GoPro HERO2 vs. HERO3 Showdown, and Shooting 2.7K with the HERO3

So you're thinking about a GoPro HERO3 but you already have a HERO2? We've seen some full 4K samples of the new GoPro HERO3 Black Edition, now we've got not only a comparison between the new and old cameras from Jeff Foster at ProVideo Coalition, but some samples of the brand new 2.7K mode thanks to Jared Abrams at Wide Open Camera. Click through to check out the comparison and some behind the scenes from Jared's motorcycle shoot.

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Here are some comparison screen grabs from the HERO2 and HERO3, both videos were shot at 1080p:

Some low-light samples:

One thing is clear, it looks like low-light has been improved tremendously. This is a big deal for anyone who has used these cameras before, because traditionally the GoPros haven't been very good in lower light thanks to their smallers sensors. It's tough to tell how much dynamic range has been improved since the profile is so flat, but it does look like it is slightly better on the new HERO3. Jared Abrams has posted a new test showing off the 2.7K mode of the HERO3, which is going to be far more useful since it can shoot a full frame rate. This motorcycle parts were shot in 2.7K at 24fps:

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Here is what Jared said about using the GoPro:

The Hero 3 lets you manually adjust white balance. We shot this at 5500K. The auto exposure also held up very well. I only slightly tweaked the exposure in the final video. The micro SD’s are a little annoying. I got a little over two hours with a 32GB micro SD. The in camera battery does not last very long. I would say maybe an hour tops. We had two in camera batteries and one new Bac Pac style battery and they all barely lasted a ten hour day with charges in-between locations. We had to use the older LCD Bac Pac to line up shots and that helped drain the batts, hopefully with the new iPhone update they will last a little longer.

I'm really liking what I've seen so far from the HERO3, and it definitely looks like a major improvement from the previous camera. The new frame modes, especially 2.7K, are extremely useful for stabilizing a shot, even though the HERO3 does have onboard stabilization. If you want to check out some samples of the 2.7K mode of the HERO3, head on over to Wide Open Camera. To read the rest of the hands-on from ProVideo Coalition, check out Jeff Foster's review.

What do you guys think of the HERO3 so far? Have you already purchased one, and if not, does any of the above samples have you leaning towards getting one?


Your Comment


Thanks for posting our video. Great article and comparison video. The GoPro Hero 3 Blk is one cool little camera. The 4K is OK for static shots and not much more really. The 2.7K looks killer. I was surprised how well the blacks held together and the auto exposure seemed very smooth.
We really appreciate the support.

November 11, 2012 at 3:29PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Thanks for testing the camera, really liking the images so far.

November 11, 2012 at 4:19PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Joe Marine
Camera Department

Having used my Hero 3 Black edition for a few days...

The low light is much better but I wouldn't even put it as a camera you can shoot in low-light and expect quality. If you compare it to a GH2 or other DSLR its a clear looser. I have successfully used Neat-video software and handles the noise very well without obliterating detail in Protune capture mode.

That said its a specialty camera for situations where you cant use a big camera and it is probably the best out thereby far.

The 4k mode is ok if you wat to speed up later and wat the full 4k image, then again you have timelapse mode for that which is of course even higher quality by being a JPEG sequence.

2.7k mode is very good, probably the camera's biggest upgrade. It is very high quality in good light.

Sadly the 720p 120, WXGA 240fps modes are full of moire and aliasing just like Canon SLRs as they seem to drop lines f resolution to get there. However I have managed to squeeze a few useful shots of the 720p 120 mode and using it in context it ca cut well for a production.

Overall what I would like to see improved on the next version is fast frame rate quality along with even better low light. I imagine 4k 24p for Hero 4 will be a possibility.

But the Achilles heel of the camera is the battery, I sometimes only get less than 30min with Wifi enabled and I'm just using the Wifi Controller, So plan on getting many batteries for shoots, you wont be ill advised to buy 4 more batts for using the cam on a production.

Great improvements with a few shortcomings. Used the right way it can get footage no other camera can. But don't expect DSLR or GH2 quality, it is clearly not a sensor in that camp. But in reality we should have never expected it due to size, we should keep that in mind. Shoot 1080p60 or 2.7k 30 and stabilize later, it will look very good.

November 11, 2012 at 3:50PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

James Benet

i don't think anyone is expecting the gopro to outpace a dslr or high-end video camera.

what it does do is make me re-think purchasing a fisheye lens for my video camera... after all, why spend 400 on a fisheye if i can just purchase this and do all sorts of insane shit with it?

November 16, 2012 at 3:36PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I'm glad to see them pushing themselves every year. Go Pros demo reels are amazing but it seem that 99.9% of the other users still make it look just like a "Go Pro". Even 2.7k from a go pro has a very standard look.

November 12, 2012 at 1:35PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

not hating but

Here is a side by side comparison of what Hero 3 vs 2 looks like from the air on a quadcopter:

November 19, 2012 at 2:16PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I wish they would give up on the resolution race and work on a global shutter. I'd sacrifice a lot of resolution for a more stable image. B/c it's being mounted on bicycles and motorcycles and surf b/c of the uses of these things, they're shaking around A LOT... Also, it's small, which exaggerates the shake (compare handheld cellphone with a 35mm motion picture camera)...

The jello is just as horrible on the 3 as much as the 2 and the 1.

November 20, 2012 at 4:51AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Daniel Mimura

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February 7, 2014 at 2:43PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM