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Reviews

GOPRO Hero4 Black

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At first glance there’s little to separate the GoPro Hero4 from its predecessor .This is mostly a benefit, as it’s compatible with a wide array of accessories and mounts. The camera’s incredible popularity means it’s easy to find all manner of compatible kit, both from GoPro and other manufacturers.

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The Hero4 is available in two versions: Silver and Black.

The black model has a faster processor and can shoot at a higher resolution or higher frame rates. The Silver version has abuilt-in touch display, which is ideal for framing your video and photos and provides an easier way to change settings, although it drains the battery faster.

AN OPEN AND SHUT CASE

The Hero4 isn’t waterproof without its separate casing, so you lose any touchscreen functionality as soon as it’s enclosed. The casing is the same as that of previous GoPro cameras, with spring-loaded buttons that take a little more effort to press than we’d like.You still have to remember each button’s action to navigate the menus, too.

The case comes with two back doors. The standard door is waterproofto40m. The skeleton backdoor doesn’t protect from the elements but its open back allows for better audio capture.Mounts for flat, curved and vertical surfaces are included, but you’ll need to put the Hero4 in its case to use them.

A Mini USB port, a Micro HDMI port and a microSD slot are hidden behind a cover.This is small and detaches completely ,making it easy to lose when you charge the camera. A hinged flap would be better,although GoPro clearly doesn’t think so, as this is a criticism we had of the Hero3 too.

Companion apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone let you control the camera’s settings and view captured video over Wi-Fi direct. Once connected, the app is easy to use and certainly preferable to changing settings on the camera itself.The app also lets you copy footage from the Hero4 to share and upload to social networks, although at the time of writing we couldn’t share directly to Instagram on Android.

The app’s live view feature makes up for the lack of an LCD display on the Black model. It’s not quiteas quick as Sony’s HDR-AZ1 app (see opposite), as there’s more than a half-second delay between the camera and the phone,but it’s not toojarring and certainly helps with framing shots. If Wi-Fi direct is turned on, the Hero4’s Wi-Fi remains active even when you switch the camera off –ablue light blinking on the front lets you know that it’s on.

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This enables you to turn on the Hero4 remotely from your smartphone,but it also means you’ll have to disable Wi-Fi manually to ensure the battery doesn’t drain while you’re not using the camera. We forgot a few times and came back to a dead battery,which was annoying. Holding the settings button on the side quickly toggles the Wi-Fi on and off, which is convenient if you remember to do it.

The f/2.4-aperture lens should provide decent performance in low light, and this is paired with a½.3in sensor .The Hero4 Black captures video at up to 4K resolution at 30fps, as well as 120fps at 1080p for slow-motion. Dropping to 720p enables a 240fps mode for even slower footage. Depending on the resolution, you can choose between Ultra Wide,Medium or Narrow fields of view.Ultra Wide is available across all resolutions and provides the field of view typical of most action cameras. There’s some barrel distortion as you would expect, but the effect also heightens the excitement in video of activities such as extreme sports.

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Image quality at both 4K and 1080p resolutions was very good. Footage was sharp and detailed in good lighting conditions, with minimal noise.The lens also did well to avoid chromatic aberrations. Colour saturation was a little muted for our tastes, however we’d hoped for more vibrant colours from our test footage captured on are asonably sunny day. Disappointingly, the Hero4 lacks the image stabilisation of other rivals so footage from our test, which places the camera on a moving platform, was not as steady as we would have liked.

The Hero4’s mono microphone is claimed to have twice the dynamic range of the Hero3’s. Even with the standard back door attached the mics were very sensitive,but the mono microphone lacked any directionality of sound. You’ll need an external microphone if you value sound quality. The battery lasted an hour and 33 minutes when shooting 1080p video at 30fps, which is about average for anaction camera. This falls to an hour when shooting 4K at 30fps. Thankfully,the battery can be replaced, and you can pick up spare for around £15. You won’t be able to use your old batteries if you upgrade from an older GoPro though.

The Hero4 is an excellent action camera. It still lacks proper optical image stabilisation, but footage looks fantastic. Being able to shoot 4K at 30fps is also a boon, and means you can grab high-resolution stills from your footage.The handy GoPro app makes up for the fiddly camera controls, and the included mounts and accessories are excellent. As a package the Hero4 Black is excellent, but it falls just short of a Best Buy award due to its battery life and lack of image stabilisation.

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