GoPro – I’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’

My GoPro and I have hit a bit of a rocky stretch in our relationship.  I’m not sure yet if we’re heading for divorce, but we’re defiantly not newlyweds anymore.

The last straw was when my GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition decided to fry its 64 GB SanDisk Ultra micro SDXC memory card in the middle of a shoot.

But it’s not just the technical problems I’ve been having with my GoPro that have been bothering me – we’ve kind of drifted apart artistically as well.

I still remember when I fell in love with GoPro.  It was after seeing the above video.

OK – I’ll admit I still love this video.  It just hits all of my I-have-to-get-that-awesome-piece-of-new-gear-so-I-can-shoot-video-like-that buttons.  I mean it has it all: wicked video, a great soundtrack, killer locations, awesome time lapse sequences, crazy stunts, slow mo cuts, girls in bikinis…

But the new tagline: “GoPro HERO3: Almost as Epic as the HERO3+”…

Ya, that pretty much explains why GoPro and I are having a bit of a tough time together.

GoPro HERO3: Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

I really get the feeling that the GoPro HERO3 was released before it was really ready. 

There is no doubt that GoPro is a great company making great, innovative products – but they are also a company that only really sells one thing.  Kind of like…oh, say, Blackberry?

When you only sell one thing, there is a lot of pressure to stay ahead of your competition, even when you own the market segment that you pretty much created…anybody have a Blackberry Z10?

In this case I think customers (like me) that jumped on the GoPro HERO3 are paying the price for a product that probably should have not been released until it was ready.

GoPro HERO3 Technical Annoyances

There are a few things that really annoy me about the GoPro HERO3.  Some are more annoying than others, but the more I use it, the more little annoying issues I keep having.

The wifi remote works great, when/if it connects.  It is just a teensy bit annoying – say when you set up a GoPro in some very inaccessible location…like up a rock face…and then the wifi remote won’t connect. 

gopro hero 3 technical problems wifi remote won't connect

I have found the GoPro wifi remote so unreliable that I don’t even bother trying to use it anymore.

So, instead of the remote, I thought I’d try the wifi app.  Ya, except I couldn’t get that to connect either. 

I’d say that I have at least average computer smarts, but no matter what I did, I could not get my GoPro to connect to my Android smartphone.  With the recent firmware upgrade, I did get the wifi GoPro smartphone app to work, and it is pretty cool, but more on that later…

The last thing about the GoPro HERO3 that drives me crazy is that it does not reliably connect to a computer via USB.  It’s maddening.  You connect the GoPro to the USB port, turn it on, it says its connected to the USB, the computer recognizes it, you start browsing to your files…and pop…nope… GoPro doesn’t want to be connected to the USB anymore.

I have tried different USB cords, different USB ports, different computers – nothin’.  For me this problem seems to be completely intermittent.

Of course you can work around this by using a card reader.  But there are times – like, say if you want to upgrade the firmware – that you kind of need the GoPro HERO3 to have a reliable USB connection.

GoPro HERO3 Battery Life Problems

The GoPro HERO3 is known to have a very short battery life – and I can vouch for that – the battery sucks. 

But what drives me nuts even more is that the battery never seems to be charged.

I have no idea what it is, but every time I pick up my GoPro HERO3, it has a dead, or mostly dead battery. 

I don’t really worry about this with any other camera I own.  I know that if I grab any given camera out of my camera closet, it will probably have enough charge on the battery for me to shoot whatever is going on at the spur of the moment.

But not the GoPro HERO3.

The result is that I can never just grab the GoPro and shoot some video.  Hey, my son’s doing something cool on his skate board – I’ll get the GoPro…awww the battery is dead.  Hey, my daughter is riding her bike in a huge poofy princess dress – I’ll get the GoPro…aw man, the battery is dead.

GoPro HERO3 – SanDisk Memory Card Problems

United breaks guitars and GoPro fries cards.

Apparently, there is a known issue between the GoPro HERO3 and 64 GB SanDisk memory cards which results in the GoPro giving you a “NO SD” error, and you ending up with a completely dead and unrecoverable memory card.

