By Franz Lopez
If you’re a GoPro fanboy like me, it’s almost certain that you’ve encountered most Hero cameras to date. It’s fascinating how they redesigned the camera to be able to film in the toughest situations. Their ingenuity helps us relive each experience.
Living or visiting the Philippines will urge you to own a GoPro. It’s a country that boasts of countless tourism destinations in its 7107 islands. Named “The selfie capital of the world” in March 2013, the Philippines is in fact a perfect hub for GoPro exclusive merchandise.
Don’t get me wrong, taking selfies isn’t bad. But rather than just taking them, I believe that you can take it to the next level by challenging your self to become more adventurous in terms of how you capture the experience. Being able to explore with your GoPro, infused with creativity, makes it more meaningful.
HERO 4 BLACK
Introducing the Hero 4 Black, the latest flagship camera that GoPro has to offer.
Previous to its release, people have been complaining about how unrealistic the Hero3+BE’s 4K capability is. It only allows you to shoot at 15fps, giving the recorded video a ‘laggy’ feel.
Rumours then circulated that GoPro was working on a new design set to be released, 3rd quarter of the year. True enough, in September 2014, Hero 4 was announced raising the bar with not only 4K that shoots 30fps, butincludes night lapse mode and a couple more features that got people very excited.
I first saw the Hero 4 in Singapore. As a fanboy, I wanted to get one for myself. Holding the box and seeing it in person won me over. Although it’s just the same size as the Hero 3+, the new look and features immediatelycaught my attention. I managed to resist temptation and decided to wait it through until it reached Manila.
Let’s go down to the package.
Unlike the previous version, the Hero 4 doesn’t have a GoPro remote included.
The box includes the following :
Curved Adhesive Mount
Flat Adhesive Mount
Quick Release Buckle
3-Way Pivot Arm
USB data cable / charger
Safety Information Guide
Quick Start Guide
DIMENSIONS : 41mm X 59mm X 21/30mm
WEIGHT : Camera: 88g (3.1oz) Camera with housing: 152g (5.4oz)
The Record Button is located on top with a Microphone beside it. An LED light that tells you when it’s recording is also found adjacent to it.
The LED display is found in front together with 2 new LED notifiers, the Camera Lens and the Power Button.
A Pop-up Lid is found on the right side of the camera that covers the Micro SD Card Slot, and both HDMI and USB 2.0 slots.
A Wrench Button is found at its left side replacing the former WiFi button. It still acts as the WiFi button but now supports navigation for easy access.
Unlike previous versions, the Battery slot has now been transferred to the bottom for easy access when a BacPac is attached. Another LED notifier is found on the bottom right corner.
Similar to previous versions, the Pin Slot for BacPac attachments is still found at the back.
HERO 4 BLACK’S NEW FEATURES
Unlike the previous version, the Hero 4 Black Edition now shoots 4K in 30fps that’s fit for production standards. It also boasts of its new 2.7k 50fps and 1080 120fps feature that high speed shooters have been begging for. This allows you to shoot in Full HD while maintaining the smoothness of the footagewhen you slow it down. It’s a real killer.
From what I can say for now, the quality looks fantastic across all available frame-rates.
4K and beyond
In the coming years, 4K will become increasingly important. With the introduction of new 4K monitors, the demand for high resolution footage begin to rise. Even Youtube now supports it. Undoubtedly by the next year or so, the Hero 4 Black will become more relevant.
The Hero 4 also has a new crop setting limiting the options to choose from, as seen below.
4K and 4K superview - Wide only
2.7K - Wide / Narrow
1080p super view - Wide only
1080 - Wide / Med / Narrow
Low light and Night Lapse
The Hero 4 BE surprisingly shoots good in low light, it looks clean specially when taking images. With its impressive Night Mode, Hero 4 now empowers you to shoot time lapse at night enabling you to shoot magnificent star trails. Just be sure to disable the Lowlight option. – this automatically slows down your frame-rate down to let more light in.
New audio system
GoPro claims to have included two times the dynamic range from the previous system. Unfortunately, I still haven’t gone through audio sampling yet. There will be an update in the next article.
Before purchasing any memory cards, be sure to check the card class, only Class 10 cards are compatible. I recommend buying either Lexar, Sandisk or Transcend. Be on the lookout for fake cards. Keep in mind that if your card fails, it may damage your camera and may void the warranty.
As soon as you open your Hero 4 Black Edition, make sure to load the battery and close the lid to check if it fits flat. Most users complain that their lid pops out of place. When this happens, don’t hesitate to inform the store or email GoPro support to request for a replacement.
INSERTING THE MEMORY CARD
Inserting memory cards are similar to previous versions. Easily pop the side cover and insert it. Push it further to lock it into place. Remember to keep the cover on. Most users, including me, have lost our own covers. When this happens, don’t worry. Replacement covers can be purchased either online or in retail stores.
As an added tip, you can secure the lid using an invisible magic tape.
Most accessories are small and can easily get lost. Be sure to keep them in one place. A hard-cased box is also recommended to organize and ensure your camera’s safety.
THE BOTTOM LINE
On the Bottom line, considering that it shoots 4K in 30fps and has clean low light capabilities, the Hero 4 Black Edition currently being priced at P23,990 (P25,990 SRP) is radical. But, should you buy it?
Buy it if it’s your first GoPro or you opt to upgrade from a Hero 3 or an earlier version. I won’t recommend purchasing one if you already have a Hero 3+ BE. Basically, the only difference lies with 2 led lights in front, its new interface (when the LCD bacpac is attached) and several new features.
Also, for people upgrading, it might annoy you that the new version does not support the previous battery design. You’ll need to purchase a new set designed specially for the Hero 4.
Worse, they downsized it having only 1160 mAh, lower than the previous version which is1180 mAh. – Not a significant drop but considering how unreliable GoPro battery life is, you might need to purchase more backups.
The New GoPro Lineup
If you want to consider other options, there are also different versions included in the latest lineup that will suit your lifestyle. Aside from the Hero 4 Black Edition, there's the Hero 4 Silver Edition, and the entry level Hero.
A cheaper version called the Hero 4 Silver sells for P19,990 (P20,990 SRP). It’s basically a Hero3+BE with a built-in LCD touch display.
And for starters, an even cheaper entry level camera, simply called the Hero, sells for P7,290 (P7,990 SRP) with minimal features.
Overall, the Hero 4 is the only action camera that shoots 4K with industry standard 30fps and high-speed 120fps 1080p video. Is it the best action camera to date? Definitely. It deserves 9.5/10 stars. But as GoPro improves its camera lineup, other companies like Canon and Sony are starting to develop their own. Someone will most certainly produce similar specs in the coming year and probably charge it for less. But GoPro is still GoPro. TheHero 4 Black Edition is badass and professionals as well as semi-pros are plunging over to get one.
Having a GoPro is worth it, specially if you’re creative enough to challenge yourself to go beyond the bounds of your normal activities. The Hero 4 is ground breaking. It’s almost unbelievable that a camera this small could harness such power. With their latest lineup, GoPro continues to inspire us to go beyond our boundaries.