No, the new GoPro Hero 4 Session doesn't have greater resolution or frame rate capabilities than the pre-existing Hero 4 black's 4K resolution and high frame rate...in fact, it's actually limited to 1920 x 1440 at 30 frames per second, or 1920 x 1080 at 60 frames a second. So what's the big deal with this camera then? It apparently makes up for those performance numbers in general functionality improvements, size, and greatly improved battery life. I also think it may be designed to be used in the latest virtual reality camera rigs. Read below to learn more.
"50% smaller and 40% lighter than other HERO4 cameras, HERO4 Session is the most wearable and mountable GoPro ever. With a sleek, versatile design, it’s at home anywhere—from the surf to the snow, to hanging with friends." - GoPro
Here are a few things you need to know about the new GoPro Hero 4 Session:
- The new integrated battery: If you've used a GoPro Hero 4 Silver or Black before, you know that battery life is an issue. You probably even have extra GoPro batteries sitting in your camera case. It isn't unheard of for their battery to die in less than 30 minutes of filming. Well, it seems GoPro took the Apple route and integrated the battery into the camera so you can't hot-swap on set, BUT you get incredible gains in shooting time. They claim you can film for 2 hours with this new battery design.
- The size: How small is it? It's approximately a 1.5" inch cube all around. This is the smallest and lightest camera they have ever made. The fact that it is square-shaped means it has a low-profile design that can be easily positioned at nearly any angle when attached to a GoPro mount, unlike the rest of the rectangle-shaped GoPro product line. It should also be mentioned that the Session WILL fit any pre-existing GoPro mount.
- You have to change camera settings with a smart-phone app: To save space, it appears they have removed some buttons from the camera body, which means you will have to use a GoPro remote or their smart-phone app to adjust camera settings. The camera still has record button and WIFI activation buttons, though.
- It's waterproof already: Unlike previous GoPro's, which require a housing, this camera is waterproof (up to 33 feet) right out of the box.
- It has 2 microphones: Ever try and listen to GoPro audio from a camera that was filming from a waterproof housing? It sounds like everyone is speaking with a sock stuffed in their mouth, and if you want better audio, you have to sacrifice weatherproof protection. The Session solves this by integrating a mic on 2 sides of the already waterproof camera, which allegedly switch back and forth while recording to reduce wind noise and capture speaking subjects more effectively. According to GoPro: "HERO4 Session features two microphones: one on the front of the camera and one on the back. When you’re filming in windy conditions or during high-speed activities like motorsports, the camera automatically switches to the mic that’s best-suited for capturing optimal audio. The result? Reduced wind noise and enhanced audio capture—no matter what the conditions or activity."
- The price: At $399, it seems a bit high when you compare it to it's similarly-priced sibling, the 4K capable Hero 4 Silver, which also has an integrated touch screen on the back. Although, if you're not worried about having 4K resolution and want an action camera with awesome battery life, a more durable design, and low profile body that's easier to position, then the Session is perfect for you.
This new camera design is definitely a step forward for GoPro. Love the small form factor and improved battery life, which is a HUGE issue in other GoPros. Sure, the resolution may be a bit low for filmmakers like myself that require 4K resolution, but I am sure they will improve upon that in future generations of the Session.
One theory I had that may be worth mentioning... recently GoPro announced that they were releasing their own virtual reality camera holder as well as their purchase of VR software developer Kolor. If you have ever tried to shoot VR content, you know all about parallax / stitching issues caused by close-up subjects and far-apart camera lenses. Creating a new camera like this with a smaller form factor will allow them to create a more effectively designed virtual reality camera rig that can pack in more cameras in a tighter space. Although...this is just a theory of mine...