You get only one shot (pun intended) to capture some of the best moments in your life although back then this was a distant reality with the help of technology we are now able to do so in amazing quality.
Although (action)cameras have improved a ton there’s a lot of junk out there and the reason why people buy this junk is thanks to sleek marketing and attractive prices. However, if you’re reading this you probably know your shit and are willing to spend a little more on a quality camera that will get you that Instagram worthy footage!
GoPro has been at the forefront of the camera industry for many years now with producing action cameras that keep getting better one after the other with their very best and latest GoPro Hero 8! (more on this later).
In fact, they’re so good that they pretty much own the whole action camera market. I agree they are definitely pricing than the a cheaper GoPro KnockOff but are definitely on a whole new level as compared to the other options.
Woodman labs (GoPro) invented the action camera market with its first 20$ GoPro that became commercially available in 2004 and they have definitely come a long way since then!
The idea behind GoPro
Reference: Nick Woodman (founder) on QBC
The original idea was to create a wrist strap that allows you to fit other cameras on top of it (yeah right) but due to its vulnerable nature, it was then reinvented to be used in more rigorous activities like surfing, hiking etc.
This is when the idea changed into “Everyone can be a Hero” and after a lot of trial and error the first GoPro action camera – Hero 35mm 0001 was made a simple analog camera nothing like that we know today.
It couldn’t even record video and came with 35mm Kodak film and a waterproof case and a wrist strap but it was a START to something that would change the how we see and use cameras for good.
Why Buy a GoPro over its Cheaper alternatives
GoPro has reduced the range of cameras it produces and now focuses on only a few action cameras but every one of its recent releases has been great (Minimalism for the win!) but due to the ever-growing popularity of action cameras there has been a growing trend of look-alike or GoPro alternatives that are been pushed to the market by Chinese companies. They offer unreal features at very cheap prices but in reality, it isn’t as good as they promise to be.
Remember what is cheap is not good and what is good is not cheap which is why it’s always better to spend on something that will stand the test of time like the GoPro than something that’s a copy of it. You may save a couple of hundreds in the short run but in the long run, you’ll either have to change that cheap action camera due to bad durability or because it simply doesn’t work.
Many people have a tunnel vision solely on price when looking for something that they miss out the essential features and if you think about it more profoundly, you’re most definitely going to use the action camera is rough conditions so you better make sure you use something that’s manufactured and tested to survive those rigorous conditions!
GoPro Comparison Chart 2020
GoPro used to produce a lot of action cameras and although this has been slimmed-down it can still be pretty confusing over to decide which one to buy. No, you don’t really have to buy the latest GoPro Hero 8, in fact, some of the older models like the 2015’s Hero 4 can still be a perfect fit for some.
This is why I’ve prepared a pretty handy comparison of all the action cameras GoPro has produced and which of them are still great today. I’m sure after reading this article you’ll be well informed to make the most rational decision and pick up a GoPro that’s best suited towards your lifestyle and the content you put out.
GoPro Comparison Chart
I will begin by comparing all the GoPros based on a few essential factors that actually make an action camera good. Below are the following metrics:
1. GoPro Video Resolution Comparison
You can’t capture that Instagram worthy footage if the camera isn’t up to the mark that’s why video resolution is the most important aspect of any GoPro.
|4K (fps)||2.7K (fps)||1080p (fps)||960p (fps)||720p (fps)|
|Hero 4 Session||NA||NA||60||60|
|Hero 4 Silver||15||30||60||100||120|
|Hero 4 Black||30||60||120||120||240|
|Hero 5 Session||30||48||90||100||120|
|Hero 5 Black||30||60||120||120||240|
|Hero 6 Black||60||120||240||NA|
|Hero Session 2020||NA||NA||60||60||100|
|Hero 7 Black||60||120||240||60||60|
|Hero 8 Black||60||120||240||60||60|
2. GoPro Photo Quality Comparison
Although many people focus on video footage GoPros can also capture excellent stills(images) which are greatly influenced by the megapixels. Below is a table that highlights the Megapixels the latest GoPros.
|Hero 4 Session||8|
|Hero 4 Silver||12|
|Hero 4 Black||12|
|Hero 5 Session||10|
|Hero 5 Black||12|
|Hero 6 Black||12|
|Hero Session 2020||8|
|Hero 7 Black||12|
|Hero 8 Black||12|
3. GoPro Battery Power Comparison
What’s next is how long your GoPro can last after all you need it at times when you probably don’t have the convenience of charging it. It helps to have an extra battery pack but is even better to have a long-lasting GoPro.
|Model||Battery Life (hours)|
|Hero 4 Session||2|
|Hero 4 Silver||1.5|
|Hero 4 Black||1.5|
|Hero 5 Session||2|
|Hero 5 Black||2|
|Hero 6 Black||2|
|Hero 7 Black||2|
Sure there are other factors involved like waterproofing, size but I’ve gone through those in the individual reviews of each GoPro below.
GoPro Camera Comparison & Review
GoPro Hero 7 Black Review
Moreover, Hero 7 renders the best content than its predecessors due to its insane upgrades and is also the smoothest action camera GoPro has made to date.
You can definitely still get your hands on the old GoPros but you will soon find that this flagship is a priced quite low in comparison.
Release Date: 2020
- Image quality: 12Mp
- Video quality: 4K at 60fps
Feature highlights: The latest and greatest flagship by GoPro that comes with killer features like built-in stabilization at a very affordable price point.
Hypersmooth Image stabilization
It has almost the same features as the GoPro 6 but has a new feature called the Hypersmooth with a built-in function that stabilizes video footage.
This means you don’t need an Action Camera Gimbal to stabilize your content anymore (a saving of a sweet $200!)
Note: The Hypersmooth feature does not work at 1080p or 2.7k at 120fps
Camera and Video software upgrades
What’s new in the Hero7 is the upgraded software for camera and Video.
- Super photo: Automatically reduces noise and adds a nice HDR screen to your footage, if the GoPro reckons the footage is in need of that type of makeover.
- New TimeWarp video: This allows you to do time-lapses even when there’s a lot of movement in the shots.
This means you don’t need a tripod anymore and can show off your timelapse skills if you want to!
With the widespread popularity of YouTube and video streaming GoPro has now added a live streaming functionality. Moreover, everyone nowadays wants to be a YouTuber so this is a very smart move.
With the Hero7 you can simply tether your phone and stream live in 720p output. You also get the option of backing up this footage to the Cam’s microSD microSDHC/SDXC card slot. If the older Gopros made you a hero the new Hero7 makes you a superhero!
Note: This won’t work with YouTube at launch (boo) but that integration is coming very soon and also for Twitch and Vimeo also the limit is to 720p.
GoPro Fusion Review
Reason to Buy: You are dead serious about content creation and want to capture breathtaking content. The GoPro Fusion isn’t something that’s messing around it has some of the highest specifications like a 360-degree camera with extremely high resolution (Think 5k+) that can shoot at 60+FPS.
Release Date: 2017
- Image quality: 18MP
- Video quality: 5.2k at 60FPS
- Battery: 2620mAh (70 minutes)
Featured Highlights: Unreal stabilization
Good Stabilization is one of the most important features to have in a 360-degree camera, after all, you will be moving it around more than a normal action camera and I must say I commend GoPro’s attention to this feature as it’s among the best stabilization you can find on a 360 action camera.
In fact, the GoPro Fusion has a 6 axis stabilization with horizon correction and anti-shake features.
This sounds a little gimmicky but in layman terms, it means your videos are gonna be stable as fuck!