A fried memory card would have been annoying enough, except it happened without warning in the middle of a paid gig and I lost everything I was in the middle of filming.

The GoPro just froze up for no apparent reason.  It wouldn’t turn off or respond at all – so I pulled the battery.  When I put the battery back in, the “NO SD” error came up and that was it – the card was toast – along with all my footage.

GoPro Hero3 no sd memory card error

To their credit, Sandisk replaced my 64 GB SanDisk Ultra micro SDXC memory card right away, no questions asked.  I just emailed Sandisk customer support, told them what happened, sent in the dead card and they sent me a brand new one.

Every company should have customer service like that – because I will never buy anything but Sandisk memory cards from now on.

But, at the end of the day, I still have to go out and re-film all of the footage I lost.

GoPro HERO3 Firmware Upgrade

GoPro did recently release a major firmware upgrade – and the Sandisk customer support rep strongly recommended that I install it as soon as possible.

If you have a GoPro HERO3 – click here to upgrade your firmware – do it now!

So I guess GoPro might have figured out a way to solve most of the problems listed here.

Yay team.

Artistic Differences

The last thing that has kind of been bugging me about the whole GoPro mystique – is that people love the idea of filming epic GoPro video, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of actually doing it – nobody really wants to put in the effort.

I do quite a few action sports – climbing, skiing, biking, raising kids etc. and what I have found is that the people I am out doing those sports with get really stoked about taking the GoPro (or GoPros – since pretty much everyone that does a mildly extreme sport has one), but when it comes down to shooting anything that isn’t a helmet cam – nobody wants to stop to set up a shot.

GoPro rock climbing helmet cam

People who are not photographers / videographers just do not understand that a three second skiing jump clip with the blue sky sun flare at the end involved setting up at just the right spot, at just the right time of day – and the skier probably did the same jump twenty times before the shot was just right.

Instead, people tend to just think that a GoPro attached to their head will magically capture three hours of epic video (of course the battery isn’t going to last for three hours – but that’s not the point).

The bottom line is that nobody wants to actually wait at the top of a ski hill while their buddy goes down first, sets up a shot and then directs them exactly where to ski. 

When people get to the top of a ski hill – they want to ski – screw the video.

The result is that most GoPro users come away with nothing more than hours of shaky, boring, unwatchable video – which leaves them frustrated and discouraged – and the next time they go to do something fun, they leave the GoPro at home.

Do You Still Love Your GoPro?

Have you been having technical problems with your GoPro?

How do you approach filming action sports or recreational activities with your GoPro?

Leave a comment below and let us know!

About The Author

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube.

JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

  • KingPop

    I searched for a cheap alternative and found the “SJ1000″.
    Bought 1 camera + 1 extra batteri + travelcharger + 3 32gb mini sd on ebay for an total of 70€.

    http://www.techmoan.com/blog/2013/6/9/sj1000-at-lasta-good-cheap-action-camera.html

  • Ibo

    I have a hero 2 and 3. Love them.

    You can get so creative with them, get awesome pov angles, bilt cheap and easy tools to fim (sliders and monopods are an ease)

    The fried cards are a problem, but if it got solved, that’s good.

    The Hero 3 and Hero3+, the differences are for me not worth the 100 bucks upgrade.
    Most of my filming is done on Normal POV not Widescreen. The more framerates on the 3+ would have been awesome. But I rather wait for a Hero4 with a acceptable framerate at 4k.

    The batteries, yeah, they aren’t great. But if you use them “regulary”, the decharge isn’t that bad.

    While I definitely don’t use my gopro as often as my Canon products or my Sony Cam, but they get used fairly often…

    Great Gopro shots need to be planned or pure luck, starping it to your head and hoping for awesome footage is rare

  • Rick

    Sorry J.P. but your rant lost a fair amount of credibility about half way down when you said you plugged your GoPro into the computer. Is it the blazing USB 1.1 download speeds that the GoPro offers or the grotesquely unreliable charging source that computer USB ports offer that compels you to do this?

