GoPro’s HERO3 cameras tune up the quality and tone down the size

GoPro’s HERO3 cameras tune up the quality and tone down the size

As all of GoPro’s athletes quietly changed their social media avatars to the company’s logo yesterday, rumors flew as to what they would be unveiling. Today we get the dirt on the new line of HERO3 cameras, which have apparently been put on a diet. There are three new editions that come in 25% lighter at just 2.6 ounces and 30% smaller at a width of just 20mm, without the waterproof housing which now sports a flat lens.

Of the three new cameras, the Black Edition is the most highly decorated and retails for $399.99. Video resolution on this model has been upped to include 4K and 2.7K resolutions at 15fps and 30fps, respectively. Of course, still included are the trusty 1080p at up to 60fps, 960p at up to 100fps, 720p at up to 120fps and 1440p has also been thrown in the mix at up to 48fps. While the 15fps of the 4K resolution is a little slow for smooth video, it’s an excellent way to get high quality stills at 15fps.  Shooting 30fps video at 2.7K will also allow you to zoom in in the editing room. Now your buddy will look like a skier charging down a line instead of just a black spot in the distance, while you retain the quality of your footage. Lastly, the faster frame rates that run through all the resolutions will allow you to pull ultra-smooth slow-mo clips so you can really get a feel for what it’s like to be knocked off a longboard by a psychotic deer.

When asked what role the GoPro athletes have in development, team member Tucker Perkins says the product designers already have great ideas in place but the team’s feedback is definitely taken into account. “When we were filming the promo video for the HERO2, me and some of the guys mentioned that we’d love to see some higher quality video and they certainly did that here with the 4K.” He also added, “The biggest thing is the reduced weight when you’re using the helmet mount. Now you won’t even notice it when you’re riding.” He says the team is putting together some backcountry trips to really put the new features to use.

GoPro obviously didn’t stop at improving video quality. Photo resolution has been taken to 12MP with a burst mode of up to 30fps and there are now seven different time-lapse intervals ranging from 0.5 to 60 second intervals. Distortion has been reduced on the f/2.8 6-element aspherical glass lens and GoPro is claiming 2X better low light performance from Black Edition as compared to previous models.

The side-by-side stats on the audio system are identical to the HERO2’s (mono, 48kHz, AAC compression w/AGC) but GoPro says it has been redesigned to capture more of the subtle sounds while still effectively cancelling out wind noise. All of the HERO3 models come with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities and a waterproof Wi-Fi remote will be included with the Black Edition. The remote can control up to 50, yes 50, Wi-Fi enabled GoPros simultaneously, should you need every angle known to man and all storage will be done via a MicroSD card of up to 64gb.

The other two editions of the HERO3 are intended for users on a lesser budget who don’t feel that they need all the features of the Black Edition. The Silver Edition retails for $299.99 and tops out at a respectable 1080p at 30fps and 11MP at a 10fps burst. The White Edition goes for $199.99, also captures 1080p at 30fps but with slightly slower rates elsewhere and 5MP at a 3fps burst. If you still need to control all 50 of your GoPros at once, you can purchase the Wi-Fi remote for $79.99. All three cameras can also be run by your iOS or Android smartphone while running the GoPro App which enables full camera control and live scene preview.

Pre-orders for the HERO3 are underway at gopro.com with an expected shipping date of November 14th.

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