GoPro Hero 4 Session
Product DescriptionHERO4 Session packs the power of GoPro into our smallest, lightest, most convenient camera yet. Its rugged, waterproof design eliminates the need for a separate housing, while a single button powers on the camera and starts recording automatically. With 1080p60 video and 8MP photos, HERO4 Session delivers the professional image quality that has made GoPro famous.
- Smallest, lightest with built in Wi Fi and Bluetooth,HiLight Tag enables you to mark key moments while recording or playing back video
- Durable and waterproof to 33 feet (10 meter), no housing needed
- Easy one button control, power up and capture videos or photos with a single press
- Professional quality up to 1440p30, 1080p60 and 720p100 video
- 8MP photos with 12 fps Burst
Top ReviewsThe new default choice for the average GoPro user *Review Updated*
by Seth A. Ratner (4 out of 5 stars)
July 15, 2015
26Dec15 Edit: A lot has changed since the Session came out. The price is much lower and some of the settings can be changed on the camera without a phone. This changes a lot, so my review below is heavily changed to update this new reality.
BOTTOM LINE: You need to decide if you want a removable battery. If you don't plan on filming more than two hours at a time, the GoPro HERO4 Session is a great choice. If you don't want a camera with a view screen, and you don't need swappable batteries, this is the camera to get.
I own a few GoPros. When the HERO4 Session came out it was $400, and quite frankly, the smaller size was not worth the price for most cases. But now at $200 the Session is competing with the lower tier GoPros, and it blows them out of the water.
There are many different models, so I'm going to boil them down into three choices. These are my overall recommendations for GoPros, including the Session.
Choice #1: Price is the most important factor to you. Get the GoPro HERO. It's affordable ($129 for now), simple to use, and works great for many, many uses.
Choice #2: You are willing to pay a bit more for some nice features, but you aren't a power user and you don't plan on filming over two hours of footage between charges. Get the GoPro HERO4 Session (the product for this review).
Choice #3: You need a viewscreen on the camera, or swappable batteries, or don't care about price. Get the GoPro HERO4 Silver
The lack of a removable battery is a downside. While a 64GB memory card will hold a ton of footage, the battery will only last a couple hours. Not being able to swap the battery in a matter of seconds and start filming again means the larger memory card is less useful. This is a problem if you want to do really long timelapses, since the battery will run out every couple hours.
For $200 this is a great camera, and it has become my go-to recommendation since the price cut. Some people (like me) need/want the additional features of the HERO4 Silver, but for most people the HERO4 Session is worth the extra $70 over the baseline GoPro price.
Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments. Cheers!
Buy for the form factor, not the video quality
by Wilfred (4 out of 5 stars)
July 20, 2015
Many people are comparing the Hero 4 Session vs the Hero 4 Silver. Both are equally priced, but both have different strengths and features. Overall, video-wise, the Hero 4 Silver wins, however I'm going to go over the scenarios where the Session is better. And it's not so much the video quality, but rather the size.
The Session dominates in three areas.
1. Point-of-View Shots / Very light weight and compact reduces fatigue.
2. More Mounting Options / Auto-rotates video when mounted upside-down.
3. Waterproof without a Case / Piece of mind regardless of where you're using it
The Perfect Point-of-View (POV) Action Camera
The new lightweight and compact design is perfect for reducing fatigue on weight sensitive activities. It might not be noticeable, but certain mounting a GoPro on a Crossbow or Forehead mount long enough and you'll notice the difference. Some good examples of activities where the Session would shine as a POV would be:
The Perfect Secondary Action Camera
Although the Session is ideal for POV shots, it lacks the 4K video quality that most expect from GoPro products. This is where why the Session is better utilized as a Secondary action cam.
Hero 4 Session - POV Shots
Hero 4 Black - Everything Else Shots
Ease of Use
The two button design was very simple to use. The large button for record and the small one to activate the wifi. This is GoPro's way simplifying the experience, while allowing anybody with a smartphone to use it as a viewfinder and to change the settings.
All in all, I like the Session, but not the price tag. Yes, the video can always be better, but for the size, one can't complain.. except for the price.
Should you buy one?
If you're looking for a sleek new action cam for mounting in certain locations like a helmet, fishing rod or someplace where weight and size matters, then YES, you should get one. But keep your other GoPro for those other mounting locations for better video quality.
