4K for $300 January 24, 2013


I’m a huge supporter of GoPro, have been for years. They were a massive game changer when it came to effects shots. No more risking your A camera, strapped to the hood of your car. Water, snow, ice, no longer a concern. Besides the elemental protection, solid picture and the obvious size and mounting benefits of the Hero and Hero 2–I’ve put them on shotguns, RC cars, chainsaws, hunting bows and even pets–the best thing about these cameras is their cost.

For filmmakers on a budget in need of a risky shot, you can completely obliterate your camera in the process of the shot and know that at most you’ve only cost yourself $300. That’s awesome. Not to mention these cameras are harder to kill than you might think. Last year I lost a Hero 2 off the fairing of a Ninja ZX-14R at 155mph. It bounced nearly 3/8th of a mile down the Las Vegas Drag Strip and never stopped recording. $30 case later and I still use that camera today.

For web distribution and even most broadcast applications, the GoPro has proven to be an invaluable B camera. Where it’s hit some snags is with productions that are using much higher end A cameras like the Alexa or Red Epic models. Shooting in a 2K or 4K 4:4:4 space is what those cameras are made for.  The GoPro, not so much.

Until now–sort of–the Hero 3 release is nothing short of bad ass. Retaining everything from the Hero 2 it now boasts the addition of 1080p @60p, 2K and 4k. The only severely irritating thing about the 4K is that it’s only at 15 frames/sec. Cool novelty I guess, but what the hell is that going to be good for besides timelapse. Fine, timelapse application is pretty awesome, but it seems like a bit of a slippery maneuver to advertise 4K when you can’t even get it at 24p.

But I have to remind myself to go talk to myself from 5 years ago and remember that the idea of any camera shooting 1080/60 let alone 2K was incredible, mind-blowing actually at any price, let alone $300. The question remains to be seen now if this generation can hold up to being intercut with the Red’s and Alexa’s. Can the GoPro’s 2k or 4k pulling a 4:2:0 h.264 picture be “matched” with 12 bit 4:4:4? I guess we’re going to find out.

Below are some tasty examples of what’s being shot on these things:


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