GoPro’s current camera lineup stands at four: the Hero6 Black, the Hero5 Black the Hero5 Session and the original Session, (formerly called Hero4 Session). The Hero, Hero+ and Hero+ LCD, which were more budget friendly, were killed off in February 2016. Later the Hero4 Black and Silver cameras were replaced with the introduction of the Hero 5 models.
This brings the question: which GoPro should you buy?
It’s the smallest, lightest GoPro to date. It’s also the first GoPro to be entirely waterproof to 33 feet (10 meters), so there was no need for a polycarbonate housing. It was also priced too high at $400. Now, however, it costs just $150 (£150) and is the current entry-level model.
Because of the square body and included accessories it was also the easiest GoPro to mount right-side up while still keeping a low profile. However, because of its size and waterproofing, the battery is nonremovable and, with just a sliver of a screen and two buttons, changing its settings without connecting to a phone or GoPro’s wireless remote requires a lot of patience.
Its video recording capabilities top out at 1,920×1,440 at 30fps, though it’s more likely you’ll be using its 1080p at 60fps or 720p at 100fps settings.
Recommended for: The Session is the point-and-shoot, grab-and-go model. It’s perfect for mounting somewhere other cameras just won’t fit. I’ve even seen people skip using a mount all together and just put it between their teeth.
Hero 5 Session
The Hero5 Session’s design is essentially unchanged from the original. It’s waterproof. It turns on and records with a single button press. And its battery is still built in. If it weren’t for the branding and a USB-C port for faster charging and transferring content, you couldn’t easily tell them apart. What’s inside and its recording capabilities are completely different, though.
Priced at $300 and £300, this version can record video at up to 4K resolution at 30fps and 1080p at 90fps and video and photo quality is much better as well. It has electronic image stabilization and lens distortion correction and GoPro added voice controls for starting and stopping recordings, snapping photos, changing modes and even tagging highlights in your clips.
Recommended for: If you liked the small size of the original Session, but just wished it could do more and don’t mind paying double for it.
Hero 5 Black
The Hero5 Black has all the features of the Hero5 Session, including the waterproof body, but also gets you a removable/replaceable battery and a built-in touchscreen along with more shooting options including faster frame rates for video (up to 120fps at 1080p) and raw and wide-dynamic-range photos, a Micro-HDMI output and GpS for adding data overlays to your videos.
Those are the big reasons to step-up from the Hero5 Session and spend the extra $100. However, it is worth noting that the Black is compatible with GoPro’s Karma Drone and Karma Grip Stabilizer while the Session currently is not. If you think one of those is in your future, you’ll want the Hero5 Black.
Recommended for: also used for Quick stories as Hero 6 but it’s not as efficient as the Hero 6 since it lacks the Gp1 processor.
GoPro Hero 6 Black
The GoPro Hero 6 is a camera capable of shooting HDR still photos, as well as 4K video up to 60 frames per second and 1080p footage up to 240fps for awesome slow motion. It’s also equipped with some very advanced digital stabilization which acts like a 3-axis gimbal to smooth out shakes and vibrations. It’s also the first to support shooting in HEVC (H.265) codec. It’s also water proof up to 10 meters and can be controlled by the buttons, touchscreen or voice commands.
Furthermore, the general image quality is much more natural and better quality too, compared to its predecessor, as a result of the new GP1 processor which has enabled these improvements in hardware that’s largely the same as the previous model.
Recommended for: Quick stories as it’s better than any other camera due to its built-in ability of analyzing telemetry, audio and facial clues.
If you want the best of the best, the Hero6 Black is the easiest recommendation. If you want high end recording abilities in as small a package as possible, the Hero5 Session is a really great option. If budget is the primary motivator for you, the newest Hero is clearly the best option. It doesn’t have 4K, but if you’re unsure about getting in on the action camera game, or don’t have the financial flexibility to pony up for a more expensive GoPro, the basic Hero will do you just fine. Ultimately it comes down to weighing up what’s important to you in an action camera.