GoPro Hero4 Black
Ultra HD 30fps
The GoPro Hero4 Black is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and only weighs 87g, or 152g with the protective case. Don’t be deceived by its tiny size, this little camera captures amazingly vivid and sharp video. The lens has a fixed f2.8 aperture, doing a great job in mixed lighting conditions and not blowing out when pointed directly at the sun. It also shoots time-lapse videos and long exposures with a night lapse mode for budding astrophotographers.
GoPro’s top-of-the-line model, the Hero4 Black handles up to 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD video capture at 30 frames per second, along with 12-megapixel still photos with a 30fps burst mode. There are cheaper GoPro models, like the Hero4 Silver, which only captures Ultra HD at 15fps, or older models, which only go as high as Full HD 1080p.
If Ultra HD seems like overkill, you can decrease the Hero4 Black’s video capture resolution and increase the frame rate up to 120fps – offering smoother slo-mo video. You can also adjust the lens’ fish-eyed Field of View, depending on how much you want to see in the picture.
The Hero4 Black is designed for the great outdoors and comes with a sturdy waterproof case, which connects to a wide range of mounts.
GoPro supplies adhesive mounts and a pivot arm for attaching just about anywhere, but you can buy additional mounts and there’s also a Music edition designed to strap to instruments.
One thing missing is a rear screen for playing back videos. There’s one built into the Hero4 Silver, but with the Black it’s a detachable optional extra. This may not be necessary if you have an Apple or Android gadget at hand, because you can use the GoPro app to view the live feed from the camera, adjust the settings, press record and then playback your clips to see if you got the perfect shot.
The Hero4 Black’s Achilles heel is the built-in microphone. It’s an improvement on previous models, but still sounds disappointing when the camera is sealed up in the waterproof case. Switching to the open-backed rear door improves the sound, but dialogue still sounds muffled and it’s best used as an effects mic. If you need great audio, you can attach an external mic via a micro-USB to 3.5mm adaptor, but then you’ll need to buy a different protective case, which offers access to the micro-USB port.
The micro-USB port also lets you recharge the camera and copy files from the micro-SD card. The camera shows up as standard USB storage when attached to your Mac, but demands extra drivers for Windows. There’s micro-HDMI for connecting to a monitor.
You’ll fit 16 minutes of Ultra HD 30fps video on an 8GB micro-SD, 30 minutes of 1080p at 30fps or even more if you drop the resolution further. The camera produces MP4 files, which play in QuickTime, but they need an edit before you can transfer them to your iGadgets. You can import them into iMovie or the free GoPro Studio, even if your monitor can’t match the resolution of the video. Of course, to truly do Ultra HD justice you’ll want an Ultra HD television or monitor.
It’s an amazing piece of kit, but the GoPro Hero4 Black is overkill if you’ll never shoot in more than 1080p. Make sure you weigh it up against the Hero4 Silver and the cheaper GoPro models to find the best match for your requirements and your budget.