Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
    No, that's not phonetic
    Reputation: tscheezy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    14,365

    GoPro Hero2, Hero3+ Silver, Hero3+ Black, and Garmin Virb Elite image comparison

    I have used POV cameras for many years and have produced a lot of videos. I am very familiar with GoPro Hero cameras and have used nearly all the models since the first Hero. I tested the recent Hero3 Silver and Black models and frankly thought they sucked. Bad. Buggy, freeze-prone, lame battery life, and totally unacceptable image quality: dark, no shadow detail, soft edges (especially on the Black, ironically), and a horrible red color cast especially in overcast snow scenes. My old Hero2 blew them both out of the water in basically every single category aside from size and integrated Wifi, so I dumped the Hero3 models and stayed with my trusty Hero2's.

    I just picked up a Virb Elite, and a couple of new Hero3+ models in both Black and Silver. I will give some examples of the image quality below. I will mostly focus on image sharpness and color fidelity, because that is what I care about. All cameras were in their highest res photo mode, and set to 1080p for vid mode (the Hero3+ Black was in 1080p "super" mode which squishes a 4:3 image area into a 16:9 format).

    Scene 1: A test target in my driveway in the shadow of a building with a bright sky scene in the background. Here is a full-view shot (resized- you can see the full size here… http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3829/1...070c99ac_o.jpg):



    Video image quality

    The following are a 1:1 pixel comparison of the telephone pole in the image above as taken in a video frame from each camera. This shows the camera's ability to deal with highlight detail.

    Hero2 Video: The image detail is fair with the blue sky washed out and a red cast to the trees, and the moon barely visible to the left of the pole, but you can see the telephone lines.



    Virb Elite Video: The image detail is poor with the highlights totally blown out and the sky white. The moon and wires are completely lost. Oddly the trees show more detail and better color reproduction.



    Hero3+ Silver Video: Nice blue sky and similar image detail and sharpness to the Hero2. The moon is clearly visible though the Virb still shows the trees on the ridge slightly better.



    Hero3+ Black Video: This view seems a little wider because the Hero3+ Black does indeed have the widest FOV of all the cameras in 1080 ‘super mode’ which brings in not only a taller view but is also slightly wider. The sky is a nice blue, the electrical lines visible, tree detail is good, the moon is visible, and the colors realistic. IMO, the best in this comparison.



    Now the photo target in the center of the original image…

    Hero2 Video: The image is a little underexposed and with a pretty strong orange color cast. There are compression artifacts and the colors seem blocked up and muddled. Sharpness is only fair with some jagged edges like there was some digital sharpening.



    Virb Elite Video: Colors look realistic and bright. Image detail is pretty good with almost no compression artifacts though the whole image looks a little soft in focus. All the lines are nice and straight and not bent into jagged lines like in the GoPro cameras. The Virb seems to meter for the shadows in this scene and does a nice job not losing detail in the darker areas of the image. IMO, the best image in the comparison.



    Hero3+ Silver Video: Nearly the same as the Hero2 but without the annoying orange color cast.



    Hero3+ Black Video: A little darker in exposure than even the Silver+, but a little sharper. Again, the wider angle seems to shrink image elements in the field of view. The lines are a little straighter than the Hero2 and Silver+ with fewer compression artifacts, though the Virb does a better job on the colors and clarity overall, though the Black+ does not suffer the soft focus of the Virb.



    Photo image quality

    As above, here are the same image areas but this time we are looking at still images captured from the cameras. Below is a full-view shot (resized- you can see the full size here… http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2854/1...983b1693_o.jpg).

    The following are a 1:1 pixel comparison of the telephone pole in the image above as taken in a photo frame from each camera. This shows the camera's ability to deal with highlight detail.



    Hero2 Photo: As before, the image has a red cast to the trees, but the resolution and clarity are very good and you can see the telephone lines and moon clearly and the trees are sharp.



    Virb Elite Photo: Total crap. Horrible in every category. Utter fail.



    Hero3+ Silver Photo: Very similar to the Hero2, but perhaps a tiny bit less detail, though with much truer colors.



    Hero3+ Black Photo: A little sharper than the Silver+ and with similar nice colors. The FOV is not as wide as in the ‘super’ video mode relative to the other cameras, but it is still wider overall. Good looking image. IMO, the best in this comparison and marginally superior to the Silver+.



    Now the photo target in the center of the original image…

    Hero2 Photo: Again, the image is a little underexposed and with a pretty strong orange color cast. There are some compression artifacts and the colors seem blocked up and muddled. Sharpness is pretty good with reasonably straight lines.



