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.

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Comment by Gary McCray on January 2, 2013 at 4:46pm

I started this BLOG because it seemed to me that the GoPro Hero 3 and especially the Black was such a revolutionary camera and so perfect for our uses in so many ways that it needed to have it's own spot.

The first thing I did when I received my camera was to follow the instructions below the 30 day warranty notice on GoPro's main page to download the new firmware and the install went fine.

My GoPro did the freeze at turn off thing with high battery drain requiring battery removal to reset it by the third time I took a picture with it.

After three separate tech calls all of which amounted to them telling me to reload the same firmware I had already loaded when I got the camera in the first place.

Each time before having me load exactly the same software I had already loaded they each went through the procedure of identifying that I had in fact already previously loaded it.

They kept insisting it was the firmware, but reloading the same firmware even once changes nothing and any moron could pretty much figure that out, so basically tech service was tech disservice especially after waiting up to an hour to even talk to them each time.

The live feed video preview is excessive at 3 to 4 seconds on an Apple IPad (4) and of course there is no where they mention that when they are selling it to you and coupled with the fact that it won't even work at all properly on the Nexus 7, locking and twitching and pixelating means they are selling a product that is bound to not live up to their advertising or their expectations.

Faced with an apparently unfixable by them major problem I had no choice but to return it for a refund.

Even that would have been OK if they could have at least handled the refund according to their own terms but they have had my camera for 2 weeks and haven't got a clue what is going on with my refund (even though they do show receipt of the camera 2 weeks ago) and are completely not in compliance with their own 5 to 7 day money back refund policy.

They will probably get the Hero 3 working OK, eventually, but they will still be an extremely bad company to do business with.

Comment by Gary McCray on January 2, 2013 at 5:27pm

Olivier, From my own experience, they absolutely do not have the locking up dim LED thing fixed.

Certainly their firmware fix didn't do it. Sometimes my camera would work properly through ten or 12 turn on use and off cycles before the problem returned, but it returned each time and the "Important" Firmware update they list now is exactly the same one I reloaded 4 times.

From others that have reported this issue, I believe it is an actual hardware problem that affects some but not all of their Hero 3 Cameras and I was unlucky enough to get one of the ones that did.

But as of my last communication with them they are still convinced it is a firmware problem, which if it is true indicates that so far they have actually done nothing to fix it, because it is still the same firmware they are telling you to load.

Reality is they are as clueless as their returns department - - Totally!

Comment by OlivierD. on January 2, 2013 at 6:42pm

Gary, i just spent a little over an hour browsing through a froum on the GP3 and the random freeze issues, it seems from what I have gathered that a lot of the GP3s that shipped out in the past few weeks are defective.

GP is trying to make it look like an FW issue but I strongly suspect they have a bad batch on their hands. Rather than announcing a recall which would be devastating to them from a marketing stand point, they are so far claiming it is a firmware issue. There are a lot of unhappy people out there. I have decided to get the Sony Action cam instead, it may not be as good but at least, it works. I don`t personally care for the live video out so the Sony will do the job. 

Here is the forum with the zillion rants about the same problems you have been experiencing and people describing their experiences with tech support:

I was also hoping GoPro would go with a bullet design on the GP3, instead, they stuck with their ''off center'' lens boxy design which is a shame. I am sure they will eventually work things out but in the mean time, they are not getting my money. Sorry to hear about your troubles, if it makes you feel any better, that forum has a whole whack of unhappy people too. I think GP has a big mess on their hands with this launch. One thing for sure, they can be blamed for lack of thorough testing. Regards,

Comment by OlivierD. on January 2, 2013 at 8:36pm

In the mean time, Sony and Contour are picking up some sales for sure. I am not surprised about your comments on how they treat the smaller retailers. The fact that they sell through the major shops only in Canada shows that their focus is numbers only. I have a feeling they have acquired a solid reputation through GoPro2, everybody and their dog has one to the point where I was ready to make my move and get one. It is next to impossible to find a new GoPro2, you can only get the GoPro3 on their website anyways so they are surfing the GoPro2 wave pushing the GoPro3. With what I have heard, they are not getting my $500. Too bad, it looked like it could have been a decent product. It is also way overpriced for stuff that is made in China. I don`t like the elitist attitude and I am puzzled by the fact that they are not sending emails to all these people who bought one to warn them of known issues. All the stores here have been cleaned out, GoPro sales have been crazy over the holidays. This is going to cost them potentially more than just their reputation....It's a shame really. 

