Most of us have a camera nearby these days, and most of them are pretty decent. Our mobile phones do a reasonable job of capturing birthdays, weddings and summer-days at the beach. However, if you’re being a little more adventurous and taking to the water or climbing somewhere with an unforgettable view you could use a Point-Of-View camera. It was GoPro that ignited this type of photography a decade ago and the latest version of their Hero camera is the best-priced and smallest in their line-up.
Getting the GoPro Session up and running is reasonably straightforward. GoPro are generous with the hardware they give you and unpacking the box reveals the camera, a standard frame, a couple of adhesive mounts and a mounting buckle set-up. I charged the camera using the micro-USB slot and added a Micro SD card. The camera can accommodate a card up to 64GB so that’s plenty of video or photo storage for most users.
Once the camera was charged, I downloaded the GoPro app and took the opportunity to update the camera’s hardware which added some new functionality. The app provides this really useful facility and will probably add additional functionality in the future. The app connects to the camera wirelessly and lets you set the options for the operation of the camera, but you can also preview on your phone’s screen, the actual image that the camera will record. There is a small LCD screen on the back of the Session and you use that in conjunction with the On/Start button to cycle through some on-camera settings. Using the camera is intuitive, and from powering it up to capturing video takes only a few seconds.
The camera is compatible with the expansive range of mounts and grips available from GoPro and third-party manufacturers, so there’s plenty of ways to mount this camera. You can use an optional wrist or foot-strap attachment, or attach the camera to your kayaking helmet, wear it on your chest or just put it on a simple little mono-pod and hold it or place it on the ground as you play golf or beach volleyball.
This version of the GoPro is smaller that it’s more expensive siblings and it’s cube design makes it unobtrusive and easy to mount. It’s light at 2.6 ounces and and without a protective case, doesn’t appear as sturdy looking as the larger GoPros but it appears adequately robust for most activities. It’s also waterproof, down to 10 metres, which makes it ideal for summers at the beach even if you’re just swimming with it rather than white water rafting.
The camera has a good selection of video modes and will capture HD video at 60 frames-per-second which is ideal for action video. As well as video, it has an 8MP camera, and captures images on demand but also has a ‘burst mode’ which will shoot up to 10 photos in one second. One of the features I loved was the time-lapse which allows you to take a single photo every half-second, right up to 1 every minute. This makes for fascinating videos of say, tides changing or wonderful sunsets replayed at normal speed on your TV when you get back home.
The quality of the video the Session shoots is good, not outstanding, but good. Faces are well-defined and thanks to a mode called SuperView the camera’s wide angle lens captures more of you and your surroundings than would be possible using a mobile phone or simple camcorders. The camera has an advanced feature called Protune which give you more manual control over the settings, and while it’s really intended for more serious users, you can get interesting variations of colour and contrast from the videos you take. As well as great looking video the Session also has built in microphones which will record the sound from the location so you’ll have the sound of that crashing waterfall as well as glorious pictures.
The GoPro Session stacks up well against competitors but there are a few things to consider. It’s low-light performance, while acceptable is not as good as some Point-Of-View cameras and I didn’t like the fact that the battery is fixed in the device, meaning you can’t pop it out and replace it during a days filming, instead you have to plug it in to a power source to charge it up.
Overall though, the GoPro Session is brilliantly functional. It’s size and waterproofing make it ideal for everything from diving in to rock-pools to analysing a golf-swing. It may not be the main camera you use on a day out, but it may be the one that gives you the most fun.
More info: gopro.com