The GoPro HERO 4 Black packs some impressive video capabilities into a small go-anywhere camera. It can create ultra-high quality video, with video options going all the way to 4K at 30 fps or 1080p at 120 fps and now 720p at 240 fps.
And while GoPro has traditionally put the emphasis on video over stills, they’ve nevertheless given the stills side of things some love with the latest update. Exposure is still entirely automated, but the addition of the new night mode opens up a host of new possibilities for using a GoPro when lighting is less than ideal.
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Below are all the video and photo modes available on the GoPro HERO 4 Black. A firmware update in February 2015 added two new high-end video modes to the Black, so if you’re not seeing those available on your camera, make sure to check that you’re using updated firmware.
One thing to note, is that if you want to use the high-end video modes you can’t just use any old Class 10 memory card. The HERO 4 Black really needs a card that’s fast enough to cope with the stream of data that’s being thrown at it when using the high bitrate recording modes. I’ve put together a list of recommended memory cards for the GoPro HERO4 Black & Silver editions separately.
Video Specs: Sizes and Resolutions Available on the GoPro HERO 4 Black
Here’s a visualization of the video resolutions that the GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver produce. Click on the graphic to open a full-size version.
Video Modes of the HERO 4 Black
The HERO 4 Black did not originally have the Linear FOV mode. It helps correct for the fisheye distortion of the GoPro lens. It was added with firmware v.05.00.00. So if you don’t see that option on your camera, check that your firmware is up to date.
|Resolution||Framerate (fps)||Field of View (FOV)||Dimensions||Aspect Ratio|
|30||Wide, Medium, Linear||2704x1520||16:9|
|25||Wide, Medium, Linear||2704x1520||16:9|
|24||Wide, Medium, Linear||2704x1520||16:9|
|60||Wide, Medium, Narrow, Linear||1920x1080||16:9|
|50||Wide, Medium, Narrow, Linear||1920x1080||16:9|
|48||Wide, Medium, Narrow, Linear||1920x1080||16:9|
|30||Wide, Medium, Narrow, Linear||1920x1080||16:9|
|25||Wide, Medium, Narrow, Linear||1920x1080||16:9|
|24||Wide, Medium, Narrow, Linear||1920x1080||16:9|
|120||Wide, Medium, Narrow||1280x720||16:9|
|60||Wide, Medium, Narrow||1280x720||16:9|
|50||Wide, Medium, Narrow||1280x720||16:9|
|30||Wide, Medium, Narrow||1280x720||16:9|
|25||Wide, Medium, Narrow||1280x720||16:9|
Fields of View (FOV)
There are five fields of view available on the HERO 4 Black, but not all of them are available in all combinations of resolution and framerate. You can see which FOVs are available in which modes in the table above.
Wide / UltraWide. This is the default wide-angle view that we’re used to with GoPros. It packs a lot of information into the frame and its very wide perspective adds quite a lot of fisheye distortion. You notice that especially with straight lines turning into curves, but it also emphasizes subjects close to the camera (making it not very good for people shots, for instance). The labels Wide and UltraWide are used interchangeably in various HERO4 Black manuals, menus, and controllers.
Medium. This is like it’s zoomed in a bit. It’s basically a digital crop–it’s not an optical zoom.
Narrow. The Narrow FOV is cropped in even tighter. Again, it’s a digital crop and not an optical zoom.
SuperView. The SuperView is similar to the Wide/UltraWide view but is even more exaggerated. It takes the view from the 4:3 aspect ratio sensor and then squashes that into 16:9 output. So you get an extremely wide perspective but also quite a distorted one. On the HERO 4 Black, the SuperView modes are their own separate shooting modes and aren’t selected through the FOV settings.
Linear. When the HERO 4 Black was released, it didn’t include the Linear FOV. It was something added later, with firmware v.05.00.00. So if you don’t see the option available on your camera, make sure your firmware is updated (here’s how).
That firmware update was released at the time the Karma drone was released. The timing wasn’t accidental–Linear FOV is especially useful for aerial drone footage to try to overcome the problem of exaggerated horizon curves.
Linear FOV is again applied digitally, not optically. It’s designed to correct the fisheye distortion of the lens. In practice, you lose from either side of the frame, but you’ll end up with much straighter lines. You can see some examples here.
Video Protune Options on the HERO 4 Black
Here are the Protune options that available when shooting video on the HERO 4 Black.
|Protune Option||HERO4 Black|
|Shutter / Manual Exposure||Auto|
|Exposure Compensation||-2 to +2|
The default metering mode uses the whole frame to calculate the automatic exposure. You can also switch to spot metering, which uses a small section in the middle of the frame. This lets you have some more control over the exposure, although it can give unwanted results if you leave it on for all shooting.
You can find more information on GoPros’ spot meter here.
Photo Specs: Modes of the GoPro HERO 4 Black
|Burst Mode||12MP @ 30 fps|
|Time-Lapse Intervals||0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60 seconds|
|Night Photo Exposure Times||10, 15, 20, 30 seconds|
|Night Lapse||10, 15, 20, 30 second exposure times / Up to 60 minute intervals|
Does the HERO4 Black have stabilization?
No, it doesn’t. Newer models such as the HERO5, HERO6, and HERO (2018) have built-in digital stabilization, also known as EIS, or Electronic Image Stabilization. You can see some examples of it in action here. The HERO4 Black doesn’t have this feature.
Does the HERO 4 Black shoot RAW photos?
No. The HERO4 Black saves its still images as JPG files. It doesn’t have the option to save photos in GoPro’s RAW format (.gpr). That’s only available on some of the models from the HERO 5 on.
What is the maximum resolution of the HERO 4 Black’s photos?
The 12MP images from the HERO 4 Black measure 4000 by 3000 pixels in an aspect ratio of 4:3.
You can also choose to shoot smaller photos at 7MP or 5MP.
Can you adjust the exposure settings for photos on the HERO 4 Black?
As usual with GoPros, you can’t control everything about the exposure. You can’t, for instance, adjust the aperture. But if you turn Protune on you do have some control over the exposure.
- ISO. You can set the minimum ISO and the maximum ISO independently. The options for each are 100, 200, 400, or 800.
- White Balance. The options are Auto, 3000L, 4000K, 4800K, 5500K, 6000K, 6500K, and Native.
- Exposure Compensation. You can apply exposure compensation ranging from 2 stops under to 2 stops over, in half-stop increments.
- Sharpness. You can apply sharpening at High, Medium, or Low settings. (There’s no “off” option.)
- Color. You can choose the default GoPro Color, which is quite contrasty and vibrant, or the Flat setting.
In the regular photo mode you can’t adjust the shutter speed, but you do have some control over it in the Night Photo and Night Lapse modes. There you can choose from Auto (up to 2 seconds), 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 seconds.
What kind of metering does the HERO 4 Black have?
The HERO 4 Black has the option of using the default metering that uses the whole frame or a spot meter that focuses only on small area in the center of the frame.
What are the Burst Mode Speeds on the HERO 4 Black?
You can choose between:
- 3/1 (3 photos in 1 second)
- 30/1 (this is the default)
Where can I find the GoPro HERO 4 Black manual?
You can find it on GoPro’s website here.
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