GoPro Hero 3 vs 4 Camcorder Comparison – Which Is the Better Choice

GoPro Camcorder comparison - GoPro Hero 3 vs GoPro Hero 4

When comparing the GoPro Hero 3 vs 4, you’re considering two of the better GoPro camcorders in the market. Both of these devices are lightweight, waterproof, and offer a variety of features. Each also provides a level of professional quality seldom seen in the personal camcorder industry. There are a few differences between the GoPro Hero 3 vs 4, but which one offers the best bang for your buck?

GoPro Hero 3

The GoPro Hero 3 is a small but durable camcorder and camera. It will work in the harshest of weather conditions, while still providing high-quality footage. GoPro camcorders have become the standard in the industry, and the GoPro Hero 3 is no different. Let’s take a look at some of the things that make this camcorder one of the best in its arena.

Design


The GoPro Hero 3 features nearly every feature that has made the GoPro a household name throughout the past decade. Checking in at 1.2” x 2.3” x 1.6”, the Hero 3 is compact. The device weighs a mere 2.6 oz and can be attached to pretty much anything without concern about causing any damage.

With its small size, many think the Hero 3 doesn’t provide quality images and videos, but that’s far from the case. Professional cinematographers and photographers don’t hesitate to make use of this tiny camcorder. Because it is little, a few of the features you might find on a typical video camcorder are absent.

You will not find a viewfinder on the GoPro Hero 3, along with no screen to watch or review videos and photos. It’s just a box, three small buttons, and a lens, although you can purchase an attachable LCD if you feel like it’s something you need.

The Hero 3 makes up for the lack of visual image with GoPro’s smartphone app. When you pair the app to your Hero 3, you can watch what you’re filming in real-time. You’ll also have the ability to playback your videos or review your pictures. This feature is nice since it makes it easy to save anything you’ve recorded right to your smartphone album.

Features


You’ll discover five basic modes when you use the Hero 3 camera: photophoto burstvideotime lapse, and playback. You can drill further down into each of these menus for more options. For example, if you dig into the video option, you’ll see options for resolutionframe rate, and other additional settings.

When comparing the GoPro Hero 3 vs 4, the GoPro Hero 3 captures still images at 12 megapixels, but that’s not the only choice you have. Photo burst mode gives you the ability to shoot 30 images per second. If you choose to use time-lapse mode, you can shoot one photo every half second, second, five seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds, and 60 seconds. Use time-lapse mode for those excellent shots of snow falling or clouds rolling in.

Setup


Based on perception and popularity of the GoPro Hero 3 vs 4 camcorders, you might think that getting it ready to go would be relatively straightforward. While it’s not too complicated, it’s not as easy as you would hope. The first thing you’ll notice is that the Hero 3 does not include instructions or a quick-start guide.

What you will find is a card instructing you to head to the GoPro website to download the user manual for the Hero 3. Once you’ve done that, you’ll discover that you need to have a microSD card and a firmware upgrade to begin using the device. The GoPro site offers a step-by-step guide on how to update the firmware, so follow that, and you’ll be ready to go.

One thing to note is that if you want to attach the Hero 3 to anything other than a flat surface, you’ll need to purchase additional accessories.

Turn the Hero 3 on by pressing and holding the power button. You’ll see a red light blink and hear it beep three times. Turning it off works the same way, except you’ll hold the button down until it beeps and blinks seven times. If you want to start recording, just press the shutter button.

Performance


While the GoPro Hero 3 is in recording mode, three small red lights will blink slowly. One light is on the front near the power button, the second one is on the back of the camera, and the last one is on the bottom. The thinking is that you’ll see a blinking red light no matter which part of the camera is visible.

Included with your Hero 3 is a wifi remote. With the wifi remote, you have the ability to retrieve a quick status update. This makes things more comfortable when you want to finish your recording or switch over to camera mode on the fly. GoPro boasts that the remote can control 50 different cameras from up to 600 feet away.

