by Geir Mjosund 25/05/2015
For those who do not know it: GoPro is an action camera. That is a tiny camera that is designed to be easily mounted on places where it is difficult or impossible to reach with conventional camcorders. It might be a helmet, behind a surfboard, on the handlebars, the gun barrel, fishing rod, car and so on. GoPro have even been into space. Imagination, not the sky’s the limit. Yes, well, imagination and depths greater than 40 meters, temperatures below minus 10 and over 50 plus. They do great at the places where most of us go, whether it’s in the city, in the mountains or at the beach.
is so great in the action camera segment that they are what Google is for web search. Many say only GoPro, doesn’t matter what the brand is, its the word action camera. It is mostly the last five years that action cameras have become a thing, and GoPro have had the best cameras. They’ve got more competition in the last few years, including Sony and Panasonic, and are therefore often out with new versions to stay ahead in the market.
The question is: Is GoPro Hero4 worth the upgrade if you already have Hero3? And if so, which version should you go for?
Also this time GoPro came in three editions: GoPro Hero4 Black, GoPro Hero4 Silver and the simpler inexpensive edition only named GoPro Hero.
GoPro Hero4 Silver can not boast more than 12.5 / 15 fps in 4K, and 50/60 in full HD, but will return with a built-in touchscreen, and the price is about 430 euros, about a 100 euros less than the Black.
GoPro Hero is a very simple version with fewer features, it can record video in full HD but only with a frame rate of 25/30 fps. Picture quality is a bit worse than Silver and Black Edition, but with a price of around 140 euros, it is also considerably cheaper.
On the specs the 4K sounds amazing. Higher resolutions equals better picture, right? It’s not quite that simple, but it has two distinct advantages:
One is that if you have a screen that actually displays 4K resolution. See video in the “normal” HD resolution on a 4K monitor image must be scaled up, so each pixel gets bigger. If you notice this depends on a combination of resolution, screen size you are watching and distance viewing.
The second advantage is that if the end result will be in regular HD, you can by filming in 4K crop the image much in post production, use certain views, zoom in digitally and / or stabilize shots with much shaking. These are things that are probably most appropriate for professional users, since it prolongs editing time considerably and requires some computing power.
The ability to shoot 120 fps in full HD is perhaps more relevant to more people. GoPro Hero3 could not shoot full HD for more than 50/60 fps, and to get 120 fps have resolution reduced to 920P. 120 fps provides in practice the ability to play back recordings in four times slow motion, but it’s only Black who have this opportunity.
GoPro Hero4 Silver handle no more than 50/60 fps in full HD, and 12.5 / 15 fps in 4K. A frame rate that is useless to film in most contexts, and completely meaningless on an action camera. But on the other hand, the previously mentioned touchscreen. To see what you are shooting with GoPro Hero4 Black must either hook it up to a smartphone, or purchase display as an option.
Image quality is as expected superb, when we take into account that this is a camera that is barely bigger than a matchbox. GoPro Hero4, like Hero3, delivers a picture with strong nice colors, good contrast and tackles difficult light well, whether it is the combination of strong sunlight and shadows, or only little light. The camera delivers sharp images, as long as there is too much movement.
4K has gone from being virtually useless to be usable, so there is a clear boost from Hero 3, if you want to view the image on a 4K monitor. We still think 25/30 fps is too low for an action camera, so there’s still room for development.
Beyond the frame rate, it is in practice little differences in picture quality from GoPro Hero3 + to GoPro Hero4. We would say that Hero4 is somewhat better, but to notice it, you must have pictures from Hero3 + next for comparison.
GoPro still delivers excellent action cameras and keep the level we are used to, but the upgrade is too small that we think it’s worth buying Hero4 if you already have Hero3 or Hero3 +.
If you do not have a GoPro Hero3 or Hero3 + from before we can confidently recommend GoPro Hero4. It is a fantastic camera that gives you many opportunities, whether you want to take video, make timelaps or stills. The only drawback is the high price.
If you do not need 4K or use slow motion much would we have chosen Silver. It costs nearly 100 euros less than the Black, and comes with built-in screen.
Good image quality
120 fps provides good opportunities for slow motion
Improved menu system
Good app for remote control
Poorer battery than GoPro Hero3 +
Only 25/30 fps in 4K