GoPro Hero 3 and Hero 3+ Pistol Grip Triggers – Which Is Best?

UPDATE: you can now watch my review video where I compare the SPL Dome Port and housing system with the KNEKT GPLT trigger system.

One of the drawbacks when using my GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition for taking still surf photo’s was the lack of a pistol grip shutter release, there are other drawbacks which result in me not recommending it for someone wanting to get into the stills side of documenting surfing (you can read my post on the subject if you’re interested), but this was a fairly big issue.

I did mention at the time that I was planning on building my own pistol grip, and I got as far as getting the materials together for it before developing an easier system which I’ll go into at the bottom of this post.

Right now it looks like there are a few options available, so read on to find out more, it’s probably worth pointing out that I have no affiliation with any of these companies and have not used the products myself (except the DIY option at the bottom):

Dale Kobetich’s Hand Made Triggers

Have a look at one of the few bits of information I can find on this one, this Youtube slide show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w75yw3z8mLo

Dale Kobetich's GoPro Trigger system
Dale Kobetich’s GoPro Trigger system
DaleKobetichdoubleGoProMount
Dale Kobetich’s double GoPro trigger system

I like the design of the single trigger option, inverting the case to allow a simple pivoting trigger is a touch of genius and this was what my first home made design was based on. The double handle thing is not quite as elegant and if you’re shooting video you don’t need the trigger anyway, you just press record and leave it, there’s no reason why you can’t just put the second camera above the first making it less unwieldy and removing a bunch of fiddly moving parts, not to mention avoiding accidentally switching it off when you want to activate the shutter for stills.

There’s no prices published but as it’s obviously hand made by Dale out of “epoxy glass and carbon fibre” you can bet it wont be cheap, and I’d think twice about making a purchase directly from him after reading this post on the surf photographers united forum.

KNEKT Trigger for the GoPro HERO3 and HERO3+

Obligatory low budget Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spojYnwrpJI

Knekt GoPro Pistol Grip, image via goknekt.com
Knekt GoPro Pistol Grip, you can buy them on Amazon for $149

It costs US$ 150  which is about £94, that is pretty expensive, especially when you add on the cost of an old style Hero 3 housing if you don’t have one and you’re using the Hero 3+ camera.

Both this and Dales version are based on the original Hero 3 housing, which means if you have one handy you can stick your new GoPro Hero 3+ Black edition inside an old housing and get shooting straight away, but if you don’t happen to have an old style housing you’ll need to buy one first (Knekt have a helpful page on their site about the differences).

Obviously this looks like a more professional outfit straight away, but the design is lacking the simplicity of Dales, saying that, I’m sure it will do the job well, although I’d probably swap out the white grip for something that won’t look like crap after the first time in the murky British channel.

I guess it’s been a hit because they are only available to pre-order after the initial batch sold out.

SP-Gadgets Remote Pole

Sp Gadgets Remote Pole GoPro handle
SP Gadgets Remote Pole GoPro handle

It’s a pole to put your GoPro on with a special place to put the water proof remote on the handle, simple idea, and relatively inexpensive at £60 ish (if you already have the black edition camera with the remote included, otherwise, add on £80 for the remote too).

Looking at the design it seems to me that you would point the camera in the opposite direction to the remote and use your thumb to trigger the camera, so you’ve got less chance of accidentally hitting the power button or LCD screen rather than the shutter button, I think this would work quite well in a surf photography situation.

The other benefit is the compatibility with any GoPro regardless of housing, you could even use it with the Hero 2 with the WiFi BacPac and remote.

The DIY option

Obviously this is my favourite, I have attempted to make a clone of Dale Kobetich’s design out of an Aluminium strip, but it’s too fragile, cracking under the stress of being bent through 90 degrees, plan B was to bend a piece of plastic from a cheap chopping board into the right shape and work with that instead, but after using the remote control to take some photo’s with a GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition 270 degree rig (full post coming soon) and being impressed with the performance and robustness of the remote control, my plan changed to one much more similar to the SP-Gadgets design.

The only major issue I had with using the remote in the sea for shooting waves was losing the connection with the cameras, this only happened when I went underwater for longer than a few seconds, or moved the remote further than about 4 or 5 feet away from the cameras, bear in mind the cameras were tightly wrapped in duct tape and often under the surface of the water when in use.

Here’s an artists impression of the latest set-up, I’ve temporarily miss placed my remote so this will have to do until I get round to doing a full post on how best to attach it to your GoPro handle of choice.

GoPole Bobber floating grip combined with the remote control
GoPole Bobber floating grip combined with the remote control

I reckon with the remote attached to my Bobber handle, very close to the camera, it shouldn’t be an issue, even if I do go underwater for reasonable periods, I also found that the WiFi picked itself up again fairly quickly after losing a connection too.

So that’s what I’m going to do, as you can read in the first part of my review of the camera, I’m not going to be shooting many stills with it, it’s pretty much solely for video for me, so I don’t need to splash out on a proper pistol grip for it, and based on the people I know who use a GoPro, not many are in it for stills, so we’ll see how these products do in the long term, when there’s a mass produced plastic version of Dale’s design available through a reputable business I might go for it, until then, the DIY option works for me.

Conclusion

If I was only using my GoPro for shooting still photographs of waves and surfing, I’d go for the Knekt, I have never dealt with the company but they look legitimate and their product does the job. I have now used several KNEKT products and they are all excellent, I highly recommend the KNEKT GPLT trigger for $99 and the KNEKT KSD6 dome port for $299 in particular.

