First Ride: GoPro HERO4 Silver Edition

Edit shows better low light sensitivity, touch screen convenience

Cameras Gear Video
A native touchscreen makes choosing settings and previewing shots much easier than prior models.

A top new feature of the HERO4 is a native touchscreen that makes choosing settings and previewing shots much easier than prior models.

Our new GoPro HERO4 Silver Edition camera showed up on Thursday and we wanted to quickly put it through the paces to see how it stacks up against the company’s prior top-of-the-line effort, the HERO3+. While the HERO4′s press materials tout an impressive number of new features and upgrades, the two we’re most optimistic about are its new touchscreen back and much-improved low light sensitivity.

We hardly got the HERO4 charged before shooting this sample commute footage–the camera was set at 720p resolution, superwide mode at 60 frames per second.

With little more than charging the battery, we took it on the commute home as captured in the video above and can already see much improved transitions between harsh light and shadows. The picture is also less washed-out looking and more vibrant than the Hero3+.

We’ll be taking the HERO4 to the Santa Cruz Super Enduro this weekend to give it a more thorough test and see how it does in the often-difficult mottled light of forest canopy.

The HERO4 comes with an array of mounts and accessories--including new housing backplates that are compatible with the new unit's touchscreen.

The HERO4 comes with an array of mounts and accessories–including new housing backplates that are compatible with the new unit’s touchscreen.

While most HERO3 accessories are compatible with the 4, the batteries are not.

While most HERO3/3+ accessories are compatible with the HERO4, the batteries are not. We hope this translates into longer battery life.

With what seems like a new competitor coming into the market on a weekly basis, GoPro attempts to raise the bar yet again with the HERO4.

With what seems like a new competitor coming into the market on a weekly basis, GoPro attempts to raise the bar yet again with the HERO4.

Our initial still photo test yielded good results, though we've only shot in the HERO4's default mode thus far.

Our initial still photo test yielded good results, though we’ve only shot in the HERO4′s default mode thus far. We’ll be taking it to the trails this weekend at the Santa Cruz Super Enduro for more testing.

The staff of B2 Coffee in San Jose, Calif. look good in through the lens of the GoPro HERO4.

The staff of B2 Coffee in San Jose, Calif. look good through the lens of the GoPro HERO4.

This close-up is a cropped image from the HERO4's 12 megapixel wide photo mode.

This close-up is a cropped image from the HERO4′s 12 megapixel wide photo mode.

HERO4 Silver Edition
  • $399
  • 2.7K video at 30 fps
  • 1080p (1K) video at 60 fps
  • 12-megapixel stills
  • Nightlapse setting
  • Protune on photo and video
  • Highlight tagging

For more information visit gopro.com.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Don Palermini

Chicago-born Don Palermini became a cycling-based life-form in the sixth grade after completing a family road bike tour of his home state. Three years later he bought his first mountain bike to help mitigate the city's pothole-strewn streets, and began exploring the region's unpaved roads and trails. Those rides sparked a much larger journey which includes all manner of bike racing, commuting, on- and off-road bike advocacy, and a 20-plus-year marketing career in the cycling industry that landed him at his current gig with Santa Cruz bicycles. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, his four favorite words in the English language are "breakfast served all day," together in that order.


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  • Tom says:

    I’m considering getting a camera like this, and i have to be honest. I’m not impressed with that video at all. If this is considered to be an improvement, i’m glad i’ve held out.
    It looks super washed out to me, and the wide angle makes things look distorted.
    One of my concerns is how it will do filming in the woods when you pass in, and out of trees changing light levels, and while this video didn’t show that, i can tell i won’t be happy.
    In my opinion, for this type of money, i’m still a few versions of this type of camera away.
    Maybe the goPro 7 will impress me.

    • Mtbr says:

      Tom- Our Photo John is working on a more thorough review that should show the camera’s more high quality footage capabilities. As I said in the story, I literally charged the camera, threw it on the bike and hit record without exploring any of the options. Additionally, the footage was imported into iMovie and uploaded to YouTube hastily–steps that add compression and reduce quality in the name of fast processing/uploading if you don’t diligently manage for higher quality.

      • Tom says:

        Thanks for the clarification! Like i said i’m interested in a camera like this, and will continue to remain in the loop (pretty much through this site, because i find your reviews trustworthy).
        As a beginner i hope a person like myself will be able to change quality easily, because i’d also be using iMovie, and youtube to make myself an action hero!

  • Matt says:

    Hi,

    I have one question that I have not find anywhere.

    Can you enable/disable the touch screen as you please?

    On/Off screen will make a major difference in battery duration. (I asume)

    • Mtbr says:

      Matt, Yes, there is a small manual button that turns the display on and off at will, though it will time out itself after 30 seconds or so, ostensibly to address battery drain issues. Your thinking is correct, however–we had a display back for a Hero3+ that seemed to suck the battery dead very quickly…we hope the new, larger battery and maybe some firmware tweaks address this for the dedicated unit.

  • logan says:

    Which handlebar mount is that? I like that you can take it on/off without a 3mm allen like the K-edge require.

    • Mtbr says:

      Logan- We should have mentioned the mount–it’s from a company called MORSA Design and we really like it. It’s particularly versatile in that you can mount not only a POV camera, but all your electronics to it–cyclecomputer or GPS, light, smartphone and POV cam. If you’re smart about it you can do all three on the same mount. Though it does require an allen wrench to install, all the device mounts are quick-release. We’ll have a First Look at the MORSA mount later this week and do a little more in-depth look as part of our upcoming POV camera comparison.

  • Rosie says:

    Hello, how can i change the language on my go pro hero 4 silver, plz anyone?

  • Eric says:

    Me too! I mistakenly changed the language on my GoPro Hero4 to Chinese, and therefore I can’t read where to change it back to English. Can anyone guide me on how to change the language back to English? Please! Thanks.

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