    Virb Elite Photo: Colors look realistic and bright though the sharpness is really not there at all. A very soft image, though there are very few compression artifacts. If it were not seemingly out of focus, this shot would win.



    Hero3+ Silver Photo: Similar to the Hero2 but without the annoying orange color cast. A little sharper with fewer compression artifacts, though underexposed compared to the Virb.



    Hero3+ Black Photo: Almost the same as the Silver+.



    More to follow…
    My video techniques can be found in this thread.

  2. #2
    No, that's not phonetic
    Reputation: tscheezy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    14,365

    Mountain Top....

    Scene 2: On top of a mountain with the sun behind me, with some snow and some bare ground and a blue sky:



    Video image quality

    The following are a 1:1 pixel comparison of the photo target and snow foreground as taken in a video frame from each camera. These are pretty much optimal conditions and nothing the cameras should struggle with.

    Hero2 Video: There is still a reddish color cast. The detail is fair though we see compression artifacts and some lines in the target are made jagged. The detail in the snow in the foreground is a bit lacking.



    Virb Elite Video: I think I forgot to shoot a video clip with the Garmin.

    Hero3+ Silver Video: The color fidelity is better than with the Hero2, though still somewhat warm. The image seems a little clearer though still with compression artifacts. The snow in the foreground is not any better rendered.



    Hero3+ Black Video: Again, the wider FOV makes the elements in the scene appear smaller. Pretty much everything is sharper and crisper, especially the snow where I stepped and broke the surface. The colors are cooler and more realistic but the white areas on the target are pretty washed out and compression artifacts are apparent. IMO, the best in this comparison.



    Photo image quality

    As above, here are the same image areas but this time we are looking at still photos captured from the cameras. (You can see the full size here… http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7311/1...0d24da53_o.jpg).
    The following are a 1:1 pixel comparison of the tree and mountain ridge in the image above as taken in a photo frame from each camera.

    Hero2 Photo: There are some dithering artifacts in the blue sky (most sensors are less sensitive to blue wavelengths) and the reddish cast persists overall. The clouds look slightly magenta. The detail overall is fair.



    Virb Elite Photo: Unacceptably soft focus for such an easy, static, well-lit scene.



    Hero3+ Silver Photo: Slightly cooler colors with perhaps a slight greenish hue relative to the Hero2, but the blues in the sky are smoother and more natural. The scene detail is really very similar to the Hero2.



    Hero3+ Black Photo: Slightly sharper than the Silver+ with better color fidelity. Some of the needles on the spruce tree are even visible. Best performer in this image group IMO.



    Now the photo target in the center of the original image…

    Hero2 Photo: Good image detail with a slight reddish color cast and some compression artifacts. Some color dithering noticeable in the gradient color bars (especially the magenta).



    Virb Elite Photo: Very soft focus again but with very few compression artifacts. Could be a good image if they fixed the optics.



    Hero3+ Silver Photo: Detail and clarity are almost identical to the Hero2, but again with a more neutral color overall. The colors appear less dithered than in the Hero2. Some compression artifacts visible in the resolution lines when they converge.



    Hero3+ Black Photo: Very similar to the Silver+ but with more grain texture visible in the snow in front of the photo target. Some compression artifacts and some effects from digital sharpening. Still overall a pretty good image.



    So far the Hero3+ Black is winning. This partially restores my faith in GoPro.

    More to follow…
    My video techniques can be found in this thread.

  3. #3
    No, that's not phonetic
    Reputation: tscheezy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    14,365

    Forest Scene...

    Scene 3: In spruce forest with bark and pinecone litter on the ground and a partially sunny tree-studded backdrop (full-size version here http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3687/1...e251a068_o.jpg):



    Video image quality

    The following are a 1:1 pixel comparison of the photo target and some of the forest floor in the foreground from frame captures from video that was recorded.

    Hero2 Video: Offers a somewhat warm color cast. No color dithering is noticeable but compression artifacts are. Overall fair image quality and detail.



    Virb Elite Video: Somehow I forgot to shoot Virb video again. I attribute this to the video being recorded via a totally different button relative to capturing still images. The GoPros use the same button to activate any capture mode, and I’m more used to that.

    Hero3+ Silver Video:

    Nearly identical image to the Hero2, though with a slightly cooler overall color cast.

    Hero3+ Black Video: In this scene the Black+ really seems noticeably sharper than the other GoPro cameras. The pinecones and bark on the forest floor are nicely rendered as are the sunlit branches in the background. You can also appreciate the wider FOV the Black+ offers relative to the other cameras.



