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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 31 May 2013
The GoPro Hero 3 Black is my first GoPro product which I was drawn for its high resolution video capabilities and as I was getting into mountain biking I quite fancied trying to record some of the trails. The Gopro cameras have a great reputation for this sort of use and the professional reviews of the camera were extremely positive at the time of launch so I was pleased to get the camera shortly after.

Quick edit - there's a fairly serious bug with the timelapse option at the moment, if you use the 0.5 or 1 second interval then auto-exposure doesn't work which makes it completely unusable, I found this out when checking footage I'd taken and many shots were almost completely black due to severe underexposure. GoPro confirmed this is a bug in the current firmware and advise using intervals of two seconds or more until it's fixed, I've put this up at the top in the off chance others might avoid this bug before it ruins their footage.

The contents of the box are a bit disappointing as there's no quick start guide giving you a hand to get started, there's no full manual either but I don't mind not having a hard copy as it's easy enough to download and browse when needed. There's no charger either which I can partially understand as many people now have USB chargers although strangely the Gopro's USB connection is the older mini USB type (possibly because it stays in better) so standard micro USB chargers are no good (ones that won't split apart) plus it's recommended to use a higher current adapter which rules out standard USB chargers and normal USB ports.

As you'd expect there's no memory card in the box nor is there onboard memory, the camera needs a quick memory card and with the higher resolution video settings quickly chewing through memory I'd recommend the Sandisk 32GB microSDHC Ultra class 10 card or something similar. I did initially try a Sandisk 32GB class 4 microSD card I had available but it was too slow as the resulting video suffered bad stuttering.

The interface on the camera is a little tricky to get to grips with as it's very similar to old hardware systems in the 80's and 90's where you have a very basic screen and just two buttons, one is used to select and one is used to change option. Thankfully GoPro provide an excellent app for Android (and I assume IOS) so if you've a suitable device you can directly connect to the GoPro over wifi and configure the settings in a very userfriendly method and then you only really have to choose mode and hit record on the camera which is easy enough. The GoPro app also shows a live preview of what the GoPro is seeing making it easy to adjust the fitting although it's delayed by a few seconds so may not be any use for live purposes. There's a wide array of settings allowing you to set resolution, framerate, field of view (super wide or normal), burst speed, timelapse speed, camera orientation etc. allowing you to set up the camera pretty much exactly as you want. The onboard wifi and being able to get a live feed from the camera saves having to buy an addon screen or wifi as I believe you have to on some of the previous models.

Video quality as you'd expect is generally extremely good with sharp, colourful video and great coverage thanks to the extremely wide field of view the camera offers. Sound is disappointing even with the smaller door, there's two with the camera one of which is for lighter conditions and one is for tougher conditions with the latter trading sound quality for durability. I didn't find the sound particularly great with either so I tend to just stick with the tougher door and add in my own audio afterwards.

The Gopro Hero 3 is compatible with the same mounts as previous cameras which is extremely useful as there's a good range of them offering a wide range of flexibility. The pricing is a bit high for what you get particularly with the helmet mount which is genuinely no more than one small bit of plastic and two straps but on the other hand it works well so I'd rather that than a cheap one which didn't work very well. I've been using the camera while mountain biking over proper rough stuff and there's never been a hint of the camera coming off. On putting the helmet on with the GoPro camera it does feel a bit heavy initially as the camera needs to be in its casing to use the mount but I find once I get going I don't normally notice it.

Unfortunately it's now onto the bad which is the camera's unreliability, I've been pleased with the results when the camera has worked properly but it lets me down on a regular basis which I might accept on a £50 camera but on a near £400 one it's completely unacceptable. I initially thought it was just me and I needed time to get used to the camera but I wasn't making any progress so I assumed I had a faulty unit only to find many other user reviews with exactly the same issues as me. I should note my camera does have the latest firmware (released in April I think) and when I initially bought it at Christmas time I also ensured I'd immediately updated it as a bit of paper in the box recommended.

