The Web has been buzzing with news about the latest GoPro camera, the Hero 3, which was released on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, I got to play with one during a GoPro event in San Francisco that had me scuba diving in the Aquarium of the Bay and racing America’s Cup boats with Oracle Team USA.
Snap reaction: Awesome. If you liked the Hero 2, you’ll love the upgrades. If you’ve never owned a GoPro, this one might get you to jump on the bandwagon (the company has sold three million HD cameras since 2009).
The Hero 3 comes in three editions: Black ($400), Silver ($300), and White ($200). All are smaller (by 30 percent) and lighter (by 25 percent) than the Hero 2, and shoot video at higher frame rates. The top-end Black's specs are sure to wow camera geeks: 1080p at 60fps, 1440p at 48, and 720p at 120 for slow-motion sequences. It can capture video at 4K resolution, though you have to slow to 15fps. The Black also features an ultra-wide angle aspherical glass lens. All three cameras offer improved audio capture and have built-in Wi-Fi, allowing you to control functions with a remote or iPhone app.
One accessory I really enjoyed was the LCD Touch BacPac, a touchscreen you mount on the back of the camera that lets you change settings and preview photos and videos. You can keep it turned on while shooting to see what you’re capturing—something I always found hard to do without on my Hero 2. The only catch is that the touchscreen is an energy suck, and leaving it on quickly depletes the camera battery. A cool soft-touch housing add-on mount (the “Touch Backdoor”) lets you access the screen while it’s enclosed within the waterproof case.
I’d share my video footage of yesterday’s diving and sailing, but honestly, you’ll enjoy the promo video GoPro created with Hero 3 a lot more: