GoPro Hero 4 Silver Review
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Let’s take a look at the GoPro Hero 4 Silver
When people think of an Action Camera, the first one that comes to mind is GoPro. In fact, when people talk about any action camera they usually call it GoPro, even if it’s not a GoPro. If you do a search online you will find hundreds of reviews, comparing the GoPro brand with other action cameras, detailed technical specifications, how the camera should work on paper, etc. My review is different, I want to focus on the basic technical specifications, the usability of the camera, how easy is to get whatever you are shooting into a sharable format, and talk about some of the details other reviews don’t talk about.
Since there are so many options let’s briefly discuss the different GoPro flavors on the market right now. I am reviewing the GoPro Hero 4 Silver. This is the mid-level GoPro, there are 2 other cameras you can purchase, which are the entry level GoPro Hero and their flagship product the GoPro Hero 4 Black. You can still purchase the older models GoPro Hero 3+ Silver and 3 White, they both shoot 1080p at 60fps and at 30fps respectively. From a pricing standpoint you start at $129 and go to $499 depending on which model you choose. All of these cameras shoot 1080p video, the difference between them is mostly with features and the new GoPro Hero 4 lineup upscales the video quality to 4K. My review will focus on the GoPro Hero 4 Silver.
4k Video, what does it mean?
This refers to a video containing a horizontal resolution of 4,000 pixels, which is almost 4 times more pixels as your HD video 1080p. 4K is also called UltraHD. The film industry has been using this format for over 10 years now, but this is now becoming available to the regular consumer.
What does this mean to you?
Do you even have a TV or a monitor that can display above HD (1080p)? Most TVs are moving to those resolutions, but until you upgrade your display you won’t be able to see the difference, the TV or monitor will downscale to whatever the maximum resolution possible. Even if you have a TV that can display those resolutions, there is not much content out there that will take advantage of the extra pixels. The advantage of having and shooting in 2.7K or 4K is that you can start creating your own content now and when you do upgrade your TV you’ll already have videos to display. You are future proofing your content. Another advantage of shooting at 2.7K or 4K is that you can extract high quality pictures from your video. So you don’t necessarily need to shoot both video and take pictures, you can take a still image from the video and that can become your picture. Below you can find some screenshots extracted from videos.
FPS (Frames per Second)
If you shoot at very high resolutions, it’s also very important to pay attention to the frames per second. The more frames per second your camera can shoot the smoother the video will look, especially on fast moving objects. If you do want to extract still images from your UHD video, you want to have the most FPS possible. The higher the frames, the sharper the “screen capture” will come out. The other reason a high FPS is important is for slow motion video. The higher the FPS, the more you can slow down the video and it will still look fluid. Here is an example of the same video shot at 1080p (full HD) at 120fps, 60fps and 30fps so you can see the difference.
The GoPro Hero 4 Silver is $399, unboxing:
– GoPro Hero 4 Silver
– Protective casing, waterproof up to 131 feet or 40 meters
– 3 different mounting options
– USB Cable
– 2 extra case backings, one without a shield and one with a touch sensitive shield.
There are two ways to use your GoPro Hero 4 Silver, the first one without a case weighs only 2.9oz
The second option is probably how you are going to be using it most of the time doubles the weight to 5.8oz.
Before you go out and start shooting you need to buy some accessories:
Make sure you get a micro SD Card rated at least 10 for speed. The higher the capacity the better, you will be shooting very high quality videos and it will take a lot of space You don’t want to run out of memory in the middle of your shoot. I explain that in detail why this is important here.
I would also recommend getting an extra battery. Action cameras are very small and easy to carry, but that also means that the battery they put in is very small. Every camera I have tested has poor battery life and the GoPro Hero 4 Silver is no exception, more on battery life later. This is a very easy fix though. You just purchase extra batteries. They are very small and you can easily carry them around with yo.
Now that you have extra batteries and enough storage you need to figure out what you’ll film. Depending on what it is, you will have to attach the GoPro Hero 4 Silver to whatever you are doing. For example it can be your helmet, bike, snowboard, skies, pole, kayak, boat, plane, etc. Luckily someone else has already figured how to attach a GoPro to pretty much anything, including your pets, so all you have to do is buy the correct accessory and you are ready to go. These accessories can be purchased directly from amazon.com or just do an Google search for whatever you want, you will find hundreds of results.
Ease of use of the GoPro Hero 4 Silver
The camera is very easy to use. You have 3 buttons, one in the front, one on the right side of the camera, and one on top.
