GoPro HERO5 Black vs HERO4 Silver

If you’re trying to decide whether to upgrade to the HERO5 Black, or have found a good deal on the HERO4 Silver, here’s how they compare.

GoPro HERO5 Black vs HERO4 Silver
GoPro HERO5 Black vs HERO4 Silver
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If you already have a GoPro HERO4 Silver and are trying to decide whether the new HERO5 Black is worth an upgrade, or if you’re just trying to choose between the two cameras, here’s how they compare.

Overall, the HERO5 takes the best features of the HERO4 Black and Silver and combines them in a single camera while adding some interesting new features like voice control, video stabilization, a RAW photo format, GPS tagging, and direct uploading to the new GoPro Plus cloud service. There are also a lot of smaller tweaks, additions, and improvements that will appeal to certain users.

GoPro Hero4 Black
  • Professional 4k30, 2.7k60 and 1080P120 video, 720P240 video for super slow motion playback and 12MP...
  • Built in wi fi and bluetooth support the GoPro app, smart remote and more
GoPro HD Hero4 Silver Action Camcorder with Dual Battery Charger and 16GB...
  • Supports 2.7K30, 1080p, 1440p, Video Capture 12MP Photos at 30 fps
  • Ultra Wide Angle Glass Lens + SuperView Camera Housing Waterproof to 131'

There’s a lot of overlap in features and modes between the HERO4 Silver and HERO4 Black, so there’s quite a lot of overlap between this comparison and my separate comparison of the HERO5 Black vs HERO4 Black. But the HERO4 Silver also has some of its own distinctive features, so here’s a direct comparison.

Touch Display

A built-in touch display was one of the things that distinguished the HERO4 Silver from the HERO4 Black. The new model also includes a built-in touchscreen display, and it’s a much better one–it’s brighter, has more contrast, is sharper, and has better touch sensitivity.

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It provides the features you’d expect: a live view of what the lens sees to help with composing the shot, a screen to play back recorded video and photos, and a way to interact with the camera’s settings.

GoPro HERO5 Black vs HERO4 Silver

In practice, the new touchscreen is easier to use because it’s less likely to have the extra layer of a separate housing’s backdoor.

Housing: HERO5 Black vs HERO4 Silver

One of the headline features of the new models is that GoPro has mostly eliminated the need for the standard housing, the clear case that many of the previous GoPros have had to provide waterproofing and general protection from the elements.

The built-in casing on the new models is waterproof down to 33 feet and protects against dust and sand. That means that for many uses, you no longer have to worry about using a separate housing.

It translates as one less thing to be hassling with while you’re trying to shoot, and the overall package of the HERO5 Black comes in smaller than the combination of a HERO4 Silver in a Standard Housing.

Even though the new model is waterproof without a housing, it’s not a direct replacement in some situations. The old Standard Housing was rated down to 131 feet (40m), which is plenty deep enough to cover most recreational Scuba diving (with an optional extra diving housing if you planned to go deeper). The new cameras are rated down to 33 feet (10m) without a separate housing. So if you’re looking to take the camera deeper, you’ll be wanting to add a new and improved version of the dive housing that GoPro is now calling the Super Suit housing.

So the new model doesn’t come with a separate housing, as such. But by itself, it has no way to use the GoPro mounting system. So it comes with a Frame that doesn’t provide much in the way of extra protection, but it does add the mounting point on the bottom.

Video: HERO5 Black vs HERO4 Silver

GoPro doesn’t appear to have upgraded the sensor in the new models, so the video quality is fundamentally the same. I would have loved to have seen a better sensor, especially with better low-light capabilities, but we’ll have to wait until at least the HERO6 (or whatever it’s going to be called) for that.

First, here’s a side-by-side example:

[youtube=https://youtu.be/6wCg77yRKGU&w=678&rel=0]

But just because the sensor hasn’t been updated doesn’t mean that you can’t get better footage out of the HERO5 Black than a HERO4 Silver. There are other non-sensor improvements that can help give much smoother and better footage.

Tweaked Processing Algorithms. First, there have been some tweaks to the software processing algorithm in the camera. They seem to be quite subtle, but they are improvements. As you can see, there’s a slight hue shift in the blue sky at the start–it’s a good indicator that the onboard processing has been tweaked. But beyond that and a slightly contrastier look to the HERO5 Black’s footage, they’re essentially the same–the same detail (or lack of it) in shadows and highlight, the same auto exposure choices, and the same exposure transitions when moving through bright and dark conditions.

Video Stabilization. Second, is the addition of in-camera video stabilization. This is one of the headline features of both the HERO5 Black and the HERO5 Session. It’s designed to smooth out the jerkiness you can get with unstabilized footage.

I’ve found it to work pretty well in many cases and very well in others. So long as you’re realistic about it, of course. It’s a software solution that does in-camera something similar to the Stabilization feature in Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premier’s Warp Stabilizer. Which is to say that it’s not going to offer the kind of magically smooth glide a good-quality gyro gimbal can.

Even if the standalone Karma gimbal will undoubtedly offer much better performance, I’ve found that the built-in stabilization function can quite dramatically improve some footage and is a very useful addition.

Here’s one side-by-side example of unstabilized vs. stabilized footage from the HERO5 Black. The comparison footage is shot with a HERO4 Black, but it’s the same result as if it had been shot with a HERO4 Silver.

[youtube=https://youtu.be/4B-lODwfVDc&w=678&rel=0]

I have more examples of the stabilization function here, along with details on which video modes it is and isn’t available (i.e.,. not 4K or high-FPS modes).

Resolutions. Both have the same options for resolution, or video size, although not every resolution shares the same framerate options. Here’s an illustration of the video resolutions available:

gopro-hero5-black-video-resolutions

Fields of View. Where there are some differences is in the fields of view, or FOV, offered. The most significant difference is that the HERO5s offer a new Linear FOV that removes fisheye distortion in-camera. I have more on that here. (UPDATE: Linear FOV is now available on the HERO4 Black and HERO4 Silver after you update the firmware on those cameras to V.05.00.00.)

Protune. Both offer Protune options for video, and for the most part they’re identical. But the HERO5 adds two new Protune options relating to audio that can be very useful:

  • a raw audio track option that creates a higher-quality WAV file separate to but alongside the video file
  • an auto mode option that gives you the option of putting it in a mode that reduces the effects of wind noise

Here’s a detailed comparison:

Protune OptionHERO5 BlackHERO4 Silver
ColorGoPro Color
Flat
GoPro Color
Flat
White BalanceAuto
3000K
4000K
4800K
5500K
6000K
6500K
Native
Auto
3000K
4000K
4800K
5500K
6000K
6500K
Native
Manual ExposureAuto
1/60
1/120
1/240
1/480
Auto
1/60
1/120
1/240
ISO Limit6400
3200
1600
1200
800
400
6400
3200
1600
1200
800
400
SharpnessHigh
Medium
Low
High
Medium
Low
Exposure Compensation-2 to +2-2 to +2
Raw Audio TrackOff
Low
Mid
High
N/A

Bitrates. The HERO5 Black’s maximum bitrate is 60 Mbps, whereas the HERO4 Silver tops out at 45 Mbps. That has practical implications: all else being equal, a higher bitrate offers the potential of higher-quality video because it’s less compressed, and it also makes the choice of memory card more important because you need one that’s fast enough to keep up with the stream of data.

Video Format. Both shoot in NTSC or PAL formats.

File Format. Both produce H.264 MP4 videos.

Video Modes. Overall, the HERO5 Black has a much wider selection of video modes than the HERO4 Silver. Here’s a detailed comparison.

ResolutionFramerate (FPS)Field of View (FOV)DimensionsAspect RatioHERO5 BlackHERO4 Silver
4K30Wide3840x216016:9
25Wide3840x216016:9
24Wide3840x216016:9
SuperView3840x216016:9
15Wide3840x216016:9
12.5Wide3840x216016:9
2.7K60Wide2704x152016:9
Medium2704x152016:9
Linear2704x152016:9
50Wide2704x152016:9
Medium2704x152016:9
Linear2704x152016:9
48Wide2704x152016:9
Medium2704x152016:9
Linear2704x152016:9
30SuperView2704x152016:9
Wide2704x152016:9
Medium2704x152016:9
Linear2704x152016:9
25SuperView2704x152016:9
Wide2704x152016:9
Medium2704x152016:9
Linear2704x152016:9
24SuperView2704x152016:9
Wide2704x152016:9
Medium2704x152016:9
Linear2704x152016:9
2.7K 4:330Wide2704x20284:3
25Wide2704x20284:3
144080Wide1920x14404:3
60Wide1920x14404:3
50Wide1920x14404:3
48Wide1920x14404:3
30Wide1920x14404:3
25Wide1920x14404:3
24Wide1920x14404:3
1080120Wide1920x108016:9
Narrow1920x108016:9
90Wide1920x108016:9
80SuperView1920x108016:9
60SuperView1920x108016:9
Wide1920x108016:9
Medium1920x108016:9
Linear1920x108016:9
Narrow1920x108016:9
50SuperView1920x108016:9
Wide1920x108016:9
Medium1920x108016:9
Linear1920x108016:9
Narrow1920x108016:9
48SuperView1920x108016:9
Wide1920x108016:9
Medium1920x108016:9
Linear1920x108016:9
Narrow1920x108016:9
30SuperView1920x108016:9
Wide1920x108016:9
Medium1920x108016:9
Linear1920x108016:9
Narrow1920x108016:9
25SuperView1920x108016:9
Wide1920x108016:9
Medium1920x108016:9
Linear1920x108016:9
Narrow1920x108016:9
24SuperView1920x108016:9
Wide1920x108016:9
Medium1920x108016:9
Linear1920x108016:9
Narrow1920x108016:9
960120Wide1280x9604:3
100Wide1280x9604:3
60Wide1280x9604:3
50Wide1280x9604:3
30Wide1280x9604:3
25Wide1280x9604:3
720240Narrow*1280x72016:9
120SuperView1280x72016:9
Wide1280x72016:9
Medium1280x72016:9
Narrow1280x72016:9
100SuperView1280x72016:9
60SuperView1280x72016:9
Wide1280x72016:9
Medium1280x72016:9
Narrow1280x72016:9
50SuperView1280x72016:9
Wide1280x72016:9
Medium1280x72016:9
Narrow1280x72016:9
30SuperView1280x72016:9
Wide1280x72016:9
Medium1280x72016:9
Narrow1280x72016:9
25Wide1280x72016:9
Medium1280x72016:9
Narrow1280x72016:9
480240Wide848x48016:9

Note that some of the HERO4 Silver video modes include the new Linear FOV. to enable that feature, upgrade the camera’s firmware to the latest version (i.e.,. at least v.05.00).

Still Photos

The still photos you get out of each are going to be pretty similar. They both produce 12MP images that are 4000 pixels wide by 3000 pixels high. There are, however, some areas where the still photo features differ between the two cameras.

New Features. The HERO5 Black adds two new photo modes that previous models haven’t had

  • Wide Dynamic Range option for JPGs that brings out details in shadows and highlights, and the option to save images in a new GoPro
  • RAW image format (with a file extension of .gpr) that offers the potential of squeezing out better quality in post-processing. The HERO4 Silver doesn’t have those options–only standard JPG is available.

In-Camera Processing. The image fundamentals appear to be identical, although the in-camera processing engine has been tweaked a bit. A result of that is immediately visible in the improved white balance–the HERO4 models always tended towards being too cool (i.e.,. a blue tint).

Sharpness. When zoomed in at 100 percent, the photos out of the HERO5 Black appear ever-so-slightly sharper. There could a few things causing that, including an optically sharper lens or more aggressive sharpening algorithm in the in-camera processing software. But if there’s a difference at all, it’s hardly noticeable.

Lens. Both use a lens rated as a 3mm lens, equivalent to 15mm in the 35mm/full-frame format.

Resolution. Both cameras have a maximum image size of 12MP that comes out at 4000 x 3000 pixels. The HERO4 Silver also offers 7MP (3000 x 2250 px) and 5MP (2560 x 1920 px) modes, although shooting in those sizes is limited to the cropped medium field of view.

Here are several side-by-side examples:


GoPro HERO4 Silver

GoPro HERO5 Black


GoPro HERO4 Silver

GoPro HERO5 Black


GoPro HERO4 Silver

GoPro HERO5 Black


GoPro HERO4 Silver

GoPro HERO5 Black


GoPro HERO4 Silver

GoPro HERO5 Black

Timelapse

Both models offer two ways to create a timelapse.

Timelapse Photo. The first is the traditional method that involves shooting a sequence of still images, downloading those images from the memory card, and stitching them together on your computer using software. The available intervals are the same in both cameras: 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60 seconds.

Timelapse Video. You can also have the camera compile the video on the fly to create a finished mp4 timelapse video. This saves a lot of extra steps and time, although you end up with less flexibility. It offers the same intervals as the time-lapse photo method.

