GoPro Buying Guide: Choose The Right GoPro For You

GoPro Buying Guide: Choose The Right GoPro For You

Since the launch of their first camera back in 2004, GoPro have been the kings of the action cam market. The cameras have come a long way since then though (the original GoPro used 35mm Kodak film!) and these days GoPros can shoot in up to cinema quality 4K, with frame rates of up to 240fps. In 2016, there are 5 main cameras in the GoPro range: –

The cameras vary in price from around £95 (GoPro HERO) to around £400 (for the HERO4 Black) and as we move up the cost scale, the camera specs improve and the number of features increase. So which GoPro is right for you? To help you choose we have created this detailed buying guide, which compares the key features and technical specs of each camera and looks at the pros and cons of the different models.

Video Quality

video

Let’s start with the most important feature, and what most people will be buying a GoPro for – video capture. Use the table below for a quick overview of the resolutions available with each model and then read on for more detail.

ModelMax resolutionOptimum resolution
HERO1080p / 30fps720p / 60fps
HERO3 White1080p / 30fps720p / 60fps
HERO3+ Silver1080p / 60fps1080p / 60fps
HERO4 Silver4K / 15fps1080p / 60fps
HERO4 Black4K / 30fps1080p / 120fps

GoPro HERO

gopro-hero

The GoPro HERO records video in up to 1080p at 30fps and while this will be fine for shoots which have little movement, for any action shots (which is really what the GoPro is designed for) you will probably want to shoot at the camera’s maximum frame rate of 60fps. This drops the resolution down to 720p. 720p should be fine for youtube video and general amateur footage, but when viewed on an HDTV may start to lose sharpness. Also, if you want to zoom in during post production you will quickly lose resolution. Due to its relatively cheap price point, the HERO is useful for multi-camera setups (you can get 3 of them for pretty much the same price as one HERO4 Black). We recommend the GoPro HERO for: –

  • Amateur footage
  • web footage
  • footage which will not require much post production
  • multi-camera footage.

GoPro HERO+

gopro-hero-plus

The HERO+ also has a maximum recording resolution of 1080p, but this time allows shooting at a frame rate of 60fps in full resolution. This allows for sharper action sequences at full resolution.

  • Amateur footage
  • web footage
  • slow motion sequences with minimal zoom in post production

GoPro HERO4 Silver

gopro hero4 black

The second highest spec camera in the GoPro range and the first that is capable of shooting at cinema quality 4K, although only at a pretty unusable 15fps. Although the optional resolution is there, in terms of workable footage, the HERO4 Silver really has the same resolution/frame rate specs as the HERO3+ Silver. It should be noted however that an improved sensor in the HERO4 means that even though resolution is the same, there is a noticeable improvement in video quality. We recommend the GoPro HERO4 Silver for: –

  • Semi-pro footage
  • web footage
  • slow motion sequences with minimal zoom in post production

GoPro HERO4 Black

gopro-hero4-black

The top of the range GoPro HERO4 Black can shoot video in cinema quality 4K at a useable 30fps and 1080p at 120fps. It can also go up to a frame rate of 240fps at 720p, which allows for super smooth slow motion sequences. Clearly 4K footage looks amazing on HDTVs and is broadcast quality, but where it really has its advantage is in post production, allowing you to zoom in significantly and still maintain full HD resolution. This is as good as it gets for an action cam and the HERO4 Black will shoot professional quality, crisp video with smooth action sequences and slow motion. We recommend the HERO4 Black for: –

  • Professional footage
  • broadcast quality footage
  • smooth slow motion sequences
  • the best quality footage available on an action cam.

Video Summary

For professional use, we would recommend going for either of the HERO4 cameras, while for amateur footage either of the entry level cameras should be fine for most requirements. The HERO3+ Silver is somewhere in between and will be perfectly useable for most pro setups and more than sufficient for shooting amateur/web footage. For multi-camera setups we would recommend going for a couple of entry level cameras (HERO or HERO3 White) + a HERO4 (either).

Audio Quality

audioAudio quality with all GoPro models is pretty good, but like everything in life, you get what you pay for and as you move up the range, audio performance improves. In a nutshell, the entry level HERO has a pretty basic mic, the HERO3 cameras have wind reduction and the HERO4 GoPros have the best mic, with advanced dynamic range which captures clean, high fidelity sound and an inbuilt algorithm with smooths and cleans up audio.

ModelQualityAdd external mic
HEROBasicNo
HERO3 WhiteWind/Noise reductionYes
HERO3+ SilverWind/Noise reductionYes
HERO4 SilverHigh fidelity audioYes
HERO4 BlackHigh fidelity audioYes

That being said, for most professional shoots you will generally want to use an external mic (or at least have the option) and this is something you can do with all the GoPros except for the entry level HERO. Connection for external mics is via the mini USB port and you will need an adaptor (available for between £15 and £20) which converts 3.5mm input to USB.

Stills Camera

photosGoPros are not just for shooting video and whether you are looking to grab a quick selfie at the top of a mountain, or capture time-lapse of the night sky, then there is a GoPro that will do the job. Here is an overview of the photo specs for each of the cameras:

ModelResolutionTime-lapseBurst
HERO5MP0.5s5fps
HERO3 White5MP0.5s-60s3fps
HERO3+ Silver10MP0.5s-30s10fps
HERO4 Silver12MP0.5s-60s30fps
HERO4 Black12MP0.5s-60s30fps

So, the stills camera ranges from 5MP on the entry level HERO and HERO3 White models, to 12MP on the top of the range HERO4 models. All GoPro cameras feature built in Time-Lapse and Burst modes with durations (time-lapse) and frame rates (burts) varying from model to model.

Night Lapse & Night Photo

Both the HERO4 cameras include ‘Night Lapse’ and ‘Night Photo’ modes, which allow you to capture low light and night scenes in stunning quality.

Which GoPros have built in Wi-FI / Bluetooth?

ModelWI-FIBluetooth
HERONoNo
HERO3 WhiteYesNo
HERO3+ SilverYesNo
HERO4 SilverYesYes
HERO4 BlackYesYes

All GoPro cameras except for the entry level HERO include built in WI-FI, allowing you to control the camera from the free GoPro app. The HERO4 cameras also include built in Bluetooth connectivity.

Which GoPros have built in touchscreen?

The only GoPro which includes a built in touchscreen for video/photo review and playback is the HERO4 Silver (the second most expensive GoPro). The other GoPros (with the exception of entry level HERO) support an external touch display (separate purchase) called the LCD Touch BacPac.

Are all GoPros waterproof?

All GoPro models are waterproof to a depth of 131′ (40m). The HERO model is the only GoPro which is built into its waterproof casing – with the other models supplied with a removable waterproof housing. The GoPro’s housing also protects the camera from dust, dirt, scratches etc.

How much are the different GoPro models?

GoPros range from around £100 at entry level (HERO), to £400 at the top end (HERO4 Black). The following are the current best deals in the UK for the main cameras in the GoPro range.

So which GoPro is right for you?

Hopefully our GoPro buyers guide will have given you the information you need to choose the right GoPro for you. For more details on each of the cameras we have full reviews available for each model. Whichever camera you choose, you can be sure that with a GoPro you will be getting a high quality action cam, which will be ready to go whenever you are.

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