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GoPro Evolution Journey: Models, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 (Reviewed)

by Lisa Hayden
GoPro A Comprehensive Review Of Models, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8

If you’re looking for an action camera, chances are Go-Pro is going to be your first brand of choice. This brand name has become synonymous with cameras that can really take the wear and tear of physical activities, capturing high-quality footage of extreme sports, outdoor activities or even day to day life.

If you see a small, armoured camera, chances are you’ll automatically refer to it as a “Go-Pro” - whether it’s actually created by the Go-Pro brand or not. But what actually is a Go-Pro and are their cameras going to tick all of your boxes and provide exactly what you’re looking for?

Are they worth the investment in comparison to off-brand alternatives?

Which of the many models will best suit your needs?

Hopefully, the following information will help to answer all of your Go-Pro questions and give you confidence in investing in the right piece of equipment to tick all of your boxes!

What Is a Go-Pro?

what is a gopro

GoPro frees people to celebrate the moment, inspiring others to do the same. From cameras to apps and accessories, everything we do is geared to help you capture life as you live it, share the experience and pass on the stoke. We believe that sharing our experiences makes them more meaningful and way more fun.” - Go Pro

Put simply, a Go-Pro is an extremely small camera, packed into a convenient cuboid shape. Here are just a few of the perks that every Go-Pro on the market is renowned for and that you can expect to benefit from when you invest in one.

The Go-Pro is rugged

- perhaps the biggest draw of the Go-Pro over other cameras, which admittedly may produce better quality images or videos, is that it is extremely rugged. This camera will be able to capture footage in places where few other mainstream consumer cameras would break in seconds.

Heading on a beach holiday? The Go-Pro can be used in the pool and sand won’t be able to get into its casing. Doing a mud run or military-style training in swampy conditions? The Go-Pro will be able to handle mud and moisture.

Climbing a hill or mountain? Sure, it’ll be a pain to actually go and retrieve your Go-Pro if you manage to drop it, but it’ll take the fall, even if it does hit a few rocks on the way down.

Diving and want to capture images of some underwater life? The Go-Pro is waterproof and can capture some decent quality footage down there. The list goes on. This is truly a camera with armour.

Point and Shoot 

- the Go-Pro has a point and shoot camera. This means it automatically focuses and adjusts according to the environment it is shooting or recording in. It will automatically take on the best settings possible as soon as the shutter is released.

Sure, this automation isn’t necessarily going to be absolutely perfect for every situation. But it removes responsibility from your shoulders. You’re going to be using your Go-Pro at times where your attention needs to be focused elsewhere. Having automation means you don’t have to worry about focusing and altering settings on your Go-Pro to get good footage.

Wide-Angle Lens

-  Go-Pro footage is often easily identified by its signature wide-angle. Go-Pros create ultra wide-angle, fish eye style footage that helps to take in as much of the scene you’re recording as possible.

If you really want to, you can remove the fish eye style in post processing and editing processes. But generally, this has become a staple aesthetic for many people who desire a Go-Pro.

Mounting Options 

- not all standard cameras have mounts, but all Go-Pros do. Not only can you get a wide variety of mounts from Go-Pro (maximising the number of ways you can leave the camera and consequently maximising the different types of shots you can get), but third parties have also started providing options too!

The Evolution of Go-Pro

evolution of gopro

It’s always a good idea to have a little insight into the history of a brand before buying from them. This can help you to see what exactly you’re investing in! When it comes to Go-Pro, the company was founded in 2002 by Nick Woodman - a surfer, skier and motorsports enthusiast.

Woodman was looking for a better way to film him and his friends engaging in these kinds of activities than the standard bulky camcorder of the time. Of course, with many extreme sports, sports and outdoor activities, you’re going to find yourself in need of both of your hands, so traditional means of filming and taking pictures weren’t quite fitting the bill.

The original Go-Pro started out as a 35mm camera strapped to someone’s wrist with old ripped up wetsuits and pieces of plastic has been developed over the past 18 years to create a world class product that has been purchased by over 26 million people today!