As for resolution, the HERO4 Silver can output 4K and 2.7K 4:3 resolution time-lapse videos. The new model does those and adds a new option: 1080p. The reason for adding the smaller size is that it’s easier to share it quickly without going through the extra step of downsizing it or dealing with the massive files from 2.7K or 4K video.

Night Lapse Photo. Both the old and new models have the Night Lapse Photo mode that provides extra interval and shutter speed options better suited to low-light shooting.

Audio

Both models can also take external microphones, although you’ll need the new USB-C mic adapter with the HERO5 Black.

The new model has several improvements in its audio handling on paper, but many users have found that the sound quality when using onboard microphones is a substantial step backwards. That’s presumably the result of the challenge of having the microphones integrated directly into the waterproof housing.

The HERO5 Black can record stereo audio directly. It can also general a separate audio WAV file alongside the video file. It’s a raw audio feature available under the video Protune options, and it’s a big improvement when the audio is an important part of what you’re capturing, and you’re planning post-processing in a video editing app. The new model also has a Protune option to reduce wind noise.

Controls and Interface

Both can be controlled with the three buttons on the body combined with the small LCD screen on the front, by using the large touchscreen on the back, or with the GoPro mobile app (now known as Capture).

The menu system has been improved with the new model. I find it a bit easier to navigate and more logically laid out. The back touchscreen is also much clearer, and the way you interact with it to change settings has been improved.

Ports and Connections

Both models have USB for power and data transfer, but they use different connectors. The HERO5 Black uses the new USB-C connector (and a cable is included with the camera) while the HERO4 Silver uses the much older mini-USB connector.

The new [USB-C port](GoPro has now released a new camera called the HERO, bringing the current lineup to five cameras and continuing a confusing naming system. Because this isn’t the first time there’s been a GoPro HERO. There was an earlier one released in 2014. And well before that, there was the HD HERO and another HERO that’s now usually referred to as the Standard Def. HERO. And let’s not forget the HERO+ and the HERO+ LCD. With all of those HEROs, you’ll often see the newest version called the HERO (2018) to make it clear which version is being referred to, and that’s the model I’m focusing on here.

The HERO (2018) is the latest addition to GoPro’s current lineup, which also includes the HERO Session, HERO5 Session, HERO6 Black, and Fusion. I’ve previously posted a detailed side-by-side comparison between the HERO (2018) and the HERO6 Black.

But there’s also another model that’s remarkably similar and some key respects. It’s the older HERO5 Black. The HERO5 Black has been superseded by the newer HERO6 Black, but since it’s readily available and you can find some good deals on it that brings it into the same ballpark as the HERO, I thought it might be useful to provide a detailed side-by-side comparison in case anyone is trying to choose between them.

The HERO and the HERO5 Black look identical on the outside. And they share quite a lot of similarities under the hood too. But there are also key differences. In broad strokes, the HERO5 Black can do everything the HERO can do, and quite a lot more besides.

The HERO (2018) is designed as the simplified, entry-level camera. The HERO5 Black was, before the HERO6 Black came along, GoPro’s flagship camera, and it’s packed with the kinds of bells and whistles that comes with that territory. But there’s quite a lot about the HERO to suggest that it’s fundamentally a repurposed and rebadged HERO5 Black with a feature set that’s artificially limited by the firmware.

After I originally posted this, some users figured out ways to hack the firmware of their HERO (2018) camera to turn it into a fully functional HERO5 Black. Which confirms my original suspicion that the only difference is in the camera’s firmware, which on the HERO (2018) provides a more limited set of features. It’s something GoPro disapproves of, and it’s not something I’m going to explain how to do here, but you can find instructions elsewhere on the web.

Design and Build

They use the same case, so from the outside, they look identical. You have to look very closely to see the subtle model name printed on the side. They’re the same size and weight. They have the same buttons and screens and controls.

GoPro HERO vs HERO6 Black vs HERO5 Black
From left to right: GoPro HERO, HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black.
GoPro HERO vs HERO6 Black vs HERO5 Black
From left to right: GoPro HERO, HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black.

Waterproof. They’re both waterproof without the need for a separate housing, rated down to 33 feet (10 meters). If you need to go deeper than that, both are compatible with the same Super Suit dive housing.

Back Screen. They both have an LCD screen on the back that gives you touch control as well as being used for playback and live view.

HERO5 Black vs HERO (2018): Video

Shooting video is the area where there are the biggest differences between these models. The HERO5 Black has an extensive range of video resolutions and framerates available, all the way up to high-end video modes like 4K30 and 1080p120.

