GoPro is very small and durable camera which could film your family adventures in very high quality.
You might have heard that GoPro cameras are only for extreme freaks like people jumping from the planes, diving in the oceans and doing other crazy things. Yes! But…
GoPro Camera for Home Video
Having kids is one big adventure too and I think that GoPro camera fits this family experience very well.
You need to keep your hands free for the kids while NOT holding a bulky camera, right? I just wanted something that I can quickly grab and shoot while having a baby in my hands.
And one more thing – my kids always want to touch the camera or eventually eat it. The durability of GoPro allows it and I am quite calm when my babies play with it. So far it survived everything we did with it.
These are the main reasons why I bought GoPro camera “just” for home movies.
What GoPro is the Best for Family Videos
You might find several reviews and comparisons of GoPro cameras on the internet but most of them are focused on extreme adventurers or geeks.
Let’s see it from a little bit different point of view:
What is important for families with kids who want to capture perfect family video easily?
Here are the factors and research outputs which I considered before choosing our own GoPro family camera (HERO4 Silver).
UPDATE [2016/11/05]: currently, we already use newer model of GoPro (HERO5 Black) which has all of the best features mentioned in this article, plus a little bit more. Check the details in our review here. However, this article is still valuable – showing important factors which might be considered when buying any action action camera, not just GoPro.
In case you don’t like long articles just jump right to the end of this post where you can find a simple comparison of GoPro cameras with pros and cons.
Image Quality (Resolution)
At first, think about this question:
Where I or my audience will watch the videos?
Just PC / TV or any larger screen?
For normal size of the screens (computer, YouTube channel or regular TV) the camera should have at least 1080p resolution (HD = high definition). We use 1080p for most of our usual home videos, but it is great to have the higher quality option for some spectacular shots.
So which GoPro has what resolution?
The most basic GoPro camera (HERO) offers maximum resolution option 1080p.
You might ask:
Why would anyone use better resolution than 1080p (HD)?
Imagine the situation you are a little bit too far from your captured object, for example your kid is just running away. You can later zoom the image in post-processing without losing HD quality of the image (and no, GoPro camera doesn’t zoom in real time). You wouldn’t be able to do that with basic GoPro HERO camera model which has the maximum resolution only 1080p.
But there is one more catch about resolution…
Frame Rate (Frames per Second)
You need to check also how many frames per second (fps) does the camera make at a certain resolution.
Why is this a catch?
Because GoPro advertises very high 4k resolution for some models of GoPro camera but at this regime, it makes only 15 fps (frames per second). This is not enough frames, you need at least 24 fps (for normal video) or better 30 fps.
For example HERO4 Silver has advertised 4k resolution but it is a little bit misleading because it can shoot only 15 fps in this regime. This makes it practically useless regime unless you capture some still image (e.g. landscape without moving objects).
I would say 2.7k (30 fps) is a maximum resolution you can use to film action scenes with HERO4 Silver model. This would be more than enough for most of the today screens anyway (great for most of the families’ needs, in my opinion). And there is still some space for zooming option mentioned above.
The only type of GoPro camera which can shoot dynamic scenes in 4k resolution practically is HERO4 Black (at 30 fps). Now it is up to you if you need that professional “cinema quality” of HERO4 Black (used for extra large screens) and would be willing to pay almost five hundred bucks for it.
Slow Motion Needs More FPS
If you plan some dynamic scenes (kids are always moving, right?) and then want to make it slow motion in video post processing you would need even more than 30 frames per second, I use typically 60 fps and sometimes even higher.
When you use more fps then the resolution available is lower depending what camera you have. HERO4 Black Edition has the best options (highest resolution at highest frames per second) but it is the most expensive one ($499.99).
Do You Need Built-In Touch Display?
Another reason why I chose HERO4 Silver edition is built-in touch display at the back side of the camera so I can check immediately what is captured.
Until recently HERO4 Silver was the only GoPro camera with LCD touch display. Even the best of the GoPro cameras (HERO4 Black) doesn’t have it.
But now GoPro started to sell the most basic GoPro camera HERO+ with LCD, however the price is more than doubled ($299) compared to the basic HERO model without LCD. On the other hand, they upgraded frame rate at the highest possible resolution (1080p @ 60 fps compared to the older model 1080p @ 30 fps). This upgrade allows making smooth slow motion video.
Having LCD display doesn’t have to be necessarily the most important factor because GoPro camera allows capturing really wide angle image (170 degrees). You will be proficient enough even without LCD after some practice.
The truth is that I use LCD display a lot. I found it really convenient and it helps me to check if I have a good angle or if I capture everything I want (especially kids moving so quickly away).
In my opinion, LCD touch display will be probably mostly appreciated by first-time users of GoPro. They might feel nervous if they cannot see what is captured.
That’s why LCD display might be a very important feature when purchasing GoPro as a family camera.
Does the Size Matter?
When I saw our HERO4 Silver GoPro camera for the first time I was impressed how small it is. I could easily hide it in my palm.
In spite of that GoPro keeps getting smaller and they have just released an information about their new camera HERO4 session.
This new tiny camera should be 50% smaller and 40% lighter than other GoPro cameras. It should have sufficient resolution and frame rate (1080p @ 60 fps) to make even smooth slow motion scenes. The price will be the same as HERO4 Silver (originally $399.99, later decreased to $299.99).
So does the size matter or not?
Although this new camera might be beneficial for some, the dimensions of regular GoPro cameras are already very convenient.
I take my camera with me everywhere. I had it even while we were backpacking with kids and never had any issues. In fact only time I felt discomfort was when I’ve tested how long I could have it strapped on my head. I wore my HERO4 Silver camera using GoPro head strap for approximately 4 hours and indeed this was the first time I felt it was uncomfortable.
You might also consider the size as important decision factor if you plan to place GoPro camera on your baby’s head for long periods of time. I didn’t try it yet, I think my kids wouldn’t like it anyway.
Even small babies can hold GoPro HERO4 Silver camera in their hands. My 10 months old baby was able to play with the camera easily for couple minutes.
I would say the size of any GoPro model is not a problem when used in normal situations.
Advanced Settings – Protune
I have described just basic properties. I believe those might be the most important for families who just want to create great home movies the easiest way they could (push the shutter button and shoot the video).
But what if you eventually become an expert and want to go further?
You might find useful feature called Protune. It allows changing your camera from automatic “point-and-shoot” to manual settings (white balance, color, ISO, sharpness, exposure).
Of course, the price is an important factor especially for families with babies.
GoPro’s price strategy is quite straightforward. You will get top professional quality (GoPro HERO4 Black) for the highest price ($499.99) or you need to make compromises.
Lowest level HERO without LCD cost only $129.99 but shoots only 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second (practically you might have a problem to create smooth slow motion with it).
I have also mentioned the smallest GoPro camera HERO4 Session which currently (10/2015) costs $299.99.
Comparison of GoPro Cameras
I hope you are not too overwhelmed which GoPro camera to choose now.
Let’s summarize it and see the features with pros and cons in a convenient table.
(at least 30 fps)
(at least 60 fps)
|PROS||top pro quality||top pro quality, LCD||very small||LCD||price|
|CONS||price||limited slow mo|
As you can see it depends on your personal preferences what you really need.
Would you prefer the best quality (GoPro HERO4 Black) and are you willing to pay the highest price?
Or are you on very tight budget and don’t mind about the quality too much? (GoPro HERO)
I decided for the convenient way (LCD touch display), top quality and reasonable price (GoPro HERO4 Silver).
And what about you, which one would you choose to fit your family needs? Please let us know in comments below, we would appreciate it!
Thanks for reading our family camera buying guide.
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