When the GoPro HERO3 was announced, it quickly became clear that it was a huge upgrade from the HERO2, especially considering the addition of 2.7K and 4K modes. Some later tests certainly confirmed this, and while the camera packs quite a punch considering its small size, filmmakers are always looking for more control and more options. That's where the Radiant Images and View Factor Novo Camera mod comes in. We've seen some mods for GoPro cameras in the past, but this is in an entirely different league. The Novo takes everything that's great about the HERO3, and gives it manual control with a back-focus adjustable C-mount (a mount typically found on 16mm and security cameras). Check out some of the videos below to see this little guy in action.
A few people were asking about this mod, and Radiant seems to continue releasing videos so I was hoping to catch most of them at once. Here's a bit on the mod which was developed and engineered by View Factor Studios in collaboration with Radiant Images:
Key new enhancements include a C-mount lens system with back focus adjustment, which allows for extreme macro shooting. In addition, the Novo offers exposure control capabilities that open up a wide-range of artistic possibilities for cinematographers and camera operators. 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.
The lightweight aluminum housing itself is 20% thinner than the GoPro Hero3 and includes three 1/4-20 and two 10-32 mounting points. Also, four buttons on the front (REC, PWR, WiFi & AUX) are assignable to several functions depending on the application. The Aux button turns the auto exposure on/off, but in the near future will also be utilized for other functions, such as digital zoom, a tool to check critical focus.
Here's a comparison between the HERO3 and the Novo:
A few videos showing off the image quality with C-mount lenses on the Novo:
Some accessories with the Novo:
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/61058986
Setting back focus on the Novo:
So what's the catch? Well, it's currently a rental-only from the Los Angeles-based Radiant Images at $250 a day and $750 a week. They don't have any plans to sell it right now, and I'm sure the amount of work involved means it would cost more than most people are willing to pay. Regardless, this is the kind of modification that turns the HERO3 into a real powerhouse. You're probably not going to get quite as wide with the C-mount lenses (I'm sure there are some that might come close to the angle of view of the original lens), but that's not the goal if you're renting the Novo anyway. It's a specialty tool for filmmakers who want manual control over a tiny camera that's capable of high frame rates. I can see tons of applications for this guy, even without it being rigged up as seen in some of the videos above.
What's most interesting to me about this modification is why GoPro has yet to introduce something like this. Theoretically with a C-mount you'd be able to adapt a wide range of lenses, turning the normally super-wide GoPro into an extremely versatile tool. There are surely some hurdles to overcome with their own design, but I would be surprised if the company wasn't taking notes based on the View Factor design.
What do you think of the Novo? Is this something you could utilize on one of your shoots? Have you seen any modifications similar to the Novo that allow manual control and C-mount lenses on the HERO3? What would you be willing to pay to buy a complete Novo?