On June 7, GoPro released a new addition to its lineup, the GoPro HERO+ LCD.
The HERO+ LCD slots in between the entry-level HERO and the more advanced HERO4 Silver and is a hybrid that takes some features from each. It retails for $299, compared to $399 for the Silver and $129 for the HERO.
If you’re trying to decide between them, here’s a breakdown of where they’re similar and different. There are a quite a lot of similarities, but there are also some important differences. The HERO and HERO+ LCD essentially build on the hardware of the HERO3 range, whereas the HERO4 range has some improvements to things like the lens and sensor.
But with the addition of the screen and wireless to what is, in most other ways, the entry-level HERO, I would expect the HERO+ LCD to be a very popular camera.
Look and Feel
From the front, the HERO+ LCD looks like the entry-level HERO. It’s the same dark gray and has the same round LED light next to the front button. It’s closer to the layout of the previous-model HERO3s. The Silver looks exactly like the Black. It has a larger lens and has the activity light alongside the small utility LCD screen.
When you turn them around, they look very similar in the back. Both have a large color screen. The HERO+ LCD also has its microSD slot and mini USB port facing the back (they’re on the side on the Silver), whereas the Silver has the socket for attaching BacPac accessories.
Until the Silver was released in late-2014, GoPros didn’t come with a screen built in. You could add screen to the back, but it added cost, size, and weight. The Silver was the first GoPro to come with a large color LCD screen built in.
With the launch of the HERO+ LCD, there are now two GoPros with built-in LCD screens. The screens are color and function as a touchscreen for navigating menus, etc.
The screen serves several useful functions. Firstly, it can be used as a live view to see what the lens sees. We take it for granted these days that most cameras come with a live view screen that lets us see what we’re taking a photo of. But until recently–and even still with the Black and HERO models–GoPros haven’t had that luxury. With the Black you can use connect by WiFi to the GoPro smartphone app and do it that way or you can buy a relatively expensive add-on that slots onto the back of the camera, but at its simplest, it’s a matter of pointing and hoping. Having the screen means you can be much more precise in your composition and framing, and it’s a simpler option than connecting wirelessly to the mobile app, and it’s cheaper, smaller, and lighter than adding a separate BacPac screen on the back.
The screen also serves as a playback screen so you can see the footage you’ve filmed or the photos you’ve taken. So you can see immediately whether you got the shot rather than hoping.
It also serves as a more intuitive way of operating the various menus on the GoPro. You can still use the buttons and the small and somewhat cryptic monochrome screen on the front of the camera, but using the much larger and clearer screen on the back is a lot easier.
There are downsides to using the LCD screen. It does add a little weight. But the biggest downside is that it eats into battery life. GoPros don’t have great battery life at the best of times, and if you want to milk as much life out of the battery as you can, you’ll want to keep your usage of the screen to a minimum or even turn it off completely.
I have all of the current and recent GoPro models, but I find that in day-to-day shooting I end up reaching most for the Silver because of the screen. I like the ability to see exactly what I’m shooting and to line up the shot how I want it. If I’m doing something more involved for a client or need the extra video modes of the Black, I’ll go with that. But for my own everyday shooting, I find the screen very useful.
Both cameras record videos with the H.264 codec and create .mp4 format files.
The Silver is a lot more capable and flexible with its video options. But although the HERO+ LCD only has a handful of video modes, they’re also ones that are most commonly used, especially for shooting footage to post on the web.
If you’re looking to create 4K, 2.7K, or slow motion footage, you’ll be wanting to look at the Silver or Black editions. But if you’re only planning on posting on the web to Youtube, Vimeo, etc–or to share amongst friends or family–then the 1080p and 720p modes of the HERO+ LCD should be more than enough.
The Silver and Black editions also offer Protune, which is a higher quality shooting mode that allows more flexibility and potentially better quality in post-production. The HERO and HERO+ LCD don’t offer Protune.
