Doug Toppin's Blog

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GoPro Hero4 Session Review

GoPro Hero4 Session camera

I recently got a GoPro Hero4 Session camera and wanted to pass along a few experiences with it so far. It is amazingly small (a little larger than an ice cube) and convenient as a “stick somewhere” camera.

The daytime video and sound qualities outside were very good. In the evening at home the light quality was a bit dark.

Target has a very well stocked GoPro accessories area with numerous things to use for attaching or mounting the camera. I picked up a dog harness and clamp mounts to see how well they work.

The out of box experience instructions were, as usual, a bit small on the font size so I did the set up mostly without reading the instructions. The 32 GB micro SD card that I got with it is really small and you can easily drop and lose it so be in an area where you will not drop it (down the side of the couch for example) when you first insert it. The camera has a side door that pops open and the SD card slides and pops in securely. Also in this areas is the micro USB slot for charging and downloading files directory to another device.

With only two buttons you may have to practice a little to get familiar with their various functions such as turning on/off wifi and selecting video, picture or time lapse picture modes. With no screen on the back to see what it is doing (if recording and what mode if so) your first few uses might not produce what you expect. You can use the mobile app to monitor the video but that is not always convenient if you are on the move.

It has front and rear microphones and I had no complaints about audio quality during a dog walk outside.

The camera appears to automatically segment recordings into 12 minute videos without the user doing anything. This means that when you are done with a longish recording session you may end up with multiple 12 minutes video segments.

The mobile app can preview the videos on the camera and download them. In my first use I did not want to download 40 minutes of video onto my iPhone 6 so I decided to download them directly to my MacBook Pro.

I did end up causing the camera to hang when I tried to use the USB to import it into my Mac. Holding the main (top) button for around 10 seconds did turn it off and after that it worked fine. The hang may have been due to me first trying an import into the Mac Photos app and then canceling that to use the GoPro Studio app instead.

The battery is not removable and should have a 2 hour or so capacity depending on the video/picture mode that it is recording in. Recharging time may take a while (I have not measured it yet) so do not expect a quick recharge for immediate reuse if you drain it.

GoPro Studio editing app

GoPro gives away an application called GoPro Studio which can be used to import, edit and export movies. I used the Mac version and it worked reasonably well. It was relatively easy to edit but I when I tried to export it showed the movie as 15 minutes when I was trying to truncate it to 7 minutes. Nothing that I did in the edit tab appeared to truncate it and had to open the exported movie in Quicktime and trim it.

GoPro Fetch Dog Harness

It appears to be very well made and was easy to fit on to my dog. We did a 40 minute walk and he did not act like it was uncomfortable at all. He weighs around 68 pounds and is medium sized with short hair. The adjustment straps slid to where I wanted them and stayed in place for the entire walk. The front portion of the harness has a camera mount along with the top portion. I used the top portion for this walk. The video is reasonably steady but does have a swaying back and forth kind of appearance which adds to the effect.

A segment of video from the walk using the top camera mount can be found at https://youtu.be/J-xDgNQ18yc

For a second walk with our other dog Emma I put the camera on the chest plate mount which is under the neck. This gave a view of the ground in front of Emma that was an interesting perspective. A drawback to this mount point was that it seemed to wobble quite a bit more than the back mount (which might be due to my not securing it tightly enough but I was not certain of that). Another potential drawback to this position was that the leash made contact with it pretty regularly and resulted in a frequent tapping sound. The sound of the leash in general was also louder since the ring it is attached to is closer to the camera. If you are not interested in the chest mount it can be removed completely from the harness.

The video from this walk can be found at https://youtu.be/1wiXEXoaexQ

All in all I am satisfied with the camera and recommend it if you are looking for something highly portable and convenient to mount anywhere for recording.

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