Front button: This button turns the camera on or off. To turn on simply press once, to turn off you press and hold, each time the camera turns on or off it will beep rapidly 3 times. This button also navigates through the different modes (video, camera, playback & settings). Lastly it also allows you to scroll down.
Side button: This button enables settings within a specific mode. For example it will allow you to change resolution without having to go to settings. I love the hidden feature of the button, if the GoPro Hero 4 Silver is turned off and you press and hold this button for 3 seconds it will turn WiFi on, without having to go into the menu.
Top button: This button will allow you to start/stop your video, take pictures and make selections in the menu.
If you are used to using these 3 buttons to control the GoPro and you are used to it, you can continue to do so, however there is a faster and simpler way to do this, which brings me to the most important differentiator of this camera to all other cameras in the market.
Touch screen display. Not only can you frame your videos without the need of an app or other devices, but you can also control the menus easier. How does this work?
You tap on the screen and to make sure that you want to unlock it you press on the checked button, swipe and hold for 3 seconds. With your screen unlocked you can easily swipe again to bring up the menu. Now instead of having to press the front button 5 times to go to settings, you simply swipe and select the wrench, or if you went passed the options you wanted you can swipe and click on the previous selection. I absolutely love this feature as it makes it very quick to change settings and modes. Also instead of memorizing what the little acronyms and icons mean in the little LCD display in the front you can read the whole menu. You always have your GoPro in a case? No Problem, one of the back covers of the GoPro Hero 4 Silver is touch sensitive. You can do pretty much everything except take it more than 9 feet or 3 meters underwater.
The battery life is an issue, but it’s not only with the GoPro Hero 4 Silver, it is a problem with all action cameras. You can only fit a small battery in order to keep the camera small, in this case they use a 1,160mAh. The advantage of having a small battery is that you can carry extras without it being an issue. During the testing I was able to shoot 1 hour and 50 minutes. I can still get a full day of skiing in if I turn the LCD off and only record the important times.
Different Shooting Options of the GoPro Hero 4 Silver
There are 3 different main shooting modes, these modes have sub modes, I’ll explain the different modes
– Regular Video: WVGA, 720, 720 SuperWide, 960, 1080, 1080 SuperView, 1440, 2.7K & 4K. I always try to shoot at the highest framerate possible for whichever resolution I pick. Here is one example of 4K video at 15 frames per second. Remember if you don’t have a 4K display you won’t be able to see a difference to 1080p. Remember that all these videos are RAW at out of the camera, there hasn’t been any enhancement done or image stabilization.
Now an example of 2.7K video at 30 FPS. YouTube doesn’t accept 2.7K video as one of the settings, that’s why it puts a black box around the video. I would recommend if you shoot at this resolution and you want to upload it to YouTube, you can then downscale to 1080p.
– Time Lapse Video: You can change the interval between .5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 & 60 seconds. The video below was shot every 10 seconds for about 1 hour.
– Video + Photo: This mode enables you to shoot video at a resolution of 1440, 1080 or 720p but it will simultaneously take pictures at whichever interval you select: 5, 10, 30 or 60.
– Looping: If you worried about missing something cool while recording video you can use this feature. You can set it to Max, 5, 20 , 60 & 120 seconds. So, let’s say you are skiing and don’t want to miss when something cool happens. Usually runs are between 5 – 15 minutes, so I would set the camera to loop 5 minutes, this will record a video until minute 5 and then without taking extra space in your memory card it will start to record over the beginning of that 5 minute video. The way you would use it is if you are on a run and something cool happens that you want to record, as soon as that action is over press the shutter button and you will have a 5 minute video with whatever you wanted to record. Then you can quickly press the shutter button again to start the next 5 minute loop. This helps you keep smaller files while still recording everything you want.
Single: Shoots a single 12MP wide angle picture. Below you can see several examples of the quality of the pictures on different settings, please keep in mind these are retouched pictures.
– Continuous: As long as you have the shooting button pressed, you will take pictures, what’s unique about this feature is that you can take a burst of pictures at different FPS also and the settings are: 3, 5 or 10 frames per second. So if you press the button for 5 seconds at 10FPS you will have 50 pictures taken in that period of time.
– Night: This tells the camera that it needs to increase the aperture, which means it will let more light in so that pictures don’t look too dark at night.
