There are a lot of action cameras around these days, and someone in the market for one could quickly be overwhelmed by the variety of choices. But in reality, it all boils down to just one option for really high-quality action videos, the GoPro Hero4. It’s an expensive camera, and you might be thinking that you could find something else that does the same thing without having to pay for the GoPro name. And if you’re looking to do your shooting in 720p at 60fps, then yes, you can find something for a lot less money.

The need for a GoPro comes when you’re looking to capture more complicated video, shooting at the drag strip at night will look brilliant with a GoPro, not so much with a lot of other cameras. In truth, though most automotive applications for an action camera would probably call for a GoPro, you might not need a top-end model like the Hero4 (a regular Hero model will shoot great 1080p video and will only cost you about $130), but your pilgrimage to the Nurburgring deserves better than one of the $35 knockoffs floating around.
Continue reading for the full story.

Specifications

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Go Pro 4 - Review
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The truth is that a lot of people aren’t going to be able to tell the difference between the high-end video that this camera shoots and the lower-end stuff. The fact is, 4K TVs and computer monitors are still somewhat specialized equipment, and until they drop down to more mainstream pricing tiers, most buyers have rightly surmised that spending the extra money isn’t worth it yet. But it will happen eventually, and probably sooner than you think, and buying a camera that takes advantage of the extra resolution now will keep you ahead of the curve.

There are two different versions of the Hero4, the $399 Silver Edition and the $499 Black Edition. The Black Edition is the only one that will shoot video in 4K, with the Silver Edition topping out at 2.7K. The Silver Edition can handle lower resolutions with some gorgeous rates, 60fps for 1080p and 120fps for 720p, with the latter allowing for nice slow-motion footage. However, it is worth noting that optioning up to the Black edition means doubling both of those numbers, and the 240fps 720p makes for seriously slow motion. For 4K, the Black Edition will put out 30fps footage, and the video here can give you a sample of that, assuming that you have a screen that will handle it. The resolution is gorgeous, and while 60fps certainly would look better, you aren’t going to find an action camera capable of 60fps 4K for $500.

Features

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One of the big upgrades that GoPro made for the Hero4 was the addition of a touchscreen on the back of the camera. Earlier models would require a second device in order to have any idea at all of what the photos or video that you had captured looked like. This wasn’t the end of the world, and it’s not as though the lack of the feature was causing GoPro to lose business, but it’s always good to see a manufacturer continue to evolve a product. Another feature that isn’t new for the Hero4, but is still limited to more recent cameras, is the ability to attach an external microphone via the micro USB port. Built-in microphones on video cameras are pretty universally awful, and a lot of older GoPro videos have been practically inaudible, so this is a very nice feature to have. Another recent improvement is the removable battery, which is an important thing to have when said battery only lasts about two hours. The memory card can also be changed easily, but as it will hold up to a 64GB card, you’ll be changing the battery a few times before you have to worry about the card.

Conclusion

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It’s always nice when GoPro adds more features to a camera, but the real reason to buy a GoPro is that you can just set it up and forget it. It will give you great footage as long as you have it pointed at whatever you’re trying to record, and this usability is what led to the rise of GoPro and the imitators that came later. Other cameras now offer this same kind of usability, and some offer these levels of quality, but to have both at once, it’ll cost you, and the Hero4 is the most cost-effective way to have it all.

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