Gear Review: Is the GoPro HERO3 Camera Right for You?

Gear Review: Is the GoPro HERO3 Camera Right for You?

How Do You Work This Thing? A Non-Techie’s Struggle With (and Conquest of) the GoPro HERO3 Black Edition

The bad news?  I realized just how non-techie I am when I got the GoPro HERO3 Black Edition.

The good news?  You don’t have to be super tech savvy to take incredible photos and video with the GoPro HERO3.

I literally squealed with excitement when I saw the package from GoPro at my front door. Images of the GoPro HERO3 promotional video flashed through my mind–riding a wave like Kelly Slater, dropping a massive waterfall in a kayak, mountain biking the total gnar-gnar.

And then I opened the package.

Frustration. Dumbfoundedness. Confusion. All at once. I was leaving for the Galapagos Islands the following week on a sailing multi-sport adventure, and I was clueless as to how to work this tiny box of a gadget. I had plans for future photo pitches to National Geographic and YouTube videos with millions of views. Instead, I sat at my kitchen table, struggling to simply turn the GoPro on.

Panic mode set in, but my first snorkel out in the islands taught me this: The beauty of the HERO3 GoPro is that you don’t have to be a techie to take stunning video and photos. You just need to do some reading. And run through the settings five thousand times. You will take more of what I call, “oops self portraits,” than you’d care to admit, but you will figure it out (I promise). Here’s my very own “oops self portrait.”


The manual was a thorough starting point, but I found vast resources online that explained things in much more detail than I ever could have hoped (or wanted). It took some time to learn GoPro 101, but I was able to leave for the Galapagos with a basic foundation of how to operate the HERO3. And my shooting improved with every snorkel outing that I went on.

Where my fellow travelers only had photos of the desert-like, stark terrain on the islands, I captured the colorful, magical world below the water’s surface. I took the up-close-and-personal shots of the sea lion blowing bubbles in my face. I caught the marine iguana swimming past me to munch on some algae. I shot these photos. Me, the same person, who a week prior couldn’t even open the waterproof case.

The GoPro HERO3 allows a wide variety of settings (about 137 film settings alone according to Abe Kislevitz).  Too many settings to describe here. In the most basic terms, you can take video (wide, medium or narrow field-of-view) and photos in one shot, photo burst or time-lapse mode (1 shot every .5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds). Specifically for photos, I found the photo burst mode to be fantastic for underwater shots. In this mode, I could take 30 photos in 1 second (or 30/2 seconds, etc). I found this incredibly useful when photographing sea lions, as they move so quickly (and gracefully) in the water.

Sea lion in Galapagos

I’m no Justin Bailie or Tracy Barbutes, but I’m thrilled about how my photos and videos turned out. I’m looking forward to getting some whitewater action shots of the Chilko Chilcotin Fraser River and the Tatshenshini River in the next few months.

The GoPro HERO3 Black Edition retails for $399.99. For a more technical review read CNET’s write-up here.



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