Last Action Hero

GoPro was founded in 2002 by Nick Woodman, who was looking for a cheaper way to capture pro-quality surfing shots. Thanks to the rise of social media and digital camera technology, GoPro is now a public company worth billions, and even has aspirations of becoming a media company, as well. The micro action cam has put our new "selfie" culture into motion.

2014 marked the year that GoPro earned the "Pro" in its name. Made in two editions, the HERO4 Black (MSRP: $499.99) and Silver ($399.99), as well as an entry-level HERO ($129.99), for filmmakers, the Black is the ticket. It has double the performance of the HERO3+, including 4K capture and 120 fps, but more importantly, the HERO4 Black delivers superior image control.

Most casual GoPro users are pretty much content shooting footage in 1080p (as they should be), as well as capturing images they can immediately upload to social media instead of color-grade. The Silver is probably the camera that will suit most users’ needs. But if you’re a pro shooter who wants to get the most out of your HERO, there’s a learning curve you’ll need to master. It’s important to remember that there are now a total of 47 different resolution and frame rate combinations.

HERO4 Black Key Specs
• 4K capture (UHD 3840×2160)
• High-res frame rates (2.7K at 50 fps, 1080p at 120 fps)
• SuperView video mode captures an even wider POV
• 12-megapixel photos at burst speeds of 30 photos per second
• New Night Photo and Night Lapse modes with customizable exposure settings
• New audio system that has 2x the dynamic range

The HERO4 has the same classic, compact form factor of the HERO3+. The first improvement I noticed while setting up the camera is that the battery is easier to remove than previous HEROs. But with twice the processing power, you’re definitely going to need a pocketful of extra batteries for an all-day shoot.

One flaw with the Black is the lack of a built-in monitor. Even though it’s not the flagship model, the Silver contains a built-in touch display that allows you to make changes on the screen rather than use the Mode and Record buttons. And although it’s disappointing the Black doesn’t contain a built-in display, you can attach GoPro’s LCD Touch BacPac ($79.99) to the back of the camera if you want to frame your shot and make changes via the touch screen. I’m guessing that most advanced GoPro users are using their mobile phones or tablets to control their cameras.