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GoPro Hero 4 Black 4k Camera Review – For Action Seekers

by on February 4, 2015
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Overview

What can I say about GoPro that hasn’t been already established as a brand already? The camera itself is a tech success story almost equal to that of the iPhone. GoPro is known throughout the world as the company who makes tiny cameras that you want to use to film in places where you would ordinarily not film. Surfers, Skiers, and other people that live “extreme” lifestyles love it. There is a channel devoted to nothing more than just seeing awesome videos from GoPro cameras.

The company slogan is “Be a Hero”, and it is apparent why. The Hero series of cameras is the company’s most popular, and it shows. GoPro made a splash in September 2014 when they launched three new cameras: The GoPro Hero, the GoPro Hero Silver, and the one we will focus on today, the GoPro Hero Black. The difference between the Black and the Silver has nothing to do with their colors, but what each can do. The Black prides itself with the ability to record high-resolution video at 4K, which, as the company says, makes it the “most advanced GoPro ever”.

The Good

Due to the camera’s processor now being twice as fast, you are going to get some good footage at 30 frames per second (fps) at 4K or 120 fps at 1080p. Of course that is the camera’s biggest selling point, but what about the sound? The HERO4 Black has it covered with an audio algorithm for making recordings sound “smoother and more natural than ever”. There is also an integrated Analog-to-Digital converter (ADC) that allows compatibility with a wider variety of professional external microphones.

There is a button on the right side known as a “Hilight Tag”, it is located where the Wi-Fi power button used to be. I’ll explain how the “Hilight Tag” button can be used in filming later, but let’s say that when you are not filming, you can access the settings menus much easier than with previous GoPro products.

Previous models would often drain battery power unnecessarily because the Wi-Fi button had a tendency to get switched on by accident. Fortunately, turning on the Wi-Fi is a separate menu entirely, so you don’t have to worry about unintentional battery drain. While I’m discussing the battery life, I might as well bring up that the battery location has been moved to the bottom instead of the side, making quick changes for more power easier.

The purpose of the Hilight Tag during filming is to “find the moment” when you are watching the video later. For example, let’s say you are using the HERO 4 while you are on a motor boat, and you suddenly see a dolphin. When something cool like that happens, hit that Hilight Tag button. This way, you can find that cool moment a lot faster when you use GoPro’s free mobile app or desktop Studio software, instead of watching hours of video footage in an attempt to find that one thing that was actually worth recording.

Speaking of special buttons, there is also a QuikCapture mode that allows one push to record, and then pressing and holding for two seconds to get a Time Lapse photo.

The GoPro HERO4 has smartphone compatibility. All you need to do is go in the Settings menu and connect it via Wi-Fi directly to your mobile device, and you also have the option of using Bluetooth for a very fast connection. There is a GoPro application available for a smartphone that enables the user to change settings, as well as review, preview, and even transfer content. You can also share via text, email, Facebook, and more.

GoPro is quite proud of its new modes for the HERO4 to make videos even better. Shooting after dark has been made better with new Night Photo and Night Lapse mode for single and Time Lapse modes, respectively. The Auto Low Light mode allows for changing of frame rates based on lighting conditions for optimal low-light performance, enabling you to go between dark and bright settings without manually adjusting them. There is also a GoPro exclusive video mode known as SuperView that allows the user to capture the world’s most immersive wide-angle perspective.

Then there is Protune, which they allow allows the greatest degree of manual control available from one of their cameras with customizable settings for color, white balance, ISO Limit, exposure and sharpness, all optimized for professional productions and advanced manual controls for video and still shots.

The Bad

You do not have an option for in-camera digital image stabilization, which can negatively affect 4K video. For still shots, any attempt to enlarge the images might not result in the best quality. The HERO4’s Auto Low Light for photos and video can slow down the shutter speeds so more light can reach the sensor for the right amount of exposure, but this could result in a blurry effect if the subject or camera is moved.

The battery life might not be long for you, and this is because of its Wi-Fi ability. This Wi-Fi can be deactivated for a longer battery life, though. Also, if the resolution and frame rate is low, you can extend your battery’s life a little bit longer.

The battery has been redesigned, so you cannot use older batteries with the HERO4. In previous models, the battery slid into the back of the camera, but on the HERO4, it is on the bottom.

The HERO 3+ Black had a GoPro Wi-Fi Smart Remote, but the HERO 4 does not have this. If you have a Wi-Fi Smart Remote from an older model, it is compatible, which means you should be able to access that HiLight/Settings button from a distance if you want. You will need to spend about $80 USD for the updated version of the Wi-Fi Smart Remote. Once you have this Smart Remote, you are goo to control multiple GoPro cameras from up to 600 feet.

You will also need to purchase a microSD card, as none is included.

Final Thoughts

The sensor within the camera is the size of the average point-and-shoot camera, which means this is about the best quality of video that you can get outside of a DSLR. However, this does not mean that big things do not come in small packages, and 4K30 is probably about as big as it can get, to this writing.

So yes, you will have 4K, but you might have to mess with the settings a bit and do a few trial videos before you get that “absolutely perfect shot”. Once you have it down, it should be easy to imitate, and you will have professional quality videos in a lot less time than you would in the past.

