For as long as there have been cameras, people have been pointing them at themselves doing stupid things. The best new way to do that is with the GoPro Hero 4 Silver.
What Is It?
- Resolution: 12-megapixel
- Sensor Size: 1/2.7-inch
- Screen: 1.75-inch LCD
- Video: 2.7k @ 30fps/Full HD 1080p at 60fps
- Lens Mount: N/A (fixed lens)
- Warranty: 2 Years
The new, middle-of-the-range camera from the action sports camera company of record.
It keeps the same form factor as older GoPro Hero cameras but shoots in shiny new modes, resolutions and frame rates to keep you happy, all for $498.
It will shoot 2.7K at 30fps, 1080p @ 60, and 720p at 120. It also adds Bluetooth to the Wi-Fi, has the improved audio system, Night Photo/Night Lapse, and the much better user interface. It also captures stills at 12-megapixels.
Basically, all you’re really missing from the Hero4 Black is 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 120fps, and some of the other higher resolution/frame-rate combinations. What you gain, however, is not insignificant: a really nice, built-in touchscreen.
In the box you get one all-purpose mount as well as a waterproof case.
The best way to think about the new GoPro models is to imagine them on a sliding scale of experience or difficulty, like a video game. If you want a beginner's action camera, you should go for the entry-level Hero. If you're an intermediate adventurer who wants a sturdy, semi-pro action camera for your trekkings you should go for the Hero 4 Silver. If you've used a GoPro before and spend your weekends making Bear Grylls look like a wimp, go for the Hero 4 Black.
Using that build strategy, GoPro has put together a fantastic range of cameras. The Hero 4 Silver is definitely the action camera we'd buy as intermediate adventurers.
GoPro Accessories Explained: Capturing The Action
It comes with a new screen accessory mounted at the back of the device full-time now. Before you had to pay $140 for it and that sucked. Now, though, it's a touchscreen interface that not only lets you make sense of GoPro's reasonably baffling three-button design, but get a handle on what you're shooting as well. The worst thing is to get home, review your footage and realise you had something over the lens.
The Hero 4 Silver shoots beautiful, wide-angle video at a variety of frame rates. The 2k at 30fps is impressive, but where it really shines is in 1080p mode shooting at 60fps. It's gorgeous and smooth.
We're sad it can't do 120 frames per second at 1080p, but that's what the Black is for.
Here's a bit of test video in 1080p at 30fps, using the GoPro Fetch mount to play Frisbee with my sister's dog, Banjo:
One thing we noticed with the Hero 4 Silver is that the video stabilisation has had a bit of work, meaning you can go hand-held like we did in a few of those videos and still not get a shaky, unusable video.
GoPro's app has also had a bit of work since its release, meaning it's now a great way to not only view your photos remotely, but it's also a great smart remote where you can change every setting you ever dreamt of controlling. It takes the still fairly obnoxious three-button control system from the GoPro unit and expands on it. That means you can control everything from the camera's default mode on start-up, the default resolution and frames per second, metering settings, photo and multi-shot settings and much more.
The app sends a low-resolution preview image to your smartphone so you can use it as a framing tool, although with the Hero 4 Silver's rear-mounted screen pumping out a gorgeously sharp preview, it's unlikely you'll need to use it.
Unfortunately, we haven't had the Hero 4 Silver in the office long enough to test out all the features, so we can't tell you what the Night Photo and Night Lapse features are actually like. Based on the control system, however, we can only assume it's a pain to set up but a great feature if you pull it off. We have to add, however, you probably should be using the Hero 4 Silver as a video camera first and still camera last. Your ruggedised smartphone camera (read: Sony Xperia Z series, Samsung Galaxy S5 or any waterproof compact camera) can probably do a better job with a lens that isn't so w i d e.
There's no two ways about it: the GoPro range is pricier than ever. The Hero 4 Silver is $498 from Australia's GoPro distributor.
Don't get me wrong, you still get amazing quality for the price you pay, but for someone who's never invested in an action camera before, it's a big ask. Still, it's not as bad as the Black edition which is nearly $700.
GoPro has made a consistent effort to make as many things on its iconic camera as backwards-compatible as possible, but the Hero 4 changes some things it shouldn't have and keeps other things it could have done better from losing. For example: the battery shape is different now, so if you've bought a few spares for your old GoPros, they won't work in this model. At the same time, GoPro has retained the mini-USB charging port instead of upgrading it to a microUSB port. Sigh.
Speaking of the battery, the life time still isn't stellar (especially if you have your wireless on), so make sure you bring a spare battery or a portable charger to make sure you don't lose half a day's worth of footage.
Should You Buy It?
In our opinion, despite a few niggles and an unfortunately high price, the GoPro Hero 4 is still the best all round camera for shooting your adventures.
If you're someone who goes hiking, kayaking, skiing, or any other kind of outdoorsing pretty regularly and want to grab video with it on a mountable, waterproof, set-and-forget action camera, you can't pass up the Hero 4 Silver.
It's more capable than ever at shooting beautiful video at resolutions normal people will use (read: not 4k), and can mount to just about everything.
We think it's a winner.