GoPro Cameras: Hero4 and Hero3+ Editions

By John Carucci

The latest GoPro line — Hero4 — features three cameras with varying features and quality levels. Each model offers Wi-Fi capability. Here, you can read about the different GoPro versions and choose your own.

Hero4 Black Edition

The big kahuna of the Hero line offers the latest and greatest technology in a GoPro. With advancements in video capture, image processing, and new features, it allows you to do more cool things than ever before. Here are some of its new and improved features:

  • Beyond HD capture: Captures 4K video at 30 fps as well as 2.7K at 50 fps for ultra high-resolution capture.

  • HD video capture: Captures HD video at up to 1080p (progressive) at 120 fps, making it possible to capture maximum detail even when applying slow-motion in GoPro Studio.

  • More powerful processor: Twice as fast as its predecessor, so you can capture video at increased frame rates with more detailed image quality, increased sharpness, and better color.

  • Auto Low Light: Automatically adjusts exposure by changing frame rates to compensate when you move between dense shadow areas and bright spots.

  • Protune for photos: Apply the same control over images as you have for video. Change the ISO setting, use exposure compensation, or adjust white balance on still images and time-lapse sequences.

  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: Allows you to control the camera remotely, using the Wi-Fi remote with the GoPro App. For this model, the remote is sold separately.

  • Set tags on your video: The HiLight tag makes it easy to find the best part of your clip by setting markers while capturing footage.

The Hero4 and Hero3 Black Editions also come in two specialized configurations:

  • Surf: This bundle provides everything you need to attach your GoPro to a surfboard, providing video content that wasn’t possible a decade ago. The camera comes bundled with a surfboard mount and tethers that securely anchor the camera with extra layers of protection. It includes the remote control.

  • Music: If capturing a unique perspective for a live musical performance is your thing, this bundle can work for you. It includes a clamp, removable instrument mounts, and a 3.5mm miniplug cable. This bundle doesn’t include the remote control.

Hero4 Silver Edition

The most versatile member of the Hero line is the first GoPro to have a viewfinder, along with its share of new, improved features. The Silver Hero4 also comes in Surf and Music configurations. Some of its new and improved features include:

  • Beyond HD capture: Captures 4K video at 15 fps.

  • HD video capture: Captures HD video at up to 1080p (progressive) at 60 fps, making it possible to capture maximum detail even when applying slow-motion in GoPro Studio.

  • Auto Low Light: Automatically adjusts exposure by changing frame rates to compensate when you move between dense shadow areas and bright spots.

  • Protune for photos: Apply the same control over images as you have for video. Change the ISO setting, use exposure compensation, or adjust white balance on your still images and time-lapse sequences.

  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: Allows you to control the camera remotely, using the Wi-Fi remote with the GoPro App. For this model, the remote is sold separately.

  • Set tags on your video: The HiLight tag makes it easy to find the best part of your clip by setting markers while capturing footage.

Hero3+ White Edition

The most vanilla camera (and lowest-priced) of the GoPro Hero3 line still provides formidable results, offering HD video capture, still-photo mode, and a waterproof housing. It’s a modified version of the Hero2, but a little bit smaller, with built-in Wi-Fi.

Here are some of its other features:

  • HD video capture: It captures HD video at up to 1080p (progressive) at 30 fps. It also captures 960p video at 30 fps and 720p video at 60 fps.

  • Ultra-wide-angle lens: It provides a 170-degree angle of view.

  • Still-image capture: It provides 5MP (megapixel) capture with a burst of 3 fps. Time-lapse mode lets you capture a series of photos at intervals of .05 to 60 seconds.

  • Built-in Wi-Fi: This feature allows you to control the camera remotely, using the Wi-Fi remote with the GoPro App. For this model, the remote is sold separately.

  • Portability: It’s hard to beat a camera that comes with a protective housing that’s wearable, mountable, and waterproof to 131 feet.

