We use our GoPro Hero4 Silver camera for filming our family adventures for more than a year now. We became pretty familiar with this camera so it is the right time to write a review. What we love about it and what is not so great.
This review can help you to decide whether it is good for your own family adventures and special moments.
You may find a bunch of reviews of this camera on the internet describing its technical parameters. Well, this review will be a bit different. I want to show you how you can use it and what is the result, from a family point of view. In case you actually want those geeky numbers, jump at the end of this review.
The greatest advantage is that you can take the camera anywhere and it doesn’t bother you. Sometimes I put it in my pocket or mount it on my body and I forget that I have the camera with me. Even my babies were able to wear it on themselves. The camera is so small that you can hide it in your palm.
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All other GoPro cameras have this similar size, only GoPro HERO Session is much smaller. But the quality of the image is a little bit lower and it doesn’t have LCD display. For more details, check a comparison of all GoPro cameras in this post.
Mount It Anywhere (Hands-free Filming)
As a busy mom of two babies I rarely had a chance to take our big DSLR camera and take a few pictures or video of our little ones. This was the main reason why we bought GoPro camera. I need to do activities with kids as usually and capture a video at the same time.
I mount the camera on my body (head, chest or wrist) and then chase the kids around the playground, climb the mountains or surf in the ocean with them. I do not have to bother with having a camera in my hands and I still have a video of every special moment we had together. I love how easy it is!
A ton of other mounts (tripods, clamps, suction cups etc.) allows attaching the camera to any object you can imagine.
Or you might use a selfie stick for a nice family picture when nobody else is around to take your picture.
You can quickly mount the camera by one screw only and start shooting right away. This is especially handy when kids are already running away and I need to have the camera ready in a few seconds.
I must mention first con here. GoPro manufacturer produces many useful mounts but most of them are pricey. We own several original mounts from GoPro (3-way arm, wrist / hand / leg mount, head strap, frame and some adhesive mounts). But we have also other mounts coming from non-GoPro manufacturers which works fine. These are often sold on Amazon as “All-in-one” – many mounts in one cheap set. These items could have a lower quality standard so you should choose carefully. We almost lost our GoPro camera when mounting it on a cheap wrist mount which malfunctioned during our ocean activities. Not fun at all! I follow reviews (watch out for fakes) and personal recommendations of other GoPro enthusiasts. See the list of our most often used mounts here.
Before you buy any mounts check GoPro camera on Amazon – they offer valuable bundles. Our package arrived with these GoPro mounts – head strap, adhesive mounts and helmet side mount.
Having this camera from very early age of our babies, I appreciate how durable it is. I cannot count how many times the kids punched my GoPro camera and tried to eat it. And I don’t want to speak about their sticky hands 🙂
GoPro delivers the camera with a housing and 3 different backdoors (it is in the unboxing picture above). This housing protects the camera against impact, water, dust etc. You can change the backdoors of the housing according to the environment where you are going to use it.
Two backdoors are waterproof. The first option is designed for deep diving (40 meters) but you cannot touch an LCD display. The second allows only a few meters under water but you can control the camera using touchable display.
Both backdoors are essential for having fun in a pool or in an ocean. But I use it also for hikes where a sudden change of the weather can happen. Usually, when it starts to rain I am too busy to clothe myself and kids to rain jackets and ran somewhere to hide. At that time, I am always glad to have my camera in the waterproof housing. The camera stays safe and I can potentially get some shots from the rainy adventure.
Sound – How to Improve Quality
The great benefit of housing protection brings also a disadvantage. When the camera is placed in the waterproof housing, the sound quality is poor. The protection impact the ability to record sound properly. Imagine that you want to hear a person who is behind the door. The sound would be quieter and subdued.
This can be slightly improved during video editing later. I change audio control to higher dB levels in STEP 2 in GoPro Studio. Let’s hear how it sounds then:
Another option is to use open backdoor which is a part of the basic package delivered with GoPro camera. This should record better sound (but the housing is not waterproof then). We don’t use this backdoor because improvement doesn’t seem so significant.
We found a better solution how to get higher quality sound. I have my camera in this frame most of the time except rough outdoor activities. But be careful, the camera is more fragile in this mount. I don’t let my kids play with it.
Here is how it sounds when the camera is in this frame only.
GoPro camera also allows attaching an external microphone. I read opinions of GoPro experts that this should be the best solution. But we never tried because it is not practical for our family at this moment.
