In life, almost everyone becomes afflicted with the FOMO (fear of missing out) syndrome. You might have that feeling as you peruse our GoPro comparison chart in this article. Sometimes in life, a phenomenon takes over popular culture and becomes something that everyone wants to become involved in, even if they don't know what it is or aren't familiar enough with it to try it themselves. Some examples might be the Macarena dance from the 1990s, or the cryptocurrency mania that took over the world a few years ago.
Yet, those social phenomenons didn't indelibly affect the lives of everyday people, or evolve photo-taking and video chronicling technology in the way that the creation of the GoPro camera did. In the same manner that everyone needs to have the latest version of the latest smart devices, it seems like everyone is also obsessed with getting a GoPro, even if they don't know what it is exactly or how to use it. So, if you want to get in on the GoPro, "Action Camera," phenomenon, but don't know quite where to begin, we have assembled a GoPro comparison chart.
We know what you're thinking, especially if you are new to the world of GoPro and action cameras. "Well, where would I start?" After all, it must be infinitely intimidating for those unfamiliar with GoPros and action cameras to try shopping for one online. It is not as simple as just buying a product called "GoPro." There are essential three models of the GoPro, kind of like how a car manufacturer has different models of cars under the same brand name.
GoPro Model Basics
The three main models of GoPro action cameras are called "Fusion," "Hero," and "Session." Each model of GoPro has versions that have been updated over the years. So, which model is best for you and your lifestyle? Which model of GoPro is best for recording your family vacation, skateboarding tricks, hot-air balloon ride, or whatever recreational activity that you want to record in a professional looking fashion?
Believe it or not, GoPro action cameras are now being used in the production of TV shows, commercials, and motion pictures. Maybe you want a GoPro just to make your everyday selfies look more aesthetically professional. Whatever your interest, we have a GoPro comparison chart and breakdown of various models that will help you buy the GoPro that best matches your recreation-chronicling needs.
A Step-By-Step Introduction to GoPro
However, before we get into our GoPro comparison chart and comparative breakdown of the functions of various GoPro action camera models, we think it would help to explain the origin and basics of the GoPro, such as who founded it. How did the GoPro action camera come to command such a large part of the action camera market? The creator of the GoPro didn't create the "action camera" per se. The GoPro was created to become an affordable version of the action camera that anyone can use to create professional and stylish looking video experiences.
Why is a GoPro called a "GoPro" exactly? We will do a mini deep dive of the GoPro and how it came to become the cultural and business phenomenon that it is today. We think that after you have a better understanding of how the GoPro action camera came into being, then you'll have a better understanding of how owning one can improve your photograph and video recording needs.
What Is GoPro?
Let's start with the basics, or a GoPro 101 if you will. So, what is a GoPro? A GoPro is a wearable and/or mountable action camera that is designed to be tough and durable enough to take a picture or record actions in a way that seems like the viewer is experiencing it themselves. The GoPro was originally designed to capture the experience of what it was like for surfers to surf waves far from shore. In fact, the first model of GoPro launched in 2002 was a 35mm camera, since in was launched in an era before everyone had smart devices.
The prototype model was actually just a disposable film camera that was strapped on the wrist and used to document what it was like to surf from the POV of the surfer. The initial appeal and popularity of the GoPro was first embraced by the extreme sports movement. A GoPro can be attached to a wrist, chest harness, on the front of a mountain bike, a sky-diving helmet, on a surfboard, or on a skateboard, so that the viewer can get a first-person POV view of what it's like to engage in extreme sports.
The GoPro Revolution
The GoPro revolutionized what it was like to photograph or record such moments. A GoPro marries the simplistic functions of point-and-shoot film cameras with the versatility of digital cameras and puts it all together in a product that is unbelievably portable, waterproof and nearly indestructible. The average GoPro is about the size of a miniature digital camera or smart device.
They are essentially cube shaped and house data processing components, an image sensor, wide-angle lens, and multiple microphones (sometimes up to three) to record experiences like never before. A GoPro is almost like an independent film set shrunk down into a miniature, cube-like housing. They are also very user-friendly. The control surface interface of most GoPro action cameras feature two or three buttons. So, absolutely anyone can use them.