The HERO (2018)’s video options are much slimmer. You can shoot in either 1080p or 1440p up to a maximum of 60 fps. The HERO doesn’t shoot 4K or 2.7K video.

Here’s the full chart comparing the available video modes.

ResolutionFPSFOVDimensionsGoPro HERO5 BlackGoPro HERO (2018)
4K30Wide3840x2160
25Wide3840x2160
24Wide3840x2160
SuperView3840x2160
2.7K60Wide2704x1520
Medium2704x1520
Linear2704x1520
50Wide2704x1520
Medium2704x1520
Linear2704x1520
48Wide2704x1520
Medium2704x1520
Linear2704x1520
30SuperView2704x1520
Wide2704x1520
Medium2704x1520
Linear2704x1520
25SuperView2704x1520
Wide2704x1520
Medium2704x1520
Linear2704x1520
24Wide2704x1520
Medium2704x1520
Linear2704x1520
2.7K 4:330Wide2704x2028
25Wide2704x2028
1440p80Wide1920x1440
60Wide1920x1440
50Wide1920x1440
48Wide1920x1440
30Wide1920x1440
25Wide1920x1440
24Wide1920x1440
1080p120Wide1920x1080
Narrow1920x1080
90Wide1920x1080
80SuperView1920x1080
60SuperView1920x1080
Wide1920x1080
Medium1920x1080
Linear1920x1080
Narrow1920x1080
50SuperView1920x1080
Wide1920x1080
Medium1920x1080
Linear1920x1080
Narrow1920x1080
48SuperView1920x1080
Wide1920x1080
Medium1920x1080
Linear1920x1080
Narrow1920x1080
30SuperView1920x1080
Wide1920x1080
Medium1920x1080
Linear1920x1080
Narrow1920x1080
25SuperView1920x1080
Wide1920x1080
Medium1920x1080
Linear1920x1080
Narrow1920x1080
24SuperView1920x1080
Wide1920x1080
Medium1920x1080
Linear1920x1080
Narrow1920x1080
960p120Wide1280x960
60Wide1280x960
50Wide1280x960
720p240Narrow*1280x720
120SuperView1280x720
Wide1280x720
Medium1280x720
Narrow1280x720
100SuperView1280x720
60SuperView1280x720
Wide1280x720
Medium1280x720
Narrow1280x720
50SuperView1280x720
Wide1280x720
Medium1280x720
Narrow1280x720
30Wide1280x720
Medium1280x720
Narrow1280x720
25Wide1280x720
Medium1280x720
Narrow1280x720
480p240Wide848x480

Stabilization. Both cameras have the option to enable the built-in software stabilization to get smoother footage. Also known as EIS, you can see some practical examples of it in action here.

Stabilization isn’t available in all the video modes of the HERO5 Black. You can see which modes it’s available in here. On the HERO, the stabilization is available in all of its video modes.

When using the stabilization option, you do get a very slight cropping of the available view.

Fields of Vision / FOV. The HERO offers three fields of vision, or FOV, when shooting video, although they’re not all available in all shooting modes. The default is the distinctive Wide look with fisheye distortion that provides that immersive look we’re used to. When shooting in 1080p, you can also choose a Medium or Narrow FOV. Depending on how you look at it, these are crops of digital zooms (not optical zooms). You can see some examples here

The FOVs available on the HERO5 Black overlap, but there are also some extra options. It also has Wide, Medium, and Narrow FOVs, but there’s also a SuperView mode (even wider) and a Linear FOV, which mostly corrects for the fisheye distortion to convert it to a more natural perspective (particularly useful when filming from drones). The Linear FOV is different to the Medium and Narrow FOVs in that it’s a calculated correction applied by the camera’s software rather than a simple crop.

Bitrates. The maximum bitrate used (currently) on the HERO (2018) is 45 Mbps.1 The maximum bitrate on the HERO5 Black is 60 Mbps. Both are high enough to warrant some care in choosing an SD card that’s fast enough.

Video Formats. Both cameras produce MP4 video files encoded with the widely used H.264 codec.

Looping. The HERO5 Black has a looping feature that records for an interval and lets you select which section to keep. The HERO doesn’t have looping.

Video+Photo. The HERO5 Black has the ability to capture still images while simultaneously recording video. The HERO (2018) doesn’t.

