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Old Dec 16, 2013, 11:46 PM
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Report on a 5.4mm 10MP lens for the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition camera

This is a report on a 5.4mm, 10megapixel, non-fisheye lens for the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition camera.

I have the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition camera and when I purchased the camera it needed to have the focus modification done to it since it was slightly out of focus at distance. Once I turned the original lens inward about 2mm, the camera was in perfect focus at distance and ready for shooting.

I wanted to experiment with a replacement lens that would get rid of the fisheye effect and give me a nice clear picture with a FOV of anywhere between 60 to 90 degrees. To start with I purchased a 4.14mm 5 megapixel lens with a 78 degree FOV for $80.00 (plus shipping) and replaced the stock lens with this aftermarket lens. While it did a great job of getting rid of the fisheye effect, it also degraded my picture quality with a loss of sharpness and washed out colors making it look more like the original GoPro 5MP camera rather than the new 3+ black edition 12MP camera. Not being happy with this lens I sent it back to the dealer for a refund.

Due to this experience I did some research on megapixel lenses and found several technical papers on the subject. In very basic layman's terms, from what I can make out from the articles is that a megapixel rating is similar to a resolution rating of a lens and the higher the megapixel count the higher the resolution the lens is. In the case of the GoPro 3+ black edition camera, the image sensor is 12 megapixels and it stands to reason that in order to get all of the resolution out of the camera you would need a higher megapixel lens than the 5MP one that I had tried.

After doing some online searches for non-fisheye, high megapixel lenses, I found 1MP, 3MP, 5MP and only one 10MP lens, but nothing higher than 10MP that would fit the GoPro3+ Black camera. This 10megapixel lens is a 5.4mm lens with a FOV of between 60 degrees and 85 degrees, (depending on who's website you are looking at), but they don't say whether that is measured horizontally or diagonally, which might account for the difference in specs. In any event this 5.4mm 10MP lens will screw right into the GoPro 3+ Black camera with no modification needing to be done to the camera, other than screwing out the stock lens.

I could only find two dealers in the USA and two dealers in Europe who sell this particular lens. (There may be other dealers, but if so I couldn't find them). The dealer closest to me who had this lens in stock was Ragecams. I spoke with the owner, Dennis Gramza, who claims that this new lens outperforms all of the previous GoPro aftermarket lenses due to the superior optics and its 10 megapixel resolution rating. He also included the fact that his online store offers a money back guarantee. The down side is that this lens is nearly as expensive as the camera itself. With this information in hand I ordered this expensive lens from Ragecams to give it a try. So far I am very pleased with my preliminary results.
I do not work for, nor do I have any affiliation with Ragecams, but I will say the owner was polite and helpful and answered all of my questions.

I have posted four links to my Dropbox with short video clips of the exact same scene. These clips are right out of the camera with NO post-processing of any kind to show exactly how this lens compares to the original GoPro lens. You can download these original files & play them side by side to do your own comparisons.

Clip #1: New 5.4mm 10MP lens at approx. 70 degree FOV.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/nit6j8waqp...0Lens-Wide.rar

Clip#2: Original lens at Narrow-90 degree FOV.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/rbjxtfg3q7...-%20Narrow.rar

Clip #3: Original lens at Medium-1278 degree FOV.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/d20awa5ule...-%20Medium.rar

Clip#4: Original lens at Wide-170 degree FOV.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/hyrq4ovjy1...20-%20Wide.rar

Note that these clips were taken on 12-16-13 in New Jersey, USA, about 2 hours before sunset.

I hope that this information will help some of you who are looking for a good, non-fisheye lens, to make and informed decision on whether it is right for your application. Perhaps if enough people were interested in this lens, the dealers would drop their price to make it more affordable to those people who are on a tight budget. I'm sure that their number of sales would be much higher if the price was lower. From what I can tell this lens is currently the only decent alternative to the stock lens while keeping the same small profile of the camera.

Shown below are some photos showing the lens installed on my camera.

