Highly Tuned Athletes recently loaned me a Hero3 Black Edition Camera to test and review, particularly with regard to its suitability as a Camera that can be used while (trail) running. First Impressions of the Camera are very positive. The build quality, size, weight and mounting options are awesome. Likewise, the quality of the video and still images produced in a camera of this size and price are amazing.
If you want to know how the Hero3 is different from previous models, check out http://www.gopro.com. Briefly, however, it’s smaller, lighter, more powerful and shoots in higher resolutions than the Hero2 and HeroHD.
While Running, My favourite way to hold the Hero3 was in the palm my hand with the top of the camera closest to my wrist. This allowed me to shoot relatively stable shots while running, get some interesting perspectives and yet still gave me enough flexibility to stop and take stable still images and non-running shots without removing the camera from a head or chest mount.
My next preference for mounting options was the Head Strap, which looks similar to a Head Torch strap, with the Camera positioned on your forehead. While running the camera moves wherever your head does so you do get some bounce depending on your running form. However, for POV shots it’s great. It’s hands-free, easy to access the controls. Be sure to get the strap sitting as low as possible on your head to minimise Bounce caused by the top elastic strap stretching.
The mounting option least suitable for running is the chest strap. With every step you take, your arms swing and your chest follows, causing a sickening side-to-side motion. To make it worse, your hands tend to enter the shot every time they swing forward, causing a hilarious disembodied hand-Ninja effect.
While not specifically running related, the Hero3 will capture bursts of up to 30 still images per second, allowing a photographer to record high-speed action. It can also be set to record in intervals of .5, 1, 2 & 5 seconds which would be great for time-lapse and motion-blur photography.
On my first few runs with the Hero3 it would crash and lock-up if recording at higher than 30fps. I found a fix and haven’t had the problem since but read on the web that it was a problem with the User-updateable Firmware (and in particular, the Protune component). If you’re having this issue drop a message and we’ll point you in the right direction.
Battery life is another cause for concern, as the three-bar indicator isn’t very helpful. On different runs the battery has died after 17-30mins of short clips or 87mins of long clips. However without having a more accurate charge indicator, I can’t tell if this is due to a low battery to start with, or my usage pattern. Certainly 87 minutes seems an unusual, upper extreme with half that a more likely norm.
As a Robust Outdoors-Focused Camera with incredible video quality and decent stills, the Hero3 has got a lot going for it. The price and build quality smash a lot of pre-conceptions and, I believe, redefine the category.
While it goes close to perfection, the limited battery life definitely introduces some limitations for those of us who spend long periods of time away from electricity. Likewise, the absence of an LCD screen for framing shots (and the further drain on battery life that the BacPac LCD brings with it) is frustrating. Perhaps the low cost of the camera will allow for the purchase of a handful of extra batteries?
No Camera can do everything perfectly, but in terms of its suitability as a camera for (trail) running, I would highly recommend the Hero3. It’s largely hassle free and certainly up to the rigours of trail running (and most everything else for that matter).
Highly Tuned Athletes (http://www.highlytunedathletes.com.au) have the Hero3 Black Edition available for Pre-Order @ $489AUD, with delivery expected late November.