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.
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZQf2eXv8LE
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?