PROS / Its resolution and framerate combinations are far above anything else on the market.
CONS / Its battery life lags behind the competition.
VERDICT / The HERO4 Black isn't the easiest camera to use, considering its lack of a display for reviewing and framing shots, but it's got the best technical specs out there. This makes it very attractive for advanced users.
The GoPro HERO4 Black is the latest in GoPro's long line of industry-defining action cameras. As such, it advances from previous iterations and once again allows GoPro to define what the premium action camera should look like in terms of features, design and image quality. For its performance and classic design, the GoPro HERO4 Black is our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award winner.
The GoPro HERO4 Black provides unparalleled resolution and framerate combinations. It can shoot in 4K, the highest video resolution available in an action camera at 30 fps. Although this isn't a high framerate for 1080p content, it's the highest framerate any action cam can shoot at 4K. As such, this device offers the best image quality in our comparison.
It can shoot in 2.7K at 50 fps. We envision that many adventurers will choose this setting because it gives you above-average framerate with an exceptionally high resolution that still allows for lots of editing.
However, the setting we are most excited about shooting in is 1080p at 120 fps. This is the only action cam on the market that will allow you to shoot at 120 fps in full HD. You'll be able to get smooth slow-motion shots of quick movements, even if you slow it down to 20 percent of the original video speed.
The HERO4 Black allows you to shoot in ProTune. This mode strips away all effects and compression from the video in order to give video editors more control over the raw footage. This mode is recommended only for those who do post-production work on their videos, as it will appear less sharp and the colors less vivid without editing than if you'd shot the same footage in normal mode.
This camera can shoot at three different viewing angles: wide (170 degrees), medium (127 degrees) and narrow (90 degrees). The wide view gives you the best point-of-view footage; however, if you're filming someone else, you might want to try the medium viewing angle for a less zoomed-out look.
Like most HD action cams, the HERO4 Black can shoot still photos. However, GoPro has now added a feature called Night Photo. This allows you to leave the shutter open for up to 30 seconds during a photo. This results in low-light or no-light photos that look like they were taken in the day. This feature is especially useful for no-light time-lapse videos.
This camcorder has the same boxlike shape of other previous GoPro models, although it has changed the size and shape of its replaceable batteries and improved its microphone. Battery life has always been an issue with action cameras, and unfortunately, the battery is actually a bit worse on the HERO4 Black than it was on its predecessor.
If you're shooting at 1080p and 30 fps, you'll get about 90 minutes of recording. If you're shooting at 1080p and 120 fps, you get just 70 minutes of battery life. This is undoubtedly the biggest negative to the HERO4 Black, as several competitors have almost twice the battery life. You can always buy extra batteries and swap them out during your adventure, but this can be an impractical and, frankly, frustrating proposition.
GoPro makes lots of accessories for this device, including mounts that can attach to your helmet, wrist, surfboard, guitar or pretty much anything else. There are also many third-party accessories that are quite affordable.
GoPro claims have to have improved its much-maligned audio system, doubling the dynamic range of the HERO4 Black's predecessor. Outside of its case, this should drastically improve the sound quality. However, if you keep the GoPro in its bulletproof case, you shouldn't expect it to capture good sound, as the solid plastic case completely insulates the microphone.
This camera is Wi-Fi enabled, which means you can connect to the camera using the GoPro app for Apple or Android devices. Once connected, you can easily change settings, start and stop recording and, most importantly, use it as a viewfinder to see what you're about to film.
Menu navigation without the smartphone app is still a bit frustrating, but GoPro has now allowed the Wi-Fi button on the side of the camera to double as a settings button that has made things a bit better. Another camera in the HERO4 line has a touchscreen, and we hope to see this feature integrated into the next flagship GoPro.
One unique feature on this camera is Bluetooth-assisted Wi-Fi pairing. This simply makes the pairing process a bit quicker than if it was through Wi-Fi. Another new feature is called "HiLight Tag." This allows you to tag a moment while recording by pressing the Wi-Fi button. This makes it much simpler to find the best footage when you're editing.
This is the best action camcorder for time lapse, thanks to its watertight construction, 12-megapixel stills and new Night Lapse feature. Night Lapse combines classic time-lapse interval photo taking with the Night Photo slow shutter speed. This enables you to get breathtaking time-lapse videos of the stars.
Help & Support
GoPro has exceptional customer service. We've had multiple positive interactions with its phone support representatives, and the company also offers email support. Its website makes it easy to find the support section, and the social media team also answers questions on Twitter. The HERO4 Black ships with a one-year warranty.
The HERO3+ Black predecessor was the best action camcorder on the market, and the HERO4 Black is even better. Although it lacks the touchscreen of the HERO4 Silver, it offers the best resolutions and framerates available from any brand or model. Additionally, GoPro has put and excellent support team behind it.