HERO (2018) vs. HERO5 Black: Photos

The photo modes of the two models are quite similar. I have a more in-depth post on the photo modes on the GoPro HERO5 Black here.


GoPro HERO (2018)
GoPro HERO (2018).

GoPro HERO5 Black
GoPro HERO5 Black.

Resolution. At 10MP (megapixels), the photos taken with the HERO are a little smaller than the 12MP images from the HERO5 Black. In pixel dimensions, that comes to:

HERO (2018): 3648 x 2736 pixels
HERO5 Black: 4000 x 3000 pixels

Here’s a visual representation of how those resolutions compare. You can click on the image to see it full-size.

Image Formats. Both models capture images in the standard JPG format. The HERO5 Black also lets you capture still images in GoPro’s RAW format that have the file extension of .gpr. By making available much more of the information captured by the sensor, the RAW format allows for potentially higher image quality, but the files aren’t easily shareable directly and need to be processed through an image editing app first.

Fields of View. By default, the images are captured in that distinctive fisheye look. On both cameras, that’s known as the Wide FOV. You can also choose to mitigate that fisheye look with different FOVs that look less distorted. It’s important to note, though, that these corrections are applied in camera by software algorithms; they’re not applied optically through the lens.

The FOV options are a bit different on each camera. On the HERO, you can choose from Wide, Medium, and Narrow FOVs. Those are essentially crops rather than corrections. Or, put another way, the result is like a digital zoom (not an optical zoom).

On the HERO5 Black, you also have Wide, Medium, and Narrow FOVs, but there’s also an extra one: Linear. The Linear FOV uses software to correct the distortion that you can see when straight lines get that strong curve. You can see some practical examples here. This mode can be especially useful when using the camera mounted on a drone, but it’s also useful if you just don’t want that bulging fisheye look.

Night Photo. The HERO5 Black has a special photo mode that’s designed for low-light shooting such as at night. It leaves the shutter open longer to allow more light in. The HERO doesn’t have this night mode.

Wide Dynamic Range. Both models have a mode that is designed to bring out details in the highlights and shadows.

GoPro calls it WDR, for wide dynamic range. I’m a bit ambivalent on the results it gives, and it doesn’t work as well as the better HDR mode in the HERO6 models, but it does recover some detail in shadows and highlights. You can find some side-by-side comparisons here.

Protune. Protune is GoPro’s name for extra settings that amount to an expert mode that lets you override or fine-tune parameters for various settings.

The HERO doesn’t have any Protune options. You mostly have to stick to fully automatic mode.

The HERO5 Black has several Protune settings for still images. They include options for exerting some manual control over the shutter, exposure compensation, setting maximum and minimum ISO, and adjusting white balance, sharpness, and color mode.

Timelapse. Both cameras have time lapse modes, and on both, you can choose time lapse photo mode (which shoots a series of still images that you can compile into a video later using software) or time lapse video mode (where the compiling is done in the camera itself).

But the HERO’s time lapse options are much more limited. There’s no control over one of the crucial elements of a time lapse, the interval–it’s a standard 0.5-second interval. And in the time lapse video mode, you’re limited to 1080p output.

With the HERO5 Black, you have much more granular control over the time lapse settings. You can choose from 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60 second intervals. You can also specify the field of view, image format (in time lapse photo mode), and Protune options.

The HERO5 Black also has a special variation on the time lapse photo mode that’s known as night lapse mode. It leaves the shutter open longer to let more light in when shooting in low-light situations. The HERO doesn’t have night lapse mode.

Burst Mode. Burst mode is a special still images mode that captures a high-speed sequence of images. It can be especially useful for capturing fast action and gives you more chances to get the shot you want when the timing is critical.

Both cameras have burst mode, but the HERO’s options are limited to 10 photos in 1 second. With the HERO5 Black, you get more options, including, faster, slower, and longer sequences (30/1 (30 photos in 1 second), 30/2, 30/3, 30/6, 10/1, 10/2, 10/3, 5/1, and 3/1).

Continuous Photo. The HERO5 Black has a continuous photo mode; the HERO doesn’t. This is similar to burst mode in that it takes a quick series of shots, but it functions a little differently. In burst mode, you first switch to that shooting mode and then hit the shutter once. It will then shoot the full sequence that you’ve designated. Continuous photo mode works in the regular photo mode. You hold down the shutter, and it will keep shooting until you release the shutter. In continuous photo mode, the HERO5 Black takes four photos per second up to a maximum of 30 photos.