If you’re on a budget, and still-image capture isn’t a top priority, you can’t go wrong with the White Edition. It can also keep your budget grounded when you’re buying additional GoPro cameras for specific shoots.

Hero3+ Silver Edition

More than just a step up from the White Edition, the Silver Edition is a lighter version of the Black Edition. (The Gray Edition? Well, no, but you get the idea.) Tonal assignment aside, this model provides better performance, increased frame rate for video capture, better still-image capture, and faster Wi-Fi than the White Edition.

Here are some advantages of the Silver Edition:

  • Better video capture: Offers more options for picture quality, including a high-frame-rate capture at 1080p60, 960p60, and 720p120 video modes. This results in professional-quality footage and allows for liquid-smooth slow-motion playback. The Silver Edition has an upgraded sensor that delivers improved low-light performance.

  • Powerful photo capture: Excellent for still photography because it can capture a 10MP image at up to 10 frames per second. That makes it perfect for fast-action sequences.

  • Enhanced low-light performance: The upgrade sensor performs well in dimly lit situations.

  • Sharper lens: Improved optics help produce increased image sharpness and fewer artifacts.

  • Improved audio: Features upgraded audio performance that captures sound more accurately. It also includes advanced wind-noise reduction for clearer audio during high-speed activities.

  • Longer battery life: The Silver Edition has the longest-lasting battery of the current Hero3+ line due to lower resolution.

  • Faster Wi-Fi: The Silver has much faster Wi-Fi than the White Edition does. How much faster? Try four times. Previewing your shot from a distant location and sharing video are much faster when you use the GoPro App. The optional Wi-Fi remote lets you control up to 50 cameras from up to 600 feet away.

If you’re looking for slightly better video quality and technology than the Hero3 White Edition offers, and if you’re willing to spend about $100 more, this model is a fair compromise.

Hero3+ Black Edition

Standout features of this model include

  • Improved video quality: Offers more options for picture quality including higher resolution choices and frame rate capture at 1440p at 48 fps, along with 1080p60, 960p100, and 720p120 video modes for capturing the best-quality footage.

  • Beyond HD video capture: The Black Edition lets you capture 4K video at 15 fps as well as 2.7K at 30 fps for ultra high-resolution capture.

    It’s not easy to notice the quality difference between HD and 4K unless you’re viewing the video on a 4K television set. The experience isn’t much different from shooting a movie in HD and watching it on an analog television set. Still, it’s nice to know that you can shoot 4K when you want it.

    The Black Edition also includes a 2.7K setting, which is between HD and 4K and uses the more refined 30 fps setting. Once again, you can’t really appreciate viewing it on an HD television.

  • Impressive photo capture Lets you capture impressive 12MP stills, and can shoot fast action sequences in succession up to 30 frames per second. The Time Lapse mode lets you capture motion at intervals between 0.5 and 60 seconds. Continuous Photo shoots full-resolution stills at a steady 3, 5, or 10 frames per second when holding down the shutter button.

  • SuperView (Black Editions, Hero4 Silver Edition): Get more headroom out of the lens by capturing a 4×3 aspect ratio and dynamically stretching it to a 16×9 aspect ratio. This allows you to capture more of the scene.

  • Auto Low Light mode: Automatically adjusts for low-light situations by changing frame rates to alter exposure. In a way, it’s like altering exposure levels on a conventional camera by raising or lowering the shutter speed to let more or less light into the lens.

  • Includes Wi-Fi remote: Besides the 4K capability and otherwise better performance across the board, the Black Edition includes the optional remote. It lets you completely control up to 50 GoPro cameras that are closer than 600 feet away. It’s compatible with the other models, but you need to purchase it separately.

If you have the budget and want 4K capability, increased photo-capture quality, or grandiose features like 3D capture (using two cameras and a special mount), the Black Edition is truly a no-brainer. It does more than any other GoPro and also includes the otherwise-optional remote control.

If you feel it’s necessary to have the remote control, you’re better off buying the Black Edition because the cost of the remote control is close to the difference in price between the Black and Silver Edition.