Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review: GoPro hero 3+

I have been working with my Hero 3+ for quite some time now, and I have to say, I am very impressed. As I mentioned before, I bought the 3+ because I had been planning on it for quite some time. I had been putting money aside, not sure of what GoPro was going to release. When they released the 3+ I was a little underwhelmed. But since I had the money, I went ahead and purchased it.

There were really only a few things I wanted. Primarily I wanted better battery life. I was also hoping for Image stabilization. I only got the former. I got some other things I wasn't really interested in. I didn't feel like the 3 needed to be smaller. So when the 3+ got smaller still, I felt like it was more about "could" and not about "should". The camera is actually the same size though, it is just the housing that got smaller. Of course along with that came a decrease in depth that the housing can withstand - From 197 feet to 131 - which is still deep enough for most scuba divers. As a paddler it doesn't really matter to me, as long as I don't have to worry about it getting submerged more than a few feet.  (What does matter to me when I am shopping for a camera like this is waterproofness vs water resistance, so when I look at the Garmin Virb which is only waterproof to one meter under water without purchasing an additional housing, I wonder, what are they thinking!?) Despite the fact that I didn't feel I needed this to be smaller, it is actually nice how much smaller it got. I can squeeze it into even more ridiculous places! Something else that was added was SUPERVIEW which is a wider field of view with less distortion, which you can see in the video below. The 3+ got bigger buttons, making it easier to operate, a far superior latch mechanism. I found the latch on the 3 difficult to use, and it has been completely redesigned, you can now easily do it with one hand and it is burly. I still don't like the battery cover. I find it difficult to open - it should pop open when the button is pressed, but I find I have to use the tip of a knife to pry it open. The WIFI is also updated so it runs faster, smoother with less lag in the preview app. 

So all of this is nice, but how does the thing work? Well, beautifully. I find it easier to operate than any GoPro I have used, and I have used a lot. I love the new buttons. I love the new housing with the screws to the lens cover on the inside - very slick!  And while all of these aesthetics are nice, it comes down to the video, and the video is sensational. See below:

GoPro Resolutions from Paddling Otaku on Vimeo.

Here you can see 1080 down to 720 with all available settings, changing field of view and frame rate. 1080 at 30 FPS is my new go to resolution. It used to be 720 at 30, but 720 is only available at 60 fps now. I generally don't need the higher frame rate. I am still getting around an hour and 45 minutes of battery life with wifi off. Not quite what GoPro says I should be getting, but close enough for me. When looking at video from the 3 and 3+ side by side, the 3+ has a far better - more neutral - color palette than the Hero 3 does.

I am liking this camera very much and I am already stockpiling batteries for Alaska - as well as another little power trick up my sleeve, look for another review soon! - How much do I like it? Well, enough to sell my Hero 3 Black, and buy a second Hero 3+

One last thing I want to discuss. I have been working with Final cut Pro X, and initially I hated it. I felt like i couldn't get precise edits, and I couldn't figure out where anything was. But I used it to edit the video above and I loved it! It just all came together. The biggest thing is that I works with the GoPro files without transcoding them, which is a super time saver. If you are on a mac and editing GoPro footage I would look into it.

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