The fact that this product was developed by a genuine sports enthusiast to fill a gap in the market speaks volumes for its innovative quality and authenticity. That Go-Pro is sold in more than 100 countries is also testimony for its mass appeal and ongoing customer satisfaction.

Nowadays, Go-Pros are used by more than just surfers, skiers and motorsports enthusiasts like Nick Woodman. They’re used by people engaging with all sorts of extreme sports - from sky diving to bungee jumping, paragliding, parkour and more. They’re also used in a variety of other sports and outdoor activities, such as skateboarding, cycling, snorkelling, hiking, BMXing and other activities.

Then, you have many casual users who like the convenient size and shape of the Go-Pro, as well as its durability for day to day use.

Limitations

Of course, no product is absolutely perfect. So, like any other camera, Go-Pro is going to have some limitations - often areas that have been sacrificed in order to give the perks of its small and compact size.

Here are some limitations of the Go-Pro that you might like to be aware of!

Minimalistic Controls

- if you’re a casual camera user, chances are you wouldn’t use many camera controls with any camera you use anyway. But if you’re a bit more of a camera geek, or if you’re a professional photographer, you may feel that the minimalistic settings and controls can be a little frustrating when using the Go-Pro.

Modern designs do have ISO settings, shutter speed, exposure compensation and exposure metre type that can be altered. 

But bear in mind that these settings are relatively difficult to access and altering them may take too long if your subject is moving. This really is an automatic, point and shoot camera that is best for catching spontaneous images and footage.

There Is No Zoom

- we’re used to being able to zoom in when we take pictures or videos on our smartphones or other forms of cameras. The Go-Pro, however, does not have a zoom feature. This is a little inconvenient if you’re trying to capture footage of something far away, but all in all, the Go-Pro is generally used to capture up close and personal footage, so zoom isn’t really a make or break feature for it.

Cool Colour Balance 

- generally speaking, Go-Pros create images and footage of a really high quality in spaces where they’re most commonly used - the bright, naturally-lit outdoors. However, if you try to use the Go-Pro in other areas, you may find that the images and footage begin to look a little cool.

This, of course, can be edited in the editing process. But if you’re not planning on editing, you may have to be a bit more savvy with the conditions you use your Go-Pro in.

Go-Pro 3

So, it’s time to actually get down to it! What different Go-Pros are out there on the market and which will best suit your needs?

The Go-Pro Hero 3 is the first Go-Pro we’ll take a look at. There are, of course, previous models. But early Go-Pros are relatively basic and might not suit your needs as well as later versions will be able to.

gopro hero3

Now, it’s relatively hard to find a Go-Pro Hero 3 in brand new condition, as many stockists are now only offering later versions for sale. But there are some out there and there are countless listings for Go-Pro Hero 3 on second hand sites too.

Just be aware that if you buy second hand, you may not be covered by the same consumer protection laws as you would be if you were buying from a recognised store. It’s also a good idea to check the product out yourself before handing over any more, as you don’t want to waste your hard earned cash on faulty goods.

Now we’ve got the buying logistics out the way, let’s take a look at the camera itself!

Released back in 2013, the Go-Pro Hero 3 is an early model, but still comes in an array of colours. The product line included the Go-Pro HERO3 Black, Go-Pro HERO3 silver and Go-Pro HERO3 White.

Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the different colours are merely for aesthetic purposes. Each of these products has a different megapixel count and frame rate to the others.

Go-Pro HERO3 White

The starter, or most basic, edition is the Go-Pro HERO3 White. This camera can shoot at 1080p when you shoot 30 frames per second, 960p at 48fps or 720p when shooting 60 frames per second. It has a basic lens, 5MP / 3 fps burst rate, 15Mbps bit-rate and 170 deg in 720p mode.

As you can imagine, this is the cheapest of the three options on offer when it comes to the Go-Pro HERO3 range.