Comment by Randy Brazeau on January 2, 2013 at 9:26pm
I noticed Wired magazine rated POV cameras in this month's edition.
Gave GoPro3 a 9/10 and the Contour+2 a 9/10.
The other two cameras were 7/10 and 4/10.
Wired must have received a good camera! Well at least someone is happy.
Comment by Gary McCray on January 4, 2013 at 4:55pm

Hi Randy I could only find an older Wired review that gave the Hero 2 a 9 out of 10 and the Contour and 8 out of 10, but you have to think Wired got one of the Hero 3's that actually did work and they probably didn't exercise the Live Preview as much as I did.

You know if the GoPro Black actually did what is claimed for it, it should get a 9 out of 10.

Unfortunately, that wasn't my experience and at this point the Camera would get a 1 out of 10 from me (for shorting itself out and representing a fire hazard).

And the Company would get a 0 out of 10 for their completely non productive response(s) on all levels.

I have a friend with a Hero 2 and it has functioned as claimed for it's entire (and heavily used) life.

I'm glad they've got 2 billion dollars, at this rate their going to need it to pay back Hero 3 purchasers.

Comment by Markus Sannebro on January 4, 2013 at 5:00pm


Whats the status about your Hero3 camera that you sent back? I've got the same problem, but I live in Norway. Is it a firmware problem? Because then I wont send it back, only if it is a hardware problem. 

There is also an another problem. Not only the Red Indicator light that just flashing at half, but sometimes when I start it up. Then only the Videocamera-photo shows, and it freezes there. And then the whole shitt gets hot.

Comment by OlivierD. on January 4, 2013 at 6:37pm

Markus, return it before your 30 days runs out.After that, you are stuck with a cute $500 paperweight.

Comment by Richard Evans on January 4, 2013 at 7:40pm

I have the Hero 3 Black edition. I sold my Hero 2 when I got it feeling that I didn't need two GoPros. Actually, I wish I had kept it, since I sold it for less than it is worth and it would be handy to have two.

I was sold on getting a GoPro3 BE because of the 60FPS frame rate at 1080P (I always use 1080P) The hero2 does only 30FPS.   Also, I thought it would be interesting to see what the 2.7 and 4k modes look like.

 Now that I have tried it all, and settled down into just using it, the most practical mode seems to be using it the same way as I used my hero 2.   I still shoot video at 1080P 30 fps.

 If I shoot 1080P at 60, and publish it to youtube, or even just make a MP4 of MOV file, my graphics system cannot keep up anyway. 1080P at 60 fps is a challenge that requires high performance graphics accelerators and double the disk-space and disk speed. (and double the time rendering in the editor.)

Honestly, I haven't tried the 720P at 120fps though, perhaps there is merit for that. Especially for action shots and for slow motion effects. FPV flying for me though is more about panoramic detail, less about action.   

2.7k and 4k?  Forget it, its a novelty. possibly 2.7k could be useful for video with limited motion and destined for the picture industry. the frame rate is too low and the bit rate is too high for just about anything. (In my opinion)

upsides: even if you don't need them , having the higher rez and other features won't leave you feeling "I wish I had  the black edition".  Smaller and lighter, could be an advantage depending on how you use it.  


The new case clasp is a Hassle, it takes two hands an a little bit of fiddling to open the case.

The cover over the memory card and connectivity ports is not attached to the camera, might as well throw it away, your going to eventually lose it anyway. 

The Micro SD is a bad move, I have to keep an adapter handy so I can transfer media to my computer. What a PITA

Other observations:

"Pro mode"

The Hi Def portions of this video was shot with my Hero3 BE.  Click the link below and fast forward to the Hi def camera example:

 In this clip, I have is set to the Pro mode, notice the bland color and saturation level is low, It actually looks more natural.  That is something I need to explore more, It does have a clean look, and perhaps fewer artifacts.

Also, I think there is less of the rolling shutter rubbery effect, but I haven't shot enough to confirm that yet.

As to the mounting, I would mention that I had it attached directly to the frame with screws and it produce good video, but leans into the wind, which makes it produce video with tilting horizons. So, I tried a 2 axis gimbal, and and tried that for a while. What i found is that the light duty frame that I used allowed too much shake, and although it could keep the camera level, I put shake into the video that I didn't have. The mass that helps take out shake is the mass that comprises where most of the weight is the hub of the spokes. So I put the camera bask there with no leveling and I am happier. I'm sure there are some good mounts/ gimbals that have more mass, or maybe a better design so it is very rigid, mine wasn't though.

The thing that might change my view is that technology moves fast and maybe in the next few years, our internet bandwidth, and allowable video standards on Youtube, Vimeo and other publishing services go up, and when hardware specs of newer gear begin to make higher frame rates and resolutions more practical. Then, I might be very glad I got this camera.    

That's all I can think of..


Comment by Markus Sannebro on January 5, 2013 at 1:05pm

OliverD: Yeah, just one problem.. I got it for x-mas.. They ordered it 30. november and got it 10.dec or something.


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