I’m willing to bet that action cameras may have the highest ratio of purchase to actual use of most accessories out there. Everyone likes the idea of replaying the best moments from their recent adventure, but in the past most action cameras have been hard to use, offered disappointing footage, and eventually made their way to the shelf only to be covered in dust. Then GoPro introduced the Hero3 which offered drastically improved image quality over their previous models. Not one to sit on their hands, a year later GoPro had a new camera – the Hero3+, the + means more awesome.
The 3+ promised to be better in every way – see what that looks like after the break.
Inside the box you’ll find:
- HERO3+ Black Edition Camera
- 131’/40m Waterproof Housing
- Skeleton door for housing
- Wi-Fi Remote
- Remote key ring
- Wi-Fi Remote Charging Cable
- Li-ion Battery
- Quick Release Buckle
- Vertical Quick Release Buckle
- 1 Curved + 1 Flat Adhesive Mount
- 3-Way Pivot Arm and gripper
- USB Cable
- instructions including quick start guide
Like the 3, the 3+ uses a MicroSD card that hides in the charging panel. The new 1180mAH is said to provide 30% longer battery life than the 3, though in cold weather testing so far I have been unable to film past 2 hours. On our fatbike adventure below the camera cut out at about 80 minutes of filming. Warmer weather should improve the battery life, though too warm and the camera may get hot.
There hasn’t been a whole lot of noise about the redesigned case for the 3+, other than the fact that it’s 20% smaller. Which is a shame, considering there have been some very worthwhile updates.
Compared to the previous Hero 3, one of the biggest improvements is likely the increased size of the buttons. Anyone who has ever tried to operate a GoPro with a gloved hand knows how hard it can be at times to press the previous generation’s buttons. Inevitably you would go one step too far and have to cycle through the whole menu again, furthering the frustration. We’re not sure why it took quite so long, but the buttons on the 3+ are big, and they are easy to operate. Even with bulky winter gloves when it’s strapped to your head. Nice work.
Further improvements come in the form of an easier to operate clasp for the case. While the previous model involved two steps to open the case, the 3+ uses a simple one step snap. These case changes have been made to all of the currently available GoPros, including the $199 White Edition Hero3.
The 3+ is lighter as well, managing to trim nearly 30g off the 3 (both weighed with standard waterproof casing). However, it appears the 3+ has gotten away from the replaceable lens on the waterproof case which is surely where some of the weight went. The Hero 3 case is thicker so you do lose some diving ability with the new case at 131 feet on the 3+, versus 197 feet with the 3. While all of the tech sites are focusing on the improvements in software, I’ll be honest and say I’m most excited about the larger buttons. I’m not a pro videographer, so anything that makes the camera easier to use and takes less time out of the ride I’m all for.
That’s not to say that the improved photos and video aren’t welcomed though. While it started with the Hero3, with the 3+ we’re finally getting to the point with action cameras that a total amateur can slap one on their head and capture photos and video that doesn’t suck. The subject matter is another story, but the actually quality of the images is impressive.
*Make sure to bump up the playback to 1080p, default is a sad 360p
In honor of Global Fatbike Day this past Saturday, I went on a little adventure with my friends from Swallow Bicycle Works. Utilizing GoPro’s free Studio 2.0 editing software and one of their preloaded templates, it was fairly easy and surprisingly fast to go from raw footage to something that isn’t shaky, boring footage. Since most of these cameras are probably going to be purchased by people just hoping to capture and adventure and share it without spending hours on editing, GoPro has done a great job in this regard.
This wind/road noise test was done with the full waterproof housing and traveling at 15-40 mph. The sound should be slightly better with the skeleton door for the case at lower speeds.
As for the Jaws Flex Clamp, the new mounting option is really more for filming the action around you, rather than on you. Similar to a GorillaPod or other tripods that use stiff interlocking joints to form a flexible yet rigid mount, Jaws allows you to place a camera just about anywhere you can clamp.
The clamp can be used with or without the extension, furthering your options for getting the shot. For any of the self photographers out there, Jaws seems like a great way to fasten the GoPro to a tree or branch to get video of yourself while using the Wi-Fi Remote or GoPro App to control the camera. Wifi connection does seem faster with the 3+, though there is still a bit of lag in the preview image when viewing on your iPhone through the GoPro app. However, the amount of control you have over the camera through the app is impressive. GoPro has just about everyone beat on that front.
Evolution. The GoPro has come a long way and managed to stay at the forefront in spite of an ever increasing number of competitors. The 3+ is easily the best one yet, though if you’re currently shooting with a 3, the need to upgrade is debatable. The new case is really nice, and there are definite improvements to the camera, but they’re not earth shattering. If you don’t have a 3, or you have been waiting to buy an action camera, you will not be disappointed in the new 3+.