As the action gets bigger and better, the devices to capture it get better too, but grow smaller. And there is a reason for this inverse size relationship: it’s the nano-technology — expanding functionality while shrinking the size (remember the big square floppy that could hardly store 2 songs, with 8MB storage? No compare it to the 32GB pen-drive, storing thousands of songs and videos, but still the size of your index finger nail).
In the past few years, the world of cameras has got really minimalistic, and one brand in particular lent an entirely new dimension to action photo and videography —the GoPro.
With its Hero action camera series, GoPro revolutionised capturing the action with its extreme durability; smaller than possible size (well at that time it was really something unusual), and yet super-awesome results. The way it traps the adventure real up and close; it does not show your eyes a glimpse of the action, it rather becomes your eyes, transcending you in the midst of it all.
And though many have now followed the trail: the likes of Garmin, Sony, HTC, and Xiaomi; GoPro still leads the pack by leaps and bounds. Now in its fourth gen with the Hero4 Silver, Black, and Session range, it was with the Session, that GoPro once again redefined the benchmark for action photography.
Launched in mid-2015, the Session is 50% smaller and 40% lighter compared to other versions of the GoPro cameras; smaller than the smallest. And the most convenient camera ever, features rugged and waterproof design, easy one-button control, high battery efficiency, and 1080p60 video and 8MP photos.
The mini cube shape allows for more flexible mounting; it’s fast to start/stop recording; and its new mic design delivers better wind-noise reduction. The camera can be rotated within the frame to the correct orientation and this, coupled with the auto orientation feature, ensures that your footage is always the right way up, which can be a major time-saver when it comes to editing.
A quick press of the shutter button powers on the camera and begins shooting video. Press and hold the button and it starts capturing time-lapse sequences. A second press of the shutter button stops recording. The GoPro app is required to access other shooting modes, and to adjust settings.
On the back of the camera is a small button for displays settings and status information on the small LCD next to the shutter button. The back button also activates the Wi-Fi function and tags footage, depending on the camera’s status.
As with all GoPros, the Session employs microSD card for storage, and is operated through mobile device connecting via Wi-Fi. There’s a good choice of quality settings, including 1440p at 30fps (frames per second), 1080p at 60fps and 720p at 100fps. There are plenty more frame rate options, as well as a choice of NTSC or PAL formats.
All video is recorded in H.264 codec in the .mp4 file format, making it fully compatible with most popular editing applications, along with the GoPro Studio. The ProTune settings also facilitate controlling the sensitivity and sharpness. And while the results might not be as eye-catching as of the HERO4 Black’s 4K output, they are still amazing.
The visual quality of the footage is excellent, with bright punchy colours and sharp detail. The lens gives the standard fisheye perspective, and looking at the footage there are no signs of detail loss or chromatic aberration.
Colours are reproduced well, with a bright, clean look; although there is a slight blue cast in some lighting situations, but not often. Exposure is well controlled too especially in good light conditions. The Session copes well when moving from shade to bright, adjusting the exposure quickly and smoothly.
The quality of the live view stream via the app is also good, with the Session having a range of 10 metres and a negligible operational delay of less than a second. When it comes to battery life it manages to deliver an impressive one and a half hour of 1080p video shoot at 60fps with Wi-Fi turned off. The Session’s 10-metre waterproof rating means it’s easily able to cope with a quick dip in the surf, or chasing a turtle in blue waters for that matter.
However a major glitch is the battery pack is that it is non-removable, which makes the availability of charging options a must at all times (sounds funny; the prospect of having power sockets in the jungle). The Session comes in two versions, Standard and Surf, the only difference between the two being the selection of mounts included in the box; not to forget the unending after-market accessories. Tame all the fun.
GoPro Hero4 Session
Video Format H.264
Max Video Resolution
1920 x 1440
Camcorder Sensor Resolution 8 pixels, ISO (Max) 1600
Up to 30ft
Battery 1 x Li-ion
1030 mAh (included)
Memory Card Slot
Low Lux / Night Mode,
HiLight Tag tecnology, Mirror Upside Down, Time-Lapse recording,
audio recording, camera orientation detection, multi-picture burst, selectable field of view, sharpness control, dual mic with wind noise reduction.
Ball joint mounting buckle, curved adhesive mount, flat adhesive mount, low-profile frame, micro-USB cable, quick release buckle, standard.
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