GoPro Hero 4 - Should I drop the coin to upgrade?

Posted by Team Rider - Mike Meru on 15th Dec 2014

GoPro Hero 4 - Should I drop the coin to upgrade?

Whether it's dropping pillow lines in the Monashees, pulling into barrels in the Mentawais, shredding the park at PCMR, canyoneering in the San Rafael Swell, or any other adventure sport out there, you've probably used or seen a GoPro in action. I mean who hasn't. The now 3-billion dollar company is revolutionizing the way we share our passions, and its recent release of the HERO 4 Silver & Black editions is a long awaited upgrade to an already phenomenal camera.

If you're anything like me you've questioned whether you should spend the cash to replace your current GoPro with the new Hero 4. Truthfully, can it really be better than my 3+, or 3? Or is the HERO 4 just a gimmick to boost the company higher on the Forbes 500?

Let's look at a comparison of the upgrades, then I'll let you know how the new HERO 4 Black has treated me during the past two months. I put the chart below together to showcase some of the features I use the most, though there are so many others that I could have listed (my favorite additions are bolded in red):

HERO 4 Black HERO 4 Silver HERO 3+ Black*
Cost $ $499 $399 +/- $349
Field of View Ultra Wide, Medium, Narrow Ultra Wide, Medium, Narrow Ultra Wide, Medium, Narrow
4K 30, 25, 24 FPS 15, 12.5 FPS 15, 12.5 FPS
4K Superview 24 FPS Ultrawide N/A N/A
1080P Up to 120 FPS Up to 60 FPS Up to 60 FPS
1080P Superview Up to 80 FPS Up to 60 FPS Up to 60 FPS
Low Light Performance Enhanced Enhanced Mediocre (my opinion)
Built-in Touch Display NO YES NO
WiFi / Bluetooth Both Both Only WiFi

*HERO 3+ Black not produced anymore - only HERO 3+ Silver

I use my GoPro for a lot of adventures, but most often I find myself filming snowboarding, surfing, and canyoneering. I was already blown away by the quality I got from my 3+, but I did have some issues that were downright annoying. First and foremost on the top of the nuisance list was the 3+’s low-light performance. It sucked. I mean it really sucked. I remember vividly the anticipation I had after completing Imlay Canyon earlier this summer to see the video I had taken from the deep slots located in Zion National Park, and the palpable disappointment I had upon pulling up the film on my computer. All I could see were super dark images with some blurry marks of what appeared to be people hanging from cliffs. Unless there was a lot of light, the HERO 3+ and back simply choked in low light situations.

Fast forward to October 5 th of this year when the HERO 4 was released, all of my low-light settings woes were changed in an instant. I picked up the HERO 4 Black a few days after it hit the shelves and took it that weekend down to Moab to jump the Corona Arch and to descend Pleiades Slot Canyon. It’s first low light test was setting up the arch swing in the early morning hours, followed by finishing the day as the sun set in Pleiades Canyon. My expectations were low, though my hopes were high that the low-light issues had been fixed. Upon reaching a computer and seeing the images, I was stunned. Best low-light quality I had seen out of a non-SLR camera. My internal tech-geek was freaking out. Finally I had a camera I could use in all settings. As a good friend of mine Larry Banks, aka PowderPanda, would say, BamShazaaaam!

There are a few other epic upgrades that were added to the list, including for the Black Edition, the ability to shoot 4K video at 30 Frames Per Second (FPS), shoot 1080P at 120 FPS, shoot Superview 1080P at 80 FPS, as well as the Bluetooth capabilities. The HERO 4 Silver has also added the first ever, standard Built-in Touchscreen Display that is sick! I was able to play with it once, and it was super nice to be able to see exactly what I was filming without having the delay of pulling it up on my app.

So seven paragraphs, and one graph later, the response to the query posed in the title of this post, should I drop the coin to upgrade?!? For me, and for anyone who shoots in low-light, the answer is a resounding yes! And if you just bought the 3+, put it on ebay, and drop the extra cash – you won’t be disappointed!