GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition and Hang Gliding


The GoPro family have products have been hugely popular among hang glider pilots the world over.  The light weight makes mounting the camera around the glider a breeze.  Because hang gliders are controlled by weight shift, mounting a camera on one side usually requires adding equal weight to the opposite side, to keep the wing balanced.  The lightweight GoPro’s don’t require any counter-weighting.  The other feature of the GoPro that has led to it’s popularity among pilots is the super wide angle lens.  The wide lens allows for mounting the camera close to the pilot or center of the wing, and still picking up a wide shot composed of pilot, wing and scenery.

The question is, what does the GoPro HERO 3 Black Edition bring to the table, for hang glider pilots, over the past GoPro generations?  In my testing, it was clear that the lens/optics were improved over the Hero 2.  It isn’t nearly as big a leap as the Hero 2 was over the first HD Hero… but it’s still noticeable for sure.  The reduced size and weight is valuable to hang glider pilots- allowing even more creative mounting options with little or no impact on how the wing flies.  The built-in WiFi is a nice feature, especially when paired with the iPhone/Android app.  Often when mounting the camera in precarious positions around the glider, it can be very difficult to judge what is in frame and what is not.  Even with an LCD BacPack, sometimes getting your head behind the camera is a challenge.  Using the Hero 2 with the WiFi BacPack alleviated this… but it also ruled out using another BacPack- such as the battery bacPack.  Since hang glider pilots often fly for several hours at a time, often in the cold if it’s a good day and they are able to get high, having additional battery life is a big plus.

The biggest reason hang glider pilots should trade in their Hero 2 and grab a Black Edition… is the variety of resolutions and frame rates.  The ability to shoot full 1080 HD at 60 fps means we can now get smooth slow motion in full HD resolution.  Or, we can shoot in 2.7K at 24 fps!  The additional picture size shooting 2.7k means extra headroom to adjust framing in post… or more importantly, allows for software stabilization such as Warp Stabilizer in Adobe After Effects.

The rundown is this- most viewers might not be able to tell Hero 2 footage from Hero 3 footage… but the 3 gives shooters far more flexibility when it comes to mounting, and especially in post.  The end result of these additional features encourages creativity and, in the end, better productions.  For this hang glider pilot, the Hero 3 Black Edition is a must-have.  For those that just want some “home video” style clips of their flights… the Hero 2 will suffice.  Just don’t take the Black Edition out for a spin, because you know what they say…

Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.