Go-Pro HERO3 Silver

The Go-Pro HERO3 Silver is an upgrade to the Go-Pro HERO3 White. It offers a great mid point between the starter White and the more advanced Black. It has the same standard stats as the white - 1080p when you shoot 30 frames per second, 960p at 48fps or 720p when shooting 60 frames per second. It also has a basic lens.

Go-Pro HERO3 Silver

The Go-Pro HERO3 Silver is an upgrade to the Go-Pro HERO3 White. It offers a great mid point between the starter White and the more advanced Black. It has the same standard stats as the white - 1080p when you shoot 30 frames per second, 960p at 48fps or 720p when shooting 60 frames per second. It also has a basic lens.

However, the upgrade shows in it having 11 megapixels / 10 fps burst and a 35Mbps bit rate. If you’re buying the Go-Pro HERO3 Silver, it’s a good idea to note that it doesn’t come with a wifi remote, but you can purchase a wifi remote for it separately.

Go-Pro HERO3 Black

The premium option is the Go-Pro HERO3 Black. This can shoot with a quality of 4kp at 12 fps, 2.7kp at 30 fps, 1440p at 48 fps, 1080p at 60 fps and 720p at 120 fps. It also has a glass ultrasharp lens, 12 MP / 30 fps burst rate and 45 Mbps bitrate. On top of this, your wifi remote is included and you can expect excellent low light performance.

Finally, with this Go-Pro, you can take stills at the same time as shooting film footage. These photos can be manually triggered or taken automatically every 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds!

Go-Pro 4

Back when the Go-Pro HERO4 was released in 2014, it was without a doubt the best in class when it came to action cameras. But what’s the difference between this model and its predecessor the Go-Pro HERO3?

Well, to start, this Go-Pro has a processor that is twice as powerful as the processor in the Go-Pro Hero 3.This means you can record at a resolution of up to 4k for 30 frames per second and you can also capture footage at 1080p for 120 frames per second. This makes for extremely smooth and enjoyable video footage when recording fast-paced or fast-motion scenes (which many Go-Pro users will be).

gopro4

It’s also capable of capturing impressive looking slow motion clips, which are always a great novelty. Finally, the recording bitrate is a high 60 Mbps. Like the Go-Pro 3 before it, it also has different colour options with different features. These are the Go-Pro Hero 4 Black and the Go-Pro Hero 4 Silver.

Generally speaking, if you’re looking to save a little cash, the Go-Pro Hero 4 Silver is the way to go. It’s a fair amount cheaper than the Black version and there really isn’t that significant a difference between the two for many people to justify forking out the extra cash for the upgrade.

Upgrades from the Go-Pro Hero3

Of course, besides the standard spec listed above, you’re going to want to know what other upgrades you could look forward to if you were choosing the Go-Pro Hero 4 over the Go-Pro Hero 3. Well, there are a few to look out for.

A New Battery Compartment 

- one of the first things you’ll probably notice when handling the Go-Pro Hero 4 is that the battery compartment has a new design. As you can imagine, this is a result of demand. Rather than sliding into the back, the battery for this model slots into the bottom of the camera.

This makes swapping batteries out a whole lot easier - especially when you’re on the go. The one pitfall with this? It means that the batteries have had to be redesigned too, meaning batteries from the Hero3 can’t be used in the Hero4.

Hilight Tag 

- anyone who’s used a Go-Pro Hero 3 will be well aware that trailing through hours’ worth of footage to find the one moment you remember being great can be dull and tiresome. This is perhaps why Go-Pro created the Hilight Tag. Basically, on the Hero4, a button has been added to the side of the camera.

When you press it while recording, a tag will be added to the footage, so you can find it and pull it out to watch easily. This can save you a lot of time once you’ve finished filming.

Easier Control Over Menu 

- the same button that allows you to hilight tag can allow you to access menu settings if you press it while your camera isn’t recording. Users of the Go-Pro Hero3 will be pleased to know that the menu controls have been neatened up on the Hero4.

The menu is sensitive to what mode you’re in, so if you’re shooting video, close and press the button, you’ll be directed to the video menu. In a similar way, if you are taking photos, exit shooting mode and press the button, you’ll be directed to the camera menu. Again, this is a great time saving addition.

