Testing... GoPro Hero3 Camera | Product review

Words by Aaron Scott

on 29/08/2013 19:28:00

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???? 4/5

Guest blogger Teresa regularly commutes into London on her bike. We sent her an award-winning GoPro Hero3 camera to demo and she reviewed it for the LoveCycling blog. [caption id="attachment_4859"   

I love being asked to review things and jumped at the chance to have a go with the GoPro Hero3. I've seen these cameras used often in cycling films. They've also started to be used quite regularly by London commuters, as it means that you have a record of anything, should anything on the commute go wrong. Buy the GoPro Hero3 here >>

GoPro Hero3 Features

Before I get to my review I thought I'd summarise the features of the World's most versatile camera that has picked up an array of awards.
  • The camera comes with a waterproof case and a variety of mounts.
  • The mount's reasonably easy to use. You do need the waterproof case to be able to use the mounts so the fact that the case is waterproof is a bonus rather than being a special feature. You need that case to use the camera on the go!
  • This GoPro has in-built WiFi. Theoretically this means that you can transfer your files across the ether. Given that I had a USB cable for the camera and a laptop a whole arm reach away, I didn't test the WiFi feature, but it is quite neat.
  • This model of GoPro features an ability to capture wide angle HD video at 1080p at its biggest. Of course it does go down to 720p if you so wish meaning it won't eat up the memory as quickly.
  • It can also capture 12MP photos and in sports burst mode (as I call it), it can capture 30 photos per second.
If you didn't know any of the above and came across a GoPro Hero3 on the side of a road where it had fallen off someone's bike, you'd be mistaken that it was a first generation digital camera. The sort where the pictures were grainy and no more than 2mb in size. Wrong! The unit is tiny and as a result I found the (tiny) battery didn't last very long. I did have some problems trying to charge the battery up. Plugging it into my laptop using the USB cable didn't really do the trick (very quickly), but worked on a 3rd or so attempt. The connection into the camera/battery was the same as my Garmin 500's, so I tried my Garmin plug into the wall charger. That didn't work. Therefore in terms of charging and using the unit for any great length of time, I'd recommend investing in a GoPro specific battery charger. Also if you want to record a film of more than 30 minutes in length, buy yourself some spare batteries which you can keep charged up as back up. The operation of this GoPro is pretty straight forward. Select the mode you want on the front (video vs. camera etc.), and then hit 'go' on the top. A top tip I received from a friend was to make sure the WiFi function was switched off - if you leave it on it will rapidly drain the camera battery of juice. The original plan was to take it to Belgium and test it out on RVV weekend - on the Friday we normally pootle up for a climb (or two) of the Muur. Last year we'd bumped into Team Sky on the Friday, who were pedalling up a cobbled climb at least 50 times faster than we had. I'd screamed like a total fan girl and taken some terrible pictures. This year: GoPro! Unfortunately that plan fell flat for a variety of reasons, but for one I had been struggling to recover from a chest infection. The thought of a cold weekend in Belgium with low capacity lungs wasn't a risk I wanted to take! So, take two. I thought I'd film some of my bank holiday Monday ride. I thought I'd filmed a stunning (sarcasm) ascent of Box Hill. Beautiful Surrey countryside. Alas. All I recorded was 4 seconds of my handlebars waiting for a set of traffic lights turn green. Brilliant. I'm blaming leaving the WiFi button on by accident. Take three (and a deadline to send the camera back), I decided to film my commute to work. I'd been warned I'd need to read the instructions, and this time I did and the film worked (hurrah!). Although for only 17.5 minutes. Answers on a postcard as to why! chesty_h3_onlyI was so impressed with the film quality. The camera was in its waterproof case, strapped to my chest. Given it was its third outing with its temporary owner it did very well. You can tell I'm on a racing bike as the camera does capture the road quite well (rather than the gorgeous blue skies that morning). What I found most remarkable though (and this is a side tangent type point), is that drivers who noticed me wearing the camera were more considerate - they knew they were being watched! If that's an extra benefit, then I'm all for it!

The bottom line

The only criticism I have of the film is that the sound isn't captured particularly well on this ride. Was this because of the waterproof case, or because it was strapped to me? I'm not sure. But on the commute, which is a noisy London cycle ride, you don't really grasp on the film the sounds of what is happening around me. To give you an idea, the 17 minute film, on 1080p, was 1.6GB in size. The GoPro Hero3 is a brilliant piece of kit, if used well. I recommend that you read the instructions before use though ;-) You can view the video of my commute to work here.

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