Nick Woodman’s venture to create a dedicated entry level camera for action and sports enthusiasts worked out better than he would have probably envisioned. GoPro is now synonymous with the phrase ‘action photography’. It has completely redesigned the specs of what should be a true-blue action camera.
A number of new competitors have come up, some of them Chinese made cheap knock-offs, but the GoPro is still ahead of the curve when it comes to action and sports photography.
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Not that there were no action photography or videography cameras before. Regular DSLR or compact cameras packed neatly inside watertight encasing have always been the preferred way to shoot amateur footages and skills.
Documentary photography or stills require heavier cameras with much better weather sealed encasing. The need for an entry level camera with a sturdy build quality and excellent weather sealing was always badly felt.
The GoPro Hero answered that call to some extent. It was an action camera all the time but it lacked the ability to shoot in bad weather as well as underwater without an encasing.
The GoPro Hero has since then seen many new features added with each successive new launch.
The latest in the series of GoPro Hero cameras is the GoPro Hero 5 Black. This article is a comparison of the latest Hero 5 Black with the Hero 4 and the original Hero to make this a three-way comparison between three versions of the most popular action camera.
- The sensor of the Hero 5 and the Hero 4 are the same and they produce similar resolution images and stills.
- Comparatively, the older Hero HD was capable of shooting in full HD resolution only.
- The Hero 4 Black shoots at a resolution of 3840 x 2160p resolution in H.264 at a maximum frame rate of 30 fps. The camera has come a long way since the original HD version. (At a slightly lower resolution of 2704 x 1520p the Hero 4 can shoot at a maximum frame rate of 60 fps.)
- The Hero 5 Black is also capable of shooting at UHD / 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160 at a maximum frame rate of 30 fps in MP4 format. (At a slightly scaled down resolution of 2704 x 1520p, it can shoot at a maximum frame rate of 60 fps.)
- The original Hero HD shot at a miserly resolution of full HD only.
The rumor mills were abuzz that the Hero 5 Black would have a scaled up to 8K video resolution. It seems GoPro has decided to go against that popular demand.
While the GoPro Hero was always the camera for action, sports enthusiasts, waterproofing could only be achieved using a special housing.
The Hero 4 Black, e.g., could shoot underwater up to a depth of 131’ but only with waterproof housing.
The Hero 5 Black would be the first camera that is waterproof up to a depth of 33’ without the need for special waterproofing housing. Thanks to the rubber sealed chassis, the Hero 5 Black would be perfect for shooting in inclement weather, dusty and sandy environments and basically, everywhere a regular camera would find it hard to negotiate.
The Hero 5 Black is capable of capturing RAW still images as well as the usual JPEG stills.
What that means is that you can create a series of images and then process them to use as a hyper-lapse or a time-lapse sequence after doing a generous amount of post-processing.
The older Hero 4 did not have the option to shoot in RAW.
Both the Hero 4 and the Hero 5 have expandable storage options. They support MicroSD cards. The Hero 4, e.g., supports up to 64 GB of external MicroSD card.
- Both the GoPro Hero 5 and the older GoPro Hero 4 have built-in Wi-Fi.
This allows the camera to connect to a Wi-Fi network. This is extremely useful for transferring images and video after a day out. Both the cameras also have the ability to transfer images and videos using a Bluetooth connection.
- The older Hero HD, however, could only be connected using Wi-Fi (without transfer of images).
Touchscreen LCD Display
Another new addition in the GoPro 5 Black is the 2” LCD display with touchscreen capabilities.
The GoPro Hero 4 Black (and for that matter any of the previous versions) did not have touchscreen properties. The display, nevertheless, remains small and in some cases, people have even failed to pick up small elements in the display.
Very recently a group of young men on a road trip to New York failed to spot that they left their DSLR camera on the car roof. And that too while they were recording themselves with a GoPro camera! The expensive DSLR flew off the car roof and was ultimately spotted only when the footage was played back.
Another interesting feature introduced into the GoPro Hero 5 is GPS. GPS allows you to embed location data into your captures.
This may or may not be a mandatory requirement for most action photographers, but if you are going to use your work as stock footages or images and or want to capture using the Karma Drone, then having the GPS feature allow you to tag the clips or stills with the name of the place, which can be useful. The older Hero HD did not have this feature.
The Hero 5 has a new video stabilization mode. It’s digital no doubt but it works fairly well and that means you have the option to shoot stabilized handheld videos as well.
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GoPro Hero4 Black Vs. Hero5 Black
If you are not convinced by any of the GoPro Hero Black models, you may want to pick the GoPro Hero 5 Session Camera. Watch this video and find out why the GoPro Session may be the best option for you.
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Rajib is an avid travel photographer and an overall shutterbug. He loves to test and review new photography gear. He has been writing about cameras and lenses for over 10 years now. You can consider him as your “master guide” here at PhotoWorkout.
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