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We strive to bring you the most useful and up-to-date information on today's actions cameras specifically the GoPros. This guide was designed to help you with all your GoPro buying decisions. We take a look at the new GoPro HERO5 and compare it to the established models. Wondering what accessories to purchase we got you covered there too!

What is a GoPro?

Nick Woodman

On a surfing vacation in 2002, Nick Woodman had a minor epiphany. Amateur surfers longed to be filmed or photographed in action, but unless you can hire an expensive photographer or acquire costly equipment, you may forever remain an amateur. But what if you could securely latch a waterproofed camera to your wrist and shoot images from the board, in the pipe, during a wipeout? With an inexpensive camera equipment lashed to your wrist, you could virtually “go pro.”

Thus, in 2004, was born a company to manufacture fabulous wrist straps for cameras. Until that is, Nick had his second and this time major ‒ epiphany: Straps are fine, but what people want are great, inexpensive, rugged cameras that don’t flood or break when you take a tumble. And that’s when Nick Woodman embarked on his short journey from a high-energy action sports junkie to a high-energy billionaire sports junkie.

Starting in 2004 with a 35mm camera in a waterproof case, GoPro has moved up through a progression of HD video cameras with each iteration offering more features and functionality. The latest models, the GoPro HERO4 and GoPro HERO5, and the available accessories and digital applications, satisfy a larger and more diverse crowd of users than just the adventurers of the early days. Now, professional and amateur videographers alike keep a GoPro on hand to capture all the necessary shots when the more expensive and delicate devices won’t do.

Why Buy a GoPro?

Whether you long to keep your personal Point of View (POV) adventure memories fresh, monetize a YouTube channel with great videos, train crews with how-to demonstrations or capture your family’s special moments, owning a GoPro enables all of that at very reasonable prices. The benefits of the GoPro and the numerous accessories available puts great videography and photography into the hands of the masses. The whole point of the GoPro can be summed up in its ruggedness. Its ability to record your craziest of activities as easily as your most simple event makes the GoPro the most versatile of recording devices. The GoPro's price point makes this sturdy camera even more attractive to people shopping for cameras.

Which GoPro should I buy?

The biggest questions we get asked here at Cam Authority is what the differences between GoPro models are and which GoPro should I buy? We sort all these matters out to help you pick the right GoPro for you. For full reviews of the older models, you can find them here-

    GoPro HERO4 Models

    While the HERO3 and HERO3+ are still sold on Amazon and in some retail stores, it is getting phased out of circulation. GoPro in their Amazon store have labeled most of the HERO3+ models as discontinued. There are almost no new accessories made for these models, and the entire industry has shifted its production and design to the HERO4 and the newest GoPro the HERO5.

    The HERO4 comes in two models, either Black or Silver, with slightly different features. The HERO Silver costs a bit less than the Black. Let’s look at the features of each.

    GoPro HERO4 Silver

    GoPro HERO4 Silver

    • 4K video at 15fps, 1080p at 60fps
    • 12mp still photos
    • Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and video trimming of short clips on-camera
    • 2-inch LCD touchscreen on back
    • Remote control mobile app
    • Protune software
    • Night settings
    • Time-lapse settings for night and day
    • Highlight tagging
    • Pivot arm
    GoPro HERO4 Black

    GoPro HERO4 Black

    • 4K video at 30fps, 1080p at 120fps
    • 12mp still photos
    • Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and video trimming of short clips on-camera
    • Remote control mobile app
    • Protune software
    • Night settings
    • Time-lapse settings for night and day
    • ​Highlight tagging
    • Pivot arm
    • No LCD Screen

    Comparing GoPro HERO4 versus GoPro HERO5 Models

    The HERO4 models provide imagery that is certainly far better than what your parents’ video camera used to when they filmed your birthday parties and Christmas present frenzies. For most people, the HERO4 will more than suffice to archive your life’s adventures. With fast filming, crisp, clear stills and pretty easy manipulation, the HERO4 models can make most amateurs quite happy at very reasonable prices points. The high frames per second rates give you great slow motion footage, and the quality of still photos rival those from high-dollar brands.