The Indestructible GoPro
GoPro cameras are also extremely durable and are almost impossible to break. They are lightweight and are easier to carry around or mount than the suitcase-sized video camera of the 20th century. In October 2012, stuntman Felix Baumgartner jumped 128,000 feet from a helium-air balloon that was at the threshold of near low-Earth orbit. Baumgartner's nearly 10 minute space jump free-fall set a new world record and was recorded on a GoPro action camera.
The GoPro action camera is renowned for its near indestructibility. In 2013, a GoPro action camera, a Hero 3 model, fell off of the helmet harness of a skydiver. The GoPro survived intact after a fall of 12,500 feet and the footage was uploaded on YouTube. GoPro action cameras are also waterproof at depths ranging from 16 feet to 131 feet, depending on the model.
Now, you probably aren't going to go space jumping anytime soon. Yet, if you are in the market for a GoPro, our GoPro comparison chart and comparative functions breakdowns will help you choose the best GoPro action camera for your needs. Certain GoPro action cameras are more suitable than others for durability, imaging, battery life, and so on.
You may want to take selfies, record a hot balloon ride, record yourself diving, or safely mount on a GoPro on a pet harness to get a pet-POV of how your pet sees the world. Whatever your reasons, if you are interested in a GoPro, our GoPro comparison chart will help you.
A Brief History of the GoPro
Do you know why the GoPro is called a "GoPro?" It is an incredible success story of how one man persevered to create a billion dollar company, at one time the fast growing action camera company in the United States, from virtually nothing. In the late 1990s, Nick Woodman was an undergrad at UC San Diego who had a more of a fondness for surfing than he had for anything else. After Woodman graduated from UC San Diego, he decided to launch an online gaming company.
It was called Funbug, but he shuttered it soon after launch, losing 4 million in startup capital in the process. After failing at another business venture, and distraught after losing money people had loaned him, Woodman was reduced to living in a 1971 Volkswagen van. In 2001, while on vacation in Australia, Woodman had an epiphany that helped him to create the GoPro action camera.
Woodman and his surfer friends all imagined a life where they would they would go professional. People who were not surfers could not properly envision or appreciate the thrill of the sport since the camera and technology of the era could only record such activities from far away at the beach. Even photographers with wide-angle lenses could not capture the thrill of the sport in an aesthetic way viewers could properly appreciate.
Woodman Creates the Modern Action Camera
Woodman envisioned creating a camera that could be worn on a wrist strap that could capture the experience of a surfer in action or inside of a wave. The first GoPro prototype was a disposable Kodak strapped to his wrist with surfboard leash and rubber bands. To fund his dream, Woodman began selling handmade jewelry, belts, and crafts from his van. The slogan for GoPro is "Be a Hero," in terms of going for your dreams and being the best at what you do.
The GoPro action camera was conceptualized in 2001, but after a 250,000 loan from his father, Woodman launched the company in 2002. The GoPro Hero action camera was introduced on the market in 2004. Believe it or not, the 2004 GoPro Hero was a 35mm film camera that was waterproof to a depth of 5 feet. In the 15 years since the launch of the GoPro, Woodman went from being penniless and living in the back of a van to being worth 1.8 billion.
His company is worth about 1 billion. GoPro is such a ubitquitous brand name that people know the name GoPro, or have heard of it, even if they don't really know what it is. Now that you understand the background of the GoPro, let's take a look at what to look for in a GoPro before getting into our GoPro comparison chart.
Useful Characteristics of the GoPro
As our GoPro comparison chart will show you, there are many different functions, characteristics, and capabilities of each model that you should consider before purchase. All GoPro action cameras feature extremely wide lenses. Wide-lens GoPros make it extremely easy for you to frame your shots, exponentially increase the amount of background scenery that you can capture in each frame, and increase the odds of capturing action in the foreground and background of a shot.
Another important aspect of the GoPro is that they are designed to be mountable and attachable. Most GoPro cameras do not have zoom capabilities, but a few select models do. GoPro action cameras can be strapped to your wrist, chest, head, or any part of your body. Or, you can attach or mount them to a car, bike, skateboard, or anywhere where you can get a unique POV of an action shot.