Wide Angle – Everything Fits in!
GoPro camera has a fisheye lens so it captures wide angle. In other words, you will see “more” than you would by using a traditional camera. Look at this comparison of photos from our DSLR camera and GoPro:
For more see our comparison blog post
This is the invaluable benefit, especially when shooting high and wide objects where you need everything to fit in.
In these cases, you will appreciate another great advantage – built-in LCD display. You can see everything conveniently. For example, you need to make sure that kids running all over the place are still captured together with high mountains in the background. LCD display is touchable so you can use it to set the camera if needed.
Wide angle feature could become a disadvantage when captured object is too far from you. For example, kids already ran away or wildlife in a distance. They will be barely visible. I would also mention that GoPro camera doesn’t have any real time zoom. You can zoom it later in video editing process but not much.
You can also use Narrow mode if you have time to set it (which we usually don’t because kids would be already gone). But I use it in situations where I know beforehand that objects will be far away, for example, for shots from the car. Distant objects seem to be closer then.
Low Light / Indoor Filming
GoPro camera makes the best shots outside, in good light conditions. The quality of the video in low light conditions is lower but personally, I find it sufficient for our family needs.
If you film indoor make sure you have enough light. You can also set GoPro camera to Low Light, Night mode or completely manually (higher ISO, lower FPS etc.). Another option which I always use is making the image brighter during video editing later.
Let’s see an example of a video captured in very poorly lit climbing gym. There was no chance to switch on more lights. I made most of the improvements later in post-processing. Is this quality sufficient for you?
Easy vs. Expert Mode
I have already mentioned, that you can take the camera from your pocket and start to capture right away. Just by pushing one button, no complicated setting. GoPro’s automatic mode produces a great footage most of the time.
Tip: if you want to use this “one button to start filming” feature you need to change settings of the camera ahead (it is off by default). Go to Setup mode and turn ON the feature QuikCapture.
But this GoPro camera has also an expert mode which is called Protune. This enables to switch from “point-and-shoot” automatic setting to manual, similar to DSLR cameras. You can set these properties like ISO, sharpness, exposure, white balance and color. This might move your video to the next level but you need to know what you are doing.
We rarely use this option because we usually have no time for setting due to overactive kids. But one day we will get to the point our kids allow us to play with these settings a little bit more.
GoPro camera needs to change battery quite often which is a little bit annoying. Of course, it depends how often you use LCD display, Wi-Fi, what is the current settings and other factors. But generally, don’t expect to shoot for hours with one battery. For a weekend trip, I usually take at least 3 spare batteries. I had more than ten batteries on our last road trip (24 days) and I had to recharge them in triple charger regularly.
Numbers for Geeks
The review wouldn’t be complete without technical specifications of the camera. This table shows resolutions and frames per second (doesn’t include all available values):
|resolution||frames per second|
You can get nice smooth slow motion in HD quality (1080p@60fps). The highest 4K resolution shouldn’t be used for dynamic video. In other words, the quality of the video is extraordinary for the needs of most families. Experts use it even for professional movies.
The camera makes also up to 30 photos in 12MP resolution.
You might want to use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. We don’t because it drains the battery and there are alternative options (cable is still good).
So is this Camera Good for Family Video?
Let’s summarize our experience with GoPro HERO4 Silver camera.
A few little things could be a little annoying like limited battery life. I also don’t like when I must make compromises. Do I want to record great sound while having the vulnerable camera? Or I want the durable camera in waterproof housing but with worse sound?
Except these two things, we all honestly love this camera. A LOT! So far we enjoyed a family experience which would normally stay only in our memories. But GoPro made it possible to save these special moments for later. Changing the diaper while getting a cute baby’s smile, playing and having fun, chasing both kids around the playground, climbing on the rocks and in the gym, hiking in the mountains, catching the waves in the ocean, escaping huge floods during camping, hatching the alligators and many more (check our YouTube channel). I am sure we wouldn’t be able to capture all these family adventures by our DSLR camera. It is simply too big and too fragile, not practical.
GoPro’s durability, easy-to-use, convenient LCD display, high-quality videos / photos and countless hands-free mounts is exactly what we needed as busy parents.
That’s why we believe GoPro HERO4 Silver is the perfect camera for family videos and photos. We should have bought it much earlier.
So are you ready to start filming your special family experience? Have fun and let us know in comments below this blog post.