GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition review

The best action camera in the world? Find out in our big review
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GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition
By GoPro
The only complaints you could level at the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition are that there's too much power and functionality here for casual users and not enough for professional filmmakers. However, even for these two groups and for everyone else in between, the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition is a compelling device. Battery life could be improved, with 1-2 hours of constant use the norm, but the very few niggles are far outweighed by the positives, which include tons of accessories and the ability to fix the camera to just about anything. Offering stunning photos and videos from an implausibly small and light body, the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition is the gold standard of action cameras.

Hit
  • Super lightweight design
  • A host of accessories
  • Numerous recording modes
  • 12MP still images
Miss
  • 4K action can be choppy
  • Average at best battery life
  • Cheaper rivals on the market
  • Lack of a viewfinder

There's one key reason why the GoPro name has become synonymous with the compact action camera: the GoPro devices are brilliant bits of kit. The competitors from Sony, Toshiba and others don't do anything wrong, but the GoPro does everything right.

The Hero 3+ Black Edition is the top of the range, offering the best quality video, the most extras and the highest price – as well as the camera itself you get the waterproofing casing and the Wi-Fi remote for your £359.99. The Silver Edition offers a reduced range of video recording formats for £80 less, while the older Hero 3 model remains on sale for £199.99.

GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition: Design

As the camera appears on helmets, dashboards and drones, the compact box design of the GoPro has now become almost as iconic as the iPhone, and the latest 3+ Black Edition is 30% smaller and 25% lighter than its predecessor.

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The lack of a built-in viewfinder can be a problem – if you have to frame scenes precisely then the viewfinder add-on or smartphone app is handy – but the small monochrome display is clear and concise and you'll soon get to learn the button presses that set up the modes and start the recordings.

Essential reading: The best wearable action cameras

It's the compact 42 x 60 x 30mm dimensions and light weight that are most important, letting you fix the camera to almost everything – one curved and one flat adhesive mount are included, together with a three-way pivot arm, but you'll need to bring your own microSD card.

GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition: Video quality

From WVGA (800 x 480 pixels) at 240 frames-per-second to a huge 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) at 15 frames-per-second, the Hero 3+ Black Edition can squeeze some serious professional-quality footage from its tiny innards.

The 4K level is too choppy to really be of use, but at lower settings you get both high definition resolutions and smooth, fluid playback – it really is like having a broadcast-quality video camera in your pocket.

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The 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution at 24-60fps is perhaps the sweet spot where most users are going to be spending their time, and the ultra wide, medium and narrow FOV (Field Of View) modes add to the unit's flexibility.

GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition: Image quality

The GoPro is thought of primarily as a miniature camcorder, but it's capable of producing some stunning still images as well. The 12-megapixel snaps look as crisp and as vibrant as the moving pictures captured by the device, and there are a variety of alternative modes to play around with – burst photo, continuous photo and time lapse.

There's also an option to record videos and take photos simultaneously. Pictures look clean and sharp in most scenarios, though low light conditions can be a problem. Still, the GoPro can comfortably beat your smartphone for image quality and keep pace with most dedicated compacts, even if it's not quite as convenient to use.

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David is a freelance tech writer who has been writing about technology, gadgets and gizmos for more than 20 years.

You can find his work on The Guardian, Wired, Gizmodo, PopSci, TechRadar, T3 and many other major publications on the web and in print.

He spends all day, (almost) every day testing out, explaining, and reviewing smartphones, laptops, smart home kit, wearables, and other essential devices.

From iOS to Wear OS, from Samsung to Sony, he's got an intimate knowledge of almost everything going on in the world of technology right now. When it comes to wearables, there aren't many smartwatches, fitness trackers and VR headsets that he hasn't tried and tested – which means he has a wealth of experience to draw on when it comes to talking about something new or the market in general.


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