Review: GoPro Hero 4 Black brings high support rates to high-resolution video

October 27, 2014 - photo frame

Monday, Oct 27, 2014, 10:09 am PT (01:09 pm ET)

With this year’s new Hero 4 Black camera, GoPro introduced a top-notch ruggedized device means of sharpened 1080p during an strange 120 frames per second and 4K video adult to 30 frames per second. But entrance in during $499 though remote, is a latest GoPro value a cost of admission?

Unlike prior years that saw an upgraded high-end indication pull comparison products to reduce cost points, for 2014 GoPro debuted 3 wholly new tiers with a Hero 4 Black, Hero 4 Silver and entry-level Hero.

The latest Hero variations are, as usual, iterative takes on a surpassing GoPro lineup, though with a few important changes. First, a Hero 4 Silver is a initial GoPro to offer an integrated touchscreen and carries over a same sharpened capabilities as the Hero 3+, final year’s top-of-the-line model. A new $129 entry-level GoPro, simply dubbed “Hero,” captures 1080p footage during 30 frames per second and 720p during 60fps, comes with a waterproof housing and uses a new all-new black camera body, all of that are decent specifications for a price.

Finally, a Hero 4 Black, GoPro’s flagship and a camera underneath review, carries over a same tiny form cause for that a association is known, though doubles high-resolution support rates to 120fps for 1080p and 30fps for 4K. The new specs are considerable and in many ways take GoPro to an wholly opposite turn in terms of usability.


GoPro continues to file a informed boxy pattern done renouned with a initial Digital Hero editions. Those informed with prior models will feel during home with a Hero 4 Black’s size, symbol blueprint and altogether user experience, as it stays mostly unchanged.

There are places where GoPro improved, however, not a slightest of that being a battery doing system. With a Hero 4 Black, GoPro moves from a behind battery cover to a stable insertion container located during a unit’s base. The parsimonious fit and padded hinged doorway is distant reduction receptive to uncoupling, guaranteeing electrical hit even in a harshest conditions. An apparent downside to a pattern is that a device contingency be private from a housing when swapping out battery packs, though we feel a additional confidence is value it.

The Hero 4 Black also relocates a normal front-mounted blue Wi-Fi standing and red recording LEDs, embedding them into a LCD screen’s bezel area for a decluttered camera face. Previous models had a dual LEDs built subsequent to a Power/Mode button. The new blueprint is cleaner, though a tad reduction clear as a front LEDs now lay behind tiny slits rather than vast turn portholes.

While recording, users can select to irradiate all 4 red indicator LEDs (top, bottom, front and back), dual (front and back) or none. System sounds (register beeps) can also be incited down to 70-percent volume or off for secrecy shooting.

Physical controls embody a aforementioned Power/Menu actuator, a vast turn symbol on a front panel, a Settings/Tag symbol on a right side and a Shutter/Select symbol adult top. GoPro remapped a side-mounted button, so it is no longer a dedicated Wi-Fi on/off switch. Instead, joyless a actuator brings adult contextual camera settings for whatever sharpened mode is now comparison (Wi-Fi can still be toggled with a singular prolonged press). This offers discerning entrance to video and print preferences and cuts down on random Wi-Fi activation, a vital battery suck.

The multi-function settings symbol can also be pulpy during recordings to supplement a HiLight Tag, or a metadata symbol that shows adult in a video timeline when modifying or pity footage regulating a GoPro app or GoPro Studio software.


Using a GoPro is a candid experience; usually indicate and shoot. With an ultra wide-angle margin of view, a Black’s all-glass lens flattering many captures all in front of it (fisheye exaggeration is still an issue, though zero that can’t be bound in post-processing).

The Hero 4 Black supports a sum of 47 opposite fortitude and support rate combinations, trimming from 30fps during 4K (3840-by-2160 pixels) to 240fps during WVGA (848-by-480 pixels). Each fortitude worked as advertised during testing, though we strong on resolutions of 1080p and aloft as we trust these to be of many seductiveness to impending buyers.

With one of a many processor-intensive options, 4K during 30fps, a Black achieved unusually good in settings with copiousness of light. Compared to final year’s Hero 3+, a 30fps rate is a vital alleviation that produces serviceable super high-resolution footage. While not a customary NTSC 60fps interlaced margin rate, 30fps is a remarkable step adult from 15fps, shortening suit blur, judder and introduced artifacts ensuing from a reduce rate of capture.

For videographers, GoPro also includes 25fps and 24fps sharpened modes for easy send and acclimatisation to a 50i PAL standard, as good as video-to-film. Some users might cite to fire during 24fps as it yields a cinema peculiarity filmic look, though a support rate is reduction useful for quick movement shooting. As an alternative, users can collect adult frames by switching to a reduce fortitude of 2.7K, accessible in support rates from 24fps to 50fps.

4K resolutions are good if we have a concordant guard or television, though might not be value sacrificing sharpened speed, generally when regulating a Hero 4 Black as an movement cam. It should be remarkable that Hero 4 Black is not means of outputting a 4K vigilance to a 4K HDTV, and will instead scale down to 1080p60 when connected around HDMI.

The awaiting of sharpened 4K with a handheld camera is enticing, though we found a Hero 4 Black’s 1080p new support rate preference — 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60, 90 and 120 frames per second — to be a many impactful further to a upgraded underline set. The tip rate of 120fps was benefaction final year during 720p, though a Hero 4 Black rises that spec adult to 1080p, utterly a fulfilment for a small, tough movement cam.

