GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition review

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When it comes to cameras that are rugged enough to accompany you on your most adventurous excursions, no other brand is quite as well-respected as GoPro. The company is likely the first name that comes to mind when you think of gear-mounted cameras—and the Hero3 proves that it’s with good reason that these devices are so very popular.

GoPro was founded by Nick Woodman with the intention of making a mountable camera that would allow him to properly photograph his surfing, something that proved impossible for photographers with conventional cameras attempting to shoot from the shore. Over the years, the scope of the project moved from still photography to short video clips and eventually to the rather stunning, crystal-clear HD video produced by the Hero3. Those advances are fairly standard for the evolution of a technology product over the course of ten years, but what really impresses about the Hero3 is what hasn’t changed since the very beginning—its functionality.

GoPro have always made cameras that can put up with whatever your throw at them, and the Hero3+ Black Edition very much continues this trend. Whilst the initial intention behind these devices may have been surfing, a cursory glance over the countless videos on YouTube that have been produced using GoPro equipment will demonstrate just how broad the list of sports and activities that have been documented with this kit is. Everything from mountain biking to rock climbing to fly fishing has been recorded with a GoPro, which is a real testament to just how rugged and durable these devices are. No matter what it is that you’re looking to record, you can be very sure that your GoPro will be right there alongside you and will not let you down.

The way that the GoPro range manages to be so flexible is by using a variety of different mounts that are specialized to fit different purposes. The Hero3+ Black Edition comes with a few basic mounts to be getting on with, but if there’s a particular focus to your usage, it might be worth looking into some of the different options available from the GoPro website. Helmet mounts are very popular, as you might imagine, as well as the ‘chesty’ chest harness that promises as ‘ultra-immersive experience’. Whatever it is that you want to film, there’s a way to make it work using one of the many sensibly-priced mounts available from GoPro—and most of these mounts are compatible with several different models of GoPro should you eventually decide to upgrade your base camera.

A photograph taken with the GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition

A photograph taken with the GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition

In terms of the Hero3+ Black Edition model itself, its functional design might not make it the most exciting bit of kit to look at, but the video that you’ll be producing with it should make up for that quite handily. As well as being 20% smaller and lighter than the previous incarnation of the device, the Hero3+ Black Edition offers a significant step up in terms of video quality. Outputting high-resolution, high-framerate video at resolutions up to 1440p48, the professional-grade footage that you can film with this device is sure to impress. It’s clear that the intention with this product is to make it very easy to use out of the box, but that’s not to say that there aren’t features and techniques possible with the Hero3+ Black Edition that are squarely aimed at the power-user. For instance, the new Protune mode is specifically tailored to the ‘cinema-calibre’ needs of the professional, offering pristine colour depth and unmatched picture quality. That said, this is a very usable device for the enthusiast too—features like Protune are strictly optional.

Every model in the Hero3 line boasts built-in Wi-Fi, an essential in any modern gadget but particularly so when paired with the GoPro Wi-Fi Remote, which is included with the Black Edition but sold separately with other models. The remote can be used to control all the major functions of your camera; turning it on and off, starting and stopping recording and even adjusting your settings. Up to fifty cameras can be controlled from the same remote from distances up to 180 metres away. As you might imagine, the official GoPro remote is very hard-wearing and intuitive to use, but if you’d prefer to combine your Hero3 with a device you already own, that’s possible too. The official GoPro app is available from the App Store, the Google Play store and the Windows Store and allows you to use whichever brand of smartphone you prefer to control your camera, preview video in near real-time and share your photographs and footage, either directly via email or text message or via a range of social networking sites. The neatly-designed app is very responsive on most recent smartphones and tablets, and quite capably offers you full control of your GoPro regardless of which device you happen to be using.

There’s a reason why GoPro are such a dominant brand in sports and action video photography—this is all they do, and they do it very, very well. Other companies may offer their own take on wearable cameras similar to those that GoPro have to offer, but something like the Hero3 convincingly confirms that GoPro are still at the top of the pile in their field. This is a hard-working, hard-wearing camera that won’t let you down when they going gets tough and offers a full range of functionality in a very easy to use package. Whether you’re simply looking for something to record your weekend pursuits or you’re in the market for something more professional, the three tiers of the Hero3 range are well-suited to hugely varied set of customers that might find a use for a GoPro. All of the Hero3 range, including the Hero3+ Black Edition discussed in this article are available from the GoPro official web store as well as a range of other online and brick and mortar retailers. Prices range from $199.99 to $399.99, with a range of mounts and other accessories being available for purchase separately—some mounts and other basic accessories come as standard with some models of the Hero3.