The GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition isn’t the first GoPro camera to capture 4K Ultra HD video, but it is the first to do so at a smooth 30 frames per second (fps). What’s more, this matchbox-sized marvel can also shoot Full HD 1080p video at 120fps, making it one of the few action cameras that can give you slow-motion Full HD. Is this the ultimate action camera? We put it through some rigorous testing to find out.
What is it?
A very compact and lightweight action camera that can still shoot 3,840×2160 resolution 4K video, with a smooth 30fps frame rate. It also takes 12Mp stills and – with the bundled submersible case – can be used underwater at depths of up to 40m. It comes with a helmet mount and curved and flat adhesive surface mounts, plus quick release buckles and a skeleton backdoor.
What’s it great for?
If you want the highest-quality video from the smallest possible camera, then the Hero 4 Black Edition is for you. Put it in its waterproof casing, and It’s built to handle all but the roughest conditions, too.
What’s the picture quality like?
In daylight the Hero 4 Black Edition produces excellent footage; sharp, with mostly good, lifelike colours and only slight distortion and a hint of over sharpening. The distortion is from using a wide angle lens, producing an image that bulges outwards along the image edges. Being picky, greens look weak while reds are over-egged, but not to any terrible extent. In artificial light there’s a tendency to overexpose, while detail in shadow areas gets lost. Low-light footage, meanwhile, is bright, but you lose much of the sharpness and noise starts creeping in.
What’s it like to use?
Mostly fine. It’s reasonably easy to switch between the camera’s different modes or change the field of view, and GoPro’s Protune feature makes it easier to tailor the settings to match what you’re trying to shoot. However, the more advanced functions are a little tricky to get to grips with, with only three buttons to find and change the settings. And while you can playback video to an external TV or monitor, the controls make the process really long-winded.
Is there anything I should watch out for?
There’s no auto-focus or image-stabilisation on this model, and no self-timer feature. We also expected more from the Hero 4 Black Edition’s stills. For all the detail captured by the 12Mp sensor, they look artificially vibrant and too red in hue, with clear barrel distortion to boot.
Is there anything else I should know?
This GoPro doesn’t have any problems recording sound, and the ‘HiLight’ tagging feature makes it easy to tag your favourite moments so that you can find them more easily later. Download and install the GoPro app and you can control your camera from a smartphone or tablet, and play back your video as soon as it’s been recorded.
Should I buy it?
Maybe. The GoPro isn’t quite good enough to be a Best Buy, but it’s a powerful camera with some great features that can take some equally great video.