GoPro‘s HERO4 extreme sports video camera line was recently announced with a plethora of new features. But what do these developments really mean for divers?
DB: On the HERO4 Black, what does “2x the performance” really mean for underwater videographers?
DS: It means that on the HERO4 Black, because of the faster processor, the frame per second rate is twice as fast as on previous versions. That means that divers can slow down images so they will look smoother and less jerky, even when watching on Ultra HD televisions and screens. The optics are improved as well with the addition of “auto-low light processing” to both the Black and Silver version, which automatically reduces the frames per second when there is less light available. This keeps the image quality consistent as you move from brighter, shallower waters to darker depths.
DB: What’s the difference between the new entry-level HERO camera and the older HERO3 White, the HERO2, etc?
DS: The new HERO has greatly improved battery life when compared to the HERO3 White and HERO2. However, I would not recommend the entry-level HERO to a diver in the market for a new camera.
On the entry-level HERO if your battery dies while you are on a boat, you are out of luck for the rest of the day unless you have a way to charge it. The HERO4 has a removable battery, allowing you to switch it out between dives. It also has a new feature called HiLight tagging which allows you to mark specific moments as you film, preventing you from having to sort through hours of video to find the great shots. With the cost of most dives, spending the extra money to upgrade to the HERO4 makes sense and will give you the best return on your investment.
DB: If a potential buyer is NOT a professional underwater videographer but still an avid amateur where the entry-level HERO is probably too basic for him/her, aside from price what kinds of divers are the HERO4 Black and Silver best suited for?
DS: I would recommend the HERO4 Silver for all divers because of the LCD screen, which helps frame the shot. Without the screen, you really are filming blind; I’ve had videos where my kids and turtles alternate above and below the frame since I didn’t realize my settings were too close to capture them both. With the LCD screen, you are able to adapt and even check the playback to confirm you captured the shot you want before surfacing.
The HERO4 Black does offer 4k recording (highest resolution possible for video cameras on the market today) at 30 frames per second, which is a great feature if you are diving in a great spot and really want to feel immersed in the environment when you watch the video later. However, in my opinion, that feature doesn’t outweigh the lack of LCD screen for most divers.
DB: What accessories are most likely to be of interest to divers?
DS: Anti-fog inserts are a must to prevent fogging inside the lens. Depending on where you are mounting the camera, a floaty backdoor is also a possibility.
For those who prefer an all-in-one solution, Octomask offers a dive mask with a built-in camera mount that does a great job of capturing things form the diver’s perspective.
Many divers like to use magenta or red filters. These work well when you are staying at a consistent depth but may overcorrect as you change depths. However, I have found that GoPro’s Studio software does a great job on its own of processing video and turning “green” water back to blue.
Many thanks to Donn Silvis for answering our questions. Have one of your own? Submit them in the comments section below and we’ll compile them and do this again soon.