GoPro Hero4 Silver Edition Camcorder Review
This GoPro may be silver, but it's hard to call it second best.
By the Numbers
GoPro has been the staple of the action camera niche for nearly 10 years and their newest models leave little to be desired in the balance of portable performance. While you can't compare them to dedicated cinema cameras, they do matchup with some of the best camcorders on the market.
We took the new Hero4 Silver into our labs to see where the Hero4 Silver Edition stands in GoPro's newest lineup.
Sharpness has been an ongoing improvement for GoPro over the years. It gets better quality with the same sensor size by improving the processing of images in the camera, unlocking higher bitrates and resolutions. That said, sharpness on the Hero4 Silver is a slightly worse than it was on the Hero3+ Black.
On the older Hero3+ Black, we saw 700 lp/ph (line pairs per picture height) horizontal and 800 lp/ph vertically. The newer Hero4 Silver dropped to 575 lp/ph vertically and 600 lp/ph horizontally. We aren't sure how the drop happened as they share processing speeds, but we weren't thrilled with the drop.
Also worth noting: Just as the Hero3+ Black before it, the camera’s extra-wide angle "SuperView" mode causes a loss of resolution. So if you want the sharpest output possible you’ll want to keep that option turned off.
Low Light Performance
Small sensors will always struggle in low-light when compared to larger sensors, as the smaller pixel sites can only gather so much light at a time. Last year, however, the Hero3+ Black impressed us with a big improvement in low-light performance on a small sensor. After seeing the Hero3+ Black produce a usably bright image with a light level as low as 3 lux, we were hoping for even better results with the Hero4's new processor.
Unfortunately, the Hero4 Silver–as well as the Black–actually took a minor step back in low-light performance, requiring 6 lux to produce an similarly bright image. That makes it more comparable to the Hero3 in this category, though functionally all three will perform about the same. ProTune will give you better low-light results and more control over ISO, but with higher ISO speeds comes much more noise that will have to be taken care of in post-production.
Motion & Detail
The Hero4 Silver is capable of shooting everything that the Hero3+ Black could–and then some. The 4K mode is the sharpest of the all, but if you want smooth motion we suggest using the 1080/60fps instead. It would have been nice to see the 1080/120fps on the Silver like the Black, but the 1080/60fps is still much smoother than the 4k/15fps. In the lab we noticed very little trailing and nearly no visible artifacts.
One thing everyone that uses GoPro cameras knows is you have to have spare batteries. They are little cameras with little batteries, but remarkably huge appetites for power. That hasn't changed at all with the new Hero4 series. The built-in touchscreen is capable of sucking power in a hurry.
Shooting at 4K/15p we were able to capture about an 85 minutes of footage before needing to stop and charge or swap batteries. That is without WiFi enabled or the use of a remote control, both of which will drain the battery even faster. GoPro also went with a 1160 mAh battery instead of the 1180 mAh battery of the Hero3+. It's a minor change in terms of capacity, but a major change for one reason: older batteries are no longer compatible.
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