GoPro Hero3: Black Edition Camcorder Review$399.99
Yes, the Hero3: Black Edition camcorder can shoot 4K video. But, no, the feature isn't as impressive as it sounds. 4K video is limited to a 15fps frame rate, which results in choppy video that makes moving subjects look like garbage. The camcorder does have a smoother 2.7K setting, a mode that results in video twice as large as regular 1080p HD video, but even that setting wasn't all that impressive. Why do we say this? Well, the 4K and 2.7K recording modes didn't really show any improvement in detail, sharpness, or image quality compared to the Hero3's 1080p record mode. The video files are simply larger. Having larger videos does have benefits, though, as it gives you the ability to crop a full HD image from a larger image (something that can come in handy with the Hero3's wide-angle recording). Take our word for it: unless you want to crop your videos later, shooting with the Hero3's 1080p record mode is perfectly fine. Your videos will look just as good and your computer will thank you later (playing back 4K content can be very taxing).
Even without the 4K and 2.7K record modes, the Hero3: Black Edition is loaded with a freakish amount of frame rate options and resolution settings. You can shoot 1080p with four different frame rates (60, 48, 30, or 24fps), and you can also shoot video at 720p, 1440p, or 960p with a variety of frame rates. A 240fps high-speed frame rate is available, but only record standard definition video, and the camcorder does not slow this video down in-camera. You need to do that yourself in post production in order to get a sleek slow-mo shot.
Let's not forget all of the Hero3's photo options. The camcorder can shoot 12-megapixel still images, and you can easily set it up to shoot time-lapse videos or a burst of shots to capture action sequences. Like the previous Hero2, the Hero3 has three different field of view options (wide, medium, and narrow), but for some record modes only the widest setting is available. The new ProTune setting on the Hero3: Black Edition makes use of higher recording bitrates and a neutral white balance setting, and the mode is clearly in place for pros. Videos shot with ProTune may not look great at first, as they are meant to be worked with in post production. ProTune clips will take much better to color enhancement and other cosmetic changes than the Hero3's regular recordings will. The idea is simple: if you're a pro who will be editing your footage, you should consider using the ProTune mode. If you're just shooting video and immediately uploading it to YouTube, then leave ProTune turned off.