Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The GoPro Hero 4 silver edition

I'm now doing more and more aerial shots with my quadcopter nowadays. It is really fun. It's a newer way of taking photographs if you are looking for something different. I bought a quadcopter a couple of months ago and equipped it with my GoPro hero 3 white edition.

While the GoPro cameras are awesome for videos and stills for their size, I have found my GoPro hero 3 white edition somehow lacking the resolution I want for taking shots up in the air. While it is capable of taking 1080p videos at 30 fps, it is also capable of taking stills up in the air at 5 megapixels. 5 megapixels used to be enough resolution about ten years ago. The photos were awesome for the web, but I do a lot of printing at 13x19" and above and if you are printing that big, the 5 megapixel resolution starts to show it's limits.

I felt I needed more resolution from my GoPro. I then was gonna go buy the GoPro hero 3+ black edition when GoPro released the hero 4 line, which is a totally new model from the previous ones. They are faster, have more resolution, and new camera and video features that you cannot find from the older models. I then decided to purchase the GoPro hero 4 silver edition.

The GoPro hero 4 silver has a 4k video resolution at 15 frames a second. A bit slow for 4k, but where it shines is the 12 megapixel still shot resolution which is more than twice of what my white edition has. 12 megapixels equals 13"x10" of prints at 300 dpi. Now 300 dpi is used mainly for very hi resolution photos used in professional prints. For everyday prints, 13"x10" prints at 300 dpi is way more than enough. Lower the resolution down to 240 dpi and you get prints of around 16.25"x12.5". Lower it down a bit more and your print size gets even bigger, which is more than what I need. This is the reason why I got it in the first place...photo resolution. It also has the ability to capture photos at 30 frames a second. Of course you can always adjust these in the settings.

The GoPro hero 4 silver edition has a built in lcd screen for previewing your shots. For how thin it is including the lcd screen, it fits perfectly with the cradle for my quadcopter. Although I'm never gonna use the lcd when it's mounted on my quadcopter, it's a plus. It's always nice to have an lcd for previewing when handholding the camera. The lcd is awesome for composing your shots. For viewing the files, it's not bad at all. For accessing the settings, the lcd is precious.

In the settings menu you can access the general settings for the camera and the mode settings of the current mode you are in. The general settings lets you adjust the touch display, orientation, sound, video format, date/time etc. The mode settings lets you adjust the frame rate, size, spot metering etc., depending of what mode you are in. The lcd has a lock feature where you must slide your fingers and unlock it first before it lets you change settings. This prevents you from accidentally changing settings.

The new GoPro hero 4 silver lcd screen is pretty much like previous lcd screen than you attach to the back of the hero 3. Nothing really new here except for the lock feature. It pretty much is for previewing and composing shots, and also for changing the settings. The thing I felt that improved a lot with the lcd screen is the touch screen feature. The lcd for the hero 4 silver is more responsive and easier to touch and swipe. The older lcd is troublesome. This is the best new feature of the new screen.

Sizewise, its really similar to my older hero 3 white edition. Although this one includes the lcd screen. The older hero 3 adds about 1/3 of its size if you attach an lcd screen. It fits perfectly in my quadcopter mount with absolutely no difference at all.

The new GoPro hero 4 has the same ports on the side like the old GoPro hero 3 has. It has the mini usb port for charging and for transferring files, and a micro hdmi port so you can attach it to your hdmi monitor for viewing. Also on this side is the micro sd card slot. It supports up to 64 gb of micro sd capacity.

Since this model has the lcd already, the port on the back is for attaching a higher capacity battery pack for longer recording times. I have no use for the extra battery power as I always charge mine after use. Recording times with it at 1080p at 60 fps is around 1 hour and 50 minutes with wifi off as what the site says. Although I'm not really sure if that's with the lcd on or not. I have never tried this, you might wanna try this out yourself.

What made me buy the GoPro hero 4 silver is its Protune feature. Protune was introduced with the Gopro hero 3+ black cameras when it came out. Although it was used only for video before.  With the GoPro hero 4 cameras, Protune is now available to use for both video and stills. Protune is a feature where you can manually adjust the white balance, color, ISO limit, sharpness and exposure compensation. The GoPro being a fully automatic camera now allows users to set these parameters according to their shooting needs, which means that although its a fully automatic camera, it somehow has manual controls that give you flexibility.

Another feature that is new with the GoPro hero 4 silver is the night shot feature. Night shot allows you to take pictures in lowlight. Either still or time lapse. I haven't tried these features yet, but I'll post some photos when I do.

Took the GoPro silver out on my quad and did some shots before the snowy days come in. Here are the sample shots:

Top of a college building.

In a park near a school.

Behind the school building.

The school view from the public park.
The photos are uploaded and tweaked in Lightroom. Although the photos look pretty good coming straight from the camera. With enough resolution for medium sized prints depending on how you print them. 

Now I could've gotten the black edition instead of the silver...why didn't I? Pretty much the only difference between the black and the silver is the maximum video resolution. The black can do 4K video at 30 frames a second. The silver can do 4K video with a frame rate of 15 a second. The main reason for me getting the GoPro camera is to capture stills, and 12 mp is enough for me for now at least. The silver has a built in lcd screen and the black does not, it's also $100 cheaper. I do a lot of video but I'm not doing any 4k videos YET. In the future I will for sure, but for now the GoPro Hero 4 silver edition is the perfect camera for me and my quad.  


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