The smallest and lightest GoPro camera will put a smile on face not for its proportions only because it’s waterproof to the depth of 10 meters without using an external case. Unfortunately, the small size resulted in the lack of LCD screen which could be a terror for somebody as well as the battery being internal only.
Finally, something new. That was probably the first thing that came across my mind when the cheapest GoPro camera arrived for a review. GoPro left their classic design behind and made a cube-shaped action camera for a change which is the tiniest and lightest camera of this company. Welcome to the review of GoPro Hero 4 Session!
The amount of accessories in the classic cardboard/plastic box is much smaller than in competitor’s products but you just have to accept that.
What we can find in the package?
- a camera
- 2 camera mounting frames
- 3 snapping holders (1 can be rotated)
- 2 adhesive holders (for a helmet)
- tripod mount
- locking plug
- USB cable
- instruction manual and stickersThat’s not a lot and I personally miss a handlebars mount the most. Fortunately, this camera is compatible with most of the third party accessories so if you have some you can use them.
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
As I indicated at the beginning, the GoPro Hero 4 Session is a pleased addition to the GoPro’s product lineup. The camera is almost perfectly cube-shaped and its proportions are 38 x 38 x 36,4 mm while the weight stands at 74 grams. Changing the size brings a few disadvantages too. The main one is the absence of LCD screen. Well, this is not completely true. There is a small LCD screen, but not for preview. This one shows only a camera mode and all the necessary info. Shrinking the camera size also resulted in reducing the amount of buttons. Now there are only two of them so even a little kid can handle controlling the camera. There are also small doors on the camera with a power connector and a memory card slot hidden under them.
For some of us, a disadvantage can be also disguised as a built-in battery which is the tax for the waterproofness but you can count on it to the depth of 10 meters’ maximum without using any external case.
The camera’s build quality is pitched to perfection so I have nothing to criticize.
CONTROLLING AND FUNCTIONS
The camera has only two buttons that are enough to operate in basic settings. For access to all the functions you have to reach for a smartphone and the official app.
The main button is used for recording and when pressed, the camera turns on and starts recording automatically. The camera interrupts recording and goes off with another press of this button. Want to take pictures? Just hold the button for a little bit longer and the camera starts taking them. The second button is used for browsing the menu. The LCD, LEDs and sound signals inform us about the process of recording, the latter two can however be turned off.
The two built-in mics (one on the front and other at the back of the camera) take care of higher quality sound recording. This may be beneficial for recording while driving a bike or motorbike when the back mic provides much cleaner sound.
The official iOS/Android/Windows app is available for free download. It’s easy to use and much more user friendly than for example SJCAM or Elephone apps. Switching to the best source of Wi-Fi is completely automatic when it comes to GoPro while the competitors’ ones are usually manual and hard to set up. It’s not anything dreadful but saves a few clicks.
PHOTO & VIDEO
GoPro is still considered as the best camera manufacturer on the market and the price is the proof. This camera was originally at the same price point as the Hero 4 black but as it turned out, there was not enough demand which led to rapid price drop to about 380$ following one more, much more comforting 250$. In my opinion, the quality of recording lags behind the older GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition camera. Although, the sound quality is certainly the thing of 4 Session. Other cameras have problems recording clear sound through the waterproof case.
Unfortunately, there are no 2K or 4K recording options. The maximum video resolution is 1920 x1440 px and 8MPx for stills.
Capacity of the battery is 1000mAh and it can’t be swapped. The only way to get more battery life on the go is a power bank. The internal battery should last around 2 hours of recording in the highest resolution. The battery life drops to approximately 30 minutes with a smartphone connected.
To recommend it or not – that’s a question. A few months ago, when the pricetag was at around $380 I wouldn’t probably recommend buying it and would go for another GoPro camera. However, the price is lower by a third and that makes it very attractive and worth considering. But as always it’s all about personal preferences. Are the small size and weight, great sound recording and waterproofness more important to you than the recording quality? Then reach for the GoPro Hero 4 Session. But if you want a better recording, display or a changeable battery, just pay a “bit” more for GoPro Hero Hero 3+ , Hero 4 eventually.
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