GoPro’s latest camera is 50% smaller and 40% lighter than the popular HERO4, but that’s not all this sleek, black cube is packing.
GoPro’s Emmy-award winning HERO4 range now has a durable younger sibling at a very reasonable price. Launching July 12th in authorised GoPro retailers and online at GoPro’s website, this sleek, jet black cube doesn't just look sexy as hell, it’s also packed with some surprising and welcomed features that aim to cement this new piece of tech as GoPro's go-to camera for amateur film-makers.
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We got a hands-on preview with the new addition to the GoPro family at the HERO4 Session’s launch event in Sydney last week. Here’s what we know so far.
In June 2015 rumours surfaced that the HERO5 was in development and that it would replace the HERO4 range and at a lower price. While we’re still not sure if a HERO5 is in development, we can confirm that the HERO4 Session does indeed come at lower price than the HERO4 Black at $579.95. Although it doesn’t share the same 4K quality as the HERO4 Black, the Session still manages to cram in a few extra features that can’t even be found on GoPro’s premium camera.
The most instantly recognisable difference with the HERO4 session is the cubic, jet-black design, punctuated only by a single red light above the lens. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Robocop’s much-maligned redesign in the 2014 reboot. Unlike Robocop, however, we’re welcoming the stylish new look with open arms. Not only does the Session look incredible but it’s also 50% smaller and 40% lighter than the rest of the HERO4 range, and if this anecdote is any indicator, it can take a hell of a beating too.
From the box to the water, no housing needed
Aside from its outstanding durability, perhaps one of the most impressive features of the new HERO4 Session is its waterproofing. The HERO4 Session is waterproof up to 10 meters straight out of the box. That’s right, you no longer need to fork out the extra cash for a bulky waterproof housing. In addition to this, the Session 4 is packing a Dual mic system that delivers enhanced audio in underwater and high-wind environments. When one microphone is muffled or obstructed by wind or water, the HERO4 Session automatically defaults to the second microphone for clearer audio.
“One and a half” button operation
Our presenter credited the HERO4 Session’s development to “user, staff and media feedback”, suggesting that a need for higher versatility and a friendlier user experience catalysed a few changes to GoPro’s winning formula. Rather than giving the user the option of “one button mode”, as the current GoPro lineup does, the HERO4 Session has been stripped of all but one of its buttons, making “one button mode” the default way to operate the Session. A short press of the shutter will power the camera on and begin recording video, whereas a long press will initiate a burst of time-lapse photographs. Though, our presenter tells us that, in-house, they prefer to call it “one and a half button mode”, as you can also press a small discrete button to glimpse the status display and "highlight tag" key moments in a recording session (e.g. significant moments like stacks and spills).
The most flexible GoPro yet
Before now, many GoPro users relied on third party mounts to film those hard to reach angles– with the HERO4 Session, GoPro has covered every nook and cranny. Packaged with the Session is a Ball Joint Buckle that lets you adjust camera angles instantly. This is perfectly complimented by the Session's flexible base that can be rotated 360 degrees and switched between a standard and low profile frame mount– allowing for you to film from the closest angles possible.
Despite some questionable changes, like the sealed battery unit (with a 2-hour recording life), the HERO4 Session is a reasonably priced, entry point addition to the prestigious GoPro range. The HERO4 Session's out-of-the-box waterproofing, and unrivalled versatility that it's automatic orientation, low-profile mounts and swivel base allows for make it a perfect choice for users who want to dip their feet before diving in with a HERO4 Black purchase.