    Obviously you have never put out the effort to learn “best practices” for the camera. As a professional do you not learn how to use any of your equipment? Of course you do. So why didn’t you learn this one? Did you cop an attitude of it’s just a P&S so “how hard can it be?”

    Over the years I have had 4 GoPros (including 2 H3 Blacks) and have never had any of the problems you list because I put out the effort and learned how to use them. I can grab a camera off the shelf that has been sitting for a month and expect to have at least two bars on the battery and the only time the camera says “NO SD” is when I forget to put one in. If you’ve read any of the various user forums on the subject, you’ll find the vast majority of problems with the camera are user error, not camera problems.

    Finally, as far as the mystique part goes, is the mystique that the GoPro marketing gurus create any different than the marketing by any other camera company? Should we all believe that if we buy a Canon P&S it will magically start taking great shots of Maria Sharapova? You as a professional know better than anyone that great shots take work, both in the field and in editing. And from what I see on Youtube and other sites, I find that most people are really not that interested in great video anyway. They tend to be happy just capturing the moment.

    • david

      did you even read the whole article or did you get so excited about haranguing him that you failed to read why he plugs it into the computer? when you want to upgrade the firmware on the gopro, it says 1) make sure your battery is fully charged. and then 2) PLUG YOUR GOPRO DIRECTLY INTO THE COMPUTER.
      i have the exact same issues JP has. i can’t plug my gopro in to update the firmware directly. and since the usb port is an issue, 8 times out of 10, the batteries won’t charge when you plug them into an AC usb charger.
      it’s embarrassing to be on set and have to tell your client you need to hard reboot the gopro… when the client is a nascar driver who has limited time on the track he just rented.
      gopro has admitted that some of their Hero3s have issues. I have friends who have issues with one or 2 of their H3s while while or two of their other H3s work just fine. it’s a Quality Control issue from Gopros end of things.
      so if you were lucky enough to get two that worked, congratulations.

      • Ricky

        Sorry, David, apparently this is actually just user error. If you were a pre-cog like us professionals, you would have had a vision ahead of time when your Hero 3 was going to crap-out on you. I have 200 GoPros (I like to put them on a hula-hoop and film matrix-style shots of myself when I walk down the street) and they all work 110% of the time, every time.

      • Rick

        David, not only can I read but I can also see that the article has nearly doubled in length since I posted this morning. Apparently he saw my comment and felt the need to ‘splain some things.

        BTW, if you knew how to use your camera you’d know you don’t have to plug in the camera to update firmware. (Yeah, you’re not showing a lot of credibility either.)

        • Carlyle Murciélago

          I just love fanboys. GoPro makes TONS of money, why do you feel the need to defend them? They will be OK. Even if a dozen blogs reported what this guy did, the CEO would still be flying around in a helicopter on his ski trips. GoPro is cult status like Apple. They can do no wrong. Even after the CEO apologized for the bad service and reliability issues (something we know did NOT come easy), not ONE GoPro apologetics person has even admited as much as the company themselves have. THAT is cult. I mean, imagine I beat my wife, make a public apology but yet my fans are still defending me saying “Carlyle have been a perfect gentleman 110% with me!”. Well good for you. What about the thousands around the globe who are not so lucky?

          Then your stupid comments about him having to learn how to use the cam?? It’s a cheap $400 consumer grade camera built for soccer moms and skateboarders. I mean it’s pretty much automatic everything like all consumer junk is. AND…most importantly my Drift Ghost-S just WORKS! I did not have to research how to use it or do any updates to fix the bugs it’s being sold with…nothing. I just bought it, charged it and used it AND I get over 3 HOURS battery life. Explain that? Why does this just work, costs less and has more features? And 2k? Really? I’ve watched 2 2k videos in the last 6 months and my 16GB RAM system with a high end card can barely plat it back. For 90% of consumers it’s nothing but a gimick.

