GoPro Hero5 Session Review: Compact camera, action!
- Stunning 4K video and 10MP photos in Single, Burst and Time Lapse modes.
- Durable by design, HERO5 Session is waterproof to 33ft (10m) without a housing.
GoPro is the big name in action cameras, and if you fancy attaching a little digital camcorder to yourself or an activity accessory of your choice, the Hero5 Session is an obvious option. The previous version of this camera was a smaller, lighter option, which ditched the screen on GoPro’s full-sized Hero models, along with the need for a separate plastic case by making it waterproof. Then it went one better by being substantially cheaper too.
This tiny, wearable camera captures great footage on the move
This 38mm (1.5in) cube is still very dinky, but not quite so cheap, although it’s £100 less than the current Hero5. What you gain is 4K recording, which gives you ultra-sharp video at a regular 30 frames per second (fps). Drop down to Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) and you get up to 90fps (or 3x slow motion); or to 720p HD, 120fps. Makers of consumer video gear often gloss over the bit rate (how much data is stored per second), but this has been increased from 25Mbit/s to 60, which means less compression and cleaner footage.
Noise (the digital equivalent of grainy film) still shows up in low light, and colours look somewhat flat and underexposed, but generally we found our videos pretty impressive, with smooth results from the built-in stabilisation. You can also take still pictures, but they’re not as good as a decent phone camera, and with no screen built in you have to frame your shots by connecting the GoPro capture app on your phone or tablet. For action-video purposes you won’t really miss the screen.
The app is very good, with a new voice-control feature for hands-free operation, and there’s also a tiny LCD status screen on top of the Session so you can check what it’s doing. The rechargeable batten, will only last you a couple of hours at the most, and can’t be exchanged, although you could take a battery pack and the supplied USB Type-C cable out with you. You’ll need a microSD card to record to (from around £10 for 32GB).
Up to 4K video • 10-megapixel photos • Mono audio • MicroSD card slot • USB Type-C port • 38x38x36mm (HxWxD) plus mount • 73g • iOS and Android apps available
If you don’t feel the need for 4K and slow motion, buy the old one, but this is reasonable value for a decent and versatile action camera
GoPro Hero Session
This earlier model (originally the Hero4 Session) is still a great buy, shooting Full HD at up to 60fps
If you don't feel the need for 4K and slow motion, buy the old one, but this is reasonable value for a decent and versatile action camera