– Burst: When the button is pressed once it will take a specified amount of pictures, the different rates are:
– 3 photos per 1 second
– 5 photos per 1 second
– 10 photos per 1, 2 or 3 seconds
– 30 photos per 1, 2, 3 or 6 seconds
– Time Lapse: Will take 1 picture at the specified interval, the options are: .5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 & 60 seconds, same as the time lapse video
– Night Lapse: You can change the shutter speed from Automatic, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 seconds. At the same time you can select the interval between: continuous, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 seconds, 1, 2, 5, 30 or 60 minutes.
What is the difference between Time Lapse video, Time Lapse pictures or Night Lapse?
Time Lapse video automatically creates a video that you can then share without having to do any editing. Time Lapse or Night Lapse takes pictures and then you have to convert them into a video, create a stop motion video or simply get a picture from all the Lapse pictures you took.
GoPro Hero 4 Silver App
I was very surprised by the quality of this application; the review is for the iOS version. As mentioned above you can turn the WiFi on for the GoPro Hero 4 Silver without having the system turned on by pressing and holding the side button. This is where the magic happens. You can then find it under WiFi connections, as long as you are in range of the GoPro you can actually turn it on remotely. You click on CONNECT & CONTROL, it will tell you that the camera is off, by pressing the power icon, you can turn it on. This is such an awesome feature as you can set the GoPro Hero 4 Silver on your desk and then walk away, if in rage you have full control of the camera.
GoPro App Features:
– Turning the GoPro Hero 4 Silver on/off remotely
– Preview of what the camera is looking at
– All information of whichever mode you are in
– Full control of all settings of the camera (change modes, record, adjust settings, etc.)
– Viewing your videos and pictures on your phone
– Transfer your videos and pictures so you can share them without the need of a computer
– View the GoPro Channel, photo of the day and see your latest pictures in the My GoPro Album
Why do you need the GoPro App, if the GoPro Hero 4 Silver has a display to view and frame your shots? If you attached the camera to your helmet, you have no idea if it’s pointing in the correct direction, with the App you get a preview, you can also start and stop the action. Downloading your content in a quick and easy way is amazing.
GoPro Hero 4 Silver also includes a free software for Mac and PC that you can use to import your content into the computer. I have used this extensively and I am amazed how good it is. Once the videos are loaded into the software you can trim all the unnecessary video before converting it and occupying space on your hard drive. This allows for much smaller video files, it is my favorite feature by far, I use other editing software on the Mac and it forces me to import the whole video which most of the time has a lot of wasted space at the beginning and end of the recording. Why do they convert the video? In order to shoot more content GoPro shoots in a compressed format, when imported it is converted to be able to extract all of the color information the video has. Once the software has converted all of your video you can go to Step 2 which is Edit Mode. Here you can not only combine different videos, but the software also includes a way to put your videos in preset themes to make is easier to edit everything together. From the Edit menu you can also change all of the videos settings. Of course you can add text to your videos and sounds, whether it’s a recoding or music. Once you are happy with your video you can choose different methods to export that video.
Things that are missing to make it the perfect action camera:
– Timer: A lot of people that take pictures with a GoPro take selfies because of the wide angle of the lens (170 degrees). They all do it by pressing the button manually. With a timer & Burst combination it would allow for better selfies, better big group photos that you’d like to be a part of, smaller video files, as you could set a 30 second timer and start recording after that.
– Side cover: Very small cover that protects where the micro SD card goes into and also the connection panel. This part is very easy to lose as it’s not connected to the camera in any way. Something from keeping it from detaching from the camera completely would be nice.
– Better Battery life.
There is a reason GoPro is what comes to mind when anyone mentions action cameras. The GoPro Hero 4 Silver doesn’t disappoint. It includes everything you would want in an action camera, plus more features. Because there have been so many versions of the camera already you know that you are getting an excellent camera, but now has an even better software. Once you are used to the LCD, it is so quick and easy to navigate to exactly where you want with a couple of click without having to loop around in case you pressed the button one too many times.
If you want to take 4K video and 15 frames per second is enough for you, this will be the perfect camera. It includes the 1.5 inch LCD with gives you a preview of what you will shoot and allows you to review what you have acquired. That way you are not disappointed when you get home. For me, future proofing my media is very important, so even if I don’t have a 4K display I will still use higher resolutions to enjoy in the coming years. This is the best action camera I have tested so far with the most accessories and mounts to be able to take it and use it anywhere.
MSRP: $399 For more info on the Hero 4 Silver and other GoPro products, visit www.amazon.com/gopro.