GoPro Hero 3 Cameras for Planes and Copters, Mounts, Setups, Experiences and the Good and the Bad.

The GoPro Hero 3 is the newest series of the popular GoPro hero Camera which has already gained wide popularity for use in RC planes, helicopters and multicopters.

It is an amazing little camera with incredible video and photo capabilities and the WiFi up and down link and remote provide an excellent complement for our our RC / APM planes and copters.

It is the intention of this Blog to provide an ongoing forum for users of this camera to report their experiences and methods and for potential users to investigate the usefulness of this camera for their purposes.

Your responses can and should include what you like and don't like about this camera, specific information regarding mounting and stabilizing it and if possible pictures of your planes, copters, installations and mounts and even examples of pictures and videos acquired with this camera where practical.

Although I am going to start by reporting my early experiences with the GoPro Hero 3 Black I received on December 10th 2012.

I will add significant information from your posts to this main post as  can manage.

The GoPro Hero 3 is somewhat smaller than previous GoPro's and now incorporates the WiFi capability built in.

It is available in 3 versions, White, Silver and Black.

The Hero 3 Black is the top of the line version with better lens, faster video, lower light capability and most importantly a really wide range of video options up to and including 4K at 15fps pro quality cinema and 2.7K at 30fps which is fast enough to be useful.

In 1080P HD (up to 60 fps) mode it features wide, medium and narrow fields equating to a 3 tier zoom capability with no loss in resolution And 720P HD can be used at up to 120 fps.

The Hero 3 Black is fully capable of being useful in a professional film making role.

All the Hero 3 cameras are supplied with a ruggedized, waterproof case and the combination of case and camera are designed to be used continuously in conditions that would immediately destroy the vast majority of other cameras including many other "Sports" cameras.

The Hero 3 Black also comes standard with a separate WiFi remote that can also program the cameras various modes.

All Hero 3 cameras can also be connected to an Apple or Android tablet or phone and in addition to controlling the camera, they can provide a (limited) live preview.

At the moment the standard definition "Live Preview" option suffers two significant problems.

There is an approximately three second lag between what the camera is "seeing" and what the phone / tablet is displaying, so definitely not for FPV use.

Worse, as of the current release of their Android App they turn off the "Live Preview" screen while actually recording video (at least on my Black).

This was not the case for the Hero 2 with WiFi and is a devastating loss for the Hero 3.

I do very seriously hope a future App release will fix this.

While it is actually on the "Live Preview" does provide sufficient resolution and clarity to be useful even with the delay.

Even though the camera uses a typical 2 button menu set up on a tiny LCD display for a huge variety of options I found it fairly straight forward to set up as desired and the supplied remote mimicked the cameras setup methods exactly.

Because the GoPro is very small, many after market plane and copter mounts are available that will even accept it's ruggedized case and in the simplest use you can even mount one of it's supplied base plates to your plane or copter, right side up or upside down.

Pan and tilt mounts are available as are ones that incorporate yaw as well.

An inexpensive "FlameGear" mount is available for multicopters but at this time the $20.00 more expensive XP version is recommended over the one actually made for the GoPro as it has a wider landing gear and more rugged camera mounting system. A friend got the GoPro one for his DJI Flamewheel F550 Hex and thought it inadequate.

I will probably get the XP version for my DJI Flamewheel F450 Quad and will report back on it when I have had experience with it.

The APM, ArduPilot and Arducopter do provide for automatic stabilization and even automatic camera pointing with servo controlled mounts.

All this having been said, my GoPro Hero 3 Black arrived with a very serious malfunction and I am undoubtedly going to have to send it back.

Every third or fourth time I shut my camera off, the LED on the back of the camera comes on at about half brightness and the battery heats up quickly.

It will not turn back on when this happens and the only way you can get it to work again is by removing the battery and reinserting it.

Clearly something very bad is happening and the mostly shorted out Lithium battery is a very serious fire hazard aside from being really bad for the battery.

As this is from the very first real production batch of these "Blacks" I am sure this is a teething problem, but be forewarned.

You might want to wait a bit, they don't call it the "bleeding edge" for nothing.

Assuming they get it fixed and eventually get live preview to work during video recording, this little camera is a great place to start in setting yourself up for photography or videography.

Views: 12222

Tags: Camera, GoPro, Hero, Mount

Comment by Randy Brazeau on January 5, 2013 at 4:13pm
Gary,
Wired January 2013, page 44.
Does anyone have a GoPro3 that functions without any problems?
Either Wired received a good GoPro3 or their testing/evaluation is flawed.
Personally I value reviews and user comments when purchasing items perhaps weighted 50%.
Randy
Comment by Josh Potter on January 5, 2013 at 5:06pm

I had a few issues the first day but mine has been working great ever since.

Comment by Richard Evans on January 5, 2013 at 7:05pm

My GoPro Black Edition works fine although the first day I had it, I did a firmware update, and it had to reboot a couple times before it acted right..Haven't had any problem since then.


Wiki Ninja
Comment by Gary McCray on January 5, 2013 at 8:53pm

Hi Markus,

My camera had the LED high drain problem right non through 4 tech calls where all they had me do was reload exactly the same firmware again and again until I finally returned the camera for a full refund, which although slow they seem to finally be getting around to providing.

From what I can determine on this and on GoProfanatics web site, most of the new cameras do not have this problem, but a significant number do. 

Since you are out of the money back warranty period, your only choice will be to eventually return it to them and get a replacement which hopefully won't have the problem.

To do that you are going to need to contact GoPro tech support and go through what ever half assed solutions they think are going to work until they finally say you can return it to them for troubleshooting and a replacement.

Given the number of people with the same problem, they may be a little quicker to do this now. Finally when I returned mine for a refund I could have chosen to return it to be fixed, but it took 3 inane attempts at reloading the exact same firmware before they would give me an RMA for a return to be fixed.