One of the few drawbacks to the GoPro Hero 3 is that the Hero 3 camera doesn’t last as long as expected. Typical usage of the camcorder results in the battery lasting a little over two hours. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a backup battery, you’re just not going to get a lot of filming done on one charge.

Something worth mentioning that a lot of users may not know about GoPro Hero 3 cameras is that the recorded files are massive. Recording for two-minutes in 960p quality creates a half a gig file. You can use the GoPro editing software to convert them and cut down on the size, but you’re still dealing with huge files.

Mobile application


The GoPro smartphone app is fantastic, and chances are good you’ll enjoy it. When you connect your smartphone, you get a high-res, wide-angle extension of the Hero 3, right on your phone. With just a tap or a swipe, you can start recording, check and change your settings, or view videos and photos just shot.

GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition/Surf

Additionally, you can upload images and videos right into your phone’s album without missing a beat. You also have the features of your phone at your fingertips. Post a fun picture to your Instagram followers, or start a live feed on your Facebook account. It’s safe to say the GoPro Hero 3 mobile app is an excellent addition to the device itself.

Summary


If you’re considering a GoPro Hero 3, keep in mind that you won’t get any accessories with the exception of the remote. Also, remember that the camcorder is sturdy and will chew through the battery in just a few hours. Lastly, your files are going to be large, so make sure you have enough space to store them.

Aside from those few drawbacks, the GoPro Hero 3 is a high-quality camera that is optimized to deliver a vivid, crisp, high-resolution image. It does this very well and is perfect for anyone on the go. If you want to capture biking, skiing, surfing, or anything along those lines, the GoPro Hero 3 is the perfect device for you.

The GoPro Hero 3 is a great camcorder and does what it is meant to do very well. It won’t, however, help you land any impressive jumps or make you run faster. What it will do is help you record and make incredible videos and then share them with the rest of the world.

GoPro HERO3: Black Edition

GoPro Hero 4

The GoPro Hero 3 and 4 have a lot in common. However, the Hero 4 has the edge when it comes to many categories. It is the better device in frame rates, bit rates, resolution, and it comes with a built-in touchscreen. The touchscreen is a first for a GoPro camcorder, and it helps to make settings changes easier. It also aids in framing your shots and makes it, so you don’t have to rely on the small front screen for everything.

Design


You’ll notice that the GoPro Hero 4 retains a similar design scheme. The Hero 4 is a little heavier, checking in at 2.9 ounces, but the chances are slim that you’ll notice the difference. Both devices are the exact same size except for the battery, and the accessories for both are interchangeable.

While the pair looks similar, there are a few minor changes. The control/power button is in the same location. However, the blinking red lights have moved a bit. You’ll also find the covered compartment that houses the mini USB and HDMI ports, just like on the GoPro Hero 3.

The most significant change you’ll notice when comparing the GoPro Hero 3 vs 4 is the previously mentioned touchscreen. It provides a top of the line screen quality, with vivid colors, and a responsive display. Of course, when you’re using the camcorder anywhere out of reach, the touchscreen is rendered useless. But it is nice to have the ability to see what you recorded.

GoPro HERO4 BLACK

Features


Some enhancements that you won’t notice right away are also part of the updated GoPro Hero 4. The video resolution remains the same as it was for the Hero 3, but you’ll have a new sensor on the Hero 4. One neat feature with the GoPro Hero 4 is the ability to shoot both time-lapse photos and video at the same time.

The photo specifications from the GoPro Hero 3 vs 4 has improved dramatically. One example of these improvements is the low-light option offered by the Hero 4. The device has two news modes, night lapse and night photo, that are specifically intended for low-light scenes. With the low light mode, you can set up the camcorder to automatically adjust to the light conditions and change the frame rate accordingly.

Another feature you’ll get with the Hero 4 is Bluetooth connectivity. You can use both Bluetooth and wifi to connect the Hero 4 to the remote that comes with the device. It will also connect to your iOS or Android device via the GoPro smartphone application. With the remote, you can control one or multiple cameras from a distance.

