Friday, August 16, 2013

GoPro firmware update (07/29/2013) lowers the bitrate (quality) on Sandisk microSD cards

So if you have had a GoPro Hero 3 Black edition camera, chances are that you have probably had some problems  with it.  Lockups, auto-turn-off-while-recording that were a pain to live with.  So every firmware becomes a fingers crossed experience.  Well, things have gotten better.  But this update, has a little fine print that may effect you in a very negative way, and you wouldn't even know it.  It is listed under feature enhancements..  Here is the exact text from GoPro.
Feature Enhancements:
  • Optimizes compatibility with select microSD cards by reducing data stream rate to 35Mb/sec while recording in 4K, 2.7K and Protune™ modes (HERO3: Black Edition only)
Sounds like they are doing you a favor, optimizing and all.  Unfortunately, if you have a Sandisk microSD card (like me), you just got royally screwed (or helped?).  Sounds like they ran some tests and found out that Sandisk micro SD cards aren't up to the task of recording at the bitrates that are really required for 2.7K, 4K, and they fail to mention, 1080P 60fps!

So after installing the firmware update, my Sandisk card records at 29Mbps for 1080P 60fps and 32Mbps for 2.7K.  So, I took a look at video that I shot before the update and sure enough, it was recording at 45Mbps for 1080P 60fps and 50Mbps for 2.7K.  Wow, I mean wow that is drop in bitrate quality by 33%!  

So, if you are like me, you are going to want to upgrade your microSD card if you plan on continuing to shoot and get the quality level that you were expecting.  I upgraded to the SAMSUNG 64GB Pro version that is listed as a "supported" card on GoPro's website.  You can find the list of compatible cards here.  And I am now back in business with the fast bit rates at 50 Mbps.  Scary reports of GoPro frying cards though.  

On a side note, I didn't notice before upgrade so I am thinking that this is also new with this version.  RAW white balance?  Anyone out there know if that was already available in a previous update and I just missed it?  I tried it out and I gotta say that I like it a lot.  

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