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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

score

The highest DxOMark Mobile score in Video

The GoPro HERO3 scores 75 for video in DxOMark Mobile testing. It’s the highest score recorded so far by DxOMark using this protocol. There are very few things that could reasonably be improved, as it does exactly what it was designed to do.

GoPro_Hero3_video_score

Drilling down further into the Video scores further reinforces how good the GoPro HERO3 is.

  • The exposure is very good: there is plenty of detail in the shadows and the camera is very successful at preventing highlight clipping.
  • Footage shot in low light has an acceptable amount of noise, but in bright light it is virtually noise-free.
  • Texture and detail is good, especially in good light, but even in low light, noise reduction does not take too much away.
  • With a faster than normal frame rate of 48 fps (compared to the normal 30 fps), the video is very smooth.
  • The score for Autofocus is very high since everything is sharp from 30cm to infinity. Even without autofocus on, the camera it does very well in the tests except for the Macro test, for which it is unable to produce a sharp image.

The DxOMark Mobile photo score of 68 is also a laudable score, while at the same time being rather misleading: The absence of AF was not taken into account in the final score, and the score for Flash was marked as 0, but the GoPro’s control of noise (87) and texture (80) are very good indeed. This said, special care does have to be taken in low-light conditions, since the long exposure times are likely to result in some motion blur. Indeed, at 20 lux (lighting conditions in a bar) the exposure time is 1/6s, which is enough to create blur.

GoPro_Hero3_photo_score

The GoPro also loses marks for distortion and chromatic aberration in the image, the former being something that is almost certainly considered to be a feature by the manufacturers. It is also clear that the functionality for stills has been tailored to the needs of “Action Photographers,” with a strong leaning towards burst capture and interval timing — features that fit well with video production.

A protocol for testing

As the GoPro HERO3 does not provide RAW images, and since video is the primary purpose of the GoPro, we decided to run it through our DxOMark Mobile imaging protocol, which provides a comprehensive Photo and Video quality report.

We did have to make one adjustment to the test protocol, since the GoPro doesn’t have autofocus: we could not grade it in photo, but as it produces sharp pictures from 30cm right through to infinity, we extracted the “zero” grade from the weighted average to avoid bringing down the overall score and to get a fair comparison with other mobile devices tested with the photo protocol. On the other hand, the lack of flash did lead to a “0” grade, and consequently brought down the overall score. Indeed, you may get great footage from your winter ski run, but you’ll need another camera to shoot low-light pictures when you are back sipping hot spiced wine in a dark pub.

The Mobile Video protocol was run completely. Despite the lack of autofocus and image stabilization features on the GoPro HERO3, you may be surprised that it scores fairly well for these 2 video attributes. The autofocus video protocol looks at how fast, how sharp, how repeatable, and how stable the autofocus is, so by instantly providing sharp images across a very wide depth of field, the GoPro had great “autofocus” grades except in the macro test, which it failed. Similarly, the stabilization protocol applies the same motion to all devices, but the residual motion will be much smaller for an ultra-wide-angle camera despite its lack of stabilization.