January 10, 2013

Weapons of Mass Production Action Cam Shootout: GoPro HERO3 vs. Panasonic TS4

One could say that last year marked the occasion when GoPro really 'went pro.' How 'pro' does GoPro go? Well, 2.7K imagery (and even up to 4K in sub-FMV frame rates), almost universal mountability, and a toy-sized frame aren't factors to mess around with in the action camera world. Similar offerings from competitors may actually have some advantages over the GoPro HERO3 line, though -- and this is exactly what Kevin Good and Weapons of Mass Production have once again set out to evaluate -- pragmatically, thoroughly, and entertainingly as usual!

First off let me express my relief in finally getting a chance to write the line, How pro does GoPro go? It's been eating away at me for months. Moving right along: it doesn't look like many major camera manufacturers (except Sony) seem too interested in competing with GoPro at their own game outright, instead leaving the lion share of action camera production to smaller companies like Drift and Contour -- and of course, GoPro. Without straying too far from point-and-shoot conventions, though, some of the biggies have produced rough-and-ready small form-factor/waterproof models, such as Nikon's Coolpix AW100 ($250), which Ashton Kutcher may or may not have told you about through your television -- as well as Panasonic's Lumix TS4, which goes for about $300.

With thanks once again to the field work of Kevin and the WOMP team -- who have already shown us how to shoot with iPhones and smashed some very nice (and overpriced) lenses -- we now have a very clear idea of how a camera primed to make a GoPro low-blow holds up against the king of the action cam itself. Witness the Panasonic TS4 face off against the HERO3 -- and potentially be surprised by the pros and cons of each. Oh, and Cop Opera, too -- that's "Copera" to those in the know.

All singing aside, both cameras performed well, as Kevin says -- and Kevin doesn't mess around with gear, he smashes things he doesn't like (when unsuited for budget shooters). Or, at least, each has enough going for it to throw out a clear victory. GoPro lives up to its name, particularly when pushed in the grade, which may be the most important thing to filmmakers (as opposed to extreme sports video-journalists) -- not to mention the resolution at which it can cap off. That said, an actual LCD and optical zooming capabilities may simply be a necessity for some of us -- and you know you're talking about an interesting camera sub-genre when you have to specify you mean "optical zooming."

Most people aren't making entire narrative films on these, but all of these factors come into play if and when you have to choose your crash-cam. Then again, the two cameras don't seem opposed to cutting pretty seamlessly with each other, judging by these actions scenes (where such cross-cutting is most likely) -- so, in fact, you may not even have to choose. Buying both and playing to each's strengths would probably see everyone walking away a winner, if the need is there.

Did you guys find the results here surprising at all? As the dust clears, is there a more clear victor in your eyes?

Links:

Your Comment

12 Comments

I wished they would have compared battery life. This by far is my biggest problem with my gopro hero 3 black. If it didn't have such sucky battery life this would be my B camera on the road. This is an area where I'm guessing the panasonic would be superior. Otherwise GP3 is awesome.

January 10, 2013

0
Reply
claude riban

Battery life on both SUCKED. I just didn't mention it because it would've been too time consuming to test it even remotely scientifically (run the battery down a few times using the cameras in different ways?). But we actually had to push shooting onto a second day because at one point (very early on) both cameras were dead and we had to sit around watching them charge. No bueno. Non-scientifically I think the GoPro without Wifi on has much better life. The screen on the Panasonic really runs it down.

January 10, 2013

-1
Reply

What's the GoPro corporate attitude towards its products role in Film? Are they trying to create a product with legit application to formal production? Or is this just the rig to have when you're ready to jump onto that trampoline from the roof of your garage ?

January 10, 2013

0
Reply
Keyson

I think they are trying (and have succeeded) in making a legit product for real films. Because no other camera can do what the GoPro does as well as it does. If you need a tiny fisheye camera to stick in somewhere, that's it. Whereas the Panasonic might be a better tourist/travel camera for the general public going snorkeling or skiing, because of it's more versatile set-up in terms of zoom/screen, it definitely not the BEST at anythign in a Hollywood sense. It's a handy little rugged camera that would be fun to have in your pocket.

January 11, 2013

2
Reply

cool. There is even a Black version of Philip Bloom in the cast.

January 10, 2013

0
Reply
Tulio

The GoPro looks way better. The Lumix looks like what you'd expect from a little goto camera. The highlights blow out in a very ugly manner and the colors don't look realistic.
This is what the GoPro Hero 1 looked like, and the GPH 3 is far from it!

January 10, 2013

0
Reply
Heiko Säle

I meant "photo camera" (stupid auto correction...)

January 10, 2013

3
Reply
Heiko Säle

The Panny is, frankly, a piece of junk compared to the GoPro.

January 10, 2013

2
Reply
Swested

Yes. Can the Panasonic do this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMScedWNUDM

January 11, 2013

4
Reply
Simon

the GoPro still suffers from vignetting. I thought they were going to fix that in ver 3.

January 11, 2013

-1
Reply
Joe C

Nice, i was looking for a camera like gopro in size and weight for my DJI PHANTOM, the Panasonic can be useful in case of lens stabilizer and zoom, gopro is very powerful camera, but in some situation i need a zoom and stabilizer camera that can be flight with the phantom.

January 11, 2013

-1
Reply

Copera! Go Community.. :)

January 11, 2013

-2
Reply