Since the release of the original wearable camera, GoPro has been a go-to for the outdoor action crew who want to capture videos of their wild exploits. GoPro has just announced the release of their latest batch of cameras under the name Hero4. This time last year they released two cameras in the Hero3+ range, and this time they’ve actually announced three different models; Hero, Hero4 Silver, and Hero4 Black.
The Hero is what you might call an entry-level model; it can shoot 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second (fps), or 720p HD video at 60fps. The reason for shooting at the higher 60fps is that it allows you to create great looking slow motion videos. When you slow down video shot at 30fps it looks choppy and pretty low-grade.
Awesome New Housing
One of the best new features of the Hero4 range is the housing which offers fantastic durability and also waterproofing to an impressive 40 metres. I’m not sure there’s even enough natural light to make a decent video at a depth of 40 metres! The Hero can shoot 5 megapixel photos at a burst rate of 5fps, which is pretty decent, and has a time lapse mode which captures a photo every half second. Despite the popularity of video, time lapse is still a really cool way to see the world.
New Shooting Modes
You get the option to shoot in three different fields of view; narrow, wide and GoPro’s own extreme wide-angle SuperView, which promises the most immersive experience you can get. With the QuikCapture feature you can power up and start recording with a single button press. Press and hold for two seconds to enable the time lapse feature. If you’re shooting in a low light situation the Hero can automatically optimise the settings via Auto Low Light mode.
Weighing in at just 111 grams, the Hero is a featherweight that nonetheless packs a serious punch, with an impressive 2.5 hours of recording time.
Hero4 Silver – With Touchscreen
Moving up the range, we have the Hero4 Silver, the first GoPro camera to feature an LCD screen, and not just any old screen, this is a touchscreen no less where you can review your footage on the spot. You can swipe to move through clips and use the HiLight Tag feature which lets you mark key points for quick editing later on. I think an LCD screen is an absolutely killer feature because a lot of activities involve a certain amount of downtime or travel time and it’s great to be able to use that time productively. You can also navigate camera menus and adjust settings via the touchscreen.
Remote Shooting Over Wifi
The other standout feature is the Wifi connectivity. You can now connect your GoPro Silver to your smart device via the free GoPro App which offers full remote control of all camera features! You can also look at your photos and watch your videos and download them to your device so that you can upload them to your social networks in a snap. And with a huge range of 180m, you really can get remote from your camera! Incidentally, the app is also compatible with your Hero3+ and Hero3.
Blazing Burst Mode
The Silver also has the QuikCature and Auto Low Light features, and waterproof to 40 metres, but it can shoot 12 megapixel photos at a blazing 30fps! Hella fast. The Silver also shoots 1080p HD video at 60fps and 720p at 120fps, for super slo-mo. It even shoots 4K, Ultra HD, cinema-quality video, which is four times higher resolution than 1080p. The time lapse feature is also available, but with the Silver you can adjust the interval between shots to anywhere from 0.5 to 60 seconds. With Night Photo mode you can shoot long exposures up to 30 seconds. So the Silver is more than just an action camera.
Enhanced Audio Features
The Silver has a brand new audio system with a microphone which captures twice the dynamic range of previous models, and a processing algorithm which promises sound that is ‘smoother and more natural than ever’. It is possible to use an external mic, but you need to buy an additional mic adapter.
With the Protune feature you get access to more manual controls than ever before, including color, ISO limit, white balance, sharpness and exposure. Protune also gives you access to the most minimally-compressed output, which gives filmmakers the maximum flexibility for post-production work.
Hero4 Black – Leading-Edge Performance
Finally, the top of the range is the Hero4 Black – ‘the most advanced GoPro ever’. Interestingly you don’t get a touchscreen, but what you do get is phenomenal performance, thanks to a processor which is twice as powerful, and can deliver 4K video at 30fps, and 1080p at 120fps. This is truly leading-edge performance.
There’s not a huge amount of difference between the Silver and the Black; you can have a touchscreen or best-in-class performance, not both. I think most consumers will veer towards the Silver for the touchscreen, whereas the Black will likely pique the interest of professionals. Both models come in a Surf edition and a Music edition, with the Surf edition offering mounts specific to surfboards or stand-up paddleboards. The Music edition lacks the waterproof housing, but instead comes with a range of mounts that allow you to attach the camera to instruments stands and stage equipment.
It’s good to see that the Hero4 range is compatible with all current GoPro accessories, so if you decide to upgrade, there’s no nasty sting in the tail. You can preorder your GoPro Hero 4 at Best Buy.
With the Hero4 range, GoPro has proven once again that it is the undisputed leader in the field of action cameras, and if it keeps innovating at this rate will be top dog for a long time to come. I am curious to see how long they continue with the current body shape, and whether they’ll move towards something smaller like Google Glass in the future.