There it is again. Taunting me to come a little closer. It is all I can do to keep pushing my shopping cart down the aisle. I want the GoPro 3+ camcorder. I really want it.
I look at what Julia Kern does with the camcorder, and I’m halfway to the training camp.
The gizmo is small, almost affordable, and I keep searching for a reason to tote that bad boy to the register. Beautiful rich colors. Wide angle recording. 4K for the asking. A little over two ounces in weight. I get heartsick for what I seem to be missing.
This is one of the few times when I have to really think about buying a camcorder. The suppression of camera lust for me isn’t easy but the truth can almost set you free. Here are some things to keep in mind before you rush out to snag one.
Not a Handheld Point and Shoot Camcorder
When Smartphones emerged as the preferred video recording device for millions of people, the handheld point and shoot camcorder market all but vaporized. There are a lot of people, including many bloggers and video bloggers, who would still love to have a small, stand-alone camcorder.
The GoPro 3+ has a lot of attractive features, but one thing you shouldn’t do with it is to record hand held video. There is no built-in image stabilization. Recording high definition video without support makes for really bad video.
The camcorder must be mounted on a helmet, mounting device, or on a tripod. No discussion, no debate. This is going to add to the cost of the camcorder, but it is a necessary one.
Viewfinder? What Viewfinder?
Yes, there is no viewfinder. It is possible via Wi-Fi to transmit video to a smartphone or tablet app for someone else to review the recording, but that is not how GoPro camcorders are typically used. That is the reason for the exceptional wide angle lens; it captures everything in view and leave you free to explore and experience your world.
Light and Plenty of It
The camcorder was designed for outdoor use. In the sky, on land, and even in the water: ample light is the key to great image quality. This is true for any camcorder and the GoPro line is no exception.
Image: Steve Worster via Flickr
For those of you that have experience with photographic concepts, the ISO of the camera tops out at 6400. Loosely translated, it does have the ability to record in low light conditions but that doesn’t mean it likes it; you potentially will see artifacts and unwanted pixilation in the video.
What is This, Damning with Faint Praise?
No, not at all. It is what the camcorder can do that makes me crazy. It can record old school videoblogging 240p all the way up to 4K video that will look mighty spiffy on a 4K television or 4K streaming via the Internet.
The GoPro 3+ can do slow motion video, time lapse recording. It can automatically adjust for changes in lighting conditions without your involvement. The device can be set up to record photos in increments of five seconds.
Most important, it records freaking good video. It is not good for hand held recording but if you are a travel blogger, a DIY blogger, or an adventurer that can find ways to stabilize the camcorder, you will have a nice bit of kit for around $300 to $400.
There are other reasons to pay attention to the GoPro line of camcorders. They are a disruptive element. Hollywood filmmakers are quietly and not so quietly using the camcorders as back-up or content supportive recorders.
If you are a video creative that wants to experiment with 4K video, this is about as affordable as it is going to get.
Still standing in the aisle. Looking at what could be. This is a camcorder that requires buyers to understand the perks and limitations of ownership. For the right person, the GoPro 3+ and soon to be GoPro 4 is the right camcorder.
This time planning and understanding my needs trump the “I got to have it" feeling. When I am ready and when I have a solid reason to purchase the camcorder, I will. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a go, if it will meet your needs right now.
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