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Loop Recorders Look Elsewhere
by ViennaDisco (3 out of 5 stars)
February 19, 2016
This has the potential to be so much better. Let me start with the positives. Fit and finish is superb as is the video quality. I use this as a chin mount on my motorcycle helmet and there's no noticeable drag or wind buffeting.
Here's where it fails for my use which was mainly as an incident camera. There's no way to loop the video without turning on the GoPro's wifi and connecting the GoPro app on your phone. Looping is important as I may be on a 3+ hour ride and I just want it to keep recording and overwrite. Having wireless turned on for looping doesn't work for multiple of reasons, one the battery drains fast...really fast. I was planning on using a USB charger so not a deal breaker. But the bigger problem is while your phone is connected to the GoPro SSID, you won't have internet access on your phone. So no music streaming, navigation, etc. I love the size and the quality but I'm seriously considering returning it.
This camera flat out sucks. - The battery life has never been anywhere ...
by Chris (1 out of 5 stars)
September 5, 2016
This camera flat out sucks.
- The battery life has never been anywhere near 4 hours (max I've gotten was 2.5 on a full charge)
- The only time it's ever recorded through a full session was sitting on my desk recording as a test while trying to figure out why it constantly shuts off within 5-30 minutes or so of steady recording.
- Related to the above bullet point: Once you start recording and the camera randomly shuts off...there is no restarting it. The one touch feature seems to take you to a details screen. I've always had to shut it down and try to restart it to regain recording.
- The camera doesn't always write to the memory card. I have been trying to use this camera for small fishing trips and over 50% of the events have been missed entirely. (Most recent was 2 days ago. The camera showed that it was recording and actually stayed on for almost 2 hours!!!.....but then I got home and not one single minute of that footage was anywhere on the storage card or anywhere else)
- bottom line is I've taken this camera on 20-25 small fishing trips. I have only ever gotten working and complete footage from 2 of those trips. Every other trip has been problems, failures, shut offs etc that aren't quick fixes and render the camera useless until you have time to sit down and try and figure it out.
Perfect for swimmers
by Daniel Wisehart (4 out of 5 stars)
May 12, 2016
I use this every morning during a 60-90 minute swim. It is invaluable to seeing what I am doing underwater and in improving everything about my swimming. Mounted with the suction cup mount--which took a little experimenting to make it stick consistently--I shoot 1920x1440 videos at 30 FPS in wide frame mode. An hour of video shot at this resolution and frame rate will give you 5, 12 minute long clips that are ~2.25 GB each. I found the free GoPro software only so-so and bought another commercial package Camtasia for Mac 2 [Download
] to do my editing.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much you can see underwater: there is no problem seeing the far end of a 25 yard pool. At least there is no problem until you start aerating the water with your kick. If you are doing lots of kicking with your heels just about to break the surface you will bring a lot of air into the water and visibility will drop to about 15 yards until you stop and rest.
I bought the suggested 32 GB microSDHC Flash Memory Card, but for the length of my swims a 16 GB might have been sufficient if I didn't mind losing the end of a 90 minute swim. Without external power plugged in--something you cannot do in the pool with the camera underwater--the battery will drain before you fill up the 32 GB Flash Card. Note that whatever Flash Card you do select, it go into the Session at a bit of a downward angle: don't let this concern you when you are first installing it.
Lexar High-Performance microSDHC 633x 32GB UHS-I/U1 w/USB 3.0 Reader Flash Memory Card - LSDMI32GBB1NL633R
After I learned how to operate the camera, the only problem I have had is from accidentally hitting the camera while I am splitting a lane. This may cause the camera to stop recording, so you have to look for the blinking red light as you swim by. Oh, but note, when you first see yourself swimming, you are probably going to think, "do I really look like that underwater"? It is like hearing yourself on an audio recording the first time: it is not what you expect. This is not the camera's fault and you will only benefit from fixing what you see that you do not like.
The camera is a bit tough to learn to use at first because the interface is non-intuitive. There is a YouTube video on using it that I recommend you watch. The key is that you hit either of the two buttons briefly and then you wait a few seconds while the camera is quiet and dark before it starts into the mode you were looking for. If you hold either button until the camera makes a sound and turns on the display, you probably will not get what you want. Once it is turned on it is easy to step through the various pages, but I recommend you use a phone or tablet to do most everything except start and stop the recording and turn wireless (Bluetooth) on and off.