Both cameras have a Looping video mode.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of which camera can do what video modes. As you can see, the Silver offers much more flexibility.
|VIDEO MODE||HERO4 SILVER||HERO+ LCD|
|4K 15fps + Protune||✓|
|4K 12 fps + Protune||✓|
|2.7K 30fps + Protune||✓|
|2.7K 25fps + Protune||✓|
|2.7K 24fps + Protune||✓|
|2.7K 4:3 30fps||✓|
|2.7K 4:3 25fps||✓|
|1440p 48fps + Protune||✓|
|1440p 30fps + Protune||✓|
|1080p 60fps + Protune||✓|
|1080p 50fps + Protune||✓|
|1080p 48fps + Protune||✓|
|1080p 30fps + Protune||✓|
|1080p 25fps + Protune||✓|
|1080p 24fps + Protune||✓|
|1080p 60fps Superview||✓|
|1080p 60fps Superview + Protune||✓|
|1080p 50fps Superview||✓|
|1080p 50fps Superview + Protune||✓|
|1080p 48fps Superview||✓|
|1080p 48fps Superview + Protune||✓|
|1080p 30fps Superview||✓|
|1080p 30fps Superview + Protune||✓|
|1080p 25fps Superview||✓|
|1080p 25fps Superview + Protune||✓|
|1080p 24fps Superview||✓|
|1080p 24fps Superview + Protune||✓|
|960p 120fps + Protune||✓|
|960p 60fps + Protune||✓|
|960p 50fps + Protune||✓|
|720p 120fps + Protune||✓|
|720p 60fps + Protune||✓|
|720p 50fps + Protune||✓|
|720p 30fps + Protune||✓|
|720p 25fps + Protune||✓|
|720p 120fps Superview||✓|
|720p 120fps Superview + Protune||✓|
|720p 60fps Superview||✓||✓|
|720p 60fps Superview + Protune||✓|
|720p 50fps Superview||✓||✓|
|720p 50fps Superview + Protune||✓|
|WVGA 240fps + Protune||✓|
Here’s a visualization of the video resolutions that GoPro cameras produce. Click on the graphic to open a full-size version.
There are two types of TimeLapse modes on GoPro cameras. The traditional one is TimeLapse Photo, where it takes a series of photos that you can then download to your computer and use software to compile together into a video. It offers more flexibility and potentially better quality, but it also takes more work.
There’s also a newer addition. In February 2015, via a firmware update for the Silver and Black, GoPro added a TimeLapse Video mode. It compiles the timelapse video in the camera and puts it out as an mp4 video file. It’s a much more convenient–and much quicker way–to create a timelapse video that’s ready to share, but you’re more limited in your creative and quality options.
The Silver offers both TimeLapse Photo and TimeLapse Video modes in intervals of 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds.
The HERO+ LCD offers only TimeLapse Photo with intervals of 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds. It doesn’t have the TimeLapse Video mode.
Both offer an Auto Low Light feature that automatically optimizes the settings for shooting in low light situations.
The options for taking photos on the HERO+ LCD are pretty simple: it captures 8MP photos with a wide-angle view. The resulting images come out at 3264 pixels by 2448 pixels. There’s also a Burst Mode that lets you capture 10 photos spanning 2 seconds.
The Silver offers quite a bit more flexibility. You can shoot photos in 12MP (4000px x 3000px), 7MP (3000px x 2250px), or 5MP (2560px x 1920px). In the 7MP mode you have a choice of whether to use wide-angle or medium-angle field of view. It also has various multi-shot and burst modes that allow you, for example, to shoot 5 photos per second or up to 30 photos per second. The Silver also offers a Night Photo mode where the settings are optimized to create better quality for low light conditions.
Both cameras offer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connections. That means you can use the GoPro App to not only see what the camera sees but also to control the shooting remotely.
It also means that you can use the Smart Remote (sold separately) with both cameras to control them from up to 600 feet away (in ideal conditions).
Both cameras create audio at 48kHz using AAC compression. Both use automatic gain control; the Silver also uses a multi-band compressor to improve the sound.
Both cameras have an internal mono microphone.
You can also plug an external microphone into the Silver (using an adapter to go from mini USB to a 3.5mm plug (sold separately)), but you can’t do that with the HERO+ LCD.
Both cameras have a mini USB port that’s used for charging, connecting to a computer for file transfer or firmware updates, and playing back video or photos to a TV (using a separate cable).
The Silver also has a micro HDMI port, which allows you to play back directly on an HDTV using a separate cable (sold separately).
Size and Weight
HERO+ LCD: 4.5oz (127g) with the integrated housing
HERO4 Silver: 5.2oz (147g) with the standard housing, or 2.0oz (84g) without a housing
Both cameras come standard with a waterproof housing that’s rated for pressure equivalent to being 131′ (or 40m) underwater.