    Photo image quality

    As above, here are the same image areas but this time we are looking at still photos captured from the cameras. (You can see the full size here… http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3830/1...d76afa28_o.jpg).
    The following are a 1:1 pixel comparison of the photo target as taken in a still photo from each camera.

    Hero2 Photo: Strong color dithering in all areas. The Hero2 does not seem to have the low light capabilities of the other cameras and we see a lot of artifacts from the gain getting cranked up. Otherwise pretty sharp with relatively few compression artifacts though with its characteristically warm color cast.



    Virb Elite Photo: Relatively little color dithering so the image seems fairly smooth, but with a noticeably cool blue hue overall. The soft focus seems slightly moderated in this shot. As usual, few compression artifacts.



    Hero3+ Silver Photo: The new GoPros seem to have decent low-light capabilities with almost no color dithering visible. There are a few compression artifacts, but overall a pretty sharp and well rendered image.



    Hero3+ Black Photo: Almost the exact same image quality as the Silver+, but with a barely perceptibly less blue hue. The best image of the group IMO.



    Now some branches near the top of the original image…

    Hero2 Photo: Pretty decent image quality for such a challenging scene. You can make out some of the mossy strands hanging down from the large branch in the upper left.



    Virb Elite Photo: The Virb again suffers from poor optical performance. Yet another fuzzy pic.



    Hero3+ Silver Photo: The details in the shadows are a little less pixelated and dithered than with the Hero2, but the image is so high in contrast overall that the effect is hard to appreciate. A slightly cooler overall tone relative to the Virb and Hero2.



    Hero3+ Black Photo: Nearly identical to the image from the Silver+.




    So, at this point I would declare the GoPro Hero3+ Black the winner for all but shadow detail in high-contrast situations. That shadow detail may actually be there in the image file, but I did not do any sort of 'corrections' in these images to tease that info out.
    My video techniques can be found in this thread.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: campergf23's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    151
    Thanks for this, been looking at getting either the hero 3 t black or the virb. Defiantly going with the oPro now

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    115
    wow - these looks quite good for the new 3+. What about the issue of the 3+ focusing closer than the infinity issue?.........maybe u got a great 3+ copy? Nearly makes me want the 3+ now - i was holding back from getting one when i came across the 3+ close focus preference issue.

  6. #6
    Trail Tire TV on blogger
    Reputation: thomllama's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    3,887
    wicked cool comparison!,.. about the only thing missing is,.. well.. actual video! LOL Only reason I'm pointing it out is I've seen some really good "pictures" from these cam's but the minute you start moving the one's that seem sharpest blur out as the thing can't keep up with the changing of motion, focus, light and other issues.... ???

    I've had limited exposure, but I've seen some non-professional video running down a trail where the light is constantly changing rapidly and the Virb handed it a tad better. It also seems the Virb is MUCH better suited for lower light and multi light (some really dark areas contrasting to super bright) situations than the Go Pro and it borderline sucks in really bright shots.

    certainly not dish-ing on your review as it's damn good with all really good info. And man you must have spent some real time on it.

    Again, I've had limited exposure of the higher end Cams, but, My take on what you did and what Ive seen...

    If you live in the desert/open ground areas where it's super sunny with little or no tree coverage... GoPro for sure...

    If you ride at dusk or night and/or live in a heavy canopy covered area, lean toward the Virb...


    Lastly I'll just say,... the cheaper 100 dollar cams work really well also if you are just shooting "internet" video for fun, as often times U-tube and Vimeo add compression artifacts and other BS that make the high end units kinda a waste... you can make a better video by using 2-3 cheaper cams and pointing them around then one high end image...
    Going to try and bring Trail Tire TV back. go take a look... http://trailtiretv.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: skiahh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    3,534
    Nice comparison. Wish you could have thrown a Drift Ghost in there. And a defunct (but likely returning soon!) Contour, too.
    www.teamnavycycling.org
    10 Pivot Mach 429
    09 Felt Nine Race
    03 Litespeed Tuscany

  8. #8
    No, that's not phonetic
    Reputation: tscheezy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    14,365
    I wish there were a less subjective way to compare video cameras in terms of live-action video quality, but I don't know of one. You can get an overall impression of how the cameras perform, but objective side-by-side comparisons between two cameras are tough. Taking a single frame from a video and blowing them up at least tells you something about optical quality, file compression performance, color fidelity, and so forth. Those are reasonably objective measures, and often (usually... almost always!) lacking when someone "reviews" a video camera. Non-video camera reviews always show this information, that's why I presented it here for these video units. Their performance when shooting stills is also very important to me, and that's why I would not consider a Virb at this point even if it produced acceptable video clips.
    My video techniques can be found in this thread.