Regards,
Tom
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Old Dec 17, 2013, 12:20 PM
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Did you have RageCams do the install. The videos looks real sharp to me so you think the quality is as good or better than the stock lens. I like flying the GoPro but do not like the fisheye look at all. I have the GoPro Hero 3.

Michael64
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Last edited by Michael64; Dec 17, 2013 at 12:23 PM. Reason: added info and questions
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Old Dec 17, 2013, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael64 View Post
Did you have RageCams do the install. The videos looks real sharp to me so you think the quality is as good or better than the stock lens. I like flying the GoPro but do not like the fisheye look at all. I have the GoPro Hero 3.
Michael64
Hi Michael64,

I did the install myself, which was super easy I just had to break the adhesive loose on the stock lens, screw it out and then screw in the replacement lens. HOWEVER, I have the GoPro 3+ black edition camera which makes a difference.

Listed below is the text from the Ragecams website concerning this lens & which GoPro cameras it fits without any modifications. Whether you can do the "step ring" modification yourself on a GoPro 3 is up for debate. I would suggest contacting them or doing some web searches for further information concerning it. This review is just to judge how well the lens performs in comparison to the stock lens.

1- BRAND NEW ULTRA SHARP RAGECAMS USA DEVELOPED 5.4MM LENS WITH PUSH ON LEVELING FOCUS RING APPX 85 DEGREE FOV WITH BOKEH & MACRO FOCUSING ABILITY, WHICH IS REALLY NICE FOR THE HERO3 PLUS CAMERA LINE BECAUSE YOU CAN INSTALL OUR LENS IN THE CAMERA EASILY & ALSO RETURN TO THE STOCK LENS AS NEEDED.

NO RING MOD NEEDED IF YOU HAVE THE HERO3+ MODEL. THE HERO3 BLACK OLDER MODEL NEEDS A STEP RING GLUES ON YOUR LENS HOLDER TO MAKE IT WORK.

UNLESS RAGECAMS MODIFIES YOUR CAMERA, THE 5.4MM WILL ONLY WORK ON THE MODELS LISTED BELOW:

GOPRO HERO1, 960 & HERO3 BLACK+ PLUS (NOT THE STANDARD BLACK MODEL)

HERO3 SILVER PLUS (NOT THE STANDARD MODEL)

HERO3 WHITE
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Old Dec 18, 2013, 10:14 AM
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tkeeg, I think you've done a bad deal. Take a look at this: http://www.vd-shop.de/54mm-10mp-mega...237-p-560.html
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Old Dec 18, 2013, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by mbaptista View Post
tkeeg, I think you've done a bad deal. Take a look at this: http://www.vd-shop.de/54mm-10mp-mega...237-p-560.html
Thanks for your comments, but the scope of this thread is to determine if this particular lens is as good as the original lens and worth considering for those who want a quality image with no fisheye distortion. it was not intended to determine where to get the best price on the lens.

Also, just so you know, the website you linked in your response was one of the two websites that I found in Europe that does carry this lens. Prior to buying the lens from Ragecams I did send the below email to the owner of that site to get some information.

Hello,
I am looking for the highest quality lens that I can find for my GoPro Hero3+
Black Edition camera. I saw this lens on your website, (5,4mm BL-0525MP123IRC-LD [302116] 10MP, but I cannot read German. Will it screw into my camera without any modification, or do I have to take the camera apart and install the (DIY Lens holder for GoPro Mod V1 [302379]) for the lens to screw into?
Please advise and also let me know how much the lens will cost me in US dollars with shipping to the USA at area code 08620 in New Jersey.
Thank you,
Tom

This was his reply:

Dear Thomas,
Yes, you need the DIY Lensholder because the original lensholder's thread is to short to mount the lens. The 10MP Lens actually is the best lens.
I don't know shipping costs, but you see shipping costs during (before payment) check out at www.vd-shop.de.
Also you need to pay local VAT and Duty (you need to pay to FedEx or UPS when it arrive).

When I totaled up their lens & lens holder in US dollars it was 218.00 + 41.58 for the 19% VAT tax, plus whatever the unknown shipping amount would be to the USA. Also I could not find any reference to a money back guarantee on their website.