The Stabilization is more than good enough to smoothen out most action shots even when the vibrations are more than normal (as you’re mostly going to be walking and running a lot with it)
Note: Most 360 VR cameras need an extra gimbal just to stabilize it but you can get away from using one with the fusion as the Stabilization is pretty good. (That’ll save you a good $200 right there)
Amazing Video and image quality: The GoPro Fusion has some of the highest specifications in an action camera. In fact, you can capture footage at a resolution as high as 5228 x 2624 at cool 30fps, making it one of the highest-resolution VR action cameras in the market.
Note: The Garmin VIRB 360 can record at a higher resolution of about 5.7K but you have to stitch the two sensors footage together making it a little “gimmicky”.
If you ask me I rather have something that’s plug-n-play like the GoPro rather than something complex like the Garmin VIRB 360.
The hardware for the video is top notch with some of the finest hardware used till date. For instance, the lens is integrated with internal sensors and the software optimized to eradicate a majority of jerky and shaky movements.
GoPro Hero (2019) Review
Reason to buy: The cheapest GoPro you can buy that shoots in 1080p or a 1440p (this one a little weird). You will like this a lot if you are on a budget and can’t afford to shell out money on models like the Hero 6 and 7 and other the cheaper GoPro alternatives.
Release Date: 2020
- Image quality: 10MP
- FOV: 360, tiny planet and flat fields of view
- Video quality: 1080p at 60fps
- Battery: 1220mAh
- Waterproof: up to 5 meters
Featured highlights: Since the GoPro hero session is a more budget-friendly choice it features are cut-down a bit but it’s still a great choice if you are a beginner and want something just for fun.
- Waterproofing without a case: The predecessors needed a bulky casing in order to be waterproof but this is not the case (pun intended) anymore as the newer models like the GoPro hero session is completely waterproof.
- Greatly video quality and performance: Frankly, I don’t see many us to who’ll notice the lack or 4K or high frame rates.
Most action cameras are just fine at 1080p as most viewers don’t have 4k screens. (Not yet anyway!)
It’s the content that matters and the hero 2020 does capture almost perfect content at 1080p.
Note: You can fit in more content at 1080p than at 4k in your MicroSD card as it will take up much less space and also on your phone or computer when you transfer it.
GoPro Hero 6 Black Review
Reason to Buy: If you’re not comfortable dropping a bomb on the GoPro Fusion the next best thing is to get a regular action camera like Hero 6. It has some of the greatest improvements from its predecessors that will make all the difference whilst capturing content.
Release Date: September 28th
- Image quality: 12MP
- Video quality: 4K at 60fps
- Waterproofing: 10m
- Battery: 1220mAh
Featured Highlights: One of the most expensive action cams from GoPro although it looks exactly like the Hero 5 it is very different on the inside with features that taking the action camera to new heights.
GoPro has used a custom-designed processor rather than using the off-the-shelf ambarella like how most of the action cameras usually do.
This means Hero 6 performs extremely well beyond the highlight 4k at 60fps and 1080p at 240 fps.
It performs much better in low-light and also has a great dynamic range. There’s also a three-axis stabilization in 4K(not in 60fps though)
Advanced 3-axis digital stabilization:
It is equipped with a very advanced digital stabilization functionality that acts like a 3-axis gimbal to smoothen out jerky movements and vibrations. It is also the first to support HEVC (H.265) codec.
New GP1 Processor:
You will find the image quality is more natural and better compared to its predecessors all thanks to the new GP1 processor. The improvements to the hardware made a huge difference to the frame rates and FOVs in Hero 6.
GoPro Hero 5 Black Review
Reason to buy: You are looking for something that won’t break the bank but still decent enough to capture sweet 4k footage.
Release Date: 2016
- Image quality: 12MP
- Video quality: 4K at 30fps
- Waterproof: 10m
Featured Highlights: The Hero 5 Black was a major upgrade from the Hero 4 although maybe not in image quality the performance and FPS are significantly better. For instance, it can record 4k at 30fps.
- Higher FPS whilst recording: The big difference from the Hero4 was higher frame rates at lower resolutions and better video stabilization made the videos significantly less jerky.
