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GoPro HERO3 Shoots 4K, but is It Usable? Plus More Sample Videos

11.9.12 @ 4:20PM Tags : , ,

The GoPro HERO3 made an instant splash when it was announced last month, especially since the new camera was capable of not only 2.7K, but an astonishing 4K. The 4K mode is more useful as an undercrank for faster motion, and while the camera does not shoot 4K at a typical frame rate (15fps maximum), that does not necessarily mean it can’t be used. Jared Abrams over at Wide Open Camera was able to get his hands on the GoPro HERO3 Black Edition and perform some some tests with converting 4K into something that more closely resembles normal motion.

Here is a little bit of his process:

It took a few hours to get everything sorted but I think it was well worth it. Cineform does a good job of converting the 12fps 4K to something useable. The motion of the swing is pretty good. The OSD image stabilization is killer! I hit those speed bumps at around  40MPH with very little camera shake.

Check out the videos below:

Even though the company released three cameras back in October, only the Black Edition is capable of 4K and 2.7K modes, while the other two cameras, Silver and White, will only do 1080p at best. If you’re wondering why someone would even want 4K, it should provide a slightly cleaner picture since downscaling in post with a better algorithm will usually provide better quality than doing it on a small camera like this (besides the undercranking and the possibility for pulling stills from the video). The other reason you might want this high resolution, is if you need to crop and move the frame around quite a bit. Since the GoPro doesn’t resolve that much detail in the first place, it would be better not having to do that in the 1080p mode, though you could certainly try it with normal motion at the 2.7K mode, which may prove to be a lot more useful for more situations.

He also did another test, this time focusing on the audio quality:

Here’s another test of the HERO3 from , who shot mostly 2k/30fps and 1440p/48fps for this video:

Jared has actually provided a full resolution file straight from the camera, and also a corresponding file that attempts to fill in some missing information. Both files are still 12fps, but the converted file definitely looks better. If you’re curious, head on over to Wide Open Camera and download the files for yourself.

What do you guys think about the videos above? Download the full sample and let us know what you think of the 4K quality coming out of the HERO3.

Link: GoPro Hero 3 Black 4K Video Demo. Cineform 1.3.2 Update link. RAW 4K file — Wide Open Camera


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Description image 34 COMMENTS

  • Saying the HERO3 does 4K/2.7K is sort of like those when those cheapo digital cameras are advertised at shooting 18 megapixels. Technically, yes – it is producing a file that has more pixels than 1080P. But you’re stuck with the same tiny sensor.

    I’d expect to use the extra pixels from the 2.7K mode for stabilization. The 4K doesn’t really seem useful at all. Love to see more demos of the 120fps mode.

    And who the heck would buy anything but the Black model?

    • Andreas Kopriva on 11.9.12 @ 5:32PM

      Someone who doesn’t have $400? :) It’s kinda like saying, who would buy anything but the Epic? Or the F65? :)

      • I find it very hard to believe anyone who has enough money to spend on a relatively frivolous purchase like the GoPro would not have the extra $100 or $200 to get the major added features of the Black model.

        • Well, consider that a lot of these will be used as crash cams, so consider if you need several of these and you may lose some of them, that price gets multiplied a few times.

          • Crash cams? Uhh no. You can get a “dash” cam for 40 bucks these days shooting 720p30 and it’s good enough for recording a possible crash if it happens. A GoPro Hero 3+ Black is for ultra HD video and used for capturing very wide field of view and in stunning quality while being extremely resilient. Not to mention the Black edition comes with a waterproof case and WiFi remote (which doesn’t require a wifi network to control the camera, despite the name) which are indispensably handy for the camera. On YouTube there are multiple videos of GoPro cameras falling over 1000 feet and still recording when they hit the ground. One even falls from over 10,000 feet and still was recording.

        • trackofalljades on 11.10.12 @ 12:25AM

          Yeah you might not be thinking like they are. When you’re going to do something insane that might only be possible once (there are no “takes”) then it might be more attractive to get several less expensive cameras than just one or two models that cost double the price. Also, if the intended final output resolution of your project is very low, the same razor could apply.

    • 4k 15fps is very useful. Timelapse is almost a staple of videography nowadays. Every option is a tool that is very useful for the right application.

  • That would be undercrank, not overcrank.

    • Joe Marine on 11.9.12 @ 5:23PM

      I should just stop using those terms altogether, I always mix them up. Plus, we’re not shooting on film anymore anyway…

      • trackofalljades on 11.10.12 @ 12:26AM

        It gets confusing because to a projectionist and to a cameraman the terms mean exactly opposite things. ;)

        • why would a projectionist be doing under cranking or over cranking?

          • Camera Operator (with film cameras) will over crank to make a slow motion effect and under crank to make a fast motion effect.

            A projectionist will use overcranking to speed up the film and under cranking to slow the film.

            Remember that everything that is shot on film, comes in a negative form of what we see (basically backwards). Once the film is developed, printed, and finally viewed on the big screen you see exactly what you are suppose to see.

      • Daniel Mimura on 11.19.12 @ 8:11PM

        I think the terms should still be used b/c it implies that you are shooting faster or slower than the projected speed, so it still works if your projected speed is 16-18fps silent, 24fps, 30fps, 48 or 60 (like original showscan not the new Coke digital version)) or whatever.

        And as far as it being a “film term”, yes, it derived from film, but hand cranking went out with the silent era when it was actually cranked, but the term has still stuck around for the past 90years.