    The GoPro digital revolution waits for no one. They listen to their customers then aim to solve any issues that bedevil them. The HERO5 models, with digital video stabilization, advanced audio, voice control and the ability to edit in RAW format, enable footage fit for the NatGeo channel with small and light weight cameras at a significantly lower expense.

    The GoPro digital revolution waits for no one. They listen to their customers then aim to solve any issues that bedevil them. The HERO5 models, with digital video stabilization, advanced audio, voice control and the ability to edit in RAW format, enable footage fit for the NatGeo channel with small and light weight cameras at a significantly lower expense.

    One obvious downside to the HERO5, though, is that the battery doesn’t hold up well to the increases in output quality. The battery strain means you’ll need many extra batteries just to film a one-day adventure in 4K or 1080p. That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker. Even the HERO4 models struggle with sufficient battery life. GoPros are very compact and meant to be as unobtrusive as possible, only an entirely new type of battery technology will solve the problem of rapid drainage. You can only stuff so much juice into a small case. However, the battery life is a major upgrade from previous GoPro generations. If you keep your GoPro HERO5 on lower settings the HERO5's battery significantly outperforms the HERO4 battery life.

    We have included a video to show where the HERO5's battery and compartments are.

    Both models have an internal video stabilization that helps to minimize choppy video. This addition to the GoPro line is a terrific way to smooth out your shots without needing a gyro and gimbal which add to the size and weight of your recording device assembly perfect for your adventure shots. We do recommend a gimbal for those looking to make more profession videos or even when recording life's moments that are should we say in a less extreme environment?

    The amateur will love the HERO4s. With all the enhancements from previous versions, the quality of footage and ease of use will please just about anyone feeding a YouTube channel. Those who would like to pursue a professional career in videography and photography would fare better with the HERO5 models. Having the ability to record in Camera RAW makes custom editing so much better. Plus, the wide dynamic range means much better high-contrast tolerance for your night and shadowy shots.

    GoPro Accessories and Peripherals

    The original idea of GoPro was to take the camera anywhere and everywhere for personal POV recording. Towards that end, a multitude of mounting kits can be purchased to suit nearly any purpose. Beyond mounts, GoPro offers many other accessories and peripherals to maximize your use of the cameras. There are many third party accessories of different brands as well. We break down just a few of those accessories below and give a brief explanation of their purpose. Also check out our top accessories list here. 

    GoPro Lenses

    GoPro cameras are designed to be simple. They’re composed of built-in lenses for ease of use. Other than the utilization of the available filters, the lenses aren’t made to switch for different lens functions. Out of the box, the camera lenses offer a 170-degree fisheye perspective that provides the signature GoPro look. For most people, this classic view suffices for all their intended uses. But enough owners wanted to have lens adaptability for close-ups and more professional shots without all the tricky editing. So, third-party companies have sprung up to satisfy those desires.

    GoPro does offer protective lens covers, which only makes sense. You want to keep dirt and debris off the lens from the get-go, rather than having to clean them carefully. Cleaning always carries the potential for scratching and smudging, so do get a protective lens cover. GoPro also sells replacement lens kits if you do mar the original.

    So, what about the third-party lenses? Are they a good idea?Depending on your goals, after-market modification kits may be worth trying. You can turn your GoPro from a dedicated action cam to one that can take any and every kind of shot your heart desires. But do keep in mind that once you open up the camera to rig it for replaceable lenses made elsewhere, you will most likely void your GoPro warranty. Even if the unrelated company manufactures lenses specifically to work only with GoPro cameras, if something goes wrong with your modifications, you’ll be on your own. We have a full breakdown of GoPro Lenses here. 

    Another point to consider before modifying your GoPro: Modkits likely will not have the rugged, waterproof, shock-surviving features that define the essence of GoPro. If you don’t need that type of tough camera, a mod kit can turn your GoPro into a dynamic camera at a fraction of the cost of Nikon or other name brand camera.

    GoPro Chest Mounts and All the Other Types of Mounts

    GoPros, born of an original desire to capture surfing action from the surfer’s point of view, were designed to endure the toughest abuse. As their popularity shot to the stratosphere (literally), it became apparent that a large variety of mounting options were needed. Today, you can attach the cameras to your body or your gear with any number of custom mounts from GoPro.

    Should I Buy a Refurbished GoPro?

    While GoPros sell at price points lower than other professional-grade photography brands, they’re by no means cheap. With all of the impressive features kept within a small casing, a lot of careful designing, engineering, and manufacturing goes into each camera. It’s a pipe dream to think you can buy all this wonder tech for a pittance. But you could buy it with a pretty good discount if you go for a refurbished camera.

    Pros of Buying a Refurbished GoPro

    GoPro HERO4 Silver

    The obvious benefit of a refurbished camera is the discounted price. You can save anywhere from 10 to 30 percent off the retail price of an all-new, never used device. Like all hot gizmos, your discount will depend on how much in demand the model is. An older model will probably fetch you a steep discount for a refurb. A new, hot off the line model, however, will only have a slight price reduction.

    If you buy a refurb from a certified, factory-approved repair company, you have a great chance of receiving an excellent device. Amazon.com offers several refurbished GoPros certified by GoPro themselves. Most refurbs will come with enough of a warranty period that you can put the camera to the test to make sure it’s good. If not, return it for a refund or another camera.

    Cons of Buying a Refurbished GoPro

    On the downside, you don’t know what you might get with a refurbished unit. Will it be a demo model that’s been handled and used? Or will it be one that had factory defects that they’ve tried to cure with some degree of success? Maybe its only fault is a blemish on the exterior that in no way impedes its function. You’ll never know.

    If you buy from a second-hand dealer rather than a certified dealer, it will be a total crapshoot whether you get a good camera or a lemon, and you’ll have no recourse if it turns out to be bad.

    Tips and Tricks if you Buy Refurbished

    1. Make sure you know what all will come with it. Some tempting offers may have some missing components such as the central pivot mount. If the deal fails to include everything that comes with the model were it brand new, you should pay even less.
    2. Do not buy from a noncertified company no matter how good the deal is you have no clue what you are buying. We strongly suggest only to buy from GoPro only. 
    3. Make sure you have comprehensive knowledge of the exchange policy in case you are not happy with the camera they sent you. You probably will never have to deal with the issue because certified dealers rarely send out products that need exchanging, but knowing what it will take to replace a product that does not meet your standards is a must.

    Our Verdict

    If you are OK with like new equipment and go in understanding, you might have to spend some time working with the seller by sending a camera back there is little risk and great savings to be had buying refurbished. We strongly suggest you buy from GoPro directly through Amazon. If you want to avoid the possible hassles of getting the right refurbished camera or just really love the new shiny of straight out of the box then spend a couple of extra dollars and buy new. 

    GoPro HERO5 Guide Wrap-up

    GoPro HERO5

    Overall, the GoPro HERO4 models and GoPro HERO5 models are well worth buying. Which one suits you best will depend on which features mean the most to you. Both models allow you to shoot your action in high-speeds and replay in incredibly slow motion because of the frame per second recording ability. With highlight tagging, you can bookmark your favorite scenes and quickly return to them. Remote activation allows you to manipulate your shots from afar. The Protune software feature allows for better imaging and editing either from your camera or from the app. The easy touchscreen interface simplifies your settings control.

    Since all of these models have the 4K upgrade, video stabilization, advanced audio, remote control and noise filtering, no matter which one you choose, you can create very smooth, professional quality video roll and still shots. With the added GoPro account with HERO5, you can upload your work immediately to the cloud for secure storage and extra editing options.

    Part of the GoPro company genius is their design commitments many of the new upgrades retrofits to older cameras. This way, you can enjoy future updates with your present device rather than finding yourself stuck with an old camera or peripherals in just a year or two. Whichever device you choose, you’re bound to enjoy it for years to come.