In comparison, the same lens at Ragecams did not require the use of a special lens holder for the GoPro 3+ black camera and did not necessitate the complete disassembly of the camera to make it all work.

Yes, it may have cost me more at Ragecams, but I got it right away, did not have to disassemble my camera and got a money back guarantee in case I didn't like it. There are so few reviews on this particular lens that it difficult to justify spending that kind of money on it, even if it does perform perfectly. It was nice to know that I could get my money back if I didn't like it.

It is my intention to help others to see if this lens would be good for their needs by sharing my experience with it. As soon as the weather here improves I plan on doing some more shooting with it.

Regards,
Tom
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Old Dec 18, 2013, 01:25 PM
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Tom, that lens you got looks very good in the footage you posted.
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Old Dec 18, 2013, 03:03 PM
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Tom, that lens you got looks very good in the footage you posted.
Thanks, so far I am pretty happy with it, but I need to take some aerial video & photos as soon as we get a nice calm, sunny day here. It has been cold and very windy with four snowfalls in the past 10 days.
Here is a 13 second clip with NO post processing, that I shot about 1 hour before nightfall yesterday. It was a very dark cloudy day and it was snowing at the time. I am happy with the results using this lens and this was without using the Low Light Mode. You can see the low visibility with the trees in the far background.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/05ah1h8x4f...R0333-SNOW.rar
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Old Dec 19, 2013, 02:38 AM
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Hi Tom.

Thanks for your response. I'm in Europe, so for me importing a lens from the US comes more or less with the problems you had when you considered importing it from Europe.
I thought that both lenses were equal. There is little information from both manufacturers considering size and thread. Can you post the dimensions and thread size from your lens?
I'm considering upgrading my old GoPro to use on a multirotor. I don't think that the 3+ is that big of an improvement to the 3, but if It can take 3rd party lenses without modifications I'll by it instead.
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Old Dec 19, 2013, 02:51 AM
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Hi again,

Just found a video from the German shop on how to switch lenses.
GoPro-Umbau Wechselobjektiv (14 min 30 sec)


This refutes my theory that the lenses are equal. Look at minute 6:13, where he compares their lens and custom mount with the original one from GoPro 3+. It's the same size. Or at least it appears to be. Maybe these guys didn't try hard enough to unscrew the original lens (it has some kind of glue to keep it in place, as mentioned by ragecams) and their solution is based on changing lens and mount?
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Old Dec 19, 2013, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by mbaptista View Post
Hi again,

Just found a video from the German shop on how to switch lenses.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BPDM98mI10

This refutes my theory that the lenses are equal. Look at minute 6:13, where he compares their lens and custom mount with the original one from GoPro 3+. It's the same size. Or at least it appears to be. Maybe these guys didn't try hard enough to unscrew the original lens (it has some kind of glue to keep it in place, as mentioned by ragecams) and their solution is based on changing lens and mount?
Yes, I have some serious questions regarding the lens fitting the Hero 3+ but not the Hero 3. The first company that I called in the USA was Stuntcams. The person I spoke to there swore to me that the lens would NOT screw into the Hero 3+ and that I must send my camera into them for them to modify the lens holder for it to work. He wanted to charge me $309.00 for the lens itself and then another $266.00 (on top of the price of the lens) for him to do the installation. He stated that it was something that I could not do myself, but of course the video that you posted shows otherwise. Then I saw the ad for the lens on Ragecams where they say that it will fit the Hero 3+ without any modification, but not the Hero 3. I don't have a Hero 3 so I don't know if there is actually a difference in the size of the lenses between the two cameras. I find it hard to believe that there is a difference since the cameras are exactly the same size, but the Hero 3+ claims to have an improved lens, so maybe there is some slight size difference, I just don't know.
The other possibility is that maybe the size of the lens barrel and/or threads are of the lenses are slight different between the ones that Ragecams sells and the other stores, but I doubt it.
In any event I am still happy with the performance of this lens. I was able to get some aerial footage today and it looks pretty darn good to me. Just some slight jittering on my camera mount to work out or else it was the turbulent air that I was flying in causing the slight jitters. I have attached a link to a short sample of the unprocessed video right out of the camera so you can see the quality and FOV.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/1d0e1i9w2s...2012-19-13.rar
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 04:29 AM
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Nice footage, congrats.

