May 21, 2014

GoPro is Going Public, But Will We Ever See a Pro Version of the Tiny Cameras?

HERO3Plus_black_cluster1In the first three months of 2014, GoPro brought in more revenue than they did in all of 2011 ($235.7 vs.$234.2 million) . So it's not too surprising that the company is officially going to go public, with the hopes of raising $100 million dollars in their IPO. With all of this money talk, and the potential to branch out into more markets, one has to wonder if the company will ever release a pro version of their little HERO cameras, or maybe even a true interchangeable sensor camera?

There is no question the little GoPro cameras have invaded the film/video industry on all levels, from the casual shooter all the way up to movies like The Hobbit. While they really pushed the action camera industry forward with their HERO3 in 2012, many competitors have come along in the meantime that are offering cameras just as good, if not better in terms of image quality. Whether this will greatly affect sales in the future is a whole other question, however, especially as you consider these amazing stats noted by The Verge:

According to IDC, GoPro had a 30.4 percent share of digital camcorders last year. That's higher than Sony, Panasonic, and Canon — companies that helped created that entire digital camcorder category, and that sell more than just action cameras. In the ruggedized camcorder category, GoPro accounted for 77 percent of the market last year, and have been the top brand in standalone video cameras for the past five quarters, according to the NPD group.

The company has focused solely on consumer products, and while they own the professional CineForm compression scheme, they haven't really moved into the realm of professional gear. Since no pro options exist yet from the company, some have turned to making their own interchangeable lens and iris-lockable options modded from regular GoPro cameras like the Novo from Radiant Images:

And the Ribcage from Back-Bone:

While this does change the camera slightly from its original use, it offers far more options for controlling the image and matching with other cameras, something that is a bit difficult to do in its current form. This begs the question, if all of this modding exists, is GoPro planning its own interchangeable lens version, or even a firmware update to manually control its current cameras?

While I think you'll see something eventually, a pro version would account for such a tiny part of the nearly $1 billion dollars in revenue they'll bring in this year that it's most likely not a priority. The first thing we will likely see sometime this year is a version that shoots 4K at 30fps (maybe more depending on what sensor they use). It's actually a little surprising they didn't have one ready for NAB, but their release pattern has been consistent, with the last two cameras (HERO3 and HERO3+) coming out in the fall.

In any case, while an interchangeable lens version may happen at some point down the road, will they ever move into full-size cameras, possibly to compete with Blackmagic and even Canon/Sony/Panasonic? Even though they own a great codec, the likelihood of a large-sensor interchangeable camera is slim to none. Consumer cameras make up such a larger piece of the pie, that they are more likely going to come up with a smaller version before they introduce a much, much larger one. I would never say never, but if GoPro is even considering a large-sensor camera, they should think long and hard about getting the most out of the current form factor, especially as competition is heating up in that space with companies like AJA getting into cameras.

What do you think? Would you like to see an interchangeable version of the HERO3? Do you think something like this could come in the next version of the camera?

Link: GoPro SEC Filing

[via The Verge]

Your Comment

36 Comments

for companies that cater for such small niche an IPO can be a guaranteed success, look what happen with FLIP once cisco bough it didn't last long, I know an IPO isn't the same as being acquired by a bigger company but seriously they are doing pretty good, why overcomplicate things up by getting share holders into the ecuation?

May 21, 2014 at 8:10AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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GoPro please make a camera with following specs. I'm sure it will dominate most of the cinema cameras in the market.

1. Cinema 4K 4096X2160 no pixel binning. Full pixel readout
2. Upto 120 FPS.
3. Full Frame Sensor.
4. Canon EF Mount / PL Mount.
5. Decent Low Light sensitivity what one expects from a current generation full frame sensor.
6. Global Shutter.
7. On Board SSD Recorder.
8. Decent dynamic range. Enhanced version of Pro-tune.
9. Low compression codec.
10. High Resolution LCD Screen. With option for. Focus Peaking, Zebras, Magic Zoom, Etc. Take reference from Magic Lantern Fucntions.
11. S-Log2 Profile like feature as that of Sony A7S which keeps highlight in control while raising ISO, etc.