Speaking of disciplines, you might have to develop a new discipline when using the “Hilight Tag”, but it will allow you to really get to the best part of your video much faster. The new designs will keep the Wi-Fi from turning on accidentally, which means that battery life will be conserved.

Too bad the battery design has been changed, but at least the Smart Remote from older models is still compatible. Too bad the GoPro HERO4 Black does not come with the Smart Remote.

Check the Price of GoPro Hero4 Black 4k Camera on Amazon:

Specs

• Camera Type: Mirrorless
• Video Resolution: 4K, 2.7K, 1440p, 1080p, 960p, 720p, and WGA
• Photo Resolution: 12 Megapixel (at resolution of 4000 x 3000)
• Sensor Type:
• File Formats:
• Memory Card: SD
• Lens Mount:
• Image Stabilization:
• Connectivity: WiFi, NFC
• Digital Zoom:
• Screen Size:
• Max Frame Rate: 120 fps
• Focus Modes: Many.

Accessories

In addition to the camera itself, you will get a waterproof housing that is good for getting down deep at 131 feet, or 40 meters. You’ll also get two adhesive mounts with one curved and one flat. There are horizontal and vertical quick-release buckles that can attach to the bottom of the camera’s housing, and there is a small locking plug that can be used in order to prevent the buckles from releasing due to excess movement and such. There is also a three-way pivot arm, so you can mount the camera on the top, front, or side of a helmet. As for charging, there is a Mini-USB cable to connect to your computer, but no USB plug-in for the wall.


Highlights

I suppose that I don't really need to talk about the benefits of 4K30, as this is the "location, location, location" of video shooting.

GoPro clearly knows its audience are fun-loving people who shoot exciting situations that just can't be filmed with conventional and vulnerable cameras, and design their products for these "extreme lifestyles". So it seems natural for them to include a "Hilight Tag" so you can click on the best part, without even having to sit down and watch the entire video to see the best part.

Not only is it set up for the adrenaline junkie crowd, but it knows we live in a mobile age and the HERO4 Black is made to be compatible with mobile devices. Customizing is also big, and the HERO4 Black is made for all kinds of settings for video, stills, and time lapse content.

Overall Performance

The GoPro HERO4 Black could sell itself on 4K30 alone, but the fact that it is set up with as much as it has under its tiny little hood is a testament to the success of GoPro. It is made for the amateur as its controls keep it simple, unlike the DSLR crowd. Even the name of "GoPro" gives its user the implication that they are a professional just by holding one of their products in their hand, and HERO4 will make them feel like a professional in the highest degree.

Features

Clearly, one of the selling points is its compact nature, to get excellent photos and video. Then you can use the GoPro application to watch the GoPro Channel on the phone or tablet.

The company wants to brag that the HERO4 Black has a 2x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates, which is a feature that doesn’t appear on the GoPro HERO4 Silver website. The end result is footage that is “sharper, richer, and more detailed”.

So why is the HERO4 Black the “most advanced GoPro yet”? One word: 4K30. Actually, I don’t know if that is a word or just a combination of words and number, but my point is the HERO4 has it, which means it is 4X the resolution of 1080p. GoPro states that it is the “first camera of its kind to feature ultra high-resolution, high frame rate video as powerful as this”.

Not only can you capture terrific video footage, but the GoPro Black is also just as good at doing single photos as well. That, or you could have the best of both worlds with Time Lapse mode, set to shoot photos automatically at intervals of 0.5 to 60 seconds.

Image Quality and Resolution

For video quality, 4K is good at 30, 25, and 24 frames per second with a resolution of 3840 x 2160. Superview is available only in 24 fps only. For 2.7K, it is at 50, 48, 30, 25, and 24 fps with resolution of 2704 x 1520, and Superview only in 30 and 25 fps, the same as 2.7K 4:3 with resolution of 2704 x 2028. Video resolution is also available in 1440p (1920 x 1440), 1080p (1920 x 1080), 960p (1280 x 960p) and WVGA (848 x 480).

Photo resolution is a different story as the HERO4 Black has 12 Megapixel default with 4000 x 3000 screen resolution as well as 7MP (3000 x 2250) and 5MP (2560 x 1920).

Pricing

You should be able to receive that GoPro HERO4 Black for $499.99 on Amazon.

Check the Price of GoPro Hero4 Black 4k Camera on Amazon:


The Not So Great

You are paying about $500 for the 4K ability, and so it had better be as good as it says that it is. The shots had better be perfect, with as little fiddling of the controls as possible, so I hope that works out well for you, as you should set your expectations for the HERO 4 to be very, very high.

Positives

• The big 4K30 compatibility
• Advanced audio algorithm
• New "Hilight Tag" button
• Smartphone compatibility
• Night Photo and Night Lapse
• SuperView
• Protune

Negatives

• No in-camera digital image stabilization
• Battery life can be draining
• No Smart Remote
• No SD Card

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Price
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Bottom Line
 

It’s GoPro, and they are good. It’s also got 4K30, so that is even better. Assuming you can swing the price, which sounds like it is worth it for a product such as this, what is keeping you from going out there and making professional video?

Check the Price of GoPro Hero4 Black 4k Camera on Amazon: