GoPro Hero4 Session review

With more and more people filming their rides action cameras are becoming very popular. I tested the latest offering from one of the leading action camera brands: the GoPro Hero4 Session

Cycling Weekly Verdict

A high quality small, lightweight, robust, versatile action camera that is easy to use.

Reasons to buy
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    One button operation

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    Competitively priced

Reasons to avoid
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    App needed to adjust most settings

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    There are other action cameras with better video quality

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People filming their rides is becoming more and more popular. The Hero4 Session is the smallest and lightest GoPro yet. It measures 35mm x 35mm making it substantially smaller than other GoPro Hero4 cameras- in fact GoPro says it is 50 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter!

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One of the reasons it is a lot lighter is that it is water proof which means that GoPro could do away with the plastic housing of previous models. Another benefit of removing the plastic housing is that the two microphones are not covered which should improve audio quality.

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In addition to being protected from the elements the Hero4 Session also comes with a protective frame which is compatible with existing GoPro mounts.

Hero4 session side on

The camera fits into a small cage which is compatible with existing GoPro mounts (Photo: Madison)

Battery Life

The Hero4 Session has a built in battery which is claimed to provide up to two hours of recording when fully charged, but may be less depending on the settings chosen and the temperature. I used it in fairly warm weather and found that the battery lasted consistently over 90 minutes but relying on it to last for two hours might be a bit optimistic.  One criticism, although not really a problem for me, is that if the battery runs down you can't swap it out for an alternative half way through a ride.

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One button control

The camera is operated using one main button. You press it once to turn on the camera which starts the camera rolling for video or press and hold for time lapse shots. Pressing it again stops the camera and turns the power off.

At the outset I had a few teething problems. I would press the button intending to shoot a video but would accidentally take multiple photos. However, after some practice this was no longer a problem.

Hero4 Session rear

The Hero4 Session is straight forward to use, as shown by the simple video and photo steps shown on the rear of the unit (Photo: Madison)

Connect with your smartphone

To fully access all of the Hero4 Session's attributes you need to pair it with your smartphone. This can be done using the camera's in built Wi-Fi. You turn on the Wi-Fi using the small button at the back of the camera which activates a display showing settings and other display information. Initially I found turning on the Wi-Fi fiddly but once mastered it was easy to connect with my smartphone.

Further, once I had downloaded the free App it was straight forward to adjust the camera's settings, such as video resolution, frame rate and field of view.

For an editing novice I found it easy to cut the videos and then upload them to social media or download them straight to my smartphone.

Check out some riding footage shot with the Hero4 Session

The footage was easy to cut using the GoPro App. For example the above video was cut down from one minute to 15 seconds.

Video footage

There are several different quality settings, such as 1080p at 60 frames per second (fps), 720p at 100fps and 1440p at 30fps. Also, you can choose ultra wide and medium fields of view.

In addition to recording video footage it was easy to take photos, especially with the in built auto low light mode which changes the frame rate based on the light conditions.  This meant I didn't need to adjust the camera settings if moving from dark to light conditions.

As said above there are two in built mircophones, one on the front and one at the back. GoPro says that the camera selects the optimum microphone to reduce wind disturbance. I can confirm the sound quality in my videos with audio was pretty good even when it was windy.

Watch a second video shot with the GoPro Hero4 Session and then edited using the smartphone App


At £249.99 the Hero4 Session is unquestionably an expensive piece of kit. However, if you are looking for a high end action camera which is robust, light, and user friendly, it is competitively priced- for example Garmin's latest Virb XE has a RRP of £319.99.

The experience

As someone who is relatively new to using action cameras I was interested to see how intuitive setting up and using the GoPro Hero4 Session would be. In short, once familiar with the camera, it was really easy to use and I could be confident that a good quality video or photo would be shot.

The camera charged quickly and once I downloaded the GoPro App to my smartphone it was genuinely straight forward and didn't take long for me to get out on the road.

The various mount options mean that you can get numerous shots from different angles. Although, I preferred the standard bar mount for the majority of my rides.

Finally, I was impressed by the video quality and the ease with which I was able to cut the video and then share on social media or download to my smartphone.

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