It’s been about almost three months since GoPro announced their Hero4 Session action cam.  The unit made headlines due to its small size compared to existing GoPro units. First up we’ll get this little nugget unboxed.  It comes in a box design fairly similar to GoPro’s other higher end cameras. Next are the frame ‘cases’, I’ll dive into these a bit more later – but essentially they’re brilliant.
Then we’ve got the USB cable that plugs into the unit.  It’s just a standard micro-USB cable, like those used on non-Apple phones. Next up we’ll take a look at how the Hero4 Session compares to other GoPro units.  There’s been a lot of attention here, but it’s probably important to debunk a few things as well. Inversely though, it’s not ideal if you wanted to do some sort of long powered time-lapse shot, because you’ll have to leave that side-door open. If instead you want to take photos, you’ve got to hold down the button for a semi-confusing number of seconds.  Usually 3-5 seconds works, but sometimes it doesn’t work and you’ll just end up with a video instead.
Finally, there’s the ability to press the button on the back of the unit to get into the (very basic) menu system. Note that for photos you cannot change to a different photo mode, just simply the rate at which it takes photos. Now outside of the aforementioned setting change options, everything else will have to be done on the phone app. Update – the gist of the below are now addressed with the latest firmware update as of October 17th, 2015. The frames accept the camera rotated in any orientation you’d like, giving you a fair bit of flexibility (in 90° chunks) on how you mount it.
They also allow you to mount the camera backwards or upside-down, a perfect way to store the camera while travelling so the button doesn’t get turned on, and the screen is a bit more protected.
With all of that backstory – how does the footage actually look?  Well, let’s start with something I shot entirely on the Hero4 Session, a trip to Corsica. In my testing I only had one case out of hundreds of clips where it didn’t auto-rotate correctly, while on a mountain bike.  Not sure why. Speaking of settings, the unit also includes the ProTune capability, allowing you to eek out a bit more out of the color quality and range.  The only caveat here is that you’ll need to use GoPro’s desktop tools to really take advantage of this. First up on the footage front is a short segment I shot dual while trying to get our not-so-capable rental mini-SUV out of a sticky off-road situation. As you can see, you get a tiny bit more detail on the Silver than the Session – especially from some of the flying pebbles.


The most noticeable thing there is when the light changes and the dynamic range you get there.
Next, we took our little dog, Lucy, up to the Swiss Alps and strapped a Hero4 Session on her using the GoPro dog harness.
Lastly, I did a bit of placement of the Hero4 Session with the Hero4 Silver around a rental convertible we randomly got upgraded to – so here’s a quick compilation of that – again, everything on the Session shot using various mounts. Like the video modes, the unit has a variety of photo options, though you’ll really only ever use one of them: The default continuous photo mode.
In many ways, I think the Hero4 Session shines the most in and around the water – more so than the other GoPro units.  Why?
Whereas with the Hero4 Session, there’s nothing to think about – it’s just always protected. The door is also near-impossible to open accidentally – so that’s of little concern (whereas it’s a little bit easier with something like the Sony action cams).
Neither time did the camera suffer any damage, despite only being rated at 10m (33ft) deep.  Of course, that’s not good enough for scuba diving – but it’s fine for snorkeling, and pretty much anything most people are going to be able to hold their breath to depth-wise. Also, if you’re doing a lot of stuff where the camera is going back and forth between being wet and dry, you can simply lick the front of the GoPro lens and then dunk it back in the water. The pole can fully extend out and bend at each joint, as well as quickly tighten and lock.  I use it in virtually every sport I can think of – from cycling to skiing to even running and swimming. Next we’ve got my second favorite item this summer, the clamp mount.  I used this a ton on my sailing trip, because it was easy to mount to anything and then rotate the camera around appropriately.
Click the following link for a video of Nick Wey taking a lap of Glen Helen with the helmet-mounted camera. You can also click the following link for a different video, where we were testing some of the different mounting options on our Vital MX truck. Don't forget, if you're a Vital MX member, you can comment on any of the photos in the gallery.
Finding a video camera to capture your riding adventures has always been sort of a juggling act between complexity and quality, vs.
In the past we’ve tried some lipstick cams that had good quality, but required a fanny pack setup.
When Team Yamaha’s Josh Hill showed up at Minneapolis with one of the GoPro Hero cameras on his helmet, we were intrigued. For that price, you get a small camera, that outside of the waterproof housing that it’s normally mounted in, looks a bit like some sort of spy cam.


We took out our GoPro test unit to Glen Helen recently, and had Nick Wey head for a couple laps on the track.
With this rotatable adjustable MONOPOD UNIPOD, taking self photo has never been easier, you can choose the length from 20-100cm with the 5 segment.
Here’s a small gallery of photos I’ve taken over the last two months, all natively from the camera without any touching up in any application. They frequently also had horrible audio, since the accompanying microphones weren’t designed to work with loud engines. We’d noted that Josh runs his aimed high…it looked like it was really aimed at the sky, and we tried to emulate that…a bit. While it’s easy to download, to your laptop with the supplied cord (it shows up on your computer like another hard drive), it’s not very convenient to download a few minutes at a time. I’d still like to see more options for configuration on the unit itself (such as changing photo modes), and honestly, I still think the button configuration is kinda wonky and inconsistent for use (especially taking photos).
While no one will confuse the picture with a broadcast-quality HD cam, it’s surprisingly good, even in varying light conditions. What we discovered afterward was that the lens isn’t really very wide angle (which isn’t bad), but you will probably have to aim it a bit higher than you’d expect. Just remember to factor in a memory card and rechargeable batteries for when you go shopping.
That’s good, because GoPro includes everything from stick-on quick-release mounts, to suction cups that you can use on hard surfaces. While the audio was a bit muffled, we found that preferable to listening to some of the blown-out exhaust noise with wind background noise that we’ve gotten from other camera setups. You should also consider buying some rechargeable AAA batteries, because like any digital camera, the GoPro Hero eats regular batteries at an amazingly rapid clip. There’s a function on the camera to lower the audio level for motorized use, and everything is pretty straightforward. Just for kicks, we also mounted it up on the Vital MX Toyota, and did some driving around our neighborhood.



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