And keep it around the same price as that of Black Magic URSA or Slightly cheaper if you can. It will out-throw most of the cameras out from the market,

May 21, 2014 at 8:23AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Danishq

I think you are missing the point with GoPro cameras, these are suppose to be action cameras in small packages. So why would you put a full frame sensor, professional codecs, global shutter or on-board SSD?? That defeats the purpose to make it small in the first place.

You are talking to an even smaller niche than the one they are aiming.

May 21, 2014 at 8:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ya, their upside will be in connectivity ... maybe some sort of a mini 4K recorder like Atomos Star. But they may have to do a higher end/higher margin product line too. With the smartphones now having the aftermarket lens and grip accessories, putting them under one umbrella should be doable. Their competition is going to increase not only from clones and mods but from the newer, lighter, higher quality pocket cams like A6000 and RX 100 Mk III.
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For the "bring a trunk full of SSD's" crowd, there will be more medium format 50 MP pieces and, for the "max res is not enough" folks, there's a new 130 MP STM chip ... for which, a camera alone will need a huge trunk. but, hey, 16K is 16K.

May 21, 2014 at 9:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Isaac your point is valid. My point was just to say that there is already competition in action cam space. Bigger companies want to take a bite of that market. And gopro because of its quality has dominating this market. If they are filing for IPO then they should bring the best of their technology to other spectrum. I like gopro because it offers so much at a price that anybody can afford. I can't buy a red or sony f55. May be someday I can buy Black Magic Ursa because of the price point.

All I can say that bring the best and affordable in the hands of everybody. I'm not asking them to put custom media devices. Just put something that's relatively cheap and has easy access. If you can put compressed RAW in that it's well and good. If you can put sensor shake stabilization feature. It's even better. If others are coming to compete on your ground. Just bring the war to them. Make something which could create a revolution and which everybody can have. No offense by the way to anybody. And for that matter make a Nikon mount option too... ;) :D

May 21, 2014 at 11:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Danishq

I got your point mate, maybe an upper tier cameras with higher specs more suited for professionals (or rich people that can afford them)

I would love to see something as simple as MANUAL EXPOSURE :)

May 21, 2014 at 6:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Yep, MANUAL EXPOSURE and (I don't know how) non destructive way to change lens! :)

May 22, 2014 at 1:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Theuer

Why the f**** hell EF Canon mounts?!
If an alternative to PL, go for Nikon mounts.

I don't understand companies that offers EF crap.

May 21, 2014 at 9:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom DoP

Isn't the EF the most popular mount out there?

May 21, 2014 at 9:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

No. PL is the most common one for cinema.
EF comes from Canon DSLRs. And those lenses are not the best ones in my opinion. But this is just my opinion.

May 21, 2014 at 2:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom DoP

The PL mount alone will weigh more than this camera. I mean, you're not going to strap Fujinon Cabrio to a GoPro unit. With the EF, you can put up a pancake and retain pretty much all of the unit's features.

May 21, 2014 at 8:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Nikon lens are obsolete ( the manual lens )
also the iris ring on some lens (except long focal ) it's to close from the camera body
so it's hard to turn.
Canon lens mount are the must sell lens mount in the world
following by the arriflex PL now.
I personally preferred the 4/3 Panasonic vs the canon they are more versatile
because of Panasonic GH 2 , GH 3 , and the blackmagic 2 camera.

May 22, 2014 at 6:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pierre Samuel Rioux

LOL ...

And no h265 or Stabilization who is really the most important thing !

May 21, 2014 at 10:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Manji06

I'd like most of those specs, but I think a smaller flange focal depth is a better idea than PL or EF mount. If we're talking EF, EF-M sounds like a more worthy mount because it can be expanded outwards.

May 21, 2014 at 12:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Harry Pray IV

You pretty much made a list of the things GoPro has 0 experience with and would have to source entirely from scratch.

Their current sensor is not 35mm, it's 1/2.5". Their current camera doesnt even shoot true 4k (15fps), and it only shoots 120fps at 720. It doesn't have an SSD connection, it doesn't have a lossless codec, and on account of having such a tiny sensor, it sucks at low light. But it's very small, produces a great image in the bright light that accompanies most action sports, and is pretty indestructible. And costs <$400. That's their market.

