GoPro Battery Charging
If possible, charging the batteries off the camera rather than by USB is preferable. Completely flattening the GoPro battery before recharge is good practice and will not only improve battery performance when using the camera, it will also increase the overall length of the batteries life. If not using an official charger be sure to check the voltage and current ratings of aftermarket chargers, as the charging rates will affect battery life.
With so much going on in such a small box, the battery life of the Hero 3 is probably one of its weakest points. All the high resolutions and frame rates require a high amount of processing power, whilst the reduction in size compared to the Hero 2 means that the battery capacity has actually decreased. Increases in technology are undoubtedly enhancing the possibilities of reducing overall camera size; however coupling battery technology with the pace of camera technology has always been difficult for manufacturers. On top of the optical technology, there is also now the Wi-Fi built-in as opposed to the original Wi-Fi backpack, which had its own battery source.
Maximizing battery life is always easier if you have a better understanding of the equipment and the different functional modes of your GoPro. Because of this standby mode is probably the best one to understand.
GoPro Battery life in standby mode can be up to 6 hours. The standby mode starts after the camera has been idle for 5 minutes in any state other than recording. Once in standby there is no apparent difference on the screen, however a delay of about 1 second is noticeable if you press the record button. Bear this in mind if you’re standing waiting to film or a photo of somebody passing as you may miss the moment you’ve been waiting for… by about 1 second. People having used the HD Hero 2 will know that there is a time setting for the standby mode, but this is not yet the case for the Hero 3. So despite the comfort of knowing that if you forget the camera will always turn itself off, during a day those 5 minutes each time can easily add up to half an hour or more of use so be aware.
GoPro Battery Life With Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi ON and the APP: Reduction in battery life of up to 20%.
Wi-Fi ON and the Remote: Reduction in battery life of up to 10%.
With the Wi-Fi switched on for use with the APP the camera generates its own wireless hotspot, so it has to do this on top of all the normal camera operation. Twenty % is a fair amount so it is worth considering how long you are going to be using it for and whether it is easier to push the button on the camera rather than the button on your phone. This could really be more dependent on where the camera is positioned.
The time limit seems to stand-up better using the remote, but really without fully understanding the different protocols GoPro use we do not have a technical reason but it is certainly a good thing to know if using the phone APP is one of your habits. A suggestion would be to use the phone APP to ensure that the camera is framed correctly and then take over with the remote, or just click off the Wi-Fi if you need to get a full day’s use out of the camera. For those who do not know, holding down the Wi-Fi button until the blue light has blinked seven times, confirms that the Wi-Fi is off.
Using a higher frame rate (fps) has quite a large effect on battery life, as do the higher resolutions due to amount of processing required to transfer everything to the SD card. The intensity of the processing can also be noticed by the length of time the camera takes to become ready for action again after recording has been stopped. This is down to the transfer time.
If you want to know more about Lithium batteries used in portable devices, try this article.