Description image

Give Your GoPro HERO3 Interchangeable Lenses with the Back-Bone Ribcage

12.5.13 @ 2:00PM Tags : , , , , ,

Back-Bone Ribcage for GoPro HERO3We’ve already seen the GoPro HERO3 get some interchangeable lens abilities thanks to the Novo modification from Radiant Images and View Factor, but that system is a rental only, and according to the designer would retail for around $30,000, based on the work involved and the low volume. Well, now we’ve got a much, much cheaper solution that you can actually own, the Ribcage from Back-Bone — which will be available in a fully-modded camera with C-mount, or a DIY mod kit for a camera you already own. Check out more details below.

Thanks to Wide Open Camera and Eric Diosay for the heads-up on this, here is the Back-Bone Ribcage, which is essentially a faceplate mod kit for the HERO3 or HERO3+:

And what they said on Vimeo about the Field of View:

The Hero 3 Black has a 1/2.3″ sensor, so the crop factor on 35mm SLR lenses is 5.7, however should you use 1/2″ C-Mount lens very little cropping will occur. We’re currently investigating the use of focal reducers to help reduce the crop factor.

Here is some test footage with the mod:

These video clips were filmed with our ‘Ribcage’ modified GoPro Hero 3 Black, with a 11.5 – 60mm f1.4 C-Mount zoom lens. The footage was shot using the 720p 120fps setting played back at 24fps. The fourth shot of the bee (1:05) begins at an F-Stop of 1.4 and ends at F16. The GoPro keeps up nicely with the dynamic change in F-Stop.

Some more test footage, only available in SD however:

The Ribcage, besides giving you the ability to use M12, CS, or C-mount lenses, also lets you mount virtually any lens in existence like Nikon, Leica R, PL, and many more, as long as it is adaptable to C-mount. Using SLR lenses is good from a convenience standpoint, but the crop factor can actually work in your favor by getting you much closer to a subject that’s very far away (and still giving you fantastic slow-motion).

This mod not only gives you full control over your lens and will mean a less distorted image, but you’ve also got a much better ability to control exposure. You can effectively get your GoPro to bring the shutter down to a normal speed by stopping down on the lens and adding ND to the lens itself. This, in turn, should give you much better quality in your final images and help you actually match them better to other cameras in post (if only GoPro would just add some sort of manual exposure). There are some interesting possibilities that people might be able to make use of without the IR cut filter, and you can see what removing the IR cut filter can do to regular daylight footage here.

The full kit with HERO3+ camera included is going to run $800, with the DIY kit coming in at just $200 for the whole setup, and both kits also include additional tripod mounting points on the bottom of the camera. They are planning to release these in the first quarter of 2014.

If you’re worried about whether they will be delivered on time, they are already in production:

Back-Bone Ribcage for GoPro HERO3

Back-Bone Ribcage Nikon 28mm

Read more about the Ribcage or pre-order one right now over at the links below.


[via Wide Open Camera & Eric Diosay]


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 47 COMMENTS

  • they should find a way for us to be able to set exposure manually as well

    • Joe Marine on 12.4.13 @ 5:38PM

      The Novo has that ability, but it’s a rental only. That sort of tech is more expensive as it’s a more significant modification:

      An internal CPU interfaced to the camera permits users to disable the auto exposure feature and then adjust the aperture manually via the lens. This feature gives a cinematographer the control to set a desired exposure and stops.

      • “An internal CPU interfaced to the camera permits users to disable the auto exposure feature and then adjust the aperture manually via the lens. This feature gives a cinematographer the control to set a desired exposure and stops.”

        At that point you’ve got to ask your self why you’re shooting with a rigged out $400 camera that’s suppose to just be durable and the size of your thumb.

  • Wow that’s great! Thanks for sharing Joe!
    I wonder how one would change the aperture on a Canon lens with this kit? Additional Gopro firmware would be required together with an active mount?

  • Anthony Marino on 12.4.13 @ 7:17PM

    What’s GoPro waiting for? They need to beef it up a little. They could fall into the same rut apple did with iPhone 5s. Interchangable lens, I’ll have one in my kit.

  • Desmond Williams on 12.4.13 @ 7:22PM


    How do you think this would hold up when flown on a DJI?