I've tried a variety of different chargers but performance is inconsistent, sometimes I'll take the camera off the charger and it won't power up at all even though it registered it had power and was able to charge. Sometimes a battery pull will fix this, sometimes not which in the latter case means back on the charger and not being able to use the camera. I haven't tested if they've improved this yet as I don't trust the camera but originally if you took the camera off the charger and left it aside ready for use which is reasonable given li-ion batteries can last a good few months with their small amount of discharge, the battery would discharge very quickly and be dead within a couple of days. I now always leave it on the charger to avoid this happening.

The wifi is a great idea both for configuring the camera and using the little remote control (about the size of a keyfob, has the same buttons and screen as the camera itself) that comes in the box. It does seem a bit better with the latest firmware update but I find the wifi unreliable, sometimes the camera refuses to switch it on claiming it has done so in the settings but the blue light which indicates wifi is on doesn't light up and it can't be seen by wifi devices. The other issue is that it really hammers the batterylife to the degree I never leave it on instead only having it briefly powered up to check or configure settings then straight back off. This makes the remote control useless which is a shame as it feels well designed and would be very useful if you could leave wifi on. Batterylife is around two hours which is pretty usable particularly when the batteries are small and the camera gives an audible set of beeps when the battery is approaching empty but with wifi on I've had as little as half an hour out of it which is no use.

I've had other odd issues where the camera has ignored the settings and reset itself back to default and when the autoexposure has defaulted to far too fast a shutter speed and left with near dark photos as if I was in darkness rather than sunlight. I'm waiting to hear back from GoPro about the latter issue.

Edit - GoPro have replied confirming there is a bug in the firmware which means if you use the 0.5 or 1 second intervals with the timelapse mode, auto-exposure doesn't work which makes these settings unusable as over the longer period of time a timelapse is likely to take there's going to be variances in exposure. Until they fix the firmware, they advise using an interval of two seconds or more.

Firmware updates are surprisingly clumsy as they seem to rely on custom information being added such as the camera's serial number and the wifi settings to produce a custom firmware file to put onto the camera. The website allows you to do this automatically using java but my main PC systems wouldn't let it proceed as they were adamant the site was malware, the manual process is a bit clumsier but it does eventually work.

The obvious question is why not return it which in hindsight I wish I had, at the time I'd bought a couple of mounts for it which I couldn't return and given GoPro's reputation I thought it was just a rough launch with teething issues and given a few months they'd sort out the camera. However in its current state I personally think its unreliability just isn't acceptable, there's obviously differing views on how well the camera works with quite a few positive reviews so I'd recommend more so than usual to have a good look round at a range of reviews of this device to get a good feel for it. For the cost and a company which calls itself GoPro I find it unbelievable how poor the functionality of the camera is, I have used cheap £100 cameras that have worked reliably never mind something approaching £400. What's the most frustrating part is that when the camera does work it can produce some superb footage but it's extremely annoying when you either can't start recording because the camera has screwed up or you get home to find it's completely screwed it up. Since reviving the camera to try the new firmware, I've had it out for three runs - the first it did well on which was encouraging, the second it went completely wrong and reset itself at the start to completely different and unusable settings and on the third run something has gone wrong with the auto-exposure which has completely ruined large sections of the video.

I should perhaps also point out that I feel I'm experienced with imaging products, I currently have a micro 4/3 setup for video, an NEX setup for stills/video and a Nikon FX setup for stills. The issues with the GoPro3 I've had are all very basic ones rather than more complex issues with codecs or similar resulting from inexperience.

I've been looking into alternatives and the Sony Action Camera seems to be an obvious one but while the camera looks pretty good, the mounting options seem poor even just for mounting to a helmet which is unfortunate. They do have a bike mount but watching footage back from the GoPro you realise how much your body acts as suspension so footage from the handlebars would likely be unusably shaky.
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on 16 March 2013
After all the known problems with this camera well documented! I wrote a scathing review due to the lack of customer service.

