For the first time since the Hero 1, GoPro is completely redesigning its innovative little camera with the Hero 4 Sessions. The GoPro Hero 4’s smaller design means more versatility in, well, versatile camera recording. However, does it impress, with the specs under the hood?
On the outside, Hero 4 Sessions is about half the size of the Hero 4 Black with the housing unit. Sessions include the ability travel up to 33 feet or 10 meters underwater, all without any need of waterproof housing. This means that the bare bones Sessions unit is completely waterproof, no longer requiring the housing that was a staple for previous iterations.
Even at 1.5 inches in length, width and weighing 2.6 ounces, Sessions includes the usual microSD slot, and the brand-new micro USB port, as opposed to the mini USB port from the previous models. On the downside, the Hero 4 Sessions does not include a removable battery, like the previous models, meaning that users can no longer hot-swap in a fresh battery when the situation asks for it.
In terms of audio, Sessions implements a dual-mic system. If there is heavy wind or other sounds that would cause audio clipping, Sessions automatically switches over to the other mic, to counter the high levels. Shedding the housing also grants Sessions the ability to record better audio than its predecessors. The lightweight, square design means that mounting is easier and more flexible than ever.
As for recording capabilities, Sessions had to sacrifice 4K/2.7K due to the smaller build and battery sacrifices. Speaking of the battery, GoPro claims that Sessions can last up to two hours on a single charge. Hero 4 Sessions shoots up to 1080p at 60 frames per second. Unfortunately, 24 fps is also absent from Sessions, but there are several other options for the frame rate (at the sacrifice of quality), for those looking to create some amazing slow motion footage. Sessions also shoots still capture at 8 megapixels, wide-angle or 5 megapixels at a medium angle.
The menu system was simplified. Users can no longer change the modes on the camera itself. You can start/stop recording directly on the camera with the setting last used on Sessions, but if you need to change the settings, you have pair Sessions with the GoPro app or drop an extra $80 for the WiFi remote.
The Sessions accessories lend to the camera’s versatility. A 360 degree “Ball Joint Buckle” adds full maneuverability to the standard clip. The Floaty is a self explanatory attachment that allows the camera to float in water. The Strap can be attached to any part of your body. The Jam is for attaching Sessions to a musical instrument. Finally, the Casey is the first official storage solution from GoPro.
Despite its limitations in recording quality, battery versatility, controls, and frame rate, Sessions excels at being a flexible, lightweight action cam that opens up possibilities for future iterations of the GoPro family. This device, despite being a bold move, is a step in the right direction. The GoPro Hero 4 Sessions goes on sale on July 12th for $400.