I bought a GoPro Hero4 Session; here's what I think

December 22, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I grew up skating and snowboarding, I longboard, I just purchased a BMX bike, and I've been cycling since my senior year in high school. I also do less "extreme" activities such as hiking and backpacking and spend the majority of winters playing pond hockey. Given my background, I'm surprised it took me this long to purchase a GoPro. 

 

Initially, I purchased the GoPro Hero, which is the most inexpensive model at around $130. I wasn't sure how much I'd use it, so I didn't want to drop a large amount of money on something i might use once and forget about. While at the store, I completely forgot the Hero's case is integrated, as oppose to the Hero4 which can be removed from its case. I was quickly reminded of this once I got home and began fiddling with the camera. I spent the next day and a half relentlessly worrying about the case/lens getting scratched, and since the case isn't replaceable, I'd have to purchase a whole new camera. I tried convincing myself that the case getting scratched was unlikely, and that I could just replace the camera if it happened. 

 

I failed to convince myself, so on Sunday I went and returned the Hero for a GoPro Hero4 Session (which has a replaceable cover over the lens). Here are my initial thoughts on the Session.

 

Copyright Dan Pomykalski

 

Here are the advantages the Session has over the Hero that I've noticed so far:

  • The most important thing to me is that the cover on the Session is replaceable. I think you can get a pack of two lens covers for $40.
  • The Session can be linked to your smartphone/tablet or the GoPro remote. This allows the settings to be changed and you can use your phone/tablet as an LCD. Neither of the two cameras had live view, so you just point the camera in the general direction of what you want and hope you get something. Given how wide the lenses are on GoPros, it's pretty hard to miss anything, though.
  • The Session's LCD screen is illuminated. There were a few times I couldn't see what i was doing on the Hero. 
  • The Session has way more resolution and frame rate options. This isn't that important to me, because I probably won't be changing the frame rate or resolution all that often. 
  • The Session auto rotates, so I don't have to worry about changing the orientation in settings like with the Hero. Although this could easily be fixed in post-production.
  • The Session is a cube, so it's easier to side-mount. 
  • The Session is waterproof to 33' without a case. One would think that the Session not being in a waterproof case would result in better audio while not underwater, but the sound is still garbage, basically.
  • On the Session, the "on/off" button and "record" button are the same. You press the button and the camera begins recording after a few seconds. Once you press the button again, the camera stops recording and turns off. I think the Hero could do the same thing, but I don't know if it turned off automatically. 
  • The Session is smaller than the other GoPros. This isn't a huge deal to me, but I thought it was worth mentioning. 
  • The Session has an 8 megapixel sensor instead of the Hero's 5 megapixel sensor. Again, not a huge deal to me. 

 

Some of the cons of the Session that I've noticed are:

 

  • The app isn't outstanding. It's nice that I can have live view, but there is a slight lag. The biggest issue I have is how much of a hassle it is to connect the camera to my phone/tablet. On the camera, you have to turn the wifi on (you could probably leave the wifi on, but I'm assuming this would affect the battery life), then you have to go into your phone/tablet and connect to the Session over wifi. This means that you have to get off of whatever wifi you're on, and select the GoPro. Then once you're done, you have to go back into your settings and connect to the wifi again. All of this seems like more of a hassle than it's worth, and I've rarely used my phone/tablet with the Session. I do appreciate the option though, as I'm sure there will be a point that I use it. 
  • There have been two times I've accidentally shot timelapses instead of video. This was pretty much my fault, as I held the button down instead of just pressing it. Now that I've made the mistake a few times, it's been pretty easy to remember and avoid. 
  • Because the camera turns off when it's done recording, you have to wait for the camera to start up again anytime you want to begin recording. It takes the camera a significant amount of time to start up. Significant enough that I'm sure I'll miss plenty of things while waiting. I do appreciate the simplicity of two buttons though, and only having to press the record button and go. However, the Hero had two buttons as well, and I think the other GoPro models have three buttons, so it's not like they're incredibly complicated.

 

Based on the reviews I read, the Session wasn't worth the $400 GoPro was initially asking. Compared to the equally priced Hero4, the image quality wasn't as good, and the Session's settings could only be changed from either a smartphone or the wireless remote (both of which were incredibly inconvenient). Every review I read seemed to scream, "Don't get the Session!" However, most of the reviews I had read were before GoPro dropped the price by $100, and then released a firmware update allowing some settings to be changed without a remote or smartphone, then dropped the price by another $100. I would agree that this isn't a $400 camera. However, for $200, I definitely feel it was worth the extra $70 compared to the Hero. 

 

www.danpomykalski.com

 

If you're interested to see some of the footage I've capture with the GoPro, you can check out my YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/. I don't have a ton of stuff up yet, and the only thing I've really had time to do is attach the GoPro to Malin's collar. I'm hoping to have some better stuff up soon. 


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Dan Pomykalski (PAWM-I-KALS-kee) is a portrait photographer based in Madison, WI. Dan works with both individual clients and larger organizations, such as the Wisconsin Alumni Foundation, the Janesville Jets, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and the University of Wisconsin-Rock County. Dan was also the photo editor for the student-run newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Royal Purple, for the 2013 Spring and 2013 Fall semesters. Although Dan's clients are mostly from the Dane County area, he is more than happy to travel wherever necessary. 

Dan's photographs have been described as impressive, dramatic, and beautiful. Dan doesn't offer the cheapest prices, and his work reflects that. The client can expect a stress-free experience and high-quality photos to be delivered in a timely fashion. 

Dan's favorite part about his job is the overwhelmingly positive reactions his photos always receive from his clients, their friends, and their family members. The photos Dan produces are just as important to him as they are to his clients, and his ultimate goal is always to create the absolute best photographs he can.

 

Although Dan is primarily a portrait photographer, he has ample amounts of experience in other types of photography such as weddings, events, product photography, real estate, and sport photography.

 

In 2016, expertise.com ranked Dan Pomykalski Photography the 2nd best portrait photographer in Madison, WI out of 204 others in the area. 

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Please click here to contact Dan Pomykalski Photography to schedule a session or if you have any questions or comments: http://www.danpomykalski.com/contact.html

Testimonials: http://www.danpomykalski.com/testimonials

Portfolio: http://www.danpomykalski.com/portfolios

 

 

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