THEY'RE EVERYWHERE: tiny waterproof plastic boxes with even smaller high-definition video cameras capable of producing broadcast-quality footage. Cyclists, runners, drivers, parachutists, surfers, skiers and snowboarders all use them to record their action-packed activities, and divers are using them too.
Im talking about the GoPro range, of course. If you havent seen one or the resulting footage youre a sleeping beauty and need to get kissed by a prince.
Those nice guys at Ocean Leisure Cameras in London lent me GoPros latest flagship model for testing along with an LCD back, two housings and associated accessories.

The Design
The new GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition featured in this test has had six updates from the previous model, representing an evolution of GoPros flagship camera.
I could waffle for pages about the technical aspects of the camera but fear not, thats not the route I intend to take.
Instead Ill start with the words of GoPro founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman: We saw that we could make the Hero3+ significantly smaller and lighter while at the same time increase the battery life by 30%.
We also saw the opportunity to design a sharper lens, so we did, improving GoPros already highly regarded image quality.
We also thought up exciting new features like SuperView, which enables the worlds most immersive wide-angle video.
The result is a camera capable of capturing outstanding footage in either still, time-lapse or high-definition video formats. For stills the camera will take 12Mp images in 30 frames per second bursts, and in video mode it will record in 4K at 1080p/ 60fps.
The new video styles come in the form of SuperView and Auto Low light modes.
The housing is constructed from clear plastics with a single silicon O-ring seal and is locked closed with a large latch.
A single flat port with a square surround virtually touching the lens enables crisp all-round coverage.
For this test I also used the LCD back screen, an optional extra that allowed me to see what I was filming.
I had two housings for underwater use, one the new 3+ version with a reduced profile, the other the previous model, which still fits perfectly and had a back door suitable for the extra bulk of the LCD screen.
The camera has only three buttons, the Mode button and a Shutter-Release button (which double as navigation and menu selectors and are located at the front and top of the camera) and a Wi-Fi button on the side that switches on and pairs the remote control.
This remote is of no use under water, so was not used on the test.

Under Water
I took the Hero3+ with me on a number of dives. I handheld it, mounted it under a video light and attached it to the top of my DSLR camera housing.
Switching it on and setting it to record is easy, requiring only two button-pushes. I found with the LCD screen that I could actually line up and compose footage rather than guess what I was getting, as I had to with the previous model. This makes a hell of a difference, and I cant recommend it enough.
Light levels are sensed and the camera automatically adjusts the iris to enable consistent exposure across most of the light range found under water.
The major problem I encountered is that the camera sees and records what the human eye sees and thats a blue world filled with cyan casts without any reds, oranges or yellows.
To get over this, red filters can be attached to cover the port and render more vibrant colours but for me by far the best solution is a lamp delivering bright artificial light.
The camera uses a micro SDHC card to store the recorded footage. I took a 32GB one with me and filled it after a single dive, so be prepared for that and either get a higher-capacity card or, better still, some spares.
After the dives I uploaded the footage straight to a hard drive via my laptop. Others
on the trip loaded their raw footage straight to their tablets or smartphones via the GoPro app which, incidentally, can also be used to control the camera remotely (topside).
With all this footage youll need an editing tool. GoPro provides its own solution CineForm Studio as a free download from its website. It enables you to cut and edit quickly and correct colour temperature, contrast and aspect ratios.

Conclusion
As a versatile action-sports camera, the GoPro has all the bases covered. Its ease of use, functionality and simplicity will enable you to capture some incredible footage.
Add a video light or filters for use under water and get the best from it.
Whats really refreshing in this day of super-expensive and super-complicated camera gear is that this little GoPro Hero3+ is easy to use and comparatively inexpensive.

SPECS
PRICE Camera and standard housing £360 (including Wi-Fi remote). Optional LCD screen £80
CONTACT www.gopro.com
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