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Friday, December 21, 2012

The Mini-Blockbuster

4K, Protunes and CineForm Studio propel GoPro’s HERO3 Black Edition to cinematic heights

Labels: CamerasGearGoPro
GoPro's HERO3 Black Edition is smaller, lighter and twice as powerful as the HERO2.

Back in 1999, GoPro founder-CEO Nick Woodman
wanted to create a camera that would enable surfers to take high-quality stills, and in 2004, GoPro released its first camera, a 28mm wrist camera that shot 35mm film. As digital technology and video-sharing websites exploded, the small upstart company became synonymous with the social-media generation, and within a short period, sold over three million cameras. (A new GoPro video is uploaded to YouTube every minute.) But for indie filmmakers, GoPro's fixed lens and "good enough" technology weren't worthy of producing cinematic movies.

On a recent media excursion, GoPro invited journalists from all over the world to take part in a Land, Air and Sea adventure, which included racing motorcycles at 130 mph around the Sonoma Raceway.

THE HERO3 BLACK EDITION
At media excursions for camera companies, journalists typically sit in air-conditioned boardrooms taking notes as corporate executives or engineers conduct PowerPoint presentations on imaging sensors and lens mounts. To launch their new camera, GoPro invited journalists from all over the world to take part in a Land, Air and Sea Adventure, which included racing motorcycles at 130 mph around the Sonoma Raceway, flying in fighter jets and swimming with sharks. It's one thing for journalists to get excited about the presentation of a new camera system, but it's unthinkable for them to fear for their own lives—on a camera junket. In short, it was a media event for the ages!

A HERO3 with essential accessories.
With a price tag of only $399, the HERO3 Black Edition's specs are impressive. For one, the camera is smaller, lighter and twice as powerful as the HERO2. The tiny action camera can shoot 4K at 12 or 15 fps, 2.7K at 30, 25 or 24 fps and 120 fps in 720p, capture an MP4 file whose 45 Mb/s bit-rate rivals the Canon EOS 5D Mark III's ALL-I codec, and offers built-in WiFi and improved low-light performance, as well as take 12-megapixel stills. The HERO3 is no longer your daddy's wearable camera.

One thing HERO cameras have lacked in the past is proper monitoring; you had to point the camera in a general direction, press record and hope for the best. Now, the HERO3 is compatible with GoPro's new LCD Touch BacPac (sold separately for $79.99), which enables you to monitor your shots while still keeping the HERO3 compact and light. Because the HERO3 is so small, the LCD Touch BacPac is equally small, but for filmmakers, it's a no-brainer to have this accessory. More importantly, the LCD's touch screen enables you to navigate the HERO3's menu settings instead of using the Shutter and Power buttons and the miniscule front display. The LCD Touch BacPac also has an integrated speaker and a 3.5mm headphone jack for better audio capture.

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