GoPro Hero3: Black Edition Camcorder Review$399.99
Frankly, it's somewhat absurd to see so many frame rate options on the Hero3: Black Edition. GoPro managed to stuff more frame rates into this little camcorder than most flagship camcorders contain, and that's just crazy. Is the Hero3 that much farther ahead than the norm, or is the rest of the camcorder industry just that far behind? Either way, the Hero3 is able to record spectacular motion video, in part thanks to its multiple frame rate options. Want video that you can slow down later in post? Shoot using the Hero3: Black Edition's 120fps or 240fps record modes. Want a film-like aesthetic? The camcorder has multiple modes that let you shoot with a cinematic 24fps frame rate. Need smooth motion for an action sequence? You can shoot full HD video at 60fps with the Hero3.
In general, the Hero3 showed very smooth video in our motion test, especially when shooting with its 60p frame rate. Some of the higher-res record modes, like the 4K settings, don't offer the luxury of higher frame rates, so your video will look quite choppy in these modes. But if you stick to the camcorder's 1080p record mode, your motion videos should consistently look good. Artifacting was present, but not a problem in most shots, video looked smooth, and trailing was kept to a minimum. Every now and then the Hero3 did glitch out on us, producing video that looked discolored and wonky. Once, the entire video even turned blue. This was all probably due to a processor mishap when changing record modes, and a simple restart of the camcorder fixed the problem. More on how we test motion.
Hero3: Black Edition ProTune Examples
See below for a full discussion of the available resolution and frame rate options for the Hero3: Black Edition
Resolution & Frame Rates
There are a ton of record modes on the Hero3, possibly too many for some users. In addition to recording standard 1080p and 720p HD video, the Hero3: Black Edition has options for recording 4K Ultra HD and 2.7K video. These modes produce video at a much higher resolution than regular HD content, but they come with plenty of caveats. First of all, most people don’t have televisions or monitors capable of displaying video at a higher resolution than 1920 × 1080. This makes shooting 4K somewhat useless, as there aren’t many ways to harness the full potential of the setting.
The Hero3 also limits the frame rate for 4K recording to 15fps or 12fps, depending on the mode being used. These frame rates are too low to produce smooth motion, which means you wouldn’t want to use these settings to capture high-speed action sequences. The 2.7K settings do allow for more motion-friendly frame rates of 24fps and 30fps. In regular 1080p HD mode the Hero3 has options for 60, 48, 30, or 24fps recording, giving you far more flexibility when shooting video.
Another thing to note: the 4K and 2.7K recording options are only available on the Black Edition of the Hero3. The Silver and White Editions both top out with 1080p HD recording.
Slow Motion Modes
Like the Contour+2, the Hero3: Black Edition has a few high-speed record modes, but these settings don’t produce slow motion in-camera. You have to take the recorded footage and slow it down using an editing program in order to get the slow motion effect. If A GoPro rep or salesperson told you the Hero3 can do slow motion, they were lying. Kinda.
The camcorder’s highest frame rate option is a 240fps mode that shoots standard-definition video at an 848 × 480 resolution. This setting is labeled as WVGA in the camcorder’s menu, and, like we said, the videos shot in this mode won’t appear any slower unless you alter them using post-production software. Additionally, the Black Edition of the Hero3 can shoot 720p HD video at 120fps.
The Hero3: White Edition has none of these high-speed record modes, but the Silver Edition includes a single 120fps slow motion mode for standard-definition video. All versions of the Hero3 camcorders offer time-lapse photo modes that take photos at various intervals.