auto low light mode that detects when you are shooting videos or capturing images in low light conditions.  If you have a low light, your camera can adjust the frame rates so that your photos will come out great, instead of being too dark or blurred.

For example, if you have set your camera to capture videos at 1,440 pixels at 48 fps, the auto low light feature would automatically change the frame rates to 1,440 pixels at 24 fps.  For the most part, low light conditions would mean half of the original frames per second that you have initially set.

How much is it?

The HERO3+ Black Edition costs $400.  If you find that too steep, you might want to check out other editions, such as the HERO3+ Silver Edition, which would sell for $100 less.  The earlier HERO3 Black is now selling for $330, while the original Silver edition will cost you $250.

Also, HERO3+ Black Edition comes in three different bundles.  The standard bundle includes a curved mount and a flat adhesive mount, while the surf bundle includes camera tethers and a surfboard mount.  The music bundle, on the other hand, has two flexible clamps, two removable instrument mounts and a mic stand mount.  Also, you’ll have an additional 3.5 millimeter microphone adapter with your music bundle.

Lastly, you get a frame housing with protective lens with the music bundle, instead of the waterproof housing of the standard and surf bundles.

The downsides

The HERO3+ might have improved battery life, and we are glad that it does, but even with its improved state, there are still other action cameras out there that have longer battery life.  For instance, the first Sony Action Cam boasts of around two hours and forty minutes of continuous video recording time.

The bottomline

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The problem with new editions is that they tend to reinvent the wheel, often redesigning to give fans and users a different experience.  Fortunately, GoPro resisted going that way.  Instead, they put in great improvements to an already good product they have.  Overall, the HERO3+ Black Edition is a great action camera that allows you to capture fast moving subjects even when you are not touching it.

 

UPDATED FOR 2017

This review that was originally written in 2014 has been updated for 2017.

 

The name GoPro is synonymous with action camera, particularly sports ones. Most important, they are wearable cameras that can be mounted on to bags, clothes, vehicles, furniture and other things as well. Today, GoPro is known for their three main products, the HERO3+ Black Edition, HERO3 White Edition and HERO3+ Silver Edition. Right now, the focus is on GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition. This camera has taken the best features of HERO3 white edition and incorporated some newer and improved ones to make it more appealing to people.

It is quite the purchase for a sports lover and adventurous person. Users who love the HERO3 white edition will appreciate this Go Pro Hero 3+ Black Edition greatly.

With a small size, 2.30 inches long by 1.55 inches high, the camera still managed to make an impact as far as functionality and added features are concerned. These include a fast and smoothly working Wi-Fi, an enhanced image processing software and an improved f-stop 2.8 lens.

Faster Wi-Fi. This new and improved HERO3+ features a faster Wi-Fi connectivity. Basically, this means that you will experience less lags or delays when accessing the app on your mobile or via remote control.

Better Imaging. The creators of this camera have included an imaging software that is much better than the past ones. It gives a more enhanced color contrast and projects clearer shots, even against the light. This image processing means that you will most likely not experience any problems with obstructed or distorted images.

Improved f-stop2.8 lens. It allows more focused pictures and sharper images.

It is designed to withstand harsh conditions and is extremely tough. The HERO 3+ black edition is a flagship product of the industry leader. It has undergone numerous upgrades and comes with several features, such as the remote control Wi-Fi that enables the user to control its camera. The high resolution 12MP camera is also one of its more attractive aspects.

Specs

This GoPro HERO 3+ Black Edition comes with a high resolution camera that has burst capabilities of 30fps. You can take pictures of various resolutions such as:

-12 megapixels, or a screen resolution of 4000 pixels by 3000 pixels, and an ultra-wide view angle.

-7 megapixels, or a screen resolution of 3000 pixels by 2250 pixels, with a medium ultra wide field of view.

– 5 megapixels, or a screen resolution of 2560 pixels by 1920 pixels and a medium view field angle.

You can adjust the bursting speed, even setting it to 30 photos per second, as well as 3 photos every second. Users can also employ time lapse photography with intervals from 0.5 seconds to 60 seconds. You also have the option to do both time lapse photography and video recording at the same time. The photo resolution can be adjusted according to the modes. There is a LCD status screen that you will find which brings up all the functions and menu for you to navigate easily. A mode button also works as a power button for switching the camera on or off. You will find indicator lights, a Wi-Fi pairing light and a status one.

Battery Life

Most preceding version may have suffered from battery issues but not the HERO 3+. It comes with a long lasting 1180mAh battery that incidentally allows users to shoot a video for more than two hours at 1080p resolution and 24fps.

Other Features

It is water proof and can resist the water conditions as far down as 40 metres. Even if you go deeper, you still use the camera and it would be fully functional. The repositioned mics mean that your audio will be much clear and without any background noise. If you face any problems from winds, the HERO 3+ tackles them effectively.

The SuperView option allows the videos to be recorded in a ratio of 4:3 to 16:9. There is a low light auto detection that enables pictures or videos to be shot in low light conditions and adjusted accordingly.

The Bottom Line

The cost of the camera ranges from $200 to $400 dollars. It has been designed to give enthusiasts and newer and more refined experience. While the HERO 4 with 4K may already be on the market, the HERO3+ is for true fans of the technology. It is a defining product that has paved the way for new and improved imaging. If you are looking for something different and high end, then this is your go to camera.

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