    • I wouldn’t use this for DJI. Adds too much weight with the lens. Check out as they have a sweet 4mm mod for the go pro that has no distortion and adds little to no extra weight. It significantly makes your aerial shots looks better!

  • It would be worth it if it had 4k at 24fps but at this price its a lil redundant, just buy a bmpcc for 100 more or for another 2000 get a bmcc that does 2.5k

    • Isn’t the BMCC $1,995 now (i.e., only about $1,200 more)?

    • I agree with you that all cameras have to have 4K now. 4K looks too good. It is literally making 1080p look passé. GoPro does have 4K but at 15fps. They are working on increasing that frame rate. Nick Woodman doesn’t rest on his laurels. I think he lives to be aggressive, to blow people away with every new iteration of his little camera. The HERO4 should blow us away again at the jump in performance. 4K will be at a higher frame rate. And the picture quality will be even better. This 3rd party gear could end up being a gold mine for BackBone. I’m looking forward to the first music videos, and movies, shot with GoPro using this gear!

      BTW, I hope BackBone has some pretty serious concept patent protection.

    • GoPros work great in strong lighting, but they suck in average and low light… too much noise to hassle with.

  • Seems link to footage of camera without IR takes you to wrong site?

  • I am really excited by this. $600 + a few new $100 c-mount lenses or adapters, and you can be shooting 120fps in any focal length you want. I have been waiting for a sub-$1000 option to capture 120fps for a while now. Very excited to hear more about this.

  • This is the first time I am considering, seriously, GoPro for my uses, conferences and live streaming. From the first time I saw HERO2 I wanted GoPros. But the fish eye RUINED it all. I’m back to serious consideration of GoPro as an option!! :-)

    • Also check out rage for their gopro mods with multiple lens choices. A cheaper option even!

      • I knew about them. I have seen what they do. I like it. But, I didn’t like the idea of having to send each GoPro I buy to them for modifications.

        • I agree it kind of sucks. You can do it your self though if you care to venture that route. Also with the 3+ you don’t need to send it in to mod at all.

          • Sure. But you still can’t interchange M12, CS and C-mount lenses with a Ragecam mod. But the Ribcage allows for all these lens types.

  • Just keep in mind, once you convert it your GP will be forever a rigged c-mount device. While you could change it all back Back Bone stress NOT to do this as it will weaken and potentially damage the GP. You should check out the video of whats involved

    Essentially you strip down the whole camera and build it back up again. Not for the feint hearted. I mean its cool and all, it would also solve the issue all the new black 3+ have which is poor far distance focusing. I bought a 3+ to act as a wide B cam at events but the end result is OOF and unusable. For the same price I can get a Panasonic G6 with lens and have MUCH better quality video and total control over exposure.

    Sure the G6 doesnt have 120fps but honestly the quality from the 3+, while good, is far from production standard.

    But still – I love to tinker and have to admit Im tempted to keep my hero just to pimp it out with this kit. I take my hat off to Back-Bone team – end of the day its a brilliant little mod kit.

    • Also check out rage for their gopro mods with multiple lens choices. A cheaper option even! I am going to shoot with a 20mm for a long lens!

  • You seriously have to ask yourself WHY ON EARTH doesn’t GoPro give you the option in the menu to disable auto-exposure (or even just a simple one click option to lock it to the current setting), it would make this a vastly more useful camera.

    • I have asked GoPro about this… repeatedly… and the answers are wildly bewildering. Because, after several tries where they actively misunderstood the question or even just directed me to the PR-department (oh and by the way, do I want some stickers?!?!), they finally broke down and just said flat out that they aren’t interested in providing any sort of manual exposure. Not even a simple Exposure Lock. Why? Because it’s pro enough as it is. And they see no need to provide this essential bit of functionality.

      I ended the correspondence right there and realized that the Pro in their name is just a gimmick addon to sound flashy. They don’t care that pro’s actually NEED control over their exposure. And that this feature would only add to their user-base…

      And I have since stopped taking them seriously at all…

      • Might be harsh to say they can’t be taken seriously. I’m frustrated somewhat by them too because they won’t take the guts of it and make a second line of cameras, a camcorder. But even though, what they have made is a wonder of the video world.