Now after an email from a Gopro tech, listing several things to correct my issues, the camera and accessories are working faultlessly. Before you throw yours out the window if yours freezes won't charge, stops recording or any of the many other issues reported; make sure the firmware is updated properly. I thought mine had however it hadn't.

1. Manually download the update don't install java! Follow the instructions on the web site.
2. Save it to your desktop and open the zip file.
3. Drag the unzipped files to the sd card.
4. Wait it takes about 10 minutes to update it should display the percentage.
5. Enjoy your fully functioning Hero 3!!!!

The battery Bac Pac has to be connected to the camera the 1st time you charge it. If you don't it will look like the battery is faulty. Once charged it will charge on its own.

32gb are the best as formatted to fat 32 if you use a 64gb shxc cards they are formatted to ex fat and will not upload to an ipad. Camera will see them and they can be updated to a PC.
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on 24 March 2014
I bought the Go Pro Hero 3 Silver Edition for my boyfriend for Christmas. He's always liked the look of them but never used one. He has a DSLR camera and is good with cameras.

I did a lot of research into these and did comparisons with other similar makes of camera. You need to consider what you actually will use the camera for, how often and what you'll do with the videos after as to what camera will suit you. Go Pros seem to come out best in reviews so I went for a Go Pro. As for whether I was going to choose white, silver or black I weighed up what he'd use it for etc. He's into bikes and cycling, airsoft and cars so I wanted a decent one as it'll have a fair amount of use but didn't need everything the black had to offer (you can get the screen attachment/remote and any extras if you feel you want them, rather than getting the Hero 3 Black and paying more for these things).

Needless to say he was thrilled with this present and has since used it a couple of times, testing it out in different situations. We took it to a gig and we were both stunned by its sound recording quality. In the dark and with the bright lights it wasn't up to its usual standard but that's to be expected. In daylight the quality was excellent. The camera itself is easy to use and the phone app is handy and a great extra. Works perfectly well as a remote and as a way of viewing what the camera is seeing. I'd recommend this camera, plus, it's like a Pandora bracelet! You can just keep buying add-on extras each birthday/Christmas - Perfect!
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on 28 November 2013
Make no mistakes the quality of the video recorded with my GoPro surpass anything else I've ever used, including some pretty expensive Canon SLR's. My primary reason for buying was to film 50-100 feet down from the boat and for that it is perfect, a little bit of editing with the supplied software to colour correct the video and I can't imagine getting a better view of what is on the sea floor without going down myself. It works very well in low light conditions. The 3rd generation case doesn't have the fish eye problems of the first 2 generations. I've also used it as a dash mount camera and on my head, in all instances the images captured are superb in their clarity, stability and colour reproduction.

There are a couple of tiny niggles, for a start the door casing can be very stiff until you've used it for a couple of months, I was always scared of breaking it, a bit stupid really because it is very well made. The other is the hit & miss USB charging. It's fine if you just connect it to charge but if you've been doing any data transfer before leaving it to charge it doesn't always seem to work. Again a very small issue that takes seconds to fix (just disconnect and reconnect). This could be corrected with the latest firmware update which I've not applied yet.

The reason I've dropped it a star is the battery life, you really will be very lucky to get an hour out of it and for a dedicated camera I think this is a bit low. I would have been happier paying more for a better/larger battery but will make do with using a spare, just a shame it means interrupting filming.
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on 4 July 2016
I bought the Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition 3 years ago. I've always loved the design and it's brilliant for someone like me who does a lot of outdoor activities (swimming, skiing etc) with moments you never want to forget.

You need to consider what you actually will use the camera for, how often and what you'll do with the videos after as to what camera will suit you. The reviews were brilliant and I have not been disappointed, it records perfect quality and I have not had a single issue in three years. I'd recommend this camera, plus, you can just keep buying add-on extras each birthday/Christmas as a little present to yourself.

