The Best GoPros – July 2017
GoPro action cameras have become game-changing devices for amateur and professional photographers alike. They were dreamt up when the company’s founder, Nick Woodman, became frustrated by a lack of quality cameras that could accurately and affordably capture action shots at professional angles. Woodman’s quest to create such a camera culminated in the famed GoPro, which is conveniently both rugged and affordable. Since the first GoPro’s inception, however, there have been several major iterations of its flagship model, the HERO; each one just a bit different from the others, and each with its own unique set of qualities that appeal to different consumers. To help you determine which GoPro is best for your needs, here’s a list of the top GoPro HEROs—both new and old—on the market.
Although not always true by any standard, sometimes in the world of tech the latest really is the greatest. Such is the case with the GoPro HERO5 Black, which is hands down the most powerful and easy-to-use GoPro ever created, thanks in no small part to 4K video, voice control, an incredibly intuitive single button, touch display, and a waterproof design.
First things first: The HERO5’s power and clarity is stunning. It allows the user to take 12MP photos (at 30 frames per second) or 1080p120 videos, and then edit the footage right on the GoPro itself (a feature not found in many of the other GoPro models) using its 2-inch touch display. Of course, more in-depth editing can be done later using computer software, however we were impressed with the versatility and accuracy of the HERO5’s ability to edit on the spot.
Thanks to advanced video stabilization, the HERO5 is able to capture an astounding number of subtle nuances during live action sequences—meaning you can mount it practically anywhere during the most jarring activities and come away with a clean image or video. And since the HERO5 is waterproof to 33 feet without needing a specialized, additional case, this has huge implications for water enthusiasts, surfers, and scuba divers.
The HERO5 is incredibly self-sufficient, however the included accessories add an undeniable level of versatility. It comes with a frame, rechargeable battery, curved and flat adhesive mounts, a mounting buckle, and USB-C cable—everything you need to use and mount your HERO5 securely in practically any environment. And since the HERO5 comes equipped with cloud capability, you don’t have to worry about physically backing up your latest shots.
It should come as no surprise that since the HERO5 Black is packed with so many incredible features, its price tag may be out of reach for many consumers. Thankfully, GoPro has produced a slew of cameras that are much more affordable. And for certain buyers, these less expensive cameras might even be more desirable than the HERO5.
First, let’s look at the GoPro HERO Session—a wildly cool and compact GoPro camera that made the second spot on our list. The HERO Session prides itself on housing immense power in a convenient, compact, and easy-to-grab package. Think of it as an entry-level GoPro for people who prefer having a relatively inexpensive go-to camera for quick adventures, rather than a more expensive HERO5.
The Session is incredibly easy to use—featuring a single button that powers on the camera and starts recording automatically. When you want to stop recording, you simply hit the button again and the GoPro powers itself off to save power. This may sound trivial, but this one-touch-does-all feature comes in handy when you’re out and about and don’t want to have to think about multiple steps before and after getting that perfect shot. With 1080p60 video and 8MP photo capture, the HERO Session delivers incredible image quality in a rugged, waterproof design that requires no additional housing.
The Session also shares the HERO5’s ability to connect to a special cloud service, and comes with all the accessories you’ll need to mount the device in a plethora of environments.
Here’s another GoPro that should catch the eye of a shopper who’s on a budget but still wants a quality adventure camera. The GoPro HERO+ LCD is an impressive device—capable of shooting 8MP single, time lapse, and burst photos up to 5 frames per second and recording stunning, immersive 1080p60 and 720p60 video. It has a built-in touch display and speaker, along with full WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity—allowing you to easily connect to the GoPro App for quick edits or post to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. The HERO+ LCD is also waterproof up to a whopping 131 feet, and is designed to survive dirt, sand, snow, and any other hazard Mother Nature may toss its way. All of these features, along with its more-than-reasonable price tag, lead us to agree with the GoPro team that the GoPro HERO+ LCD is the perfect entry-level GoPro device.
