GoPro Hero 4 Silver 2015 Review by A Better Ski
Overview – We put the GoPro Hero 4 Silver against several Sony action cams to see how it stacks up. Although we generally preferred the Sony cams over GoPro, the Hero 4 Silver is still a fantastic action cam for skiers, and one that we could see being used every day you’re on the mountain.
Video Quality – We did an A/B comparison of the GoPro Hero 4 Silver and the Sony HDR-AS200V. The GoPro Hero 4 Silver has several more video formats and settings, but we thought it was a good comparison despite. Since 1080p 60p was the highest quality video format on the Sony we did a direct comparison in this video format. This is also the video format we shoot in most often, and one we feel is a good format for skiers. For our comparison we mounted the Sony cam on the helmet and GoPro on a chest mount and recorded at the same time. Both the GoPro Hero 4 Silver and Sony HDR-AS200V had decent video quality in this format, but we gave the Sony cam a slight edge. To us it seemed that the Sony cam had a slightly more natural look to it that we preferred over the darker look of the GoPro Hero 4 Silver. The edge that the GoPro Hero 4 Silver has on the Sony HDR-AS200V is the capability to also shoot in 2.7k and 4k ultra high definition formats. Although we like the idea of ultra high definition videos, we found that it wasn’t the most practical for skiing. At 4K the GoPro Hero 4 Silver can only capture 15 fps and when playing back video it seems to be a bit jumpy. 2.7K was better at 30fps, but again we weren’t entirely sold on using that video format for skiing. I think if you had the right conditions (perfect blue skies) the 2.7K format could be really good, and if we wanted the ultra high def video we’d probably find ourselves shooting in this format more than 4K. Because the Sony doesn’t have 2.7k or 4k capabilities we weren’t able to do a direct comparison in those formats, but we wanted to see how the 1080p 60p format of the Sony cam compared to these two formats. Because of the jumpy nature of the 4K recording, we definitely preferred the 1080p 60p of the Sony cam over the GoPro Hero 4 Silver. When comparing the Sony cam 1080p 60p with the 2.7K of the GoPro Hero 4 Silver we preferred the more natural look of the Sony, but we’d probably have to give the edge to the GoPro simply for having the 2.7K video format. For us I think it comes down to which video formats we film in most often. 1080p 60p is our go to format, in which case we give the edge to the Sony HDR-AS200V. However, if you want to film in ultra high definition 4K or 2.7K the GoPro Hero 4 Silver is your camera. It’s important to note that both the Sony FDR-X1000V and GoPro Hero 4 Black have better ultra high def video quality than the GoPro Hero 4 Silver, but they also come at a higher price.
GoPro Hero 4 Silver 1080 60 Video
Sony HDR-AS200V 1080 60 Video
Video formats and Settings – Here we would have to give the edge to the GoPro Hero 4 Silver over the Sony HDR-AS200V. In addition to the 720p and 1080p high definition video formats, the GoPro Hero 4 also has 1440p 48fps, 2.7K 30fps, and 4K 15 fps. Like we said above, these formats weren’t necessarily the best for skiing videos, but we like that the GoPro Hero 4 Silver at least gives us the option to film in these formats if we’d like to. In addition the GoPro Hero 4 Silver has four different fields of view, including SuperView, ultra wide, medium, and narrow. This allows you to customize the look of your videos even more, and is a nice option to have. We would probably never use some of these settings, but it’s nice to know we have them if we want to. If your into all the extra features, then the GoPro is definitely your cam.
Ease of Setup/Use – I must admit that I’m not a big tech guy and I don’t know a ton about cameras. I’m the type of skier who wants to film occasionally, do as little editing as possible, and sometime post a video or two on Vimeo, Youtube, or Facebook. There are really two main factors for me when buying a camera for skiing; how good is the video quality and how easy is it to use. Out of the box, the GoPro Hero 4 Silver is intuitive and relatively easy to use. This is an area I Feel GoPro has the edge over Sony. Everything is spelled out pretty well for folks like me. Sony isn’t super hard either, but I felt like everything was more intuitive on the GoPro Hero 4 Silver. I knew what video format I was shooting in and it was really easy to set up. I mainly used the recommended GoPro Color and Protune settings, but even when I wanted to change setting I found it relatively easy to navigate and find what settings I wanted. It did take a little bit of playing around to figure out what settings I liked best, but it was easy to cycle through each setting on the fly and test out several settings within a few runs. If this is your first action cam ever, it may take a little more time to familiarize yourself with it, but the GoPro Hero 4 Silver really was easier to set up and use than the Sony cams.
Software – The GoPro Hero 4 Silver definitely has the edge over any of the Sony cams when it comes to the integrated software. We found both the phone app and computer software much more intuitive and easier to use than the Sony versions.
Editing Software – GoPro Studio
Battery Life – This is one area we thought the GoPro Hero 4 Silver could improve. Battery life isn’t terrible, but we did find that the Sony HDR-AS200V battery life was better. If we kept the GPS and WI-FI off and recorded nearly every run, the GoPro Hero 4 Silver wouldn’t quite make it to the end of the day. The Sony cam on the other hand could make it all day. This wasn’t a huge deal breaker for us though, as we probably wouldn’t film every run anyway, and the battery life was good enough or most days of filming.
Sound Quality – This is another are where I’d give the Sony HDR-AS200V an edge over the GoPro Hero 4 Silver. When using the wind reduction mode on both cameras, the GoPro was quieter overall, but this also meant that you couldn’t hear much of anything when not moving. This isn’t a huge deal if you don’t want sound on videos, but we often find ourselves talking on before, during, or after runs. Sometimes we want these conversations in our videos, and although the GoPro Hero 4 Silver will capture me talking, it on’t pick up anybody else. If you don’t want to hear conversations on video, or you don’t want wind noise then the GoPro is great. If you want more sound, and don’t mind a little extra wind noise, the Sony cam is better.
Size and Fit – It’s hard to say which camera we prefer here since the Sony cams and GoPro Hero 4 Silver have a different profile. The GoPro is a forward facing square while the Sony is more of a sideways oriented rectangle for lack of a better definition. That being said, the GoPro Hero 4 Silver really is pretty low profile. It’s a great size for use on a monopod. We weren’t the biggest fans of it helmet mounted (although we don’t really like any cams on the top), but it was perfect for chest mounting. We also really liked the angle you get from the chest mount over the helmet mount.
Accesories – Both the GoPro Hero 4 Silver and Sony HDR-AS200V are pretty comparable here. The waterproof case is relatively easy to use. Mounting is pretty intuitive, and GoPro has a lot of accessories for their cameras. We would probably give the edge to go pro for being easier to mount or unmount the camera. With the Sony we found it was quite difficult to mount the camera, and we had to take the helmet off anytime we wanted to adjust. The GoPro was easier.
Summary – I think when it comes down to it, we would pick the Sony HDR-AS200V over the GoPro Hero 4 Silver, simply because of the video quality. However, the GoPro Hero 4 Silver does come with several ultra high definition video formats that the Sony doesn’t have. The Hero 4 Silver also has 4 different view modes, and some fun camera settings including night shot. The camera is easy to use with a very intuitive interface. Size is good, but sound quality and battery life are lacking. I think there are a lot of people that will really love the GoPro Hero 4 Silver, and some who will prefer it over the Sony HDR-AS200V. I think for many it will come down to preference, video quality, and features. If you want all the extra features, then the GoPro Hero 4 Silver is a fantastic camera.
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