The way we see it, people who are looking to buy a GoPro fall into two categories: 1) Those that have never owned one and want to know if they’re worth getting and 2) Those that already have one and want to see if the new model is worth upgrading to. So we’ll break this down into sections.
What is a GoPro?
GoPro cameras first came about in 2004 due to a desire to film sport and action footage without the need for camera operators or expensive equipment but still look nice (hence the name GoPro). Since then the product has gone from being a standard amongst extreme sports people to a versatile camera used by anyone with a desire to take video footage. It’s small, lightweight and easy to use. Now on its fourth incarnation, the range has a selection of accessories to enable professional and very specific filming angles.
Why would you use one?
The majority of marketing and social media activity surrounding GoPros focusses on extreme sports and activities. If you look through Youtube there are thousands of clips from snowboarders, base jumpers and mountain bikers doing pretty impressive things. If you are some sort of extreme sports enthusiast, you’ve probably got one already.
There are many reasons why they’re so popular. They’re small so you can carry them around with minimal effort; the quality is good enough to mean you don’t have to lug around additional equipment; when in their casing they’re hard-wearing and waterproof and they’re also not that expensive if you compare against the alternatives.
What features does it have?
The main difference with the HERO4 Silver is the fact it has an LCD back display, like a normal digital camera. So taking pictures and film is a lot easier to frame. You can also use the playback function to look through what you’ve already shot, something which makes a massive difference if you’re out with it for a prolonged period of time. You can buy an LCD screen for the earlier models but this means carrying around a fairly hefty piece of additional kit.
The screen also doubles as touch control which means that changing camera settings is significantly easier than just using the buttons.
Quick capture mode
The quick capture mode means the GoPro turns into a simple one touch camera which helps if you like simplicity (or you’re halfway up a mountain). Just press it once and the video starts recording, or hold it down to start taking photos using the timelapse settings.
Battery life for the HERO4 Silver is meant to be around 3 hours for continuous video. We tested this during a recent half marathon and it held out for about two and a half hours. Not actually that bad compared against the previous versions when considering the LCD screen. You just need to make sure you’ve turned off any connectivity functions.
If you’re planning on taking anything longer than this or somewhere that means charging is unlikely then you’ll need to get some additional battery packs. These have changed since the previous models so if you already own a GoPro you won’t be able to use them any more. Additional packs are £16, so not too expensive and probably worth the investment.
Photos using the HERO4 Silver are an improvement on the 3 model allowing you to take 12 megapixel photos at a rate of 30 frames per second (the new upgraded HERO3+Silver is 10 mega pixels at 10 frames per second). The result is an impressively clear image that works well even indoors with minimal light. The faster frame rate also means picking far better shots when using for sport and fitness photos.
The video quality on the HERO4 Silver is the same as that found on the HERO3 (1080p60, 960p60 and 720p120) so not a lot has changed there. It still looks great, but if you’re hoping to shoot video only and don’t care about the screen then the HERO3 may be enough for you.
The HERO4 also has a new useful feature that make taking shots at night a lot easier, there’s wi-fi and bluetooth built in (the same as the previous version) for use with a range of accessories as well as your smart phone, which makes life easier when trying to take a selfie, there’s an auto lighting mode which adapts as the light changes and there’s also a nice little tool for highlighting important shots as you take them.
GoPro HERO4 Black
The other new release from GoPro has enhanced image and video quality (ultra high-resolution, high frame rate 4K30, 2.7K603 and 1080p120 video) along with improved processors. The increased spec come at a cost though and if you’re looking to go for this option you’ll have to forego the LCD screen. Which, unless you happy to take the risk in shot, is probably not worth it. The GoPro4 comes in at £320.00.
The inclusion of the LCD screen makes the HERO4 a wise purchase for anyone looking to enter the GoPro market. It’s easier to use, makes for better framing and generally takes GoPro to the next level of film-making. The image quality will be noticeably better for some people and the increased time-lapse settings are a joy to use. If however you’re just looking to take some general shots and have a play around it may be worth looking at the relaunched earlier versions. The original GoPro costs just £100 now so may be a good option if you’re unsure of making an investment.
Price: £279.99 (via Currys)