  9. #9
    re member
    Reputation: net wurker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    6,724
    That's a pretty comprehensive review.

    Well done, and I'm sure some future camera shoppers are going to find this very helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by My Avatar
    WOOF!
    My videos on Vimeo

  10. #10
    Trail Ninja
    Reputation: Varaxis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    2,662
    So this makes it more believable that the 3+ Silver and Black (both 3 and 3+) have the same sensor, only with the 3+ Silver being a crippled version as far as features (fewer reso modes, no ProTune, no 120fps, etc.) and bitrate (2.5 Mbps vs 4.5 Mbps max bit rate) go. That and the Black gets a remote. The old 3 Silver has the Hero 2 sensor.

    The new 3+ Black seems to have focus issues. Reports say that some of them are near sighted, sharper for "selfies", but backgrounds are blurry. I get the impression that only a small % come from the factory this way.

  11. #11
    No, that's not phonetic
    Reputation: tscheezy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    14,365
    Interesting. Software and optics must play a role too. I tried both the Hero3 (not plus) Silver and Blacks and thought they were terrible cameras compared to my Hero2. I shot test patterns and such and took them out in the field too. The Silver unquestionably had sharper, better optics than the Black despite the fact that GoPro claimed the opposite was true. The image sharpness out of the Black was pretty embarrassing, especially on the edges. Both the Black and Silver had a reddish color cast that far exceeded the Hero2. It was difficult enough to correct that I dumped both those cameras and just reverted to my Hero2. Now that the new Black Hero3+ has proven itself (initially anyway) to be an actual improvement over my trusty old Hero2, I am willing to move forward. IMO GoPro totally screwed the pooch on the previous versions of the Hero "3", more than could be explained by a generation of sensor.

    I had not heard of the nearsighted Hero3+ cameras prior to the mention in this thread. Mine definitely does not suffer from this and seems razor sharp (optically anyway- compression artifacts are another issue...) from about 1' to infinity. Just buy from a reputable reseller with a good return policy and test the camera when you get it.
    My video techniques can be found in this thread.

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    115
    maybe Gopro didn't design the 3+ with near focus but a large BAD batch had gone out from the factory.....which explains why yours is stellar but others not. Anyway without insider knowledge i guess we will never know until we get more 'good' units. I wish this issue would clear up cause i'm wanting to buy one but if i get a lemon i'm screwed so i'll wait and see how the issue pans out.....

  13. #13
    tep
    tep is offline
    urbantrailridingroadie
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    465

    GoPro Hero2, Hero3+ Silver, Hero3+ Black, and Garmin Virb Elite image comparison

    I recently borrowed my buddy's hero 3 black and thought the comparison to my Hero 2 was hand over fist better, but i was really and truly disappointed with battery life. It sucked so badly that I don't really know if I want to upgrade to either the 3 or 3+ until they can extend the battery life.

    -tep


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    oldmanjusthavingfunontwowheelsurbandirtandroad

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Outsider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    665
    Nice comparison, and I appreciate the work behind it. Regarding the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition you mentioned trying, it must have been a lemon. I had one for seven months, and while I never started to like the POV perspective and the horrible trademark GoPro fisheye distortion, the sharpness was definitely good. The battery life was poor as you mentioned.

    Touching this (slightly), I recently looked at some of my old videos and made a comparison between the video capabilities of five different cameras along with my subjective analysis in my blog.
    My bike blog: www.yetirides.com

Similar Threads

  1. GoPro Hero3 Silver or Black?
    By jbsmith in forum Videos and POV Cameras
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 10-05-2013, 12:06 PM
  2. Comparison of Slow-Motion Frame Rates With GoPro Hero3
    By InlandEmpireMTB in forum Videos and POV Cameras
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 07-20-2013, 10:24 AM
  3. GoPro HERO3 Black Edition $300, Silver Edition $225 free ship
    By goldenaustin in forum Where are the Best Deals?
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 05-10-2013, 08:39 PM
  4. GoPro HERO3 Silver Edition $230 w/ free ship
    By goldenaustin in forum Where are the Best Deals?
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 03-04-2013, 01:01 PM
  5. Hero3 gopro (silver)
    By everything motorcycl in forum 29er Bikes
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 11-28-2012, 10:03 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •