GoPro Dwindles Its Camera Again; Hero4 Session Review

GoPro Inc., GPRO -3.30 % the popular maker of tiny video cameras, is making them even tinier.

How tiny? The brand-new GoPro Hero4 Session is the size of an ice cube, concerning half that of previous GoPros. It can easily fit in to the spokes of a bike, hang onto the end of a fishing pole or turn a toddler in to a documentary filmmaker.

The Session goes on sale July 12, and GoPro gave me one to try over the past week. It isn’t the best-quality camera GoPro has actually ever made, however it’s so small and simple, I’m most likely to maintain using it.

Just brace for the sticker shock: $400. That’s the same price as an Apple Watch, not to mention last year’s Hero4 Silver, which has actually a touch screen and much better picture quality.

With the Session, GoPro is going for its iPod Shuffle moment. In 2005, Apple upended its own booming music user business Along with the Shuffle, an iPod small enough to wear on a necklace. Its main selling point was just what it lacked: no screen, no removable battery and no complex controls.

The Session is the initial brand-new design in nearly a decade for GoPro, which has actually an astounding 70% of the U.S. video-camera market, according to NPD. Like the Shuffle, the Session sheds features to drop weight and broaden its appeal. It has actually no screen to view pictures, no extra buttons to modification modes, no means to swap its two-hour battery.

But the refinements in the brand-new design are, for the most part, worth the sacrifices. They go a methods toward addressing my longstanding complaint that GoPros require too much futzing.

The Session still takes full-HD video, however is pool-party all set free of the waterproof housing its predecessors required. The Session’s lens is covered by a clear shield, and the USB ports for charging and swapping out memory cards are stress sealed (safe to an undersea depth of 10 meters). The microphone drains like a human ear as soon as you take it from the water, so you can easily go from the pool to the picnic table in seconds.

The Session additionally cuts GoPro’s number of buttons from three to two—really Merely one big one you use regularly. Tap the shutter button once to power it up and start recording video, or hold it down for still shots. (A tiny digital readout next to the button gives you confirmation that it’s working.) Press the shutter again to stop recording and turn it off. This is a considerable speed improvement over older GoPros and competing action cams from companies like Sony. SNE -0.62 %

A few aspects of the brand-new design did aggravate me. The 1.5-inch, 2.6-ounce cube is cute, however as soon as all sides are equal, Exactly how can easily you tell which means is up? The Session can easily sense its orientation, and will certainly flip its video in 180-degree increments. however it can’t rotate 90 degrees. I held it wrong initially, and took video you have actually to watch Along with your head tilted like a confused puppy.

The session holds enough power to shoot concerning two hours of HD video, and doesn’t waste any juice as soon as it isn’t shooting. however the sealed battery means you ought to be conscientious concerning charging it. That takes concerning 90 minutes.

The big question, of course, is why you’d need a GoPro at all as soon as you already have actually a smartphone. The answer is that you’re willing to stick them in places you’d never put your phone or regular camera.

I had no problem handing the Session over to a 2-year-old who, transfixed by its cute shape and blinking red light, created incredible footage of his afternoon. Seen from the Session’s wide-angle lens, the tyke looked like a giant stomping about toy trains.

I additionally stuck it on the bottom of a skateboard, on a puppy and in a cocktail glass. GoPro Chief Executive Nick Woodman says he’s fond of holding it in between his teeth to document playing Along with his children.

Compared Along with others GoPros, the Session’s ruggedized, compact design made it less complicated to believe of it as camera I can easily Merely maintain in my bag. If you’ve got a pool in the backyard, it’s a no-brainer.

The Session’s design has actually plenty of appeal, however if you’re fussy concerning your cinematography, it isn’t the right choice. The image sensor GoPro put in to the Session is fine, however not as good as the Hero4 Silver and Black, which can easily take higher-resolution shots and pick up a lot more light in dark scenes.

The Session additionally calls for you to be OK Along with filming free of a screen to frame your shot. You get hold of over this limitation as soon as you recognize the super-wide-angle lens does a remarkable job capturing whatever’s interesting. You can easily additionally use the Session’s second, smaller sized button to connect it to your phone via Wi-Fi to preview, download shots or modification modes.

GoPro has actually long encouraged perspective creativity by selling an array of mounts, all of which are compatible Along with the Session as soon as you clip on its included plastic frame. It has actually additionally introduced a few brand-new ones, like a $60 glove called the Strap. GoPro has actually even announced plans for its own quadcopter drones and 360-degree virtual-truth rigs.

Now that the Session plots a brand-new design direction for its cameras, GoPro’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t have actually an answer to just what to do Along with all that footage. Sure, the camera comes Along with an editing program; it’s a bit buggy, however that even has actually the inclination to edit their videos anymore?

The Session need to be smart enough to upload all your footage to the cloud when you get hold of estate and plug it in, for storing and sharing those moments. Mr. Woodman says his company is working on such a cloud service. That GoPro can easily charge $400 for the Session free of it is a testament to its quality design and powerful marketing, however it is sorely called for now.

GoPro’s marketing has actually constantly been concerning extreme athletes. Like Nike, NKE 0.31 % I suspect the message is aspirational for most customers. Its actual base looks increasingly a lot more like extreme parents. For them, the Session is the very best camera on the market for documenting the rough and tumble of family life.


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