All we need now is interchangeable lenses and complete manual control and the GoPro system will be a DSLR beater.

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for the write up and vote for the KNEKT Trigger as the optimal solution. Sorry about the US price issue, it is a limitation of the site template we are using. We are working hard to become the premier action sports camera necessity company. Please feel free to reach out with any questions.

    With Respect,
    Harry

    1. Cheers Harry, I think I was confused by the $ signs because for some reason I assumed it was an Australian company, can’t remember why I thought that now, it definitely looks like a decent product though, certainly the best of the bunch I’ve seen so far.

    1. Hi Adam,
      Thanks for the question, the remote has a little pair of slots on the back so you can attach a wrist strap, so I’d just use some tape through there, but after testing the SP gadgets remote pole in the sea I’ve discovered it’s not a good solution, the wifi disconnects if you go underwater for any length of time, it will re-connect pretty quickly, but often not quickly enough for the next wave, I have done some testing now with the SPL handle and KNEKT pistol grip and they’re both a better option than the DIY one I suggest here.

      I’ll be doing an updated post including my conclusions soon.

  2. Hi Ben, thanks for your blog and the useful summaries. I am about to buy the gopro here 4 (silver), and plan on using it for stills (mainly shore break photography). I like the look of the knekt trigger system, but can you tell me if there is any trigger system I can get that will allow me to see the viewfinder on the back when I am shooting? Otherwise it is basically made redundant when I’m shooting if the housing blocks it.
    Thanks for any insight!

    1. Hi Pete,

      Glad the site is helping you out, I think you’ll probably want to wait for the new KNEKT GP4 grip, it’s listed as “in development” on their site but it looks like it will support the Hero 4 housing and have a view of the back of the housing, not like the GPLT grip that I have.

      Saying that, I use the GPLT grip with my Hero 4 Silver edition and although I can’t see the LCD screen it hasn’t caused me any issues, I got used to how to aim the camera pretty quickly, although I had no choice, so maybe that made it easier for me. I don’t ever shoot fisheye with my DSLR using the LCD screen either, I just hold the housing at arms length and fire away, the lens is so wide you just need to point it in the right general direction most of the time.

  3. hi, i was wondering if you could explain to me how to add the gopro tripod mount onto the knekt trigger. please reply.
    thanks

    1. The Knekt GPLT trigger that I have used has a standard tripod screw thread on the top and bottom, so you can use a standard tripod screw to connect any other standard accessory to the trigger.

      If you’ve got something specific in mind let me know and I’ll do my best to explain how I would add the accessory to the trigger.

  4. GoPros do have interchangeable lenses. The use m12 threaded security camera glass. It comes in tons of different focal lengths. The issue is once converted to 50mm or higher the waterhousing has to be severely modified. Ive replaced tons of gopro lenses, you just screw the new lens in while is plugged into a monitor or through wifi to set the focus

    1. Hi Anthony,

      I was having a bit of fun when I said “All we need now is interchangeable lenses and complete manual control and the GoPro system will be a DSLR beater.”

      If you want to shoot photos or video on a very small sensor with fixed focus, fixed aperture, auto shutter speed and auto ISO the GoPro is unbeatable, and I use my two GoPros for that all the time.
      (I left out fixed focal length – even though I’ve never changed my lens, I just use the narrow mode when necessary)

      If you want to take control of how your photos and video look, you can buy a very good mirrorless camera, lens and water housing for the same price as a GoPro.

      1. Oh I know, I personally use my 60D and my Black Magic Cinema Camera more often than I do my GoPro. But I dont see myself paddling out with a giant box to house the Black Magic and all the necessary equipment to go with it hahaha

    1. Hey,

      I haven’t heard of them before, but their website has the classic signs of a far east company who produce cheap versions of popular products.

      I’m sure the products are OK, but the pistol grip looks fairly cheaply made, like the SP gadgets one I reviewed here: https://www.learningsurfphotography.com/sp-gadgets-section-gopro-pistol-trigger-review/

      And the dome is such a blatant rip off of KNEKT’s KSD6 dome I’m amazed they can get away with it.

      My personal view on these cheaper options: You get what you pay for. These domes aren’t that much cheaper than the original, best design by KNEKT that they’re blatantly copying, so I’d recommend saving some more pennies and getting the real thing.

      By buying from the company that came up with the design you’re investing in their research and development of the next round of innovations, rather than helping a copy cat make a quick buck.

      I do know that some people can’t afford the best, but the freewellgear option doesn’t look like the best alternative if you’re on a budget.

      1. Thanks for the answer !

        By the way, did you ever write a post about swimming in waves and the swimming level one should have to swim into the open sea and sometimes tough conditions with a heavy camera (depending on the gear).

        I’m not a bad swimmer and member of a freediving club but I was wondering what is your opinion on this, and again, what gear do you recommend. (fins, helmet, etc.)

        Thanks !

        1. Hey,

          I haven’t written anything about swimming but my general advice is to never go out shooting unless you’re completely confident you can swim in those conditions.

          I wouldn’t shoot in waves that I wouldn’t be happy surfing in. So just use your best judgement and if there’s any doubt at all then shoot from the land.

          As far as gear goes, I use Da Fin Kicks swim fins, I do have a helmet but I can’t use it with my hooded wetsuit and I rarely shoot in crowded line-ups where it would be necessary to wear one.

          Lots of surf photographers wear helmets when shooting crowded spots or heavy reefs though.

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