        • Honestly for them there is no reason to make a camcorder. Right now, in the area in which they specialize, they are number one. The amount of time, energy and, most importantly, money it would take to jump into the camcorder market, which is already filled with brilliant cameras, is enormous and a huge risk for them.

          That being said, I would wait in line for hours for a GoPro Hero 4 that could shoot 4K 24fps and had the ability to use manual exposure. I really hope that is what they have in store for us next, but in the meantime I will make due with the Hero 3 Blacks I own and love.

        • Ok, a bit harsh. Because the camera functions quite well in evenly lit areas, especially in sunlight. But I have time and time again wished I could film in less than perfectly evenly lit situations. Simply because I know the camera would freak out and pump up the gain (destroying the image with noise) when it gets dark and not hold any highlights at all. And when it gets bright I get the highlights but it’s a delay so I get a few frames of blown out highlights making the shot useless again.

          And living and doing my work in northern sweden where there’s usually less than 4 hr’s of sunlight during the winter-half of the year, I have barely even touched the 120fps feature because of this. And I’m confident that I would more than double the use of my Gopro Hero 3 Black if I could at least lock the exposure down. And I’m far from the only one with this wish.

          Now, I understand that because of pure HW limitations we will probably not get 4K high-speed anytime soon. And 2.7K is plenty enough for me who don’t really see the need of more than 2K deliverables on almost any screen less than IMAX size. But an exposure lock is such an essentiality. AND it’s technically a bypass of normal mode. Meaning it would put LESS stress and strain on the hardware. And it’s essentially a software thing so all that’s needed is a firmware with the feature, or a special file on the card that the camera will recognize. I know therer are scripts out there that trick the gopro in various ways. But I haven’t gotten those to work either without locking the GoPro in un-ending loops.

          So that is why I don’t take them seriously. They just don’t want to give such a simple thing to us. And they don’t want to be told anything else. And most of all. Because it took half a dozen tries with misunderstandings and clear unwillingness to understand what we’re asking for. I don’t want stickers. I don’t want to talk to the PR department.

  • Give me a firmware that provides manual exposure, or even exposure lock that works. And I will give the provider $200 no questions asked…

  • Filthy Punt on 12.5.13 @ 4:35PM

    Gene you’re obviously an armchair film maker and /or either drunk or twelve, cameras DO NOT have to HAVE 4K it’s largely marketing at this point in time, unless you have a 4K or cinema screen (most of which are only 2K capable) how do you even compare 4K and 1080 to determine that it’s ‘passé’.

    As for the mod, I’m in two minds on one hand it ruins what the GoPro is all about on the other it provides some very interesting shot options, but other cameras probably do it better for less.

    • Anthony Marino on 12.5.13 @ 6:26PM

      He’s surly not an arm chair filmmaker, does a lot with graphics, TV production/promotions and whatever else. If youre from the US you probably even seen his work. Give him a brake, 4k gives you the best option across the gamut whether you down scale it, grade it or need the DR. Not to put down 1080, it can look great too but nothing gives you more pleasure than having the options 4k can give in this day and age. Drives are getting quicker, monitors are getting cheaper and the software can handle most of it. What’s not to like? If I were a graphics or VFX guy I would be courting the days myself until every (affordable) cam shot 4k 12 bit. It looks like its coming sooner than later.

    • There are 4K cameras being sold for as little at $4,500 and, come NAB’14, there should be some under $3K. At that point, professional production requirements are likely to make 4K a must, regardless of whether consumer has an immediate access to 4K footage. (which doesn’t necessarily need a 4K monitor to enjoy anyway but those can be had for as little as $500-$600 also)

      • GoPro HERO4 may have 4K a 24fps at $399.00. The next iteration of the Nikon 1 V may have 4K at 24fps with that beautiful Nikon color palette for under $1000.00. 4K for well under $1000.00 is certainly going to happen. 4K will, not too far in the future, just just as affordable as 1080p. Tech waits for no man.

  • Panasonic GM1. Good low light too. Pretty much same size.

  • Really cool stuff. We’ll keep an eye on it. Hope to see more people using it. Cheers!

  • While this gives more flexibility to the Gopro, this defeats the core belief of all things GoPro: weight, portability, and wearability. Though I must admit, it is pretty cool though.