4K video enters the world of action cams with the new GoPro Hero4 Black Edition

by Felix Esser

posted Monday, September 29, 2014 at 1:19 PM EDT

GoPro had already built a 4K video mode into its Hero3+ Black Edition, but at only 15 frames per seconds users were understandably asking for 'proper' 4K to find its way into the tiny action cams sooner rather than later. And now, a year after the introduction of the Hero3+, GoPro finally announces its first fully 4K-capable action cam, the Hero4 Black Edition.

As its name suggests, the Hero4 will also come with a Silver Edition counterpart that offers different functionality than its more expensive cousin. While the Hero4 Black Edition supports 4K video at framerates of up to 30 fps, the Hero4 Silver Edition is the first GoPro action cam to sport a rear touchscreen display that not only lets you preview and review your photos and videos, but also adjust the camera's settings. But don't worry, GoPro promises that changing settings on the Hero4 Black Edition is easier than ever before.

The GoPro Hero4 Silver Edition with touchscreen display

The downside to the Hero4 Silver Edition is that you're limited to a maximum 2.7K video resolution -- and there are more differences between the two versions of the GoPro Hero4. The Black Edition comes with a much more powerful processor (which is needed for chewing through all that 4K data) and also supports twice the framerates for Full HD video as the Silver Edition, meaning 120 fps recording for ultra-smooth slow motion footage.

What the two cameras have in common though, besides their obvious similarities in name and design, are two new night time modes that offer both improved still photography and time lapse recording in low light conditions such as night skies. In addition to that, the Auto Low Light mode will automatically adapt the camera's settings when light gets sparse, so you can easily switch between brighter and darker environments without having to fiddle with settings.

Another new function in the GoPro Hero4 series is HiLight Tag, which lets you mark key moments in a video while recording, and easily find the corresponding clips later in the GoPro app or in GoPro Studio. And if you want the best possible quality in your photos and video clips, Protune lets you shoot with minimal compression and unlocks advanced manual controls for both photo and video.

The new entry-level GoPro Hero

In addition to the Hero4, GoPro has also announced a new entry-level action cam model, simply named Hero. It is positioned below the Hero3 White Edition, which alongside the Hero3+ Silver Edition will continue to be available. The new GoPro Hero offers just the basic functionality that you need for Full HD action video recording, and comes at a reduced price of just $129.99.

The GoPro Hero4 Silver Edition will retail for US$399.99 once it becomes available, and the 4K-capable Hero4 Black Edition asks a premium price of US$499.99. The exact availability dates of the new GoPro Hero, Hero4 Silver Edition and Hero4 Black Edition action cams have not been announced yet.