You do have a 1 year camera warranty, so they are legally bound to fix it for you.

And Hi Richard, thank you for your excellent review and comments. I suspect that although the 2.7K and especially 4K is mostly a gimmick, pro studios are actually using these in really large numbers, especially reality and documentary studios and for them at least the 2.7K at 30 fps will be a significant value for something that normally costs them $10,000.00 or more for a "RED".

I thought the connector / SD card cover was cheesy too, but a small point especially if you normally use it in it's case.

For most of us 1080P at 30 fps is the most desirable feature.

Surprisingly picture quality at 1080P varies quite a bit among the assorted "Sport Cameras" and I think that normally the GoPro has a bit of an edge in this department even though the Sony and JVC cameras feature moderately functional digital image stabilization.

Also interesting to hear your comments on Pro mode, so far some people like it, others don't so I suppose having the choice is better than not having it at all.

No doubt GoPro will iron out the most significant problems, but WiFi preview is likely to always have noticeable lag even if the do get it working otherwise.

And when they do get it working properly, the Hero 3 Black is going to be the best of these little cameras.

I am not going to do business with GoPro for at least another 6 months and then only on a camera they have had out in the hands of the public for at least 3 months.

In the meantime, I found a short lived and great deal on a JVC Adixxion which is slightly lighter and smaller than a GoPro with its case on and even has a tiny little LCD viewfinder in addition to WiFi with live preview. It does not have as advanced a filming modes as the GoPro but it does 1080P at 30fps and 720 at up to 60fps and digital image stabilization. I also like the mounting method and case format better than the GoPro and I only paid $100.00 for a normally $350.00 camera (post Christmas sell out and unfortunately gone within a few hours of my ordering it (in case you wanted to know)). Sorry.

I will report on this blog about the Adixxion after it arrives and if it seems to merit it I will start a new one devoted to it.

Although it is really cool, don't think that the Adixxion is superior to the GoPro. Once they get the bugs worked out, the Black will still be on the top of this heap, just at the moment I would rather spit on the company than buy anything from them. Undoubtedly they are suffering from growing way to fast pains and hopefully that will pass too.


Wiki Ninja
Comment by Gary McCray on January 5, 2013 at 9:02pm

And Randy, just because I am ranting about the battery / LED / high drain lock up on turn off and Wifi Live Preview lag and picture problems it doesn't mean that this is a really bad camera.

There is a hardware problem with some of the cameras that is going to require you to (eventually) send it back to GoPro to get it fixed and they are not at this time fast to accept responsibility for that and will require at least 5 or 6 hours of your time on the phone with techs who by now are fully aware of this problem before they will give you an RMA to return it to them to get a hopefully good one in exchange. 

And at this time the Nexus 7 Live preview feature does not work adequately to be used and the IPad Live Preview has a 3 to 4 second delay. The Nexus will no doubt be made to work, but the delay will be at most improved on somewhat.

Other than that and the comments above the GoPro is still a really cool camera with a few problems.

And the GoPro Company has a few problems as well.

No doubt if you waited a couple of months (for them to get inat least their second batch of hopefully improved cameras you would be at least somewhat more likely to have a satisfactory experience.

As I said when I naively started this BLOG this is the bleeding edge and there "Will Be Blood!"

Comment by Randy Brazeau on January 5, 2013 at 9:33pm
I will take your advice. I'm not in a hurry as I'm still learning how to fly.
Hopefully they will have the bugs worked out when I'm ready.
Randy

Wiki Ninja
Comment by Gary McCray on January 8, 2013 at 5:40pm

GoPro did eventually refund the money I paid for Hero 3 Black.

It was actually deposited into my PayPal account today 4 weeks and 5 phone calls after it was sent back.

Altogether a less than satisfactory experience.

If I do business with them again it will only be on a product that hast been available for a minimum of 3 months and which has received all round excellent reviews.


Wiki Ninja
Comment by Gary McCray on January 16, 2013 at 9:42pm

Here is a picture of my little JVC Adixxion, replacement for my malfunctioning GoPro Black.

Likes, Size and form factor are better than the GoPro with it's case on it.

Has standard mount base screw socket on side and bottom (and picture can be inverted so camera can be used upside down).

Has 1080P 30 fps and 720P 30 and 60 FPS and generally a better picture in daylight than GoPro.

Built in image stabilization definitely decreases multicopter vibration problems. Not in GoPro.

5x digital Zoom works without image degradation on 1080P due to large camera chip. Not in GoPro.

WiFi live preview actually works on IPad and with computer and with negligible delay (less than 1/2 second).

Much easier and more intuitive 6 button menu and navigation than 2 button GoPro.

Built in color LCD viewfinder.

Single battery life is better than the GoPro with the additional add on battery.

Nothing malfunctioning at all.

(You do need to do a firmware update from the JVC web site for the WiFi to work properly.

Dislikes (none major to me). Night time video not as bright as GoPro.

Doesnt have all the fancy super high rez video modes the Black had (of almost no interest to me anyway).

Although the IPad and PC based WiFi worked much much better than the GoPro, the Adixxion does not currently support direct connection to an Android so my Nexus 7 is not of use to me for WiFi at this time.

Basically a lot more to like than to complain about, really glad I got it.

Haven't tried the WiFi live preview while flying yet, but will report back on the results of that, live preview actually does work well enough to use it for FPV so long as the camera WiFi and the RC signals do not interfere with each other.

Comment by mark hubrich on July 26, 2013 at 5:10am
That JVC cam says "quad proof". Do they mean Quadcopter?

Wiki Ninja
Comment by Gary McCray on July 26, 2013 at 11:30am

No Just advertising hype for water proof, shock proof, etc.

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