HERO (2018) vs. HERO5 Black: Other Key Features

Wireless. Both cameras have built-in wireless features, so you can control the camera remotely (with the smartphone app or a remote) as well as download photos and videos to use in Smartphone apps like GoPro’s Quik app. When set up with a GoPro Plus Subscription, both cameras can automatically upload to the cloud.

Voice Control. Both of these cameras offer voice control. When it’s enabled, you can speak some basic command to do things like start and stop recording or change the shooting mode.

Audio. Both cameras have three built-in microphones. You can also plug in an external microphone (or another audio accessory) into the HERO5 Black (using a mic adapter), but you can’t do that with the HERO.

The HERO5 Black can also record a higher quality WAV audio file separately from the video file. The HERO’s audio is standard compressed audio embedded in the video file.

GPS. The HERO5 Black has GPS and other metadata that can be used for telemetry. The HERO doesn’t.

HERO (2018) vs. HERO5 Black: Batteries & Battery Life

Both take the same batteries. It’s also the same type of battery used by the HERO6 Black.

When you’re using the same settings, the battery life is much the same between them, give or take. But the HERO doesn’t have the high-end video modes that drain the battery more quickly, so in day-to-day shooting, you’re more likely to get slightly better battery life out of the HERO simply because you’re limited to video modes that don’t use quite so much juice. But the battery life on both of them is likely to leave you underwhelmed, which is why I always make sure to have spare batteries on hand.

Both have a USB-C connection, so they’re compatible with the SuperCharger for fast charging.

Accessories

For the most part, they’re compatible with the same accessories. They use the same standard GoPro mounting system, are the same size and shape so can use the same housings and frames, and they have the same ports.

There are some important exceptions, however.

  • External mics.The HERO5 Black will take external microphones, while the HERO won’t.
  • Karma Drone and Karma Grip. The HERO is not compatible with the controls on the Karma drone or grip.
  • GoPro Remotes. The HERO is not compatible with any of GoPro’s remotes, including the REMO or the Smart Remote.

HERO (2018) vs HERO5 Black: Which Is Better?

The HERO5 Black is a better camera. It can do everything the HERO can do and quite a lot more. So if you can find a good deal on the HERO5 Black that brings it within striking distance price-wise of the HERO, it’s hard to think of a good reason not to go with that.

The HERO can’t do anything the HERO5 Black doesn’t also do, but it does have the virtue of simplicity. If you just want to keep things simple and don’t need 4K video or any of the other higher-end features of the Black range, then the HERO can be appealing.

Where to Find Them

I buy most of my gear at Amazon and B&H Photo.

GoPro HERO (2018): Amazon | B&H Photo

GoPro HERO5 Black: Amazon | B&H Photo

Since these are both now technically discontinued models, they’ll become harder to find new. But there’s a good chance of picking up used copies–I buy most of my used gear from KEH; you can check their current GoPro inventory here.


  1. GoPro’s own comparison chart says that the maximum bitrate on the HERO (2018) is 60 Mbps, but in my tests, I’ve not seen anything higher than 45 Mbps come out of it. It’s possible they might increase it later with a firmware update. 

) isn’t USB 3.0–it still uses the older and much slower USB 2.0 for data transfer.

Both have a micro HDMI (Type D) socket to connect to a TV or display device.

Voice Controls

Pushing the shutter button is easy enough much of the time, but there are times you might mount the camera in a place it’s simply not easy to reach. If you’re hurtling down a mountain on a snowboard with selfie-stick, have your camera mounted on the front of your surfboard, are driving, or any number of other situations where you’re using both hands or don’t otherwise have the camera in easy reach, you don’t want to be fiddling with buttons. So with the two HERO5 models, you can now control the camera with your voice. The commands are pretty simple–things like “GoPro start recording” or “GoPro take a photo”–but they cover the basics.

The feature works best if you’re close to the camera in a low-noise environment. And some users have found early iterations to be a bit buggy, but some of that might be able to be addressed with future firmware updates.

It’s a neat feature, but how useful to you it will be in practice very much depends on your preferences, where you’re shooting, and how inclined you are to talk out loud to your camera. There are certainly situations where it can be a very useful feature. And I can also imagine it being a target for mischief with people around you hijacking your camera by speaking their own commands (you can disable the feature).

GoPro is also releasing a new remote that lets you use voice controls from afar, the Remo. It’s not yet available but appears only to be compatible with HERO5 models.

