Underwater Camera Reviews: GoPro Hero3

Underwater Camera Reviews: GoPro Hero3

Looking for a waterproof camera to use for underwater activities and water sports? Then look no further than the GoPro Hero3.

Underwater Camera Reviews: What is GoPro?

In short: Durable, mountable, action cameras.

Pictured: the GoPro Hero3, which is about 25% smaller and lighter than previous GoPro cameras.
Photo by Pete Prodoehl

GoPro is a company that has creates cameras for taking pictures and video for people in an active lifestyle. The cameras are small, mountable, and have a wider view lens to capture the most area. Because of this, GoPros are often synonymous with extreme activities like surfing, skateboarding, skydiving, and others.


Is GoPro better than the camera I have now?

The GoPro is not meant to replace your regular camera — it’s meant to be a situational camera. This is because of several qualities it has.

1. Reduce Motion Blur. Whether it’s moving objects or an unsteady hand, any motion whatsoever on a camera usually leads to ugly, blurry, streaked photos. There are options on regular cameras to capture moving objects, but GoPros are actually made to work in motion and during movement.

2. Designed to be Mountable. The GoPros can be held just like a camera, but they also work great mounted on a surfboard, helmet, skateboard, or motorcycle to capture amazing point-of-view images and videos. Many people also like to use an extension pole for their GoPro cameras so that they can take fuller photos of themselves by increasing the distance between the subject and camera.

3. Super Durable. If you were to drop your laptop or phone, you’d probably freak out. This is because we all know that our electronic devices are extremely sensitive and don’t handle drops well. With the GoPro, besides being waterproof, the GoPro is also made to be resistant to all sorts of impact, tumbles, and drops (with that said, GoPros should be the #1 camera for all clumsy folks out there!).

Also, the GoPro is super small, making it easy to carry around or to hold up during your activities. The thing really does fit in your hand.

It’s so small and lightweight it can be mounted somewhere or just held in your hand.
Photo by Gordon Tarpley


Can I Take Video With It?

Yes, absolutely. Despite being labeled as a camera, the GoPro Hero3 is designed to take video.

The GoPro Hero3 films video at a high 60 frames per seconds (fps). 30 fps is the highest our eyes can detect, but 60fps means that you can edit the video file, slow things down by 2x for dramatic effect, and still have a fluid 30fps video (60 fps * .5 rate = 30fps). This is also called “speed ramping” and most will know this technique as the awesome technique from the movie 300. It requires some video editing skills and possibly an aftermarket program if the built-in software is not enough for you.

The Hero3 also takes burst photos at 3 to 30 frames per second, so you can make your own, fun slow-mo GIFs in post-production.

(note: the above GIF is 1MB, so it takes time to load!)

For more examples of GoPro video capabilities, you need look no further than GoPro’s official Youtube channel for awesome, but professionally edited action videos like these:

They’re awesome to watch, but remember that they are basically commercials for GoPro cameras and that they spend a good deal of time and money to film multiple angles, insert music, and switch frames. It’s best to just focus on hand cam or mounted POV to see what the cameras can do.

If you want to see some other great GoPro videos not by the GoPro team, you should look at these amateur videos:

  • Slow-mo Dunking (video)
  • 1 year of friends doing everything (video)
  • Motorcycle riding on Mulholland and scraping knees! (video)
  • Snowboarders making snowboarding look easy (video)
  • People throwing themselves off cliffs in Wing Suits (video)


What’s Up with that Weird Camera Angle?

The awkward, distorted photos you see are on purpose and are simply using GoPro’s wider angles.  The optional wide lens distorts the photo, but allows it to take a large, more panoramic photo. And although it looked odd at first, these wide angle lens or fish-eye lens photos are becoming more and more popular.

Wide lens distort the photo, but allow you to see much, much more.
Photo by Axion23

Wide angle lens also allow people to take panoramic-ish views without needing multiple shots.

If you can live with the distortion, wide angle lens on the GoPro is a decent way to get a panoramic effect.Photo by Carson Ting



 The GoPro is Great for Snorklers, Surfers, and More.

The GoPro cameras are amazingly versatile and I just love seeing what kind of photos people can take with their own cameras. There is an automatic mode on them, but the pros usually know what setting to put theirs in to get optimal photos.

Surfing. This is definitely the most amazing use of the GoPros. with all the movement and vibrations of the surfboard on the wave, it’s amazing to be able to  see a still portrait of someone catching a wave. Nothing more beautiful than seeing a wave seconds before it collapses. Plus, there’s a special Surf edition of the GoPro Hero3 with surfboard mounts too!

Photo by Tsuyoshi Uda

Snorkeling. Although snorkeling isn’t considered a very active activity, the GoPro is still good for up to 200 feet in the water. If you plan to use it for snorkeling at Hanauma Bay or Shark’s Cove in Hawaii, I would definitely recommend using an extension. This is because you need to stay far away from the fish so you won’t scare them away.

Photo by Rob Bixby

Snow Sports. I actually find photos of snowboarders and skiers to be amazing, because they all look like they’re standing still! Even though I know they’re flying down a hill at 25 mph.

Photo by Robert Tadlock

Bike Riding. This is a beautiful use of the wide lens. With no camera extension at all, this girl in the photo is able to take a picture of herself with a good chunk of the scenery as well.

Photo by Wen Zeng

Motorcycle Rides. One of the stupidest things I tried was using my point-and-shoot to record a video of my ride. Watching it afterwards made me motion sick. I’ve even seen one guy on Youtube go as far as tucking his point-and-shoot camera inside his helmet to reduce motion. With the GoPro, you don’t have to worry about things like that. And plus, look at the picture! He must be going 80mph on that empty highway and it looks so pristine!

Photo by John Y. Can

Driving. No idea how this guy was able to take this photo. There might have been some post processing. Amazing photo though.

Photo by Gordon Tarpley

Biking: Continuing on with post processing, the quality of the photos is great and ripe for you to play with after. This photo, which obviously is not natural, has had contrast lowered and a slight red tint on the photo. The Hero3 comes in 5mp up to 12mp.

Photo by TTsuruda

Great for any occassion: Whether it’s surfing or having a grown man slip-and-slide date with your bros, the GoPro is a wonderful, portable tool to bring you.

Photo by Gordon Tarpley


How Much Does it Cost?

The GoPro Hero3 comes in 3 types: White, Silver, and Black. White goes for $200 on Amazon, while the Black is $400.

White is the least expensive and has the least capability, while Black is the most expensive and has the most capabilities. Really, it’s like how Corollas have a VE, CE, and LE version. Regarding picture resolution, White takes photos in 5 megapixel resolution, while Black takes them in 12 megapixel resolution, the latter of which is good for a movie poster sized print.

All three are smaller and powerful than their predecessors, the Hero1 and Hero2 though.

This is the “Surf” edition of the Black, which comes with mounts for a surfboard or kayak. The regular Black has regular mounts for dry activities.


I hope you enjoyed this underwater camera review. Good luck playing with your little toy the next time you’re out doing something fun!



4 thoughts on “Underwater Camera Reviews: GoPro Hero3

  1. The Go Pro is all right. It’s definitely pretty hyped up. The real magic lies in the user, not in the camera.

  2. sons birthday coming up. hes learning how to surf! i think he’d love this! well thanks for this article.

  3. Thanks for writing this. I was always wondering what the fuss was about these cameras… and now I know!

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