Go-Pro 5

Now we’ll start approaching more recent editions of the Go-Pro. Around the time of the release of the Go-Pro Hero5, people had cottoned onto this brand’s popularity and the innovative nature of its products. Unsurprisingly, some competitors and marketplace rivals began to crop up. But, then - and still now - Go-Pro still reigned supreme in the field of accessible action cameras.

gopro5

Competition, however, can be productive. Rivals were packing Go-Pro’s heavyweight features into similar cameras with more user friendly interfaces in a bid to swipe sales. Go-Pro had long had superior features, but now it was time for the brand to step up their interface and make their products a bit more user friendly and convenient.

So, we see the rise of the Go-Pro 5, the Go-Pro Hero5 Session and the coveted Go-Pro Hero5 Black. 

Let’s take a look at some of the updates that came with this upgrade.

Waterproof Without Waterproof Housing 

- previous models hav had thick waterproof housing to protect the camera from moisture. This is the first Go-Pro camera to be waterproof without any housing! Without housing, it can handle depths of 33ft or 10 metres.

One Button Control 

- looking at this newer Go-Pro, you’ll notice a large red button on the top. This has a sort of rubbery texture. When you press this, the camera doesn’t only turn on, but it immediately starts recording. This is great for convenience, allowing you to quickly capture shots as and when they happen, rather than messing about with the camera and settings before being able to get started with anything.

Ability to Add Lense Filters 

- filters have skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years. Rather than adding them on in post-edit, why not film through an actual filter? The small lens cover that features on the lens of the camera is now removable, allowing you to easily take it off and place a lens over the top!

Touchscreen 

- finally, a touchscreen display! The two inch monitor on the back of the screen is a significant size given the overall size of the camera and also has touchscreen capabilities. Perfect! A smaller screen on the front of the camera also gives easy to see readouts of the shooting mode, remaining space on your SD card and your remaining battery level.

Super Slow Mo 

- sure, the Hero4 had slow mo capabilities. But the Hero5 ups the ante a little. You can now capture super slow mo shots with a 1080p resolution when shooting at 120 fps.

Go-Pro 6

Next up, the Go-Pro Hero6. What could the brand possibly offer on top of all the features added to the Go-Pro Hero5? With smartphone cameras rapidly increasing in quality around this time, and some smartphone brands even offering waterproof handsets, Go-Pro began to face new competitors on a bigger scale than they’d faced before.

Enter the Go-Pro Hero 6.

gopro6

This camera brought 4k footage at 60 fps to the table, as well as better image quality and more stabilised footage in general. Looks-wise the Hero6 is practically unidentifiable from the Hero5. But it does offer improved functionality for a lower price than had been attached to new releases previously. This made the Go-Pro accessible to a whole new audience with a comparatively limited budget to previous buyers.

The lack of change to the body of the camera also means those with the previous Hero5 can still use any additional accessories they’ve purchased with an upgraded Go-Pro Hero6. Where does the Hero6 really stand out? Well, Go-Pro went ahead and improved the processor significantly again.

There are claims that the processor on the Hero6 is twice as powerful as the processor on its predecessor! This means super smooth recordings. Chances are if you already have the Go-Pro 5, it’s not really worth upgrading to the Hero6.

But if you’re new to the market, this is a preferable option.

Go-Pro 7

When you get this far into a range, it can be difficult to come up with new unique selling points for products. What could Go-Pro possibly offer that its previous models don’t already provide?

Well, with the Go-Pro 7, you can look forward to HyperSmooth Stabilisation. The stabilisation on the Hero6 was much lauded at the time of its release, so the Go-Pro Hero 7 takes this a step further.

gopro7

When using the Hero 7, you can look forward to smooth footage without the shakey effect that you may experience when using previous models or competitor brands. This reduces the amount of editing you’ll likely find yourself with on your hands when you’ve finished filming. Like the Hero 6, you still benefit from a 12 MP sensor, a wide angle lens and top quality video specs of 4k at 60 fps.