Do you use any kind of ND filter in front of the lens to keep GoPro from increasing shutter speed?

If it's not too much trouble can you please post your lens dimensions and threading?

Thanks
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by mbaptista View Post
Nice footage, congrats.

Do you use any kind of ND filter in front of the lens to keep GoPro from increasing shutter speed?

If it's not too much trouble can you please post your lens dimensions and threading?

Thanks
Thanks, I am loving this lens more & more as I use it.

To answer your question, no I don't have a ND filter, but I did buy a good quality glass circular polarizer filter that I tried with the original lens. To my surprise I did not like it and it slightly blurred the mage. I haven't yet tried it with this new lens but I will in the near future.

I really don't want to remove the new lens from my camera again since I have the focus perfectly set. I did do the next best thing for you and took some photos & measurement of the original stock lens of the Hero 3+ black edition camera. I don't have a tool to measure the actual thread pitch, but the overall diameter of the thread is 12mm as seen in the attached photo. The total length of the lens is 20mm. The actual length of the lens shaft, (including the threads) is 15mm and the actual length of the threads alone are 5mm.

I hope this helps you. You can always send an email to the suppliers for additional information.

I took a flight around the neighborhood last evening at dusk to check out how it handled the lower light environment. This time I did use the internal "low light" mode of the camera and am very happy with the results. Here is a short, untouched clip from that flight.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/264e1g97ky...ht_471_488.rar

Tom
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Old Dec 22, 2013, 05:42 PM
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Photo Samples

Here are two aerial photos that I took yesterday with my Hero 3+BE fitted with the Non-Fisheye10MP lens while on my CX-4 quad in 15 mph winds.

The photos are untouched other than adding only contrast & sharpness to them in Photoshop. Once gong to the Dropbox link, click on the DOWNLOAD button to download the full size files and see how good they really look even after enlarging them.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/sfhor9wr8f...3-C-C-S145.rar

https://www.dropbox.com/s/up028s78x6...8-AC1-S150.rar
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Last edited by tkeeg; Dec 23, 2013 at 11:21 AM. Reason: Relaoded photos as ZIP downloads
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 05:10 AM
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Thanks for the information, Tom.

Great to see that the fisheye effect is gone. As for photo quality it looked good at first glance, but once you look at them at 100% zoom it is a disappointment. The sky is filled with artefacts and you don't have any detail in the tree's branches. But these issues aren't the lens fault. I think it's the camera's internal jpeg processing that's messing with image quality. Were you shooting with gopro's maximum photo quality?
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by mbaptista View Post
Thanks for the information, Tom.

Great to see that the fisheye effect is gone. As for photo quality it looked good at first glance, but once you look at them at 100% zoom it is a disappointment. The sky is filled with artefacts and you don't have any detail in the tree's branches. But these issues aren't the lens fault. I think it's the camera's internal jpeg processing that's messing with image quality. Were you shooting with gopro's maximum photo quality?
Thanks for your opinion, but I'm surprised to hear you say that. Are you actually downloading the file & examining it or are you just viewing the photo that shows up when you click on the link. The photo that is displayed when you click the link is not the full resolution photo. You must download the actual file with the download button at the top of that screen to see the full resolution photo.
Remember we are not talking about an expensive, super high end camera, it is only a tiny GoPro and for the type of camera it is, I think the image quality is really good and yes the images were shot with the camera's maximum photo quality setting.
Also keep in mind that the actual image size of these photos is 55.6" x 41.7". Most people would not be printing a photo at that extreme size, but rather at a 8"x10" size and in that respect it would look great when the image pixels are condensed down to that level.

PS: To make things less confusing I just made the photo files into ZIP downloads so that anyone wanting to view them would have to download the original files from my Dropbox link in post #13.
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