Which GoPro Should You Get?
The action camera market has plenty of models to choose from, but one particular name has grown to be the industry standard: GoPro. With an expanding portfolio of action cameras released under the Hero brand name, I have taken a few models out for a spin to compare GoPro cameras, and would like to share my thoughts on the time spent with them. This should help answer the question, “Which one do I buy?”
Do take note that all of the models were released at different times, which means some of the features that I have come to take for granted in current generation GoPro cameras were missing. I did not take a look at anything that dates back as far as the GoPro 3, as that would be turning back the clock by a too large margin. GoPro reviews aren’t easy, as there are MANY pros and only some cons with each model, there really is no wrong buy!
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The entry level market is served by the GoPro Hero. This is a bare bones model, offering plenty of bang for our hard earned buck. With the ability to record video at 30 fps as well as 720p video at 60 fps, the GoPro Hero gets the basic job done without any fuss. Throw in waterproof capability into the mix, and I have got quite the performer here. The Hero is a great way to perform multi-camera shoots at an affordable price point. When you compare GoPro cameras, this is the original, yet decently functional one.
The Hero tips the scales at 111 grams and has an integrated chassis. This means the Hero remains within its rugged housing on a permanent basis, and is waterproof to a depth of 40 meters. Thankfully, there is a special door which enables additional sound to enter the microphone. I still had to be careful with the GoPro Hero when using it –though it is tough, scratching the lens glass is an irreversible action. A microSDHC memory card slot provides us with 32GB of storage space, alongside a mini USB port for charging and data transfer purposes. Buy the GoPro HERO!
It does not arrive equipped with a GoPro accessory port and a micro HDMI port though.
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The GoPro Hero+ is a step up in the rugged action camera market which comes with integrated Wi-Fi connectivity. I like this feature since it allows me to set up the settings to capture a video or photo session remotely via an iOS- or Android-powered device. In addition, the GoPro Hero+ offers a really, really wide field of view that lets me capture far more than what a regular lens is able to. Using it with a selfie stick, I am able to capture sharp looking selfies and wefies. With the ability to record video in Full HD resolution at 60 fps (which is stored on a microSD memory card), it keeps up with the bare minimum these days without breaking the bank.
However, I was disappointed with the fact that the Hero+ arrives with an integrated battery. Each full battery charge comes with a two hour recording limit on paper. This means I am unable to swap batteries should it run out of juice while I am outside, making it unsuitable for long hours of recording in the field. The lack of image stabilization also means an additional investment on my side to attach the GoPro Hero+ to a gimbal stabilizer for a steady home-made video.
Charging of the Hero+ can be done via the microUSB port, although I had to purchase my own AC adapter to juice it up with the included cable. Buy the GoPro HERO+!
GoPro Hero4 Session
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I found the GoPro Hero4 Session to be a really unique action camera from the GoPro family as it arrives totally waterproof out of the box without the need for any external housing. It weighs 74 grams which is so light, I do not have any issue bringing it around on my travels to capture some really amazing shots from different adrenaline pumping situation. When it was released, the Hero4 Session was claimed as the smallest and lightest model. As far as GoPro reviews go, this is the most affordable one if you want some high quality video from a small model!
The Hero4 Session sports a pair of microphones in order to make the most out of every recording situation. This particular action camera is smart enough to make a decision as to which microphone it will use, based on the situation on hand. All still photos are captured in 8MP resolution with time-lapse capability and Auto Low Light support. It is nice that the Hero4 Session continues in the tradition of charging and file transfer using the microUSB cable.
Apart from that, it features Wi-Fi connectivity, a microSD memory card slot, and a 1.5″ form factor. Unfortunately, no 4K video recording solution is supported that would certainly help it keep up with the times. Buy the GoPro HERO Session!
GoPro Hero+ LCD
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The touchscreen revolution finally arrived on the GoPro Hero+ LCD, allowing me to finally enjoy a live-view touchscreen on a rugged action camera. Thanks to the inclusion of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, I was able to control the Hero+ LCD remotely via my iOS- or Android-powered device. It misses out on 4K resolution though, maxing out at Full HD resolution at 60 fps when recording.
I was not too happy with the polycarbonate housing that houses the Hero+ LCD though. This is a permanent housing, and to complicate matters all the more, the battery within cannot be removed. This would cause a limit to how long I am able to use this on outdoor assignments, as I am unable to swap out batteries on the move. There is a way to work around this potential banana skin by hooking it up to an external battery pack or having it juiced up via its microUSB port.
A microSDHC memory card slot provides the potential of stashing up to 64GB of videos and photos, while its housing is waterproof up to 40 meters. I would have liked to see a micro HDMI port introduced into Hero+ LCD though. Buy the GoPro HERO+ LCD!
GoPro Hero4 Silver
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I was very pleased when spending time with the GoPro Hero4 Silver, as it clearly straddles the sweet spot in terms of features that will keep beginners and seasoned veterans satisfied alike. Sporting an integrated 1.5″ touchscreen display, I found that feature to be extremely useful when it comes to framing my photos. It does not look bulky on the outside, but makes the Hero4 Silver aesthetically pleasing on the whole.
There is a waterproof housing that works effectively as long as it does not go beyond the 40-meter mark, while a three-way pivot arm helped me capture some really unique shots from great angles. This pivot arm opens up the path for me to mount the Hero4 Silver on the top, front, or even the side of a helmet.
Bear in mind that the Hero4 Silver’s new battery does not allow me to make use of older batteries from previous generation GoPros. There is also no integrated digital image stabilization, so a motorized gimbal is required for steady looking videos. A microUSB port is used for charging and data transfer purposes, while a microSD memory card slot lets me record up to 64GB of videos and photos.
It is nice to see them introduce the micro HDMI port in the Hero4 Silver that lets me view my recorded videos on a compatible TV or monitor without having to transfer the media out of the action camera first. Buy the GoPro HERO4 Silver!
GoPro Hero4 Black
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If there is just one particular action camera that I would like to use permanently, it would be the GoPro Hero4 Black. This particular model comes with MP4 recording capability at up to 4K resolution at 30 fps, and is also able to accompany me on my diving or snorkeling trips, thanks to its waterproof housing. As the waterproof housing is not integrated, I can remove it in a jiffy without missing a beat. There are other resolutions in which I am able to capture my memories at a higher frame rate, too. This particular waterproof housing is good up to 40 meters. The Hero4 Black can also capture stills at 12MP.
I like the fact that the Hero4 Black has a wide range of GoPro and other third party peripherals which allows it to be used in a wide range of settings. It tips the scales at 88 grams, although with the housing, its weight would balloon close to double the figure at 152 grams – small price to pay for being able to be used underwater. Other connectivity options include a microUSB port and a micro HDMI port, with the former being used for charging and file transfer purposes while the latter enables it to output your favorite shots and videos onto the TV. Out of all the GoPro reviews, this is the highest bought! Get the GoPro HERO4 BLACK!
After presenting all of the GoPro reviews above, I hope to have put forward the answer as to which GoPro to buy. I would highly recommend the Hero4 Black if you have the budget for it. The Hero4 Black comes with its fair share of features that works well in dry conditions as well as for those who have an adventurous streak.
A more affordable option would be the Hero4 Session that comes with a fair number of bells and whistles, and yet does not break the bank. However, if you would like to keep your memories in 4K resolution, the Hero4 is not the right candidate. Or… try the newest model, the GoPro HERO5 Black!
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