GoPro Hero4 was finally released this month. There are already many videos, reviews and discussions going on about this new camera. We are going to look at the video quality, battery life and decide weather it’s worth getting the GoPro4 camera, for Quadcopter FPV and multicopter aerial photography purposes.
There are 3 models launched simultaneously, the GoPro Hero4 Black Edition, Hero4 Silver Edition, and regular Hero model. They can all fit in a waterproof case, all share a similar body shape and all work with micro SD cards.
Check out our article on how to select an HD camera for racing drones.
Features of the 3 New GoPro Cameras
If you want the highest quality footage you should go with the GoPro HD Hero4 Black Edition. It costs $500 in the US, £370 in the UK and AU$649 in Australia. The Hero4 Black camera’s processor is twice as powerful as the Hero3+ Black, allowing you to record at up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. It can also do 1080p at 120fps, which is great for slow-motion clips.
The Hero4 Silver is a step down model which costs $400, £290 or AU$509. It records video at up to 4K at 15fps, a more useful 2.7K resolution at 30fps, and 1080p at 60fps and 720p at 120fps. Those are what the Hero3+ Black can do, so it seems with the Hero4 Silver you’re essentially getting that model with a touchscreen. The Touchscreen is a big features for the silver edition, which makes framing and reviewing shots much easier.
Finally, there’s the GoPro Hero, costs £100. This more basic model shoots 1080p HD video at 30fps or 720p at 60fps. However the photos captured with this camera are limited to 5 megapixel while the other two expensive models can take 12 megapixel images.
You might also want to grab some lens protector for the GoPro, not even sure the ones for Hero3 is compatible for the Hero4. If not we might have to wait!
Hero4 Video Quality
To me the Hero4 videos look sharper, especially when zoom in. The Hero4 Silver’s color looks a bit better than the black also. Here are some awesome comparison videos on Youtube:
Gopro Hero4 Black VS Hero4 Silver
Gopro Hero4 Black VS Hero3+ Black
GoPro Battery Life
It seems the battery life of the Gopro Hero4 has not improved compared to the older version (hero3+), in fact the Hero4 Black actually last shorter than the Hero3+ Black. I guess it’s probably the processor is better and more power-demanding, but the battery has not change significantly from the last version. It would be inevitable that the HERO4 Black had a shorter battery life than the 4 Silver or the 3+ Black.
Battery life comparison between Hero3+ Black, Hero4 Silver and Hero4 Black
It’s well known that the battery technology is way behind the development of processors, if GoPro wants to keep improving their cameras, they will have to increase the battery size, or their cameras will have less and less battery life. I guess Gopro will soon meet a bottle neck on camera performance improvement, unless they use bigger battery and make the camera larger.
Price Drop For Hero3+ Camera!
Since the new Gorpo cameras are now out, the price of the predecessor seems have dropped. Hero3+ Black is now about the same price as the Hero4 Silver, and the Hero3+ Silver is only £190 on Amazon (as on 20/Oct/2014).
Conclusion for Quadcopter FPV
For me, I think I will stay with the GoPro Hero3 and wait for the GoPro Hero4+ or even Hero5. :D I won’t upgrade either if I have the Hero3+.
For the Hero4 Silver, I will ever use a touch screen if I am putting in on a multicopter, besides it’s a weak point when the copter crashes.
For the Hero4 Black, I personally have no need for 4K or 2.7K video quality, most people don’t have a screen that big to display 4K videos anyway. 1080p@120fps would be the only reason I upgrade, but that’s a luxury feature that most people don’t need. The battery life also bothers me, it would be quite annoying if you have to recharge or change battery every 1 and a half hour.
I actually did an experiment on converting 30fps footage into smoother 60fps video. The result is pretty good.
I fly with mini quad these days, and the new GoPro Hero4 is a bit heavier, which could be an disadvantage too. (74g VS 88g)