Point of view videos are everywhere. You can see them online, in commercials, reality shows and even documentaries – all shot with small lightweight mini cameras that produce incredible professional quality video, eye-popping slow motion capture and still images, all in a tiny package. As time has passed they have evolved and are now even better and within reach of almost anybody who wants to record his or her adventures, be it extreme watersports or a cruise through the islands.
Because of their enormous popularity, there are many companies jumping on the bandwagon and producing a plethora of action cameras, but the leading brand by sheer volume of sales and name recognition in this category is GoPro. Credited with producing and growing the now enormously popular category of cameras to what it is today, GoPro has a line of cameras that can fit anyone’s needs and budget with its recently released GoPro Hero 4 Session camera topping the list. This new camera is representative of where this category is heading.
The GoPro Session is the company’s smallest camera yet but is one of its most capable. With stunning specifications for a camera of its size (just one and a half inches cubed) it is 50% smaller than its predecessor and 40% lighter, making it almost unnoticeable when wearing or mounting it. Because of its small size, and newly designed low profile frame, it does not stick out as much as previous cameras and will automatically turn the frame if mounted upside down. The small black cube does not have a bulky housing like other models but is still waterproof to 33ft (10m). It does come with a small skeleton type frame, however, that locks on to its tiny body, which allows you to mount it to any of the wide array of available GoPro accessories. There are a couple of mounts in the box but other useful accessories are worth looking at for use around the boat. GoPro even offers specially designed mounts for your dog should you want Fido to film your next epic adventure.
Although small, this camera is in no way limited in capability. Able to shoot professional quality 1440p30 and high definition 1080p60 along with exceptional quality, sharp slow motion at 720p100 – that’s one hundred frames a second! Still images can be shot at 8 mega pixels, in time lapse modes and also in bursts of 10 frames a second. Other features include dual speakers that intelligently know when wind noise is occurring and will switch to the microphone on the opposite side of the wind to allow for clearer audio. It also has an ‘immersive’ wide angle SuperView mode that allows for great wide angle shots. The Session also has an auto low light sensor that readjusts frame rates to optimize the video quality. Remote control of the camera can be accomplished through Bluetooth or WiFi via smartphone app or through an optional remote. Along with the camera you have access to GoPro’s versatile and capable video editing software, GoPro Studio, which allows simple and effective production of quality videos of your action. This tiny camera has a built-in battery that will allow for a couple of hours of video recording but must be charged via a USB cable, so no switching of batteries is possible. Other cameras in GoPro’s line do allow spare batteries to be swapped out, so keep that in mind if long shooting sessions are required.
There are many options from GoPro and other companies with technology constantly improving their capabilities. Garmin, for example, is just releasing its new Virb X and Virb XE action cameras that have many of the capabilities of the GoPro Hero line but also add data onscreen, so the video capture can include data such as speed, G-forces, amount of air achieved and a variety of other data obtained from the internal GPS sensor and remote sensors. All this data can be selected, programmed and displayed on the video as it is recorded and played back.
Already impressive, it will be interesting to see what the future brings with these tiny cameras and what incredible videos can be created capturing our adventures.
Glenn Hayes is a freelance photographer and writer living in Florida. Specializing in marine and location photography, his work covers commercial, editorial and fine art work. www.HayesStudios.com