A note about the suction cup mounts--and I have owned a few of them. Underwater they would initially stick and then fall off while I was swimming. I first figured out that if I applied them to the glass dome over an underwater light, that they would stick much better. I have since learned that if I want the suction mount to stick underwater in other smooth, painted areas of the pool, I have to press the mount down and then slide it along the wall until it won't slide any more or sliding becomes very difficult. Then I apply the lever to hold the suction. Done like this the mount will usually hold for an hour or more.
MazeTechno Suction Cup Mount for Gopro HERO 4 Silver Black Session 3+ 3 2 1 HD (Diameter 9cm)
You probably already know this, but Bluetooth only penetrates a couple of inches of water, it that, so if you are going to review your swimming at the pool using your tablet or phone, you are going to have to pull the camera out of the water each time you want to review.
If you have a friend who will video you while you swim, a monopod is a great addition. They walk along the side of the pool, holding the camera--on the end of the monopod--above and below the water or even both during the same lap. They can give you a "from behind" or "from in front" or "from the side" view of just what you are doing. Videos made this way and edited down to shorter clips can be uploaded on Dropbox and passed to the popular GoSwim website for your coach or theirs to review with you. The ability to move this camera from air into the water and back into the air without additional cases or worrying about fogging up the lens is fantastic and crucial to this type of holistic recording of your swimming.
Both the video and the sound work great in either air or water. I learn a lot by listening to my kick while surf kicking and to my stroke while pulling with a pull buoy.
The current version of the free GoPro software does not seem to allow exporting video at full 1920x1440 resolution when multiple clips are put together. This is one of the reasons I use another--for money--software package. Otherwise the GoPro software seemed adequate, but not exceptional. Note that the Session does record at a high bit rate and so some commercial software packages have trouble working with the files and will sometimes freeze while previewing a raw video.
Overall a great addition for swimmers who want to improve their swimming.
Update, 2-1/2 months later: I use the camera every day and I still like it a lot, but the battery has begun to die.
GoPro has a table on their website that shows what battery life to expect from the Session in various modes with WiFi off and on and originally, my Session did better than the table says to expect. That table says I should expect 1 hr 55 min in 1440p, 30 fps, WiFi turned off, which is how I normally use it. After less than 90 days I am down to 1 hr 31 min, which does not sound like a big loss, but there is no way to open the Session or replace the battery and some of my swim sessions last longer than the battery now. How much record time will I have after six months or a year? I am afraid to find out. So far GoPro customer support has only said this is expected: "The battery life span is within the range."
I lowered my rating to four stars because this is still a really great camera, but I think its useful life may be fairly short. When the battery life falls to less than 60 minutes I will have to consider buying something else.
Good Motorcycle helmet camera for $200 - but with a limited total life
by T.Perraut (4 out of 5 stars)
December 16, 2015
I really like this camera, but it gets 4 stars instead of 5.
I'm reviewing it with the perspective of a camera I use daily on my motorcycle helmet.
I was using an old GoPro Hero2 camera with its waterproof case before.
CAUTION: this is NOT a camera for motorcycle video blogging (vlog).That's because there's no way to add a microphone to it, and apparently it either doesn't support bluetooth (it's wifi enabled, not BT), or the software doesn't allow it. Either way, the only sound you will record will be what the front and back microphones do record on the camera. Get a regular GoPro if you need to plug some external microphone (in your helmet), or consider something else like this Sena 10C-01 Motorcycle Bluetooth Camera & Communication System Headsets, Black
- small. Feels lighter than the old camera when I move my head down. It's also much better in term of wind resistance.
- no need for a big waterproof case. Easy to move around. So far, no fog issues (needed to take care of that always with the old case for the Hero2).
- wifi control available. So you can adjust the camera on your head by looking at the video on your smartphone. A great way to make sure everything is set right.
- bright settings screen (can read in dark...)
- no replaceable battery. Ok, this is pretty much a given, but the problem is that in a few years, the lithium battery will more or less die / not hold charge anymore. At that time, it will NOT be possible to replace the battery. ifixit gave it 1 out of 10 in repairability. This is not like an iPhone where every 2-3 years you can open it and put a new battery or pay someone to do it. With this camera, it will be impossible to do.
- lens protection does not come with it. But a lens protector Amobios ® Scratch-resistant Tempered Glass Screen Protector Lens Film Accessory Kit For GoPro Hero4 session to avoid scratches becoming a $40 repair, as this is the price of the lens from GoPro's site.