As seen in a video embedded above, 120fps during 1080p allows for overwhelming high-res constraint with really low suit fuzz for many activities. The mode works best in good illuminated scenes, of course, and caring should be taken when sharpened with synthetic lighting as a increased shiver speeds broach flicker, generally appetite fit fluorescents.

Capturing during 120fps opens a doorway to stretchable delayed suit shooting, with combined fact clearly conspicuous on a Retina MacBook Pro, apropos some-more conspicuous when observation edited footage on a 55-inch 1080p HDTV.

Hero 4 Black still print during 12 megapixels.

On a associated note, picture peculiarity is expectedly high in well-lit scenes, as mentioned above, though fast fades with darker environments. This is not startling given a compelled optics, tiny sensor footprint and comparatively low-power processor, though we felt it value mentioning. GoPro includes a night sharpened mode that tones down sound a bit, though during a scapegoat of tone abyss and sensitivity. In short, though complicated post-processing, dim footage entrance out of a Hero 4 Black is really sloppy.

Other modernized sharpened modes embody SuperView, that boldly resizes a full-height 4:3 picture (stretches out a edges while withdrawal a executive area untouched) to fit a widely supposed 16:9 ratio, print detonate modes for time-lapse photography and QuikCapture, that wakes a device to now snap a print or video.

Image tuning

GoPro did a good pursuit of calibrating a picture sensor, controller and optics to broach accurate colors and optimal camera settings out-of-the-box. For modernized users who wish to ring out a many from a Black, GoPro again offers “Protune,” that is now accessible for both video and photos opposite all resolutions.

With Protune enabled, users can overrule GoPro’s involuntary settings with manually-adjusted white balance, color, ISO, sharpness, shiver speed and bearing values (EV). In addition, metering can be switched from multi-region to spot, a good approach to forestall floating out a brightly illuminated stage when sharpened from indoors or a shade.

Protune is infirm by default, though can be fast accessed around a settings menu possibly on camera or by a GoPro app. We advise tweaking settings by a app as a live viewfinder can be used to guard adjustments on a fly.

Connecting with iPhone

For a tests, we used an iPhone 6 with GoPro’s latest app version, that acts as a remote control and live viewfinder for many resolutions and support rates.

Bluetooth connectivity is a new underline for a Hero 4 Black, though is now singular to device pairing duties. Aside from device setup procedures, Wi-Fi is used for all remote control and preview functions.

Unlike a Hero 3+ Black, a Hero 4 Black does not embody GoPro’s Wi-Fi Smart Remote in a box, tacking on another $80 to a bottom cost if we need to control a camera though a smartphone.

As for live preview, a dense video still lags when regulating a iOS app, though not to a indicate of being unusable. The underline came in accessible when sharpened from inside a car, a conditions where manually dire a record symbol is difficult.

Live preview is not upheld in certain sharpened modes, such as 120fps during 1080p, though this was never a problem during contrast as we were customarily focused on a charge during hand, not a iPhone’s screen. Simply framing a shot and attack record will sufficient in a infancy of use cases.


The GoPro Hero 4 Black is, as can be expected, a best GoPro ever made. At $500, and $80 and adult for a Smart Remote and other accessories, it’s also one of a many costly brought to market.

As is mostly a box with annual product cycles, a preference to ascent comes down to a user. For those who wish or need high-speed 1080p, a Hero 4 Black is a usually choice in GoPro’s lineup. The same goes for users who wish serviceable 4K video. Being means to record during 120fps during 1080p is a bonus for professionals and enthusiasts.

On a other hand, for infrequent users a cost might transcend a benefits. Those that can make do with 60fps during 1080p — or a occasional 4K video during 15fps — might be improved served by a Hero 4 Silver, that is a same distance as a Black with integrated touchscreen viewfinder.

All things considered, a improvements GoPro managed to squeeze into a Hero 4 Black though compromising portability make for an easy recommendation. Not usually is it rugged, though a tiny camera puts out overwhelming HD video during support rates severe pro-am camcorders. If we are during all meddlesome in slow-motion content, capturing fast-moving sports though determined suit fuzz or holding 4K video in places never before possible, a $499 cost of entrance is really value it.

Score: 4 out of 5


  • High-quality video recording in an unusually tiny package.
  • Easy-to-use interface.
  • Amazing collection of ascent accessories


  • Battery life still singular to reduction than one hour with high-fps, high-res video.
  • Device becomes comfortable with continual filming.
  • Expensive compared to prior Hero generations.

Where to Buy

GoPro’s HERO4 Black Edition stays in flattering parsimonious supply though is now in batch during Amazon, Adorama and Best Buy. It will also start shipping from BH, that also offers an collection of pre-assembled HERO4 + DJI Phantom bundles — in early November. A outline of prices and editions accessible from these Apple’s Authorized Resellers follows:

HERO4 Black $499.99
HERO4 Black Starter Bundle $519.98
HERO4 Black Surf Bundle $529.99
Amazon collects sales taxation on orders shipped to AZ, CA, CT, FL, GA, IN, KS, KY, MD, MA, MN, NV, NJ, NY, NC, ND, NV, PA, TN, TX, VA, WA, WV and WI.

HERO4 Black $499.99
Adorama usually collects sales taxation on orders shipped to NY NJ.

BH Photo Video:
HERO4 Black $499.99
HERO4 Black Music Edition $499.99
HERO4 Black Surf Bundle $519.00
10 Pre-assembled DJI Phantom Drone + HERO4 Kits $1,193.57 to $2,479.95
BH usually collects sales taxation on orders shipped to NY.

Best Buy
HEREO4 Black $499.99
Best Buy collects sales taxation on all orders.

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