What Go-Pro aimed to really improve upon with this model was less tech spec and more user experience. They wanted to produce an action camera that is pleasurable to use - and they definitely succeeded in this mission! Some added features besides Hyper Stabilisation include:

TimeWarp Video 

- this setting combines frame by frame time lapsing with Hyper Smooth technology to create an impressive, stabilised hyperlapse. As you can imagine, this allows for a lot more creativity with the footage you capture. It also removes the need for a tripod while creating time lapse footage - a truly revolutionary step that is ideal for Go-Pro customers given their interests and pursuits.

Voice Control 

- for those who need both of their hands for whatever activity they’re carrying out, voice control is a dream of a feature on the Go-Pro Hero7. This model recognises up to 12 different commands, including (perhaps most usefully and importantly) “Go-Pro take a photo” and “Go-Pro start video recording”.

Portrait Orientation 

-  the vast majority of Go-Pro footage tends to be taken in landscape mode. But the Go-Pro Hero7 adapts to portrait orientation too. You simply have to turn the camera into portrait orientation itself while looking back at footage and the display will automatically adapt for you.

Smartphone Style Navigation 

- operating the Go-Pro Hero7 got a lot easier. Taking inspiration from smartphone competitors, Go-Pro implemented smartphone style swiping into its navigational screens. Simple directional swipes can be used to access different modes on the camera, captured images, recorded footage and much more.

Go-Pro 8

Now to the latest Go-Pro you can get your hands on and the model that will be top of the list if you visit the official Go-Pro site - the Go-Pro Hero 8. Now, the Go-Pro Hero 8 is the latest release from Go-Pro and accordingly, it’s the most up to date action camera on the market and has a few extra features that the previous models lack.

This has been described as a “must buy” by tech leaders focusing on action cameras. When it comes down to it, the updates from its predecessor the Go-Pro Hero7 aren’t actually all too drastic. The Hero7 had very few complaints or further suggestions from users, seemingly ticking all boxes. But Go-Pro have found slight areas for improvement to up their game as always.

gopro8

The following features are what set it apart:

Hyper Smooth 2.0 

- hyper smooth was a groundbreaking moment for Go-Pro. A great addition that had long been dreamed of by more avid Go-Pro users. On the Go-Pro Hero 8, hyper smooth stabilisation is now available across all resolutions and frame rates. There are now three modes of stabilisation - on, high and boost. The first two options will crop 10% of your frame in order to stabilise the image or footage. Boost can crop the frame even tighter, further stabilising footage. Just bear in mind that it can only be used on frame rates of 60 fps or less.

Time Warp 2.0 

- Time Warp was another revolutionary feature that Go-Pro Hero 7 brought to the market. So, Go-Pro has further improved on this too! Further stabilisation software has been added, which helps to create even more impressive and even smoother time lapse footage when the camera is moving.

Capture Presets 

- if you find yourself messing around with settings a lot to get your footage and images exactly how you want them to look, you’ll be thrilled with the Go-Pro Hero 8’s capture presets. This is essentially the added capability to customise and save up to 10 presets that you can create and access easily. This can save you a whole lot of time when you’re out and about and actually want to focus on the activities you’re engaging with rather than the footage you’ll be capturing.

Conclusion

As you can see, the Go-Pro really is a market leader in action cameras and has been since the company’s launch. It’s the original and, even all of these years down the line, it remains the best. While there are worthy competitors out there, the Go-Pro brand have managed to consistently improve on the quality of their products’ tech at the same time as consistently improving customer experience while using the camera in real life scenarios too.

Perhaps the CEO having a genuine interest in the same areas as many members of the brand’s target demographic has helped all models from Go-Pro Hero 3 through to Go-Pro Hero 8 really shine! Hopefully, the above guide has helped to run you through the basics of Go-Pro and has offered a little further insight into the different models, helping you to determine which will best suit your needs and preferences!

Originally posted 2020-05-05 16:46:10.

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