- Waterproof up to 10m: Its predecessors using an additional housing that made it quite bulky but the Hero 5 was made waterproof without an additional housing (down to 10m)
- Touchscreen interface: This was the first GoPro that came with a touchscreen interface so now you could see what your camera is seeing and easily adjust menu options.
GoPro Hero 5 Session Review
Reason to Buy: You are on a budget but still want something decent to capture your footage. The hero 5 session is a more compact version of its big brother the Hero 5 and also share most of its features.
Release Date: October 2016
- Intuitive and Compact Design: The GoPro Hero5 was created as an upgrade to the Hero4 session which received a lot of recognition for being the most unobtrusive camera.
So naturally, the GoPro Hero5 has a great foundation with added functionality that makes it the perfect compact action camera made by GoPro.
It is highly intuitive in nature and features just two buttons and a simple minimalistic design.
- Good connectivity, App and software interface: Since the Hero 5 session supports Bluetooth Le and Wi-Fi you can also pair the camera with the Android and iOS GoPro Capture app so that you can control the camera remotely!
- Integration with Android and iOS: A session doesn’t have a screen which is definitely a trade-off for the compact size however with the GoPro Hero 5 session you can get around this with the smart integration with Android and iOS using GoPro Capture app.
This gives you complete control over the output of GoPro by viewing footage of real-time without having to even use the GoPro!
GoPro Hero 4 Session Review
Reason to Buy: The Hero4 is priced extremely low being a slightly older GoPro but it is in no means bad. In fact is GoPro’s smallest action camera that is designed to be as unobtrusive as possible.
If you want something to be strapped to the front of your ski or the end of your surfboard look no further as there’s nothing more perfect for the job.
Release Date: July 2015
- Image quality: 8MP
- Video quality: 1440p at 30fps 4:3 top resolution
- Extremely compact design: The Hero4 session was designed to be an extremely compact action camera, In fact, it’s a full 50% smaller than the Hero4 sibling.
Fun fact: You can strap the Hero4 session between the spokes of your bicycle which is not possible with any other GoPro.
- Storage and connectivity: There’s a small flap on the right-hand side of the Session that pops out when you flip a small switch. This allows for easy access to a microSD card slot and the Micro USB charging port. This was a huge step forward for GoPro as most of the “normal” Hero4 still use the older Mini USB standard.
GoPro Hero 4 Black Review
Reason to Buy: While GoPro may not be officially offering this it’ll cost you considerably less than the Hero5 or Hero6. Sure you won’t get built-in waterproofing but it’ll make a great companion for your action shots.
Release Date: July 6, 2015
Considerably low price for a 4K action camera: Due to the release of new models you can not get this 4K gem for an extremely low price. It may be old but if you’re a beginner the features on the Hero4 Black are more than enough to produce and put out quality content without breaking the bank. In fact, some may argue that this is almost as good as the Hero5.
The quality it renders is as follows:
- up to 4K (30fps) video
- 12MP (30fps in burst mode photos
- SuperView: dynamically stretches a 4:3 aspect ratio to 16:9)
Waterproof housing: I agree that the housing can be a little bulky but if when your surfing and have the bulky device attached to the back of your surfboard you won’t really care. All that matters is that it works and the Hero 4 Black does!
Which GoPro should You buy?
This depends on what you need it for. Remember GoPro has been around for a long time and in that time it’s produced a good product line most of its action cameras still stand the test of time and can be used today.
For instance, the sessions are good for those that want something compact that’ll be attached to something like a surfboard or a ski. The full-fledged GoPros are for those that want more control over the quality of their footage.
If you were to ask me here are my recommendations:
- Cheap but decent GoPro: Hero 4
- Highly compact and decent quality: Hero 5 Session
- Highly professional with the 360-degree capability and high Rez/FPS: GoPro Fusion
- Extremely high-quality footage: GoPro Hero 7
So which GoPro do you own or which one have you decided to get? Share your thoughts below and maybe you’ll help someone make a decision.