Don’t Buy a GoPro Hero 4 Session

UPDATE: GoPro have slashed the price of the Hero 4 Session camera to $199, so it’s now a better option for people who absolutely need the slightly smaller size, but I’d still recommend the Hero 4 Silver if you have the extra money available, it’s far superior for surf photography.

There’s another new Gopro, the GoPro Hero 4 Session, and like the last one, it slides in underneath the current range in terms of specs.

This time they’ve gone for a smaller, stripped down form factor, and left the other spec’s fairly standard.

Nice video, but there’s maybe one shot in there that I couldn’t have shot with my Hero 4 Silver.

Honestly, I’ve never had a problem mounting my GoPro anywhere, I carry it in my mouth whilst surfing with no ill effects, how much smaller does it need to be?

What I like about the GoPro Hero 4 Session

  • Auto rotate – this is awesome
  • It’s small, but then my Hero 4 Silver is pretty small too. It’s so small you can mount it inside the spokes of your bike wheel! don’t ask why you’d want to do that, just be thankful that you now can!
  • The ball joint looks like a sensible idea
  • 60fps 1080p or 100fps 720p or 48fps superview 1080p – all good modes, but it doesn’t do 720p superview at 100fps, which is the other mode that my Hero 4 Silver also does
  • Built in WiFi and Bluetooth – all good
  • Mostly decent stills modes with 8MP resolution – all you need really
  • Protune for video – nice to have, although I don’t use it anymore

It’s fairly decent, but GoPro shot themselves in the foot with the price. Everything the Hero 4 session can do the Hero 4 Silver can do better, and it’s got an LCD screen!

For exactly the same money you can get a Hero 4 Silver, which in my eyes is a much better camera for nearly every situation, plus if you’re like me and you bought the Hero 4 Silver when it came out you’ve already been using it for 10 months.

So this camera is worse in nearly every way to a 10 month old camera, and they’re charging the same price for it. I’m confused. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing them for significantly less at Christmas (especially if a Hero 5 range is out by then), the RRP should be about $299, not $399.

My GoPro Hero 4 Session concerns

Some key spec’s, and why they concern me:

  • Price – less camera, same money??
  • Waterproof to 10m with no housing – my Canon SureShot A-1 was waterproof to 5m, and that died when I was shooting 1 foot waves. 10m is fine for snorkelling but I have concerns about the pressure it will be under in decent sized waves (although there’s a frame grab/still from the nose of Kelly Slaters’ board so maybe it’s fine?)
  • No LCD – obviously. I like the LCD on my Silver edition, I use it more than I thought I would
  • it wont fit on my KNEKT GPLT trigger – boo
  • It isn’t compatible with the KNEKT KSD6 dome – boo again
  • Photo burst is only 10 frames per second – my $129 GoPro Hero does 5 frames per second and isn’t much bigger.
  • You can’t remove the battery – that’s a bit of a bummer, not that big a deal, but still annoying
  • Smaller battery – 1030mAh in the Session compared to 1160mAh in the Hero 4 silver and black – they are using more power to process more data, but at least you can switch out the battery when it’s dead

Basically I could forgive all of these issues if it was sold at a budget friendly price, but it’s the same price as the Hero 4 Silver!

Don’t buy a Hero 4 Session!

No one who wants to shoot surf photos or video should buy the Hero 4 Session (at full price), there is no situation where it would be a better choice than the incredible value GoPro Hero 4 Silver.


Comments

  1. I’m making a movie about a river. I think I might like waterproofing on session so I can get better sound since it’s not in a case. I’m worried about the session footage on a film festival big-screen. What do you like about 720P superview at 100fps? I’m a story guy and not so knowledgeable about frame rates, etc. Love to hear some people’s thoughts! Thanks!

    1. Hi,

      The 720p superview at 100fps is great for surf footage as you can slow it down and still get a smooth playback and the superview helps cover the widest area and still get a standard 16:9 aspect ratio.

      In terms of using the Session for a big screen film, I don’t think there are many advantages.

      The sound will be pretty poor from any tiny camera like this, you’d be much better off getting a separate waterproof microphone and getting your audio that way.

      I’ve never shot for a big screen but I have put together video from different sources and I’d do everything you can to use the same camera to shoot all your footage.

      You might be able to hire a housing for your main camera, or make do with something like an EWA flexible bag style case if you’re not shooting much. Anything to keep the footage consistent will make your life easier in editing and make the experience more consistent for the audience.

      The footage from these cameras is great for action sports and possibly short action sequences for TV, but it’s no substitute for a real movie camera.

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