To GoPro or just go ProAm?

Hey guys, I am looking into some future investments: I want to start producing more content that is engaging and fun. Pictures and stories are great but what really captivates the mind is video!

It’s the feeling of being there, being a part of the action and being engaged. I for one, spend a ridiculous amount of time on YouTube watching others show off their getaways, hikes, tutorials, and just plain silliness. I love seeing people in their natural element and showing us the full interaction instead of just a split second in time. The cliché goes “a picture is worth a thousand words” so what does that mean if the picture is passing at 30 frames per second?

I have been interested in a GoPro camera since my daughter was born, nearly 5 years ago but never really had a solid use case for it other than the occasional moment I wanted to capture with her but I assumed that I would be more likely to just have my phone nearby. To be honest, action sports and outdoor activities weren’t really in my vocabulary at that time either so buying a camera designed for these purposes wasn’t a very likely scenario. Things have obviously changed since then, I make it a priority now to be outside and go on a good walk, hike or road trip by-weekly at minimum so I will be out there and capturing more moments than ever before.

I am on a limited budget for something like this with my trip coming up in September, so I am looking into 3 options that I think fit the bill.

The GoPro Session (also known as the HERO4 Session)

The GoPro HERO5 Session

The Polaroid Cube+

All seem to have their advantages and disadvantages. Below are some detailed specs.

HERO_Session.png

The GoPro Session (aka HERO4 Session) – $249 CAD on Amazon.ca

8MP Sensor
1440p/30fps
1080p/60fps
720p/100fps
10fps Burst
Time Lapse Photos
Waterproof to 10m
One Touch Operation
Wifi + Bluetooth
Wind Noise Reduction
170deg FOV
No Stabilization
No Voice Control
No Mic Port
1000mah Battery

hero5_session

The GoPro HERO5 Session – $399 CAD on Amazon.ca

10MP Sensor
4k/30fps
1440p/60fps
1080p/90fps
720p/120fps
30fps Burst
Time Lapse Photos
Waterproof to 10m
One Touch Operation
Wifi + Bluetooth
Wind Noise Reduction
170deg FOV
Stabilization
Voice Control
Mic Port (Via Adapter)
1000mah Battery
Cube-Images-RESIZED-12.png

The Polaroid Cube+ – $199 CAD on Amazon.ca

8MP Sensor
1440p/30fps
1080p/60fps
720p/120fps
30fps Burst
Time Lapse Photos
Not Waterproof
One Touch Operation
Wifi + Bluetooth
No Wind Noise Reduction
124deg FOV
Stabilization
No Voice Control
No Mic Port
600mah Battery


First I want to go over what is similar between all 3.

They are all super small action cameras that average about 1.25 inches in all dimensions with the Cube+ being just a bit smaller than the GoPros and all weigh under 100 grams. They all record 1440p, 1080p, 720p. They all do time lapse imaging. They all use micro SD cards for recording, have a wide field of view and use bluetooth and wifi for apps that can control settings and act as a viewfinder.

These base features are pretty much all I need to get going and any of these specs would fit within most peoples’ requirements for a small, travel-ready action cam. However, each of these cameras has some differences that could make it great, or horrible in different ways.

The GoPro Session (HERO4 Session) is up first:

This was my first choice for a decently priced, yet decently spec’d action camera. I don’t plan on doing much 4k video just because most TVs and monitors are still maxed at 1080p and I don’t really have a computer that would be good at crunching the video from a 4k feed at a decent speed. Maxing at 1440p is plenty for the content I plan on creating but it still has some great features that I am very interested in having. This cam retails on Amazon.ca for $250-$280CAD depending on options and add-ons which is the mid range for this grouping. For that price, you get dual mic with wind and noise reduction, 10 frame per second burst camera shooting, and even has some high speed shooting at 1080p and 720p that allow for some slow-mo shots. It uses a standard micro-USB port for charging and has a good size 1000mah battery giving it about a 2 hour battery life according to reviews. Best of all, it’s waterproof up to 10m (33 feet) right out of the box with no special case or packaging!

The GoPro HERO5 Session:

This is my “best” out of the good, better, best rating on this list. Not only does it sport all of the features mentioned about the HERO Session above but it adds a few more to make it a great package for $399 CAD on Amazon.ca. Beyond the specs of the HERO Session, it adds 4k video, voice controlled recording and photos for remote control and hands free operation as well as image stabilization. It allows you to record 1080p at up to 90fps and 720p at 120fps meaning you can get great slow motion shots from a tiny package. Giving you the options for Wide, Medium and Narrow viewing angles means you can get a more traditional video scale when shooting traditional dialog or long range shots. It also allows you to shoot photos at a full 30fps meaning you can take photos at video speed but with still-image quality. You get the ability to use an external mic via a usb adapter that plugs into the charge port (making it open to water and the elements sadly) The HERO5 uses the same battery as the HERO Session giving a similar 2 hour life but uses USB-C to charge meaning you can get a charger that supports up to 3A output making for fast recharging and top ups using a charger or USB-C battery pack like the Anker PowerCore+ series batteries.

The Polaroid Cube+:

This is what I would brand as my budget option. For only $199 on Amazon.ca, the Cube+ is a super small and super cheap option but for that penny pinching, some features had to be trimmed as well. It matches the 1440p of the HERO Session but limits the viewing angle to 124 degrees meaning it loses about 30% of the action. According to reviews it does make for some vibrant and bright colors but sometimes making them feel blown out and oversaturated. The single mic means the audio is not great and only comes in from the front. It is not waterproof without an extra case (sold separately) and the 600Mah battery means it lasts a little over an hour and a half. It does however include image stabilisation, is smaller and more portable, has a magnetic base so no mounting hardware is needed in some situations and for the price, if it got damaged or stolen while on a trip, I wouldn’t be devastated.

So here is my conundrum: Do I spent the big money and get the top end on my list and have something good with future proof tech built in? Do I spend mid range and get most of the features I want but lose out on some of the nice-to-haves? Or do I Go with the budget and save some cash that could be put away for my trip but lose on many features?

I’m usually the meet-in-the-middle kind of guy and often in the past I would look at the top end for a while, but end up getting the midrange to say that I was being more sensible. Now it seems more like an investment in my media and in recording and documenting my trip and any future trips I may take instead of just a random splurge so I’m leaning more and more toward the GoPro HERO5 Session.

I would love to hear your opinions and recommendations! Feel free to join me on my social media pages and comment or leave a comment here and let me know what you think! Remember to get out there just for the trek of it!

Featured image “Action camera” by mikicon from the Noun Project and modified by JustForTheTrekOfIt

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