The above video contains footage of the Hero4 Black's banner features, namely 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 120fps. Both look really, really good. I especially think the surf and deep water shots stand out for clarity and evenness. If you want to see more 4K samples, check this video, and if you want more 1080p at 120fps, click this.

As you can see in this comparison video, the Hero4 Silver does a really nice job keeping things balanced and exposing correctly. It's the best in low light, it has very solid audio (when not inside its waterproof case), and colors are pretty true to life. Obviously, this video only shows it against three other cameras—all of which are $100 or more cheaper than the Hero4 Silver—but still, it's the clear winner in these tests (make sure you watch at full resolution).


Additionally, the Black edition is getting a few new and very sweet modes, which you can read about here from when we got our exclusive first hands-on.

The above video shows the Hero4 Black's new 720p at 240fps mode, which is perfect for buttery smooth slow motion. I slowed it down to play back at 24fps, so you're seeing 1/10th speed. It looks really good, especially in well-lit situations. That said, it is limited to a narrow field of view, which can be pretty limiting, especially if you're shooting back at yourself. It's worth noting that Sony's forthcoming flagship Action Cam, the X100V, will also shoot 720p at 240fps, but it will do so in the wide field of view, which seems way more useful.

The Black can also now shoot 2.7k video at 60 frames per second (up from 48), which allows you to shoot very large video that can both be cropped (or used with image stabilization software) and slowed down. I really love the way this footage looks. This brings me back to my point that GoPro offers twice as many shooting modes as competing models. Sometimes they are obscure aspecct ratios that don't matter, but you're getting a lot more flexibility. Some of the modes that are exclusive to GoPro have actually become my favorite way to shoot. For example, you can see in this video how Super Mode squeezes way more into a frame, which is great for surf or snowboard shots.

The new software can also automatically cut together timelapse videos. Previously when you shot a timelapse you'd just end up with a giant folder of stills. You still have that option, but if you'd rather, you can have it cut together the timelapse into a 4K or 2.7K video right inside the camera which you can immediately share. It's slick. The Hero4 also has a Night Lapse mode, which lets you take a string of long exposures. I've found that it takes some tinkering to get the results you're after—especially on the Black edition, which has no screen—but it's possible to get some pretty neat results.



The current gold standard for image quality. Especially the Black edition with higher resolutions and framerates, but at 1080p60 the Silver looks just as good. Audio is very clean and low-light situations are met with low noise. Terrific dynamic range. Sets the bar for sharpness, too. Tons of accessories available, and it includes a case that's waterproof to 131 feet. Offers modes that other cameras don't have (like 2.7K video, 4:3 ratios, and SuperView). Light and comfortable to wear, and the menu system is easier to navigate than previous iterations.


The touchscreen on the Silver edition looks great. It's sharp and easy to read outdoors, and makes it a lot simpler to ensure you get the shot you want. It's a real shame that the Black doesn't have it, too.


No Like

Battery life. Ho man, battery life. GoPro has never been a leader on this front, but the Hero4 Black—the new flagship—is at the bottom of the barrel. While shooting at 1080p 30fps, it only mustered 97 minutes. Even the Hero3+ managed 115 minutes! Shoot 4K at 30fps and it drops to 70 minutes. Shoot 1080p at 120fps and it sinks to just 63 minutes. Yes, batteries are cheap and can be swapped out, but that does you no good if you're surfing, snorkeling, diving, etc. It's hands-down the worst thing about the Hero4 Black. The Silver edition managed a much better 119 minutes (at 1080p30), but that's still a good ways behind the 150 minutes I've gotten from a Sony AS100V. This is something GoPro needs to fix.


And if you're upgrading from a previous GoPro, you'll need to buy new batteries because the Hero4 has ones shaped slightly differently. You'll also want a new external battery charger, if you bought one of those. Which I did. Damnit.

The Hero4 doesn't have any built-in stabilization. Most action cameras don't, but Sony's does, and it's been getting better. What was initially a gimmick could end up making a very large difference in video quality. The Hero4 also doesn't have built-in GPS, which many (including the Sony) do now. The Hero4 no longer includes a remote control (which is rugged and waterproof, and convenient if your camera is out of arm's reach), which came standard with the Hero3 and Hero3+ models. It's $80 now. The cameras themselves aren't so cheap, either.


Should You Get It?

Shortcomings aside, the Hero4 Black is still the best action camera you can currently buy. At $500, it's not cheap, but if you want your action videos to look as good as possible, that's the way to go. You can expect large Hollywood production companies to purchase these things by the pallet, and it's going to yield some really sweet slow motion shots at angles you wouldn't see otherwise.


That said, for most consumers, the Hero4 Silver edition is probably the better pick. You probably don't need 4K video at 30fps, or 2.7K at 60, or 1080p at 120, or 720p at 240. I mean, they're awesome, but you can probably settle for a little less resolution and a little less speed. For that compromise, you'll save $100, and gain a very handy touchscreen and a bit of battery life.

It's also worth noting that Sony's 4K Action Cam (X100V) is just around the corner and gunning for the Hero4 Black. It costs the same $500 and has a lot (but not all) of the same shooting modes, plus stabilization and GPS. We should be getting our hands on it very soon, and we'll have a head-to-head comparison as soon as we can. For now, though, the king remains on his throne.