Why would you expect them to do what Canon, Nikon, Sony, BM, etc haven't done, despite actually being in those markets?

May 21, 2014 at 1:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Chris

So what you're more or less asking for is a mini RED Epic for the price of a BMC?

May 22, 2014 at 7:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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tim

Judging by the number of adventure sports programs that use these cameras, they already are pro cameras. Content over specs, eight days a week.

May 21, 2014 at 9:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I came here to say just this. Take one look at the Red Bull Stratos video and tell me these cameras aren't pro. And that was shot on Hero 2s.

May 22, 2014 at 8:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Chris

That was a great video. And about the HERO2, funny thing is the HERO2 color science is better than the HERO3 making it more pleasant to look at.

May 24, 2014 at 3:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Popular doesn't necessarily mean it's the best mount, just what everyone got suckered into buying during the early days of the vDSLR scene. Sadly Canon took a strangle hold and forced their overpriced, under performing cameras on everyone.

May 21, 2014 at 9:53AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jorge Cayon

Don't need all that, it's not why I use a GoPro. I just want to attach it to something and hit record. Sure I setup format and recording angle and stuff. But I don't want Zebras and Focus peeking and especially Canon mounts. Higher frame rates across the board would be great. 30fps 4k, 60fps 2.7k, 120fps 1080p. Better image sensor would be nice too. But keep it the same size (don't want to have buy new accessories) and better battery life. It's an action cam, just leave it that way.

May 21, 2014 at 11:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jared

I'm just waiting for 4K in 24/25/30 fps to pull the trigger and get one. Hopefully it will happen soon.

May 21, 2014 at 11:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jesper

It is supposed to be in the HERO4 this summer---if the rumors are right.

May 24, 2014 at 3:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Global shutter please. The end.

May 21, 2014 at 12:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ben Corwin

I don't know if we'll ever see a Pro version of the GoPro. GoPro is doing just fine forcing pros to stoop to the consumer level. Why fix something that's not broken?

May 21, 2014 at 12:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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GoPro is becoming a media company much like RedBull did when they moved from producing energy drinks to producing all manner of insane sports and music programming. GoPro has a production and post facility that churns out content daily and which they will grow into an even bigger empire if they are lucky. I'm afraid the hardware is going to take a backseat to the lifestyle brand experience. All the money is in eyeballs not pixels.

May 21, 2014 at 1:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Matthew

I think GoPro has succeeded with a formula - very small, easy to use, affordable , innovative, versatile, modular and pretty good image quality. If they can keep growing these features ahead of the competition they will do great. As has been pointed out, they are the PRO version in their category, it is what pros use. I would love to see better lenses and better image quality, but I would sacrifice little of the other features that make this camera great to have that.

May 21, 2014 at 1:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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So who's going to buy the stock...?
Alibaba will be a better buy it seems.

May 21, 2014 at 1:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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sammy

The design sucks big time!!!…. I wish you could rotate the lens for those crazy angles instead of fiddling with the freaking magic arms. A round shape like a flashlight would be so much more convenient.
And I hate the buttons with that cheap spring……Grrrrrrrhhhh!!!!!!!!

May 21, 2014 at 1:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Cris Cazor

the go pro has an hmdi output that can record to a ninga 2, so it all works with 2.5 k distribution

May 22, 2014 at 4:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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emilio murillo

my only gripe ever with gopros is that they are action cameras yet suffer from rolling shutter, the only thing i would change would be a global shutter just so when its mounted to a plane or race car it holds a stable image.

May 23, 2014 at 2:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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in reply to your headline: yes.

May 23, 2014 at 4:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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marklondon

If there is some type of changeable lens camera I hope it will stay low cost.

May 24, 2014 at 6:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

I can picture someone with a gopro-sized rig on their shoulder with a matte box and follow focus and two-inch monitor trying to film a Hollywood film.

May 25, 2014 at 12:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dandy trooper

*shoot a Hollywood film.

May 25, 2014 at 12:48AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dandy trooper

Lockable exposure. That's all I've asked for since the start.

May 25, 2014 at 9:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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