I do indeed love our fleet of GoPro Hero 3 cameras. The form factor is fantastic. You can put them almost anywhere giving you dynamic angles you couldn’t otherwise get. We will often set one up and leave it rolling as we film with our other bigger cameras – giving us a “fly on the wall” as they say in the documentary world.
I really do love our GoPro cameras. I’m just not IN love with them.
It has been my experience that for every positive there are at least two negatives. Here are my biggest gripes:
This is the biggie. It isn’t so much that the batteries don’t last long. They are perfectly fine–unless you start adding accessories (more on that later). But when the battery life drops below 50%, our GoPros become wildly unpredictable. For example, they will randomly stop recording. Or turn off unexpectedly. Now, if I’m going to leave a GoPro alone to get the “fly on the wall” experience, I don’t want to be concerned about it stopping recording or turning off at any given moment. Due to the nature of our filming, we’re often scrambling around trying to cover an event as it unfolds. It’s way to easy to throw in what you think is a new battery in your GoPro, not noticing that it is only 50% charged. SCARY!!! It could literally turn off the second you turn your back. This, in any relationship, would destroy trust. If it happened once, okay I forgive you. But there have been too many times at big events where I scurry over to our GoPro, excited that it surely captured the big moment, only to find it sitting there – not recording. I know there was a firmware update that was supposed to help this issue, but for us, it has only marginally helped. The trust is gone!
ACCESSORIES AND BATTERY LIFE:
1.) The GoPro remote. What an amazing concept this is!!! Did you just strap a GoPro to the roof of a car? Great idea, but bummer that you’ll have to dig through those super long clips. What? There’s a remote where you can stop and start your GoPro?! Even change your settings on the fly?! Give me 100!!! But wait–I’ve heard that go GoPros are buggy when the battery gets low. Does that effect this amazing invention too? Unfortunately, the answer is YEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!! If the battery power on your GoPro or on the remote are low, the two will stop talking to each other. No communication equals no trust. I’ve been burned many a time where I’ll have a GoPro on the roof of our car and we see something ahead that is super dynamic, I calmly reach down, pick up the remote, hit record… but all I see are blinking WiFi lines. No connection. And I start cursing.
Side note, turning the WiFi ON on your GoPro so you can use the remote absolutely kills the GoPro battery.
2.) The LCD Screen. One thing I find super annoying is the menu system on the GoPros. Although they are very simple, the functionality can be very frustrating. If you accidentally click one too many times and miss your intended setting you’ll have to cycle all the way through again. There is no back button. One accessory that helps this is the LCD screen. It makes pretty much everything better on the GoPro. It is a touch screen. So now you can easily get your GoPro set up the way you want to very quickly. Another awesome benefit is you can actually see the shot you are setting up! Love that. But again, it absolutely kills your battery. So if you use this accessory, be ready for all the trust issues I’ve mentioned above.
There are a lot of other issues I have with our GoPro’s – they heat up, you need a ton of accessories, the post-production work flow is terrible, they are horrible at night, they have no fixed exposure (try shooting a sunset or sunrise with a go GoPro – you will be very disappointed unless it is really cloudy), etc. The list is really quite long. But my biggest complaint – and why I say I love our GoPros but I’m not in love with them – is that you just can’t trust them. And just like any other piece of good/great equipment, if you can’t trust, it you can’t love it.