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GoPro HERO3 Black Edition: Super Hero…

By Ben Boswell - Thursday July 18 2013

Mobile Review
Introduction | GoPro HERO3 Features and Specifications | GoPro HERO3: The highest DxOMark Mobile score in Video | GoPro HERO3 versus iPhone 5 | Conclusion

Features and Specifications

A decent action camera has some very specific requirements: The current default seems to be that they should produce 1080p video and that they should be light-weight so that they can be attached to a helmet, surfboard, handlebar, or some other piece of speedy equipment. They should also be equipped with a wide lens — the wider the better, and they should be able to shoot at high frame rates for slow motion.

The GoPro HERO3 fulfils all of these requirements: It has 3 settings greater than 1080p, the highest being 4K Cinema; the weight of the basic camera is just under 75g; and it’s small, 41 x 59 x 29mm. The lens is very wide, with a 6-element aspheric design, and the maximum diagonal angle of view is 170º.

Frame rates also cover a wide range, again depending on resolution, with rates up to 240fps (for WVGA), 120fps at 720p, and up to 60fps at 1080p. These rates mean smooth slow motion, which suits the purpose of the camera: to shoot action. The HERO3, like many modern electronic devices, is firmware controlled. The unit DxO Mark tested had HD3.03.02.00 installed; changes in the firmware could affect the results, and there may be future updates to our review to reflect this.

gopro-hero3

The sensor on the GoPro HERO3 is a Sony model IMX117 BSI CMOS. The individual sensor elements are 1.55µm and are set on a back-illuminated ceramic substrate, in 4024 columns and 3036 rows of active elements, giving a 12 MPix maximum image size. The sensor is capable of full-resolution still captures at rates up to 30ps.

Other features include Wi-Fi so that you can use a smartphone as a remote viewer and controller, a waterproof housing rated to 60m, 12-megapixel still capture with a configurable interval timer, and burst rates up to 30fps, along with a very wide range of mounting accessories to attach the camera to your chosen piece of sports equipment.

The GoPro HERO3 is not massively expensive, but it is designed to perform some of the tasks that a professional film-maker might require. The Protune mode is designed for professional use and delivers video that is optimized for further processing with video editing software: lower contrast, but better detail in highlights and shadows. Protune is specifically for video and does not affect still capture. Protune was not selected in these tests, since the output is not ready for normal viewing.

There is interesting further reading on the construction and specifications of the GoPro HERO3 camera at the following two sites:

IFIXIT: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/GoPro+HD+Hero3+Teardown/12457/1

CHIPWORKS: http://www.chipworks.com/blog/recentteardowns/2013/01/22/inside-the-gopro-hero-3-wearable-sports-camera/