GPS & Telemetry

The HERO5 models add GPS location tags to the EXIF metadata of still images and video. That automatic geolocation function will be very useful to anyone trying to place the images on a map or sort by location. When activated, the GPS function does detract slightly from battery life.

In a post-release update, GoPro also unveiled new capabilities that tap into the GPS data. With the Quik desktop app you can now add graphic overlays that display things like speed, elevation gain, g-force, direction, etc. Like this:

quikdesktop_telemetry_module

The HERO4 Silver doesn’t have GPS functionality.

GoPro Karma Drone Compatibility

Both will work with the new GoPro Karma Quadcopter drone, but make sure you get the correct harness for your camera.

GoPro PLUS

Plus is a new cloud-based subscription service that GoPro has launched designed to make storing and sharing your video and photos easier. It has been designed particularly with the HERO5 models in mind, and there are some features that are exclusive to those models such as automatically uploading from the camera to the cloud.

Size and Weight

Weight. With a battery and memory card installed, the HERO5 Black weighs 4.2 oz (118 grams). The HERO4 Silver without a housing weighs 2.9 oz (82 grams) and with the standard housing weighs about 5.1 oz (145 grams).

Dimensions. The HERO5 Black is a bit bigger than the HERO4 Silver naked. That’s largely due to the extra reinforcement of the waterproof housing now encasing the camera itself.

I measure the main body of the HERO5 Black as 2.4in (61.7mm) wide, 1.7in (44.4mm) tall, and 0.9in (24mm) deep. As you can see from the photos, the lens port protrudes a little from the body, and the depth of that portion is 1.3in (32.3mm).

GoPro HERO5 Black vs HERO4 Silver

Battery

Both cameras have removable batteries, so you can carry spares. But they’re different batteries, so you can’t use HERO4 Silver batteries in a HERO5 Black.

Accessories

Some accessories for the HERO4 will work on the new model, but many won’t. And there’s going to be a bit of a lag as third-party accessory makers get up to speed in releasing their HERO5-compatible models. I’ve put together a separate post on which HERO4 accessories will work with the HERO5 models.

Is it Worth Upgrading?

Overall, the HERO5 Black is a better camera than the HERO4 Silver. It essentially takes the best parts of the HERO4 Black and HERO4 Silver and combines them into a single camera and then adds some major new features. So the new model does everything the older model does, and quite a lot more.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s an easy decision on whether to upgrade—it’s not a slam dunk. The HERO4 Silver is a very good camera and capable of capturing fantastic footage. And not everything has been improved or updated. At the same framerates and resolutions, the video quality is fundamentally the same. And for basic JPGs, the picture quality is pretty much identical.

So it really comes down to whether you want the new features. And, to be clear, they can meaningfully help get better footage. Video stabilization can make a big difference in smoothing out jumpy footage. Voice commands can be handy to have in the right circumstances. And the new RAW photo file format and wide dynamic range photos can result in better photo quality. GPS functionality is a second-tier feature, but for some users it will have a lot of appeal, particularly when traveling.

The other big change—having the waterproof protection baked into the main body of the camera—is a bit more of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s one less moving part, and it results in an overall package that’s just that bit smaller and lighter. On the other hand, the new protection isn’t as waterproof as the Standard Housing and it removes a consumable layer of protection standing between bad things and the camera itself—it’s much cheaper to replace just a housing than to replace the whole camera.

Price and Availability

And, finally, there’s the issue of price. One of the most appealing aspects of the HERO5 Black is that GoPro has set the suggested retail price at the same price as the HERO4 Silver’s original price–that is, it’s $100 less than the HERO4 Black’s launch price.

With the new model out there are some good deals to be found on the HERO4 Silver, at least while stocks last. They’re also available at Amazon.

The HERO5 Black is available at Amazon and B&H Photo and has an MSRP of $399.

GoPro Hero5 Black — Waterproof Digital Action Camera for Travel with...
  • Stunning 4k video and 12MP photos in single, burst and time lapse modes charger not included
  • Durable by design, Hero5 black is waterproof to 33 feet (10 meter) without a housing
GoPro HD Hero4 Silver Action Camcorder with Dual Battery Charger and 16GB...
  • Supports 2.7K30, 1080p, 1440p, Video Capture 12MP Photos at 30 fps
  • Ultra Wide Angle Glass Lens + SuperView Camera Housing Waterproof to 131'

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2021-11-28 at 19:08. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.