The age old conqueror of the point-of-view camera market, GoPro, released their version cameras in late 2012, with not just one iteration, but three—White, Silver, and Black. This new line allowed consumers to choose their desired level of features based on their pricepoint, which really opened the door to usable but less expensive cameras. The lesser of all, the GoPro HERO White was marked at only $199; a bargain in comparison to the $400 Black. Through some confusion, GoPro later released the + version in only the Silver and Black—the White continues to be the current price-oriented model. One would assume these cameras would function pretty similarly in shared frame rates and resolutions, but we found some pretty interesting results; keep reading along.
GoPro HERO3 White ReviewPrice: $200 List Pros: most affordable GoPro, tons of mounting accessories, durability,
Cons: image quality is less than other GoPros,
Our Analysis and Test Results
Out of the box and in comparison to most of the field, the GoPro HERO White produces a pretty nice image. It suffers from some of the downfalls as most cameras do of course, but it's usable. The camera does focus underwater, which is a huge benefit for most. Overall, the image is a bit chunky, lacks some detail along sharp edges, and is kind of flat, but it works.
With cameras released around the same time, similar builds, similar appearances, and only a few features missing, logic would hint that shared frame rates and resolutions would be pretty similar between the White and its bigger brother, the Black. This was one of our first tests. We expected to be reporting back to you saying, "if you just want to shoot 1080@30, just get the White and save money." Wow. We were wrong. Take a look at this video.
Whether it's the processor, the small change in the sensor, or some sort of compression settings, we were really shocked to see such a quality jump in the GoPro HERO + Black. If you have the money, go for quality.
Additionally, we had some issues with the sensor becoming overloaded from bright areas. This causes an entire line of pixels to blow out, usually in a certain color. Check out the screenshot below.
Like we've mentioned with many cameras, the GoPro HERO White did fine at night, but it still was crippled by the issues it has during the day—soft edges, washed out image, and pixel binning. We still preferred the GoPro HERO + Black vastly due to its overall superior image quality.
Ease of Use
The GoPro design is mainly based off of two buttons, one on the front, and one on the top. Initially, these buttons are difficult to press, difficult to know if you pressed them, and difficult to use. However, with a little practice, they become a bit easier to use, but are still much more difficult to depress in comparison to those on the Sony Action Cams, especially when your hands are numb from cold.
Though the buttons are a bit difficult, the menus are pretty intuitive, and based mainly off pictorial representations, such as a trashcan for delete. Since there's no back button and typically 10 options in a menu, missing one is frustrating.
Though the two main buttons serve most of the functions, GoPro included a third button on the GoPro HERO series on the side, which serves to turn on and off the wi-fi feature. This one took us a while to get the hang of, but it is nice to have quick access to cancel the battery munching wi-fi settings. GoPro has an extensive smart phone app available for Android and iPhone that helps you align the camera and change settings that might be a few menus deep.
Just like the GoPro HERO + Black, the White is no different in having fantastic mounting options. The sizing and shape of the camera allows for so many great functions, and the available mounts on the market are endless. Whether you want a counterweighted whirly mount, a parallax mount for multiple cameras, or even a helicopter, you can find it for the GoPro line, unlike many of the competitors.
Out of a few different models we tested, we had some trials and tribulations with the White. Some seem to suffer from battery issues that lose charge with only a few minutes of use, while others would shut off mid-recording. We found that the + Black was much more reliable. In addition to the pixel overloading shown above in the image quality segment, we also had some issues of flickering exposure, especially when shooting in flat light while skiing.
Underwater recording, motor sports, snow sports in cold snow, tight places.
At $199, the GoPro HERO 3 White is a great option for the penny pinchers out there, though we'd really support splurging for the Black, though it is double the price. The White gives you a great camera, with decent image quality, in a very usable and small package that lets you get funky with mounting options unlike many of the other cameras.
Our testers are hard at work seeing what the new Hero 4 Silver and Hero 4 Black can bring to the table. The Hero 4 Silver retails for $400 and offers 1080p60 and 720p120 video, as well as 12MP photos with up to 30 frames per second (with the time intervals ranging from your choice of 0.5 to 60 seconds). The Silver has built in Wifi (which allows you to turn your phone or tablet into a remote) and touch screen display and a new HiLight Tag, which lets you bookmark important moments. The Silver is waterproof up to 131 feet and now offers more options for taking photos or time lapses at night. The Silver 4 has new GoPro technology; GoPro says that with Superview, you are able to capture more of yourself and your surroundings. The Silver is essentially the same at the Hero 4 Black, but with lower video quality.
The Hero 4 Black retails for $500 and is the most advanced Go Pro to date, offering 2x the performance of previous models. The Hero 4 Black offers 4x the resolution of 1080p, 2.7K video at 50fps, and 1080p120 video, as well as 12MP photos with up to 30 frames per second. Expect to fork over more money for the same additions that the Silver has, along with improved sound and image quality and a 2x more powerful processor.
Though we drastically preferred the GoPro HERO 3+ Black, we felt like the GoPro HERO 3 White was a great competitor overall in the category, with mounting options and durability being some of our favorite aspects of the camera. If you are on a budget and looking for a good helmet camera, the GoPro HERO 3 White is a fantastic route.
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Most recent review: November 5, 2014
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