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GoPro HERO4 Silver – First Impressions
Recently, we took our first shipment of the highly anticipated GoPro HERO4 line up. Obviously, it is safe to say that there’s a pretty high demand for this action camera, particularly for the Black (this time around GoPro look to have dropped the “edition” so the cameras are simply know as “Black” or “Silver”). We deemed it unfair to keep a Black for ourselves at this point in time, but luckily we had an extra Silver. It didn’t take long for us to pop it open and have a look at what this thing can do.
It’s the same as the 3+ Black Edition . It’s definitely not! At first glance and a quick skim through of the specs you might think that, but look a little closer and read a bit deeper the GoPro HERO4 Silver is so much more. Firstly, they’ve packed a nice little LCD touch screen into the same footprint as the previous model. Secondly, there’s a fair few new features to boot, including the new Night Lapse mode and Protune photos.
If you’re just interested in 4K, then I’d probably stop reading here. This camera can shoot at 4K. Well, sort of. At only 15 frames per second it’s a rather pointless feature. I guess that this is where the Black really comes in to its own with full 30fps 4K video. Although, if you want to shoot 4K, you’ll need the tech to back it up; super fast memory cards, a computer with some serious hardware inside and not to mention a 4K TV the size of your living room wall. I guess that’s why I’m quite excited to test the GoPro HERO4 Silver really. It’s the practical one, the sensible one of the family.
Ok lets get to it. The camera itself feels nice in the hand the textured edges make it nice to hold out of the case. It’s certainly not light though, and that’s without the case. I think for helmet mounting options, there are other more suitably shaped cameras that I would prefer to wear. The battery door is now found underneath and there’s something I quite like about the way that it closes. The battery itself though still has a flimsy feeling tab to help you pull it out. If this were to break off (which I fear it might), there would be no way to remove the battery. The 40M waterproof case is the same as last time, still featuring a slightly flimsy clip. The clip may be a bit fragile feeling but it’s nice that it sits so close to the camera. I found myself having to fiddle a little bit when putting the camera in the case, as it seemed to drop in nicely but the back door wouldn’t close. UPDATE: After using the camera for just a couple of days, there’s a small hole appearing in the power button. It seems that the button on the housing is quite sharp on the inside and cuts in to the button on the camera body. You can see this in the picture below.
When turning it on, the first thing you notice is the screen. Put simply, it’s fantastic. The colours are true to what you’ll see when reviewing your footage on a computer. The touch works a treat with a nice little “slide to unlock” style screen, stopping you from accidentally changing settings. It is also nice and responsive, making it a breeze to change settings and set up your camera. Obviously, the touch screen doesn’t work through the waterproof case, so you’d have to change settings the old fashioned way. In the box, you do get a “touch” backdoor, that allows you to use the touch screen when in the case. I didn’t get a chance to use this, so I can’t really comment on it’s functionality, but I imagine that it works similarly to some waterproof phone cases. The display must use some form of IPS technology as you can see the screen from any angle. This would be great for having a quick look at your clips with friends at the bar during a session on the slopes. If you’re using the camera for things other than point of view shots, then the screen is a life saver. Your shots will look better almost instantly as you can see what your shooting. No more pointing and hoping. I’d say that this is definitely the defining feature of this camera. I think that if you used another GoPro without a screen after having a play with the silver then you’d definitely miss it.
Straight out of the camera, the footage is clear, sharp and colourful. This is perfect for most users but it can feel a bit over saturated at times. This is where Protune comes in. Protune allows you to customise the way that the GoPro interprets what it sees. You can change the white balance, ISO, colour profile, sharpness and exposure. The ability to change these settings really allows you to get the right image for your purpose, especially if you’re a professional looking to add a GoPro to your kit bag. All of these features paired with the ability to change frame rate, resolution and field of view can lead to some breathtaking visual imagery.
In “normal” photo mode, the pictures are clean and colourful, perfect for sharing on social media. The super wide angle lends itself to taking some pretty epic selfies. Protune for photos is an all new feature to the HERO 4 line up. It works in exactly the same way as mentioned above for videos. However, every time I took a photo in this mode, the image seemed soft and slightly blurry. Perhaps I am doing something wrong, but the videos looked great. Another new feature and possibly the one that I was most looking forward to trying out was Nightlapse. In this mode, you can create those amazing starry sky time lapses. You can even use Protune and adjust the exposure times helping to achieve those streaky motorway lights. In practice, the Nightlapse mode works really well. First time, I was able to create a nice moving starry sky. I started to experiment to see how else it could be used, a dimly light pub created some nice motion. I was impressed as to how well it worked in the car. I used it to create some streaky lights whilst driving home one night. It picked up the lights really well and I was blown away by the sky. Although through both of my experiments, in the pub and on the road, I found the footage to be really yellow. I guess this was due to the yellow streetlights and lamps in the bar, but even still, I was slightly disappointed.
The Wi-Fi works well as you’d expect from a brand who are now into their third iteration of a Wi-Fi enabled camera. Pairing to your smart device has been made even easier by the inclusion of bluetooth. I find the feed is a little laggy as you move the camera around, but the ability to review and share your footage more than makes up for this. It is certainly nice to be able to quickly save a photo to your phone and within a matter of minutes edit and upload to Instagram.
From my short time using the camera, I noticed that the battery life wasn’t fantastic. Perhaps this was because of the display and my constant fiddling. When I get chance to use the camera in anger, I’ll be able to pass a better judgement on this. Although it would appear that there are other cameras that would hold up a little better from a battery point of view. However, overall its a really nice camera with some top end features. It would not surprise me if the GoPro HERO4 Silver becomes GoPro’s top seller. As it has all of the features that a consumer or prosumer could ask for. The killer feature has to be the built in touch screen, especially considering that the camera is no bigger as a result. Do the high end 4K features of the Black outweigh the practicality of the Silver’s display? Probably not. I think the sensible users will look to buy the GoPro HERO4 Silver. Whereas the Black will be bought by professionals who actually require 4K along with GoPro “fan boys” who only want the “best” and most expensive model to show off to their friends in the pub.