GoPro’s 3D Hero System allows you to combine two HD Hero or two HD Hero2 cameras into a single housing to record 3D video and photos while simultaneously recording in 2D. A synchronization cable plugs into the rear Hero Port on both cameras to join them together, enabling both cameras to record video and photos in perfect synchronization. There’s only one word for what you can with the GoPro 3D system: amazing.
I recently reviewed the GoPro HD Hero2 camera. For a 3D system, you require two of them, so GoPro sent me another one and the 3D enclosure. For this review, I’ll be focusing on the 3D system and the Cineform Studio software that you need for post-production. The Go Pro 3d Hero comes with the free version of Cineform Studio. However, I received and discuss the Cineform Studio Professional version.
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The 3D Hero housing comes with a set of 3M mounts, a helmet front mount, a synchronization cable, two enclosure doors, and three pairs of 3D anaglyph spectacles. The lot is packed in a nice packaging as with all GoPro products I’ve reviewed so far.
There are three mounting points on the 3D Hero. When it the box, the 3D housing is mounted on the central point. A very long fastening screw goes through the left mounting point to fix the central mount. Because tightening this screw tightly would ruin the left mounting point (or “fingers”) there is a black robust plastic fixing thing that sits over the left mounting point, allowing for a tight fix, even when mounting centrally.
While the GoPro 3D Hero system is lightweight by itself, the two cameras that sit inside add to the weight and make the central mounting point the least stable to use. Better is to mount the system using the left and right mounting points together. For that purpose, the 3D Hero comes with two extra general use mounts included.
The helmet front mount that came with my unit had one of its fastening screws set the wrong way, which prevented it from mounting at all. Even with the fastening screws all in the right direction, fixing the helmet front mount proved to be a little bit of a challenge for my fingers. I ended up using a hexagonal screwdriver to make sure the 3D Hero system would be tightly fixed.
To start using the GoPro 3D Hero system, you insert one camera upright and the other one upside down. You could in theory start recording like this, but the 3D recording capability of the 3D Hero requires the sync cable. This cable makes it possible to record synchronized 3D movies, and also ensures you don’t need to set up your cameras in any special way, e.g. one of them in the upside down mode. The cable ensures everything is recorded as it should be. The two cameras still each record to their own memory card; both recordings are saved in the upright position.
In the end, this means you can use the 3D Hero as a way to record 2D as well as 3D movies in one action. Additionally, you can record 2D and 3D photos — time lapse — in one action using the cable. What you can’t do when the cable is attached, is have one Hero record a movie while the other records time lapse photos.
If you want the latter, you can still use the housing as an easy alternative for carrying two single camera enclosures with you (but don’t use it for action, then. The cameras are not tightly seated without Sync cable). One of the cameras you will have to set up in the upside down mode manually, or flip the photos vertically in Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture.