Which GoPro should you buy right now?

I pushed my GoPro mouth mount a bit too far by air dropping onto my face whilst bodyboarding recently.

I’m putting the blame firmly on user error, I should have either not bothered with that particular wave, or at least made the drop properly, but it’s easy to say that in hind sight.

The plastic of my Pro Standard mouth mount snapped and although I had a floaty back door on the GoPro the waves were all over the place and the visibility in the water was terrible so I couldn’t find it after realising it was gone.

I also wasn’t using a leash on the GoPro, which was a conscious decision of mine. I’ve used the Pro Standard Mouth mount for a few years now in lots of types of waves. I’ve never felt as though I was going to let the mount slip out of my teeth.

Some of my current GoPro kit and the GoPro Hero 3 black edition camera that works with all of it

As it happens the mouth part stayed in my mouth very firmly as the GoPro was snapped off. I have tried to twist and snap the plastic part with my hands in the past, as a kind of strength test, and it felt very firm, so I think it’s just an unfortunate case of hitting it with all the force of my falling body in exactly the wrong place.

I had also just got back from an international trip on a budget airline and I took the mouth mount with me. So there’s also a chance it was weakened somehow in transit without me noticing (I definitely didn’t check it before taking it out).

It had also stood up to several pretty heavy slams in the same session too.

The lesson I’ve learned is that if you take expensive things into the sea eventually you’re going to break them or lose them. I’ve been pretty lucky so far and I’m going to chalk this loss up to the cost of documenting all my surfs.

Cost per use of a GoPro Hero 4 Silver camera

It’s a shame when you lose something valuable like a camera, but it happens and I feel like I’ve got my moneys worth out of it. When I think about this type of kit I like to consider the cost per use.

I bought the Hero 4 Silver edition as soon as I could, on October the 6th 2014, I sold my GoPro Hero 3+ black edition to pay for it. As I sold my GoPro Hero 2 to cover a chunk of the costs of the Hero 3+ black edition I could do an estimate based on the total cash outlay vs total number of videos and photos from all three cameras, but I’ll stick with the Hero 4 for the sake of this post.

I had a look through my Lightroom library and I estimate the cost per photo or video clip for my GoPro Hero 4 Silver edition was about 8p (11 cents US).

That’s a conservative estimate based on the images and videos I’ve kept, if you count all the ones I’ve deleted over the years it would be much lower.

If you told me when I started out it would cost me 8p to capture each of the images on this page, I’d have said that’s pretty reasonable.

Am I going to replace my GoPro Hero 4 Silver edition?


Long time readers may be aware that I bought a budget GoPro hero camera at the same time as the Hero 4 Silver edition. I actually gave this to a friend who’d lost his own GoPro a few months ago.

I could get this one back and use it until a new flagship (Hero 5?) comes out at the end of the year, or… I could see what the best value option for surf photography is right now.

The best value GoPro for surf photography

I get asked fairly often about the best camera for surf photography. For wide angle photos and video in the water a GoPro is usually my first suggestion. I’ve been very happy with the Hero 4 silver edition so I’m happy to recommend it for people who will use it a lot. Having used the budget Hero model too I think that would work for some people who are more casual users.

Sometimes readers don’t have a good idea of how they’re going to use the camera before they buy it, in these cases it’s harder to make a good recommendation.

GoPro cameras, original 35mm, Hero 1 and Hero 3 Black edition

Luckily I’ve got the benefit of years of footage and photos from my various GoPro cameras for analysis.

It turns out these are the features I absolutely need in an action camera:

  • Compatible with the hero 4 style GoPro case (so it will work with my KSD6 dome port and other accessories)
  • 1080p @ at least 60fps
  • 1080p superview mode
  • Still images at over 10MP
  • Still image burst mode at least 10 shots per second

That discounts third party options like the SJ4000 range or the Xiami cameras, which are good value but won’t work with my wide range of GoPro specific cases and accessories.

Unfortunately form factor also discounts the now reasonably priced GoPro Hero 4 session camera – if it was possible to use it with my KNEKT GPLT trigger, KPT18 pole and KSD6 dome I’d probably go for it.

So which camera meets my needs best?

Surprisingly a second hand GoPro Hero 3 Black edition is the one I’ve gone for. It’s 4 years old but it can do everything I need and it’s substantially cheaper than any of the alternatives.

This is GoPro’s problem – their 4 year old cameras do everything a demanding user like me needs them to do, there’s just no need to upgrade.

I’d much rather spend less on my camera and the rest on an awesome accessory that lets me do something new, like the KNEKT KSD6 dome, or the KPT18 trigger pole (which I have used a fair bit now, so I should definitely do some sort of review of it soon).

I’ve got my fingers crossed that the Hero 5 has some spectacular new features which means I’ll want to get one straight away, but it’s going to have to be pretty special to get me to upgrade, and it absolutely must be compatible with all the accessories I already have.

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