Remote Video Control via App
You don't have to hold the GoPro to take a pic or video. Also, the GoPro can allow you to control it remotely as if you were a film director. There are apps that allow you to interface with some models of GoPro action cameras and convert them into CC TV-like monitors, or share footage or video easily on the internet and social media. These apps can even allow you to remotely control your GoPro action camera through your smart device. Best of all, they are all user-friendly.
The User-Friendly GoPro
You do not need multiple degrees in technology to know how to use a GoPro. Now that we have gone through these matters, let's consider our GoPro comparison chart. If you are considering buying a GoPro, you shouldn't worry about what you think it can do in terms of function. The better question to contemplate is, "What do you want your GoPro to do for you?"
Depending on your intentions of use, vacation plans, recreational or sports activities, it's good to know the characteristics of the GoPro best suited for your needs. All GoPros are great, but they all do not have one-size-suits-all kinds of purposes.
The Main Differences Between the GoPro Models
The GoPro action camera line has several models: the Fusion, Session, White, Silver, and Hero. There are the White and Silver lines of the GoPro that just weren't as popular as the other models. The GoPro Session line is basically the budget model. It is minimalist in design and function. The GoPro Session is miniature, cube-shaped, and has a simple user-friendly interface.
Next, the GoPro Hero, the flagship line of action cameras for the company, is more like a normal camera with a few more buttons and additional functionality relative to user-friendly interfacing. The GoPro Fusion is the newer line of action cameras that is probably more optimal for use by advanced users instead of novices.
Older Models May Be More Practical for Beginners
It's not that you shouldn't buy the more advanced models, more like that you should get familiar with more simplified GoPro action cameras before buying this one. The GoPro Fusion can take pictures and video is 360 degree pans and sweeps. It also has a lens featured on it front and back. The newer models of GoPro feature improvements and updates concerning processing speed, sensors, quality of images, and total frames per second rates.
Still, an older model can serve your needs just as well at an affordable price. It's important to keep this mind when referring to our GoPro comparison chart.
GoPro Camera Models Featured in Our Comparison Chart
The GoPro action cameras listed in our GoPro comparison chart are divided in three categories. Namely, the expensive, moderately priced, and budget range models of GoPro action cameras. Finally, our GoPro comparison chart list features models that were released in the last five years. They are mostly current upgrades of previous models. GoPro has been manufacturing action cameras for over 15 years.
The first model GoPro Hero was a 35mm camera. The first GoPro digital camera models didn't appear until 2004-2005. Some of the current models of GoPro action cameras are digital, compatible with mobile app interfaces, waterproof to a depth of 131 feet, voice activated, GPS-enabled, and can pan in 360 degrees.
Unless You Are a GoPro Novice, Buy Newer Models for Optimum Use
Comprehensive GoPro Comparison Chart
This GoPro comparison chart is divided into several categories. The video column describes the frames per second capabilities of the GoPro. Burst mode is a camera function where pictures are taken in quick, successive frames, almost like old-school animation cells. The waterproof column details the depth maximum for waterproofing guarantees. There are columns to describe WiFi, Bluetooth, and battery functions.
"Protune" is just a description denoting if the GoPro has any more advanced functions and capabilities relative to other models, such as variable shutter speed functionality. There are columns to describe if the GoPro has a touch-screen, voice control functions, and the number of built-in microphones. Finally, our GoPro comparison chart will also inform you whether or not a GoPro has GPS or zoom functionalities.
Functionality Breakdown Descriptions
The GoPro Hero7 Black is on the expensive side. It is also essentially an upgraded version of the GoPro Hero6 Black with improved functions. Both GoPro cameras were even priced the same for a time when the Hero7 was launched. However, the Hero7 is a vastly improved model.
It has improved imaging and 4K video visual resolution. Its stabilization qualities are also better than the Hero6. The TimeWarp function is a lot of fun and with app interfacing it can initiate live streaming. It has a removable battery.
Released in 2018, the GoPro Fusion is basically an evolutionary leap in the modern action camera technology market that GoPro initiated with the release of the GoPro Hero in 2004. There are ultra-wide lenses on the front and back of the camera. With this double lens design, you can record incredible and sweeping 360 degree pans of your surroundings.