  • There are two things I would really like to see with this camera. One is manual control (maybe this new one has that and I’m just unaware). I want to be able to keep the white balance and exposure from shifting during a shot. It would also be much easier to change these settings using the iPhone app than the clunky three button system they have, although the new touchscreen backpack would certainly help.

    I would also like to see them release a lens correction tool. It could just be a plug-in for AE, Premiere, or FCP that would compensate for the barrel distortion of the lens. It would work like the Photoshop tool, but for video. It would lose a little resolution, especially at the edges, but I think the tradeoff would be well worth it. I could see the camera being used for a lot more than just action/Youtube videos if they just did these two simple things.

  • Francisco Lobo on 11.9.12 @ 5:51PM

    Totally usable. When I saw the specs I thought…. welll, here’s a cool thing for timelapses, but I guess you can use it for other stuff.
    4k on a tiny $400 camera? What’s next, security cameras and iphones shooting raw?

  • Austin Mace on 11.9.12 @ 6:01PM

    Granted the 4k on the GoPro isn’t where we as filmmakers would like it to be but think…. a “4k” camera is available in every big box retailer now… That’s freaking crazy to consider. Imagine in just 4 more years where things will be at.

  • Just picked up my GoPro3 Black Edition a couple days ago. After fooling around with it, I have observed some things:

    1. The lens is slightly improved from the old model. f/2.8 helps in indoor situations, and aspherical elements in the glass help with lens distortion but don’t eliminate it all together. Still has some “bubble” to it.

    2. Right now, it does not support compatibility with the GoPro app on iOS. I have read that they will release a firmware update in December to make this happen. This will allow the user to check framing with iOS device as well as access settings more easily, which will be nice because it’s a pain to toggle through the whole menu with just two buttons.

    3. It includes a cine-mode that helps a little in boosting dynamic range, but this essentially still operates like a point and shoot camera. Everything is auto.

    4. The slow motion is one of the features that drew me to this camera. 720p at 120fps looks terrible unless you are in bright daylight situations. Lots of moire and lots of (undesirable) grain. Having used Sony’s FS700, I can tell you they simply don’t compare. 1080p at 60fps looks much better and seems to be useable on a professional level (depending on the job).

    5. Although the demos above make it seem optimistic, I see very little situations where the 4k would be useable from this camera. Especially with fast motion and moving objects that are “complicated” for a motion estimation algorithm to figure out. I haven’t tried it myself though, but I’d say you are more limited by the lack of control (aka auto everything) than by the pixels with this camera.

    • Thanks, that’s a pretty helpful assessment. I might hold off on seeing a few more actual video reviews before placing an order.

      Makes you really wonder how much grading and effects work went into making that official promo that claims to be 100% from the Black edition:

      • I know, that video looks pretty great for GoPro footage! I think it helps that pretty much all of it was filmed outside on bright sunny days. Lots of light will bring out the best in any sensor. Also helps to point said sensor at people jumping off cliffs and beautiful women surfing.

    • Sony’s FS700 $8,000 dollars – Go pro 3 $400

      • True story! 1080 @ 60fps is enough for me to justify the cost of a GoPro. Sadly my 5D3 can’t do this, and it will forever remain a mystery as to why… I am sure it has been discussed endlessly beneath one of these articles.

    • Can you manually white balance?

      • Sort of. There is no manual white balance in the way you could white balance a normal video camera – as in, aiming the camera at a white card and using it to balance manually. You CAN set the white balance manually to 3000k, 5500k, 6500k, and a mode called Cam RAW.

        From the GoPro Manual:
        “GoPro Cam RAW mode yields a minimally processed data file direct from the image sensor that allows for more precise adjustments to be made in post-process. Working in this mode takes full advantage of the image sensor’s capabilities.”

  • Personally, I think the most practical purpose for 4k and 2.7k on this camera is for cropping in post. The most obvious necessary evil of the gopro is the lack of viewfinder, so shot composition is always a guessing game.

    • shaun wilson on 11.11.12 @ 3:51AM

      It does have a view finder, the LCD is an optional mod for around the $100 mark depending on where you live.

    • I wouldn’t like to use 14fps footage, even crop 2.7k because of the fisheye. It would look really weird.

  • OSD or OIS?

  • I just bought the Hero3 Silver addition (Yes, the extra 100 cannolies did make a difference considering the LCD was another $100 plus all the other doo-dads one has to purchase). As I am a true member of NoFilmSchool being a virgin to everything “film” my brain is being tortured with all this information. However, I did see a post as I was frantically searching for info that said you could shoot in 1080 (no, I do not know what that means) and then work in a 720 workspace (still don’t understand, but plan to learn) to edit the footage that will then get rid of the fisheye effect (which is why I bought the GoPro). Does anyone here know if this does indeed work?
    And just a little FYI (coming from me, ridiculous), I read through an article with John Galt
    and he explains why 4k isn’t really 4k. Just to make my head hurt even more. I believe that the Hero 3 lands in the “bull” 4k department.

  • Rick Harker on 01.15.13 @ 5:28AM

    “OSD image stabilization”
    I’ve been trying to find this. Is it available with the GoPro 2?

  • Hello every one,

    Y want to know, what work flow you use to edit 4k go pro in FCP ?


  • José David on 09.7.13 @ 9:49PM

    The quality is ok. It’s comparable to the SLR quality. I’ve got a Canon T3i and I think they are similar. But 4K is just a Gimmick, I can’t see an overall improvement in quality. Besides, 15fps looks worse than 30fps or 24fps. Its better to stick with HD, or to buy a better camera, like the Lumix G6.