We now arrive back at the slightly more expensive, yet slightly more capable GoPros. First, we present to you the GoPro HERO4 Silver—an impressive and sleek-looking camera, capable of shooting professional-quality 1080p60 and 720p120 video with 12MP photos at up to 30 frames per second. There’s a highly-functional and responsive built-in touch display that provides shot-framing and playback, along with built-in WiFi Bluetooth support with the GoPro App, Smart Remote and more. Where the HERO4 Silver truly stands out, however, is in its improved camera control and built-in video trimming, which lets you create and save short video clips right on your camera. Protune technology also delivers cinema-quality captures and advanced manual control for photos and video, with a remarkable wide-angle field of view. We would highly recommend this GoPro for adventurers who want to capture fast-motion shots with crystal-clear resolution.
Yes, as this GoPro’s title implies, it is the immediate predecessor to the HERO5 Black. Yet it deserves a spot on our list due to the fact that it has many of the same essential features of the HERO5 Black and a significantly more approachable price tag. Capable of shooting professional-grade 4K30, 2.7K60 and 1080p120 video, the HERO4 Black allows for super slow-motion playback and 12MP photo captures at up to 30 frames per second. Built-in video trimming is incredibly useful for on-the-go edits, and much like its successor, built-in WiFi and Bluetooth capability means it’s easily integrated with the GoPro App and practically any social media service you can imagine. There’s also Night Photo and Night Lapse technology (which offers customizable exposure settings for nighttime shooting) and an auto low-light mode, which intelligently changes frame rates based on lighting conditions for optimal low-light performance.
You may recognize the two parts of this GoPro’s title from spots 1 and 2 on our list. And in fact, the combination of these two titles is wholly appropriate when it comes to the power and versatility of the GoPro HERO5 Session. Boasting the ability to capture incredible 4K video and 10MP photos in single, burst and time-lapse modes in an extraordinarily compact enclosure, the HERO5 Session is a force to be reckoned with. It’s incredibly durable, can withstand being fully immersed in water at depths of up to 33 feet without the need for additional casing, and has the ability to automatically upload footage to your GoPro Plus cloud account. It’s not an exaggeration that this device is perhaps GoPro’s most efficient, powerful, and compact device. If it only had a slightly lower price tag, it surely would have ranked higher on our list. Of course, due to its compact size, it lacks some of the functionality and on-screen editing features of the other, larger, GoPros, yet for many adventurers who have no issue editing at home, this is unlikely to be a problem.
In our view, the last two GoPros on our list represent the middle of the road in terms of cost, functionality, and power. Aimed neither toward the entry-level user nor the professional, these two cameras—the HERO3+: Silver Edition and the HERO3: White Edition—are ideal for people who want relatively advanced features without breaking the bank. For instance, this GoPro HERO3+: Silver Edition offers professional-quality video capture in 1080p 30fps, 960p 30 fpts, 720p 60 fps, and WVGA 60 fps. It also has built-in WiFi functionality that allows it to be synced seamlessly with the GoPro app, and can snap quality, 5MP photos at three frames per second and time lapse at .5, 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60 second intervals. Surfers and underwater adventurers who don’t necessarily require the ability to snap super-fast-motion shots should also check this camera out, since it’s waterproof at depths of up to 40 meters.
Finally, we arrive at the HERO3: White Edition—another quality, middle-of-the-road GoPro best suited for people who have experience capturing high-quality shots and video, but perhaps aren’t ready to dig too far into their pockets for the latest and greatest cameras on the market. This HERO3: White Edition is packed with all the things that make each and every GoPro great: The ability to capture professional-quality video at 1080p (30 frames per second), WiFi capability, 5MP photo capture, and waterproof housing capable of withstanding 40 meters of ocean bombardment. The HERO3: White Edition also features ultra high-performance audio, and can capture the most subtle sounds using advanced wind-noise reduction technology. The only reason this device didn’t rank higher on our list is because its peak image capture clocks in at 5MP per shot. However, the price differential between this unit and the more expensive HERO5 Black may make this relative lack of quality forgivable to a budget buyer.