The GoPro 360 also has 360 degree sound capturing qualities and an overcapture editing mode. Overcapture mode is the process where you edit a video with 360 degrees for viewing on traditional video media. It has a removable battery
This is the predecessor to the Hero7 Black. The Hero6 Black has been effectively discontinued by GoPro. So, while you cannot buy at the GoPro website, you can buy models at various other e-commerce websites like Amazon, Walmart, and so on.
Since the Hero7 Black is the upgrade, you will have to sacrifice some functionalities, like processing speed or stabilization, but they are cheaper and functional. Unless the difference of hundred dollars or so doesn't matter to you, then you can just skip this model and get the Hero7 Black.
This is another discontinued GoPro action camera model. The Hero7 Black does everything the Hero5 Black can do, only better and with new functionalities. Unlike the Hero7 Black, the Hero5 Black doesn't have Timewarp video function, Superphoto editing, portrait orientation, and is capable of cutting 15-second, 30-second, and short clips for easier sharing on social media.
The Hero7 Black has a feature called HyperSmooth, which is another name for vastly improved electronic recording stabilization, which was a major flaw in the Hero5 Black. If you can live without some of these improved functionalities, and improved electronic stabilization while recording, then the Hero5 Black is fine.
The Session line of GoPro action cameras, which were miniature, cube and rectangular-shaped cameras that were easy to mount and user-friendly, have also been discontinued. They were the smallest and most compact versions of the GoPro manufactured by the company. The Session line of GoPro had two surface interfacing and far fewer functionalities relative to other models.
Unlike other GoPro action camera models, you must connect a laptop, tablet, or smart device to view what you are shooting. Additionally, you can't frame your shots with a viewing screen on the camera like other GoPro models.
Its accompanying app is very responsive to remote interfacing control. However, aggressive winds and other loud, ambient noises can drown out sounds you want captured on the two built-in microphones. The Hero5 Session does have voice control and electronic stabilization functions. It's cheap, small, and very easy to mount on something. If you agree with those qualities, then this is a great action camera to own.
This is a fine action camera with great screen resolution and frames per second variation options. It has a built-in touchscreen which makes reviewing footage easy. Though not marketed as such, it basically shoots like an upgraded version of the Hero3+ Black.
However, the Silver model of GoPro require the purchase of external housings to be truly waterproof. The battery life may not be adequate for some people relative to other GoPro models.
This is another simplified version of the GoPro action camera line. It has simplified interfacing, is user-friendly, and is affordable. It doesn't have 4K resolution, the slow-motion function is barely usable, and it has limited modes.
It does have good electronic stabilization and comes with its own editing software called Quik. The Hero7 White has touchscreen and touch-zoom functions as well. It's basically a budget version of the existing Hero7 Black.
The Hero7 Silver is the current upgrade of the discontinued Hero4 Silver. So, yes, you might be better off buying the current upgrade. If you want to save hundred dollars, the Hero4 Silver is a great budget version of the Hero7 Silver with fewer functionalities. The battery life of this GoPro is too limited for some.
Sometimes, the pixilation can be problematic. The Hero4 Silver cannot handle bright, direct sunlight, so that can be an issue. However, it has a very responsive touchscreen and WiFi capabilities. If you are on a budget, this is a great action camera for the price.
GoPro Hero 2018
This is the 2018 upgrade reissue of the first flagship 2004 GoPro action camera, Hero. This action camera is best for novices and those new to using action cameras and who don't want to worry about pixilation, frames per second, and other functionalities.
This is a no-frills action camera, a modern, digital upgrade of the original 35mm film Hero. It does not shoot with 4K resolution. It is amazingly waterproof to a depth of 131 feet. If you get a headache reading about various functionalities and just want to take amazing videos, this is the GoPro for you.
There is no need to worry about FOMO Syndrome when it comes to GoPro actions cameras. GoPro action cameras are now so culturally ubiquitous that you would have to go out of your way to miss out on the experience. It is better to be prepared to chronicle an event in your life with a GoPro than trying to use your smart device.
There are models of GoPros suited for the novice videographer and up to recording experts, from the affordable to the pricey. Remember: the question isn't, "What can a GoPro do?" but more, "What do you want the GoPro to do?"
Featured photo via Pixabay