    • http://www.blurmediaphotography.com/ JP Danko

      Hey Rick – thanks for the comment. I once had a really old car that required a certain mix of love, ingenuity and intimate knowledge of it’s many limitations – I had limited options at the time, so I accepted that level of frustration ( http://www.diyphotography.net/diy-builds-go-sideways-wile-e-coyote-style ) I do not accept that level of frustration with equipment that I rely upon to make money – and I don’t think most GoPro consumers do either – whatever their level of experience.

      • Rick

        JP, you can resolve most of your frustrations by following 3 simple rules:

        1. Use an external battery charger (Wasabi makes a good one) and let the battery charge for an hour after the light goes out. Persistent battery problems are caused by either USB charging or a defective camera (which should be sent for warranty work)
        2. Stick with 32GB cards obtained from trusted, reliable dealers. The camera may accept 64GB cards but the technology of the cards hasn’t caught up with the demands of the camera. Dedicate the cards used only to the GoPro and download everything and clean off the card whenever you put it into a computer.
        3. Never plug the camera into a computer. Not only does this lead to the potential for data corruption but also voltage spikes from poorly regulated power supplies can cook the USB port in the camera, something which has likely already happened in your case. If you need to update firmware, do it manually. Instructions are on the GoPro website.

        While these won’t solve all of your problems, they will at least solve most of the reliability issues. Ultimately, you are still using a toy camera for professional purposes and there will always be certain problems and risks associated with doing so. Sometimes GoPros provide a better solution, sometimes they don’t. It is up to you to find the balance. Just don’t expect them to be magic because they’re not.

        • John

          I use a touchpad charger that puts out 2A – doesn’t damage the GoPro and charges the battery very fast. Using the USB port to charge is a poor choice – you are getting 750mA at most, and I think its more like 500mA. The touchpad/iPad transformers put out the highest current, in my experience. You can also look for a 110V-USB adapter on Amazon with the highest current rating to get the same effect.

    • lilewis

      I just did a test on my GP3 Black this morning, With wifi on and being monitored on an Iphone 5S, and an extra bacpak battery installed on the GP3, and an external Anker E5 15,000 mah power supply attached to the GP3, and a 64 GB Sandisk Ultra card inside, I set the GP3 to take photos every 2 seconds. After 7.5 hrs I had 13,549 photos (38.8 GB) on the memory card and the camera was still running. I figured that was long enough to do any timelapses I might ever want do with that camera. I then aimed the GP3 at myself just before shutting it down. Then I put the card in my PC and took a look at the contents. All 13,000+ photos were there, including the last one I took of myself. — and after that (just now) I installed the latest firmware.

      I guess I’m one of the lucky ones – so far.

      • lilewis

        Sorry Rick.. I didn’t mean to reply to you. This was a general comment to the site.

      • Carlyle Murciélago

        Why do people waste thier time defending monopolies like GoPro? They don’t need your help. It’s Countour, Drift and others that need the help. GoPro is just find without you folks trying to crush every bad thing reported about GoPro. GoPro has real issues and this kinda stuff is not helping get it fixed. Hundreds of people have lost money because of this company. THEY need defending, not the corporate giant. If it works for you, fine. We don’t need to know about it because fact is it does NOT work for us. All you are doing is belittling our problems. “Oh, it works for me so there!!”. Little selfish if you ask me.

        Imagine people were having sex with a woman and getting HIV. Then you come alone and say “Well, I had sex with her for years and I’m clean”. What is your point? Are you trying to call the others lairs? Do you feel good about yourself that you got lucky? what are your intentions? If I were lucky like you, I’d only offer suggestions to help, otherwise I’d keep my mouth shut since I have nothing to offer to help.

  • Professor_K

    I have a HeroHD, I’ve had no technical issues with it and, quite frankly, I can’t afford to buy a new one every 6 months as they pile new models out the door (not to mention changing all the accessories so you have to spend a couple hundred more each time).

  • A

    I almost got myself killed on a scuba dive when my hero3 crashed just as I came face to face with a shark, a moment that would have been the best thing I filmed all week. I was so distracted trying to figure out how to reboot the damn thing underwater before the shark swam off, I didn’t notice I was sinking until I was much farther down than I meant to be.