Performance


Battery life for the GoPro Hero 4 varies depending on how you use the device. Like the Hero 3, you might get around two hours of battery time. Similar to its predecessor, the Hero 4 chews up battery quickly, but that’s to be expected with its new touchscreen LCD. If you plan on filming or capturing pictures throughout the day, be sure to pack an extra battery or two.

The wifi performance is exceptional. You can use the wifi to pair your GoPro Hero 4 with your smartphone. This allows you to upload videos and photos to your phone as soon as you take them. The connection is always smooth, and there are never any issues, so it’s without a doubt a useful feature to have.

Some camcorders labeled as “action cams” tend to offer a low-quality video experience. The Hero 4 bucks this trend by providing some of the best video quality you’ll see on a portable camcorder. You’ll notice vivid, vibrant colors and a crisp, clean picture. No matter when you’re shooting your video, you’ll get excellent results.

You’ll also have a great experience capturing still photos with the GoPro Hero 4. The photo quality is as good as you’ll have with your smartphone camera. It’s not a fast camera, but if you really need to take some still shots, it’s a reliable option to have with you.

With the GoPro Hero3 vs. 4, the Hero 4 takes a little longer to start up and shutdown than its predecessor. It does, however, offer a new feature called QuickCapture. This feature allows you to wake up the camcorder and begin shooting instantly. However, when you use this mode, you’ll drain the battery very quickly.

Settings


Once you have your GoPro Hero 4 fully charged, you can effectively turn the device on and start recording video. The default resolution for the device is 1080p, but using it at such a high resolution will result in the battery draining quickly.

You can use the front LCD to make adjustments to the Hero 4 settings as needed. It can be a bit challenging since the screen isn’t very large, and you only have three buttons with which to work. There are plenty of menus and submenus to work through, but these can be a bit confusing initially.

The nice thing about the GoPro Hero 4 is that you can pretty much use it right out of the box. You’ll notice great results with the default settings. If, however, you’re a professional, or an aspiring professional, you’ll want to fine-tune the settings to fit your needs. You’ll have plenty of controls to adjust with the ability to select ISOwhite balancecolorexposure compensationshutter, and sharpness.

Like the Hero 3, the GoPro Hero 4 requires a MicroSD card, and since you’ll be capturing video, you’ll need a Class 10 card. When purchasing your card, keep in mind that the highest capacity card the Hero 4 supports is 64GB.

Summary


The GoPro Hero 3 vs 4 are both great camcorders that have brought attention back to the camcorder industry. Traditional camcorders are not as popular as they used to be. However, the GoPro makes portable action cameras popular and trendy. GoPro has seen its fair share of challengers, but despite attempts from other manufacturers, it still remains at the top of the mountain.

You’ll find many advantages with the Hero 4. It’s only for photographs and videos, so you don’t have to worry about sharing processing power with other apps. It’s small and compact, yet still delivers a great photo and video experience. Due to its tiny stature, you can take it with you almost anywhere and capture video in a wide range of places.

Overall, the GoPro Hero 4 is a fun device. It’s simple and easy to use, yet offers enough settings and features that it can be as sophisticated a machine as you want it to be. When you add in a great video and photography experience, it’s easy to understand why the GoPro Hero 4 is a popular choice in the portable camcorder world.

GoPro HERO4 BLACK

GoPro Hero 3 vs 4

As you can tell, both the GoPro Hero 3 and the Hero 4 are high-quality camcorders with a great user experience. Each device offers its own unique features and benefits while staying true to the GoPro brand. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to select the device that makes more sense for your needs.

GoPro screen

The GoPro Hero 3 vs 4 is a tough choice, but if you find that you have the need for a screen on your camcorder, then the Hero 4 is the way to go. However, if you can live with using your smartphone to view your photos and videos, then you will be fine with the Hero 3. Ultimately, the decision is yours, but you can’t go wrong choosing either the GoPro Hero 3 or the Hero 4 as your daily portable camcorder.

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