Which GoPro Hero3 Accessories Should You Be Using?
This article is dedicated to reviewing accessories and suggesting innovative ways to use them. The products I list are accessories that I have purchased or have used thoroughly on multiple occasions. Also, this article is based on my experiences and opinions expressed are my own!
Before I begin, I should include some background of what I shoot. First off, I shoot with a GoPro Hero3: Black Edition (all listed accessories are compatible with the Hero3+). I mainly use my GoPro as a second/third camera for Music Videos or when I shoot "behind the scenes" during concerts or interviews. With that being said, many of the accessories in this article are used for these events, but there are still many "must have" products.
2 Extra Batteries and a Wall Charger
The Wasabi Power package to the right is a MUST HAVE, especially since the original battery the GoPro comes with dies quickly. It includes 2 rechargeable batteries, a wall charger, and car charger adapter. All of this for a few more dollars than a single GoPro battery from their website or other retailers.
The Wasabi Power batteries hold slightly more power and takes about 2 hours to charge. The wall charger also charges the original GoPro batteries, but only charges one battery at a time.
Being able to charge in the car has saved me a few times. When charging in a car, you plug the adapter into the wall charger that comes with the package, then place the other end into the 12-volt power outlet (a.k.a. cigarette lighter socket) of the car. Then begin charging a battery.
LCD Touch BacPac
This is my favorite accessory. I use it nearly every time I use my GoPro. You will be able to shoot accurately with this touchscreen viewfinder, which also makes navigating through the menu and settings extremely easy.
The negative things about this are that it shortens battery life, touch calibration is slightly off, response and sensitivity is a little slow, and in the year that I've owned mine, it has froze my GoPro twice.
Nonetheless, the pros outweigh the cons because I'm critical of getting specific shots, whether the camera is mounted or if I'm carrying it.
When mounting it, to help save battery life, I use the LCD screen to help aim the camera and adjust the mount to get the shot I want. Then, I remove the LCD BacPac, knowing everything is perfectly positioned, close the back, and begin shooting.
This mount provides the most lightweight (and least protected) way to mount the GoPro. It's pricey, but the sound quality of the footage is significantly better. The skeletal housings that come with the GoPro and the LCD BacPac do a decent job, but with the Frame Mount, you aren't limited by the direction of the built in microphone. The audio no longer sounds muffled and the popping/rubbing noise caused by the friction of the housing and your hand is no longer a audible.
This is good, in my case, because during concerts I usually have my main camcorders recording the performances and my secondary cameras, such as my GoPro, help get backstage footage of activities and interviews.
My friend mounts his GoPro and Frame inside his car when he goes to the tracks and he enjoys how well he can hear his car roaring in the footage.
Suction Cup Mount
The Suction Cup Mount, another add-on that I use often, can be mounted on most smooth and even surfaces. The obvious places to mount this would be on a vehicle, boat, or small plane. It's advertised to be able to withstand speeds up to 150mph. I've mounted this on the hood of my car and the outside of my windshield. I maintained speeds above 75mph and it stayed on, but I still attached a backup line that was secured to my side-view mirror, just in case.
By itself, it can be difficult to get the angles you want, but if you still have the pivot arms that came with your GoPro, you can shoot at any angle you want. Remember, to get the best suction, make sure to thoroughly clean and remove dust/debris from the surface.
The one I bought had a loose acorn nut where you secure the GoPro, so be careful when opening this mount from the packaging. I recommend securing the acorn nut in the intended position on this mount. I used super glow, but be sure you don't accidentally get glue inside the acorn nut, if you plan to do the same!
If sound quality on your GoPro is really important for you, you might want to invest in a Microphone and the 3.5mm adapter. Having a microphone is definitely not a necessity for many GoPro users and you can skip this section if you feel the same. I received the adapter as a gift and when I use it, I use it for informal activities, like road trips or family events.
The adapter plugs into the camera, through the Mini USB port, and then you plug any microphone with a 3.5mm jack into the adapter. The 3.5mm jacks are the same ones that fit in computers/laptops. My biggest problem with it is that I don't like how it dangles from my camera.
I use my friend's microphone, which I have linked under the adapter. The sound quality is noticeably better, but I don't think I will be investing in a microphone of my own anytime soon.
A simple, but essential mount. I enjoy having the ability to mount my GoPro on a tripod/mini tripod. Being able to put it on a tripod is a benefit for me because it gets extra footage of concerts, studio sessions, or music videos while I work with my main camcorders.
Also, if you have a monopod, this could be a much cheaper choice than buying a GoPole.
I have used the GoPole to help create instructional competitive swimming videos. The 26 inch pole is long enough to where I can record under the reach of the swimmer's stroke, without having to dive down further myself. I used a snorkel and fins so I can move and breathe with ease and still focus on getting the shot. The GoPole with the GoPro were fairly easy to move under water. It's definitely a sturdy product, but being 26 inches in length, it can get in the way when storing it. The GoPole is really light and if you lose your grasp of it in the water, it will float with your GoPro attached.
I don't usually use my GoPole out of the water/rain. I tend to use my monopod and tripod mount, unless I will be doing something high impact where my monopod can break or the Quick Release Plate may detach. I prefer my monopod because it can retract within 1.5ft and extend over 5ft, but it's definitely not as strong.
Head Strap Mount
This is a great mount. POV shots are always interesting, in my opinion. It gives a real "in the scene" feeling if you want to immerse your audience into your video.
The straps are adjustable and would seem to fit everyone. After you get accustomed to wearing it, you may even forget that it's on. I suggest practicing capturing footage with it and adjusting the angle you point your GoPro before using it for an event. In my experience, you definitely want to aim it more down than straight ahead.
The GoPro website suggests only using this for non-impact activities and I definitely agree with them. It's secure enough to handle some motion, but remember it's not tied down.
These are the mounts/accessories I use. If you were looking for more information on them or just curiously browsing, I hope I was able to give some insight about the products. I will be updating this list as I invest more into my GoPro gear.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If there are any ways I can improve this article or future articles, don't be afraid to critique. Thanks again!