- does not charge and do USB file transfer at the same time. So if you plug it to transfer the files, you need to think about turning it off, otherwise when you will pick it up, it will not be charged. With 1H40 or so of battery time, you need to be careful.
Upgraded from the cheapest Go Pro, happy with it but camera freezing up
by Alexander A. Cook (3 out of 5 stars)
October 17, 2015
I started with the cheapest $100 Go Pro and was unhappy with the microphone on that unit. It also froze up on me so I ended up returning it. Then one day I bought the Hero4 Session at a local Dick's. I was pretty happy with it, then I discovered on Amazon there was a remote bundle. Dick's return policy is 90-days, so I decided to return the camera to Dick's and get the camera+remote bundle on Amazon for $30 more.
On my first trip out (I was kayaking and striped bass fishing) I was immediately impressed with the microphone in this unit compared to the cheapest Go Pro. The footage is also pretty great, although I don't have much to compare it to.
At this point I had to return my session for an exchange with Amazon because it keeps freezing up. I also have connection issues with the remote. I'm hoping it was just a lemon, but based on the reviews from others I'm thinking the replacement is going to have the same issues. If the next Session doesn't perform as expected, I'll be getting the Silver and updating my review.
I returned this camera and got the Hero4 Silver. Things I miss about the session:
1. Microphone quality was just better. On the Silver, using waterproof enclosure means muffled sound. See http://www.amazon.com/forum/-/Tx2ZMUFDYAUXU3Y/-/ref=ask_dp_lsw_al_hza?asin=B00NIYJF6U.
2. Less to worry about. On the session, I didn't have to carry around enclosures/etc.
I've also had some SD errors on the Silver. Unsure if those are the camera or cards though.
All that said, a couple things I like about the Hero4 Silver:
1. You can use multiple batteries. The limiting factor of the session is the battery. I carried a portable battery charger with it, but that meant downtime to charge the camera. With the Silver, you just pop in another battery. I was able to get 2 batteries and an external charger (easier than using the camera to charge) for $40.
2. More recording options. Although, that's less important... I was generally happy with the Session's quality. This post has a good comparison chart (http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2015/07/gopro-hero4-session.html.
At this point I'm fine with the Hero4 Silver, but the ideal camera for me would:
A. Have no housing like the Hero4 session + the same microphone quality.
B. Have a battery life of 4+ hours, and *maybe* some way to swap the battery.
I primarily use my camera in wet outdoor conditions (boating, kayaking, fishing, fat biking near beaches/water). In each of those activities, I'm usually trying to capture unplanned moments and 4 hours would cover me well. If GoPro were to just make a larger version of the session that doesn't have overheating problems, that'd be bomb. I really don't need it to be so small.
Like a root canal, it's small but frustrating.
by AveryCloseCall (2 out of 5 stars)
April 24, 2018
I've tried to use this camera for a couple years now, and it's shortened my lifespan by more. I've had what GoPro figured was a faulty one (it wasn't) replaced, I've waited until I got a new phone in case my Google Nexus 5 was faulty (it wasn't), and I've never stopped having issues with it. I still have a call with tech support every fifth time I want to use the bloody thing.
- High-quality recording
- Feels nice
- Lots of decent knock-off mounts available
- Mic is good for it's size
- Standard MicroSD charging port and standard memory upgradeable card
- Wide angle
- 2 Button + LED user interface is terrible (more on this later)
- Firmware updates, if anything, make the camera worse
- You can't do really important things (delete a file, change from looping to regular video, etc) without connecting to a computer or phone using GoPro's proprietary software
- GoPro phone software is terrible, and you can't get by without it (more on this later)
- GoPro computer software is terrible (more on this later)
Basically, this sucker has convinced me to never, ever buy a GoPro product again. Why? Because their software is among the worst I've ever seen - and I make buggy video games for a living at the moment. No amount of hardware upgrade cycles are going to fix what comes down to terrible interface design, terrible programming, awful user experience sensibilities, and a desire to make over-reaching software that tries to deliver a tonne of completely unasked-for scope without being able to deliver on the crucial control elements. It's like the Homermobile car from an old Simpsons episode - why does it have all these gizmos while is steers and drives like a drunken, saddled ostrich?
