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High frame rate imaging with the GoPro Hero3 Black

In my article Getting beyond 12 frames per second I mentioned that the GoPro Hero3 Black was worth investigating to see if it’s touted ability to shoot 4K video could be a real alternative to remotely triggered cameras. So I put one to the test as a behind the goal camera at last week’s A-League football match. Here’s the tiny camera on my laptop:
A-League 2013 - Rd22 - Heart v Sydney - 24 Feb 2013
It even looks smaller on the field when compared to a standard DSLR. The photo below has two Canon DSLR with a fisheye and ultra wide angle lenses. These two cameras are at least $5,000 for the body and $1-2000 for the ultra-wide lenses. The GoPro on the other hand is around $500.
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The Black has built-in WiFi which allows the GoPro iPhone app to connect and control the camera. If this works then I could instruct it to start and stop recording from my position on the side of the pitch. However, as with most Wifi devices in sports stadiums with hundreds of Wifi handsets the Wifi stopped working and I was unable to use the app. So my only option was to start the camera recording manually and not via remote control.

My only approach therefore was to set the camera going before the match and hope that the battery lasts the 45 minutes of the first half. I had already given up that it was going to last the whole match based on my research.

So, I set up the camera to shoot in 2.7K and not 4K because I wanted to record in a higher frame rate than 15fps (which is the highest the Black can record at the 4K setting). At 2.7K the Black can record at 30fps in NTSC mode so that’s what I used to see if I can capture a decisive moment. When the first half finished I retrieved the camera and to my surprise and disappointment the Black recorded a mere 24 minutes before it powered off. Since I had to start the recording 10 minutes before the start of the match I only got 15 minutes of non specific action.

I don’t know whether it was the battery running out of juice or because it overheated. Nevertheless, I’ll keep on trying. Here is a frame grab and I was pretty happy with the quality being of sufficient quality to “publish” after a bit of tweaking in Lightroom. Let’s hope I can get the camera to record a full 45 minutes, and then work on getting it to do 90 minutes because I’m encouraged by the result to date.

A-League 2013 - Rd22 - Heart def Sydney 3-1 - 24 Feb 2013

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