The quality is perfect, at 4Kp fps, 2.7 kp 30 fps, 1440p48/ 1080p60/ 720p120 fps it's brilliant. It's realistically future proof for the long term, for the photos the 12mp 30FPS burst is brilliant to ensure you get the picture you want.... especially when doing something crazy!

The wifi and wifi remote (built in on the black edition) are brilliant and have never let me down. The battery is amazing, for something recording in 4k to last 1.5-2 hours is insane.

If this ever breaks, which I doubt it will, I'd definitely buy from GoPro again.
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on 7 February 2013
You won't have to look very far to find widespread discontent with the new generation of GoPro cameras - and it's justified. There is a serious and uresolved problem with these cameras freezing. They are completely unreliable and patently nowhere near ready for market. On top of the usual hassle of having to install firmware, you will spend hours and hours trying to get it to work. The fixes recommended by Tech Support are ridiculous. Here's an example:

Please follow the steps below to reset your camera, repeat 5-10 times:

- Remove SD card and Battery.
- Press and Hold Shutter Button (it will need to be kept pressed throughout the whole process)
- Insert the Battery
- Click the Power/Mode Button.
- Camera should power up.

Note that they want you carry out this procedure 5-10 times. Life is simply too short.
There is also no guarantee it will work or carry on working for long after this.
The first and second gen cameras were good. This generation is a joke - don't go near it.
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on 6 December 2013
This is not the sort of thing that I really need. But heck, it's nearly Christmas, so when it came up in the Black Friday sale, I put it into my basket. Then took it out, as it was still more expensive than I had hoped. The item then showed as all sold. Then went back a bit later, and saw that a few other people had obviously done the same, as it there were now only 98% sold. So I decided it was fate, and clicked on buy again. I now have it, and it is very much as expected, takes very high quality video up to 4k and stills up to 12mp. It is incredibly small. When the rest of the bits that I ordered arrive, it will go on my bike, and maybe a quadcopter is on the horizon as well. For the time being, it is going everywhere with me, just for fun.

For anyone reading some of the negative reviews, it seems very well built, simple to operate, and I have had no problem with a Samsung 64GB microSDXC card
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on 16 March 2013
I decided to upgrade my old hero 1 for one of these, worst decision i have ever made. The camera keeps freezing and the only way to get it back on is to remove the battery, not very good if you are out mountain biking in the rain. All the videos i managed to record have no sound.
I have tried various class 10 micro sd cards, upgraded the firmware but still it gives these problems.
Still waiting to hear back from Gopro.
Just wish i would have stuck with the gopro one that worked flawlessly.
Having read reviews on Amazon. Com i can see this is a common problem

Edit: as a follow on to this I eventually got a reply from gopro who told me to send it back to them in holland, I did this and got a replacement fairly quickly which so far has worked great.
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on 10 August 2013
What can I say about this camera that's not already been said.... but a warning it's addictive and you spend lots of money on the accessories.... one that SHOULD be included as you pay enough for the camera is a lens cover so naturally enough I have just ordered one, along with a carry case and various mounts etc etc....
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on 8 February 2014
When I got it, it did look impressive but that's as far as it goes. Despite trying many Micro SD Cards which all met the cameras requirement it had an 80% failure rate on recording, which seems from checking online is a common problem to do with using the memory cards. Of the recordings that did work, the quality was fantastic. Only downside that is well known is the sound quality isnt as good due to the waterproof casing.
I tried customer services who were slow to respond, when they did they recommended to hardware reset & so I did. When it reset it then couldnt read any memory card & came up with 'SD Error' message. This was the last straw, after weeks of trying & now complete failure, I returned it to Amazon & got an Isaw A2 which is almost 1/3 of the cost but 90% as good as GoPro in quality but 100% reliable.
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