Basically, if there's a way to use some open-source 3rd party control software that a 16-year-old developer created to sidestep GoPro's terribad app - then the brilliant hardware becomes usable. If there's a hacked firmware that creates a usable on-camera menu system then this thing shoots up to five stars in a heartbeat. In the meantime AVOID AT ALL COSTS.
Perfect form factor for keeping in your swim trunks pocket
by rex (5 out of 5 stars)
January 12, 2016
I live in Hawaii and I swim in the ocean 5 days a week. I often encounter cool critters underwater, so it's great to have a gopro in my pocket. I have been using a HERO3 Black for 3 years, but I just switched to the HERO4 Session, and I'm so happy that I did! Several reasons:
1) It's much less bulky in my swim trunks pocket. I'm barely aware it's there.
2) The button operation is much more convenient. One press to start recording, then one press to turn off. The HERO3 required several presses, required much more force to press, took longer to start, and I had to remember to turn it off or the battery would drain in stand-by mode. This sounds like no big deal, but in practice it really makes a difference.
3) Easier to get the memory card out when transferring pictures. No more fumbling with the plastic outer case and trying not to misplace the removable door on the HERO3.
The video quality is not as sharp as the HERO3 (I did a side-by-side comparison and it was easy to see the difference) but it's still pretty good. 5-star review for convenience and form factor.
Worthless app. Camera corrupts video files randomly. Forced location/login just to use it is ridicul
by S2Media (1 out of 5 stars)
November 19, 2015
I'm upgrading from the original GoPro's, so the quality is substantially better, especially in low-light! With such a wide field of view, not having a screen isn't that big of a deal. I use this mainly for in-car filming, so it captures everything with ease.
The camera has froze on me a few times already and the app takes forever to connect to the camera. -1 star
If I could give it -10 stars, I would. Why? Because GoPro, in all their lack of wisdom, have updated their mobile app to this 'Capture' abomination. As a result, you have to create an account and login (via the web) each time you want to use the product/tool you paid for. This is absolutely unacceptable and directly reflects on their products. If I can't use the product because I'm out of wireless coverage, then that product has zero use to me and becomes as worthless as their app.
There are cheaper and more refined products out there.
So, sadly, I've tried sticking it out with this camera but every.single.time I use it (every time!), I tell myself I'm going to burn it! It's a constant pain in the rear to use. The app is still so sluggish and finicky that I never know if it's going to connect with the camera. I can't tell you how much time I've wasted having people ready to go and here I am waiting for the two devices to connect.
GoPro doubled down on their stupidity by trying to force users to turn on location settings on their phone in order to use the camera. WRONG! There is ZERO need for that garbage. Easiest way around it is to click 'Go To Settings' and then immediately hit 'Back' out of those settings without turning location on. The camera will work fine but GoPro is just wanting to track you for no reason.
Battery life is still horrible. I've never ever gotten close to 4 hours from this thing.
My biggest complaint that has been happening since day 1 is the constant corruption of files. I don't let the battery die in the middle of filming and I always make sure to turn the camera off via the app. Yet I still find myself fighting to get the videos I filmed with this thing. Right now, I've got about $200 worth of footage I can't retrieve because this little black cube is a pile of trash! I've got the memory card they recommend x4. I threw out 2 previously thinking that it was the memory cards that were the issue. Nope. Definitely the camera.
GoPro has lost their way. Once I retrieve these files (if possible), I'm taking a hammer to this hunk of junk!
Now that is the RIGHT PRICE
by Dave (5 out of 5 stars)
December 12, 2015
Ok, I trade in the markets and was reading how Go Pro stock has just flushed into the basement; one large reason is this product did not sell at the $400 plus dollar level. Well, they marked it down to $199 to sell it and I found it for less on Amazon. I bought it because of the price, but also, I have always found their Hero Silver product super difficult to use and the hassle factor kept me many times just heading out on the motorcycle without it.
Ok: This is what I dig about the Session:
1. Simple, simple and simple. Software works great.
2. Quality is just great, product, picture and build
3. Small, small and super small.
I still have the Hero 3 Silver, and I do not know if I will use it again. But for the price now the Session is just great to have, even if it is the secondary camera. For me it will be the first. Of course Go Pro must be freaking out that they have no margin on this product and I am not sure what will happen to them; but for under $200 bucks, it is a no brainer. There are a ton of You Tube videos on it, and most seem very accurate especially with the comparison to the Polaroid. I believe in this case you will get what you pay for.
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