    I learned two valuable lessons, one about attention management and one about the value of gear that just works.

  • Tayza

    USB to PC was the issue initially i faced too. but after FW update the issue is gone.

    For battery or charging, i bought wasabi battery + charger for 24 USD from amazon. Charging your battery with camera is not a good idea at all. I always use wasabi’s charger.

    Camera freeze or hang, could be your Micros SD card’s issue.
    I used their recommend Sandisk’s 64Gb Class 10 microSD. (red and grey colour)
    My friend experienced camera hang when using Sandisk’s class 6 card on his gopro.

    Try those and you will be a happy Gopro user.

    • http://www.blurmediaphotography.com/ JP Danko

      Hi Tayza – thanks for the comment. I haven’t had any problems since I updated the firmware – but who knows for sure? The 64 Gb Class 10 microSD is what SanDisk sent as a replacement after the original (purchased directly from GoPro) was fried – so hopefully it survives a bit longer. I like the Wasabi option – another option for charging electronic accessories via USB is with a build in USB outlet – hardwired to your home’s electrical – http://www.diyphotography.net/quick-tip-using-usb-outlets-accessory-charging

  • Kai

    The ad-video above, really created a “i-really-need-it-right-now” feeling. It did. But I compared “real” videos from different cameras,
    The real quality doesnt differ THAT much if you take a rollei, or a beastvision etc. And since there is no display in standard-pack, and the wifi is about 4 seconds laggy and other stuff, >I< decided to buy a beastvision hd. Display: yes, wifi: yes (about 1s lag)
    No problems connecting via smartphone, battery is quite okay, video quality is nice (compared to unedited goPro vids).

    I still think the goPro is a bit better in things, but for the money I spent, I got the better cam.

  • http://www.kurtlanger.com/ Kurt Langer

    Great article! Ive been thinking of buying one. BUT no screen on the back to view my shots!?. Is that what that wifi thing meant to do so you can view via phone / pad? Some how I kept thinking no way is it going to be a smooth operation in the middle of now where. And I think you answered my question very well. I understood what your saying with out even having one. Thinking of buying just a normal HD cam – at least there is a big LCD display to see what Im shooting. Im not going underwater with it. Just for driving around my city recording crazy drivers, new born baby, mountain biking, snowboarding etc.. Seems so much easier to use. And has some zoom. And so much cheaper. I now go and check reviews on these at Amazon and leave my thoughts of buying a Go pro that Ill use once and think no way can I be bothered mucking around with post trying to find that few second of good clip out of the hours getting it.
    I think the thing with photographers is do we want the shot for try hard immortality or a clip. If we want the shot then I want to use my stills camera.
    Yeap I know a few dudes that have a go pro. And Ive never seen footage from them. Actually one dude showed me footage of him boarding with his contour and it was bloody boring.

    • John

      Don’t worry – get the GoPro and buy the LCD back – its a great combo! I use the LCD back when I can – great product – hasn’t failed me once!

  • http://www.kurtlanger.com/ Kurt Langer

    Just watched the vid. Super impressive! That would make everyone that plays adventure sport go out and buy one.
    What a massive budget!
    Showing off the best people of each sport.
    Best conditions.
    Best lighting.
    And 3 second clips of editing to keep us entertained.
    Definitely great for a serious adventure film maker with unlimited budget and time.
    And also a great editor.
    Good excuse to buy one and finally spend my nights editing with Premier pro thats just sitting CC to download list.

  • chris

    Are you sure it was your GoPro and not your memory card that was the problem? There were issues with SanDisc microSD cards and S3 phones that SanDisc said was a problem with their memory cards. If you had one of the defective cards the zapping may have been due to the defect with the card and not the GoPro itself. Check the SanDisc website.

  • POW

    I thought i was the only one. It annoys me to hell whenever i have to setup wifi remote while gopro is on monopod then it takes 5mins (not exaggerating) to set it up. And also the battery issue. I had a kodak playsport and never had those issues.

  • Pauly p

    I have the black edition, battery only last 15 mins after full charge … So disapointed