With the ever growing popularity of YouTube and increased bandwidth as well as more people sharing ore of their videos online came the need for higher quality cameras that can capture HD video that can easily be shared on social media sites. Plus nowadays people think everything they do is share worthy and will videotape themselves doing just about anything.

A few years ago GoPro came out with their high definition camera that shot video at 1080p, 960p and 720p at different frame rates or frames per second (fps). This was not their first camera but was their first camera that really took off and started the whole HD action camera craze that we see going on now. Shortly after the original GoPro camera came out they released the GoPro HD Hero 2 camera which offered better quality and additional features such as a built in 3.5 mm microphone jack.
GoPro Hero 3 camera
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Review Date: 02/26/2013
Product Ratings
4 Star Rating: Recommended

GoPro Camera Review

Now GoPro has released their Hero 3 line of cameras that offer even better quality and even more features. It's now also smaller and lighter which make it better for those hard to get action shots. In fact it weighs in at 2.6 ounces and is 25% smaller than the previous versions. This time they did it differently by offering 3 versions so you can buy the one that fits your needs as well as your budget. The lowest level version is the White Edition which retails for $199. Then you have the Silver Edition which will run you $299. Finally you have the Black Edition which has all the bells and whistles but will set you back $399. Each version offers different recording options as well as additional features. See main specifications for each version

If you are worried that getting the GoPro 3 will make all your old accessories obsolete then don't worry about it. It will work with all your existing BacPac and mounting accessories except for the housing since it's smaller than the previous generations of the cameras. There are also plenty of mounting accessories to choose from just like the other models have. You will have to buy a new memory card though since the GoPro 3 uses a class 10 or higher MicroSD rather than a standard SD memory card.

Other improvements that the GoPro 3 has over previous models are a redesigned audio system for better sound quality and wind noise reduction. The lens has been improved to provide sharper images and the flat lens waterproof housing provides better quality for those underwater shots. Video performance has been improved and is now 2 times faster than before and offers 2 times the resolution, 2 times the frame rate and 2 times better low light performance The still camera is improved as well and is now 3 times faster than before.

MTBC GoPro 3 Review

We got our hands on a GoPro 3 Black Edition and took it out for some test rides. Since this is a mountain bike site we tested it on a mountain bike of course. After reviewing the footage we could tell right away that the image quality was much better than the original GoPro as well as the GoPro 2.

The footage was much sharper and the colors were brighter and more accurate than they were in previous models. One thing we did notice was that image quality degraded as you got into more bumpy situations such as riding faster over rocky terrain but that was to be expected. Low light performance was definitely improved but since the site specifies low light improvements on the Black Edition and not the others we don't know if that will apply to them. So if you are in a lot of low light situations you may want to go for the Black Edition to be covered. Sound quality was good as well even though the footage was a bit noisy when using the camera mounted to the handlebars. Using the external microphone should fix that like it did on the GoPro 2. We don't like the fact that you have to buy an adapter to use your 3.5mm microphone that you may already have.

One thing you need to check first off is that your firmware is up to date. There were complaints that the GoPro 3 would freeze up randomly and the firmware update was supposed to fix that. We applied the latest firmware before using the camera and it worked fine but did freeze up once when pressing record and we had to pull the battery to reset it.

As for the Wi-Fi remote getting it to work can be a chore. It's not completely clear how to set it up so you have to play with the settings to get it to work. There are no instructions with the camera either so you are expected to be savy enough to figure it out or have good enough Google skills to find the answer online. After playing with the settings on the camera for a bit we finally got it to connect to the remote and start working. The screen on the remote shows displays the same information that the screen on the camera does and you can do things like change recording modes and enter the settings menu.

The GoPro app was actually a little easier to get working and you need to make sure you set the camera to app mode under the wireless settings. We like how the app shows what the camera is seeing even though it's a little delayed because of the wireless connection. You also need to scan for wireless networks with your phone and connect to the camera first before it will work. We really liked how you can get to all the settings on your phone too and they are easier to change than using the remote or even the camera.

Overall the camera is very nice and should work just fine for most people. If you are planning on uploading your videos to YouTube then be prepared for a little disappointment. No matter what software or export settings we used YouTube always seems to degrade the quality of the videos especially where there was a lot of jarring like on bumpy fast trails or shady areas. But with all that aside with all the features and the quality of the video the GoPro 3 is still a winner.

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GoPro 2 vs. GoPro 3 Comparision Video

Check out our video comparing the image quality between the GoPro 3 and GoPro 2. This video shows the differences between the GoPro 2 and the GoPro 3 cameras in various conditions including slow trail riding, fast trail riding, riding in the shade and riding on the street. As you can see the jarring of the trail reduces the image quality quite a bit in both cameras.

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GoPro 3 Specifications

GoPro White Edition specifications
•   1080p at 30 and 25 fps
•   960p at 30 and 25 fps
•   720p at 60 and 30 fps
•   WVGA at 60 fps
•   5 megapixel still camera with 3 fps burst mode
•   Time lapse 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60 second intervals
•   Built in Wi-Fi
•   Wi-Fi Remote and smartphone app compatible

GoPro Silver Edition specifications
•   1080p at 30 and 24 fps
•   960p at 48 and 30 fps
•   720p at 60 and 30fps
•   WVGA at 120 fps
•   11 megapixel still camera with 10 fps burst mode
•   Time lapse 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60 second intervals
•   Wi-Fi Remote and smartphone app compatible

GoPro Black Edition specifications
•   1080p at 60, 48, 30 and 24 fps
•   1440p at 48, 30 and 24 fps
•   960p at 100 and 48 fps
•   720p at 120 and 60 fps
•   WVGA at 240 fps
•   4kp at 15 fps
•   2.7kp 30fps
•   12 megapixel still camera with 30 fps burst mode
•   Time lapse 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60 second intervals
•   Wi-Fi Remote included
•   Smartphone app compatible
•   Pro Low-Light Performance

As you can see the Black edition has the most recording, still shot and accessory options and comes with the Wi-Fi Remote which will let you start and stop the camera from a distance. You can choose to buy the remote separately with the lower editions but it will cost you $80 to do so. The Wi-Fi Remote is waterproof and allows you to control up to 50 Wi-Fi-enabled GoPros at a time from a range of 600 feet which is quite impressive. There is also a GoPro smartphone app that will allow you do to the same types of things as the remote does.

Update 3/2013: We have had more problems with the GoPro 3 Black Edition freezing up or not even turning on or off without pulling the battery so be aware of this if you are planning on getting one. Hopefully there will be another firmware update out soon.

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