But there’s a key difference in the housings. With the HERO+ LCD, it’s an integrated part of the camera so that the front part of the case is part of the camera body itself. In that respect, it’s exactly like the HERO. What that means is that blackout housings or skeleton housings won’t work with the HERO+ LCD. You can, however, swap out the back door–you just can’t separate the camera from the front part of the housing.
With the Silver, the camera sits inside a housing and can be removed. That means you can switch out the housing–or use it “naked” without any housing.
In general, most of the accessories that work on a GoPro HERO4 Silver will work with a HERO+ LCD. Both use the standard GoPro mounting system and can connect to selfie sticks, head harnesses, suction caps, or the thousands of other GoPro mounting options.
But there are three key areas of difference when it comes to accessories for these models because of some fundamental design differences in how the housings and batteries are handled.
Housings. One big difference is with the housings. Because the housing is integrated into the camera itself with the HERO+ LCD, you can’t swap out the housings for something like a skeleton housing or a blackout housing (but you can swap out just the back door). It also means you can’t use any filter gels that go inside the housing between the camera lens and the housing’s lens portal. With the Silver, you can remove the camera from the housing and use it naked or with a different kind of housing.
Batteries. Both cameras use rechargeable batteries, but with the HERO+ LCD it’s inside the camera and can’t be removed. So you can’t buy spare batteries for this model (or the basic HERO). To recharge the battery, you have to insert the mini USB cable in the camera and then the connect it to a power source, whether that’s an AC adapter, a car charger, or an external battery. You can continue filming while the camera is connected.
With the Silver, the battery is removable, so you can swap it out for a spare charged battery. The batteries are the same ones used in the HERO4 Black but are different to the ones in previous GoPro models. Here’s more detailed information on extra batteries for the Silver and Black editions.
BacPac Battery. Since there’s a screen built-in, there’s no need to add an extra BacPac screen to either camera. But GoPro also makes a longer life BacPac battery that attaches to the back of the camera. It works with the Silver and Black, but you can’t use the BacPac battery with the HERO+ LCD–there’s nowhere for it to plug in.
Memory Cards. All of the current GoPros use microSD cards.
The HERO+ LCD, along with both the Silver and Black models, supports cards up to 64GB (microSDXC). In theory, that SDXC support also opens up cards larger, such as 128GB cards, but GoPro doesn’t currently recommend cards larger than 64GB for any of its cameras.
Because the HERO+ LCD lacks many of the high-end video modes, it’s not necessary to go for the bleeding edge top end speed cards. Most of the current generation of SDHC and microSDXC cards will work. If you want to use a fast card, you can, but you won’t get any benefit using it in the camera. You might get some benefit when download the footage or photos when you use the card with a card reader.
Because the Silver can handle some higher end video modes that need to write a lot of data very quickly to the card, slow cards can cause problems. Here’s much more detailed information on the memory card recommendations for the GoPro HERO4 Silver and Black editions.
The Silver has a number of other advanced shooting modes and features that aren’t available on the HERO+ LCD. They include:
- Video + Photo (captures timelapse photos simultaneously with recording video (intervals of 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds)
- White Balance options
- Color Profile options
- ISO Limit options
- Sharpness options
- Exposure Value Compensation (EV Comp) options
The Silver and Black also have a better quality lens, although that’s hard to quantify. If you’re shooting for clients or commercially, the Silver and Black offers more flexibility and better quality. But if you’re shooting for yourself, family, and friends, the HERO+ LCD still offers excellent quality.
|GoPro HERO4 Black||GoPro HERO4 Silver||GoPro HERO4 Session||GoPro HERO+ LCD||GoPro HERO+||GoPro HERO||GoPro HERO3+ Silver|
|Waterproof Housing||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (integrated)||Yes (integrated)||Yes (integrated)||Yes|
|Dimensions||41x59x30 mm||41x59x30 mm||41x59x30 mm|
|Weight|| 88g (3.1oz)|
152g (5.4oz) (with housing)
147g (5.2oz) (with housing)
|2.6oz (74g)||127g (4.5oz)||123g (4.3oz)||111g (3.9 oz)||74g (2.6oz) |
136g (4.8oz) (with housing)
|Video size / Max fps||4K / 30fps|
2.7K / 60fps
1440p / 80fps
1080p / 120fps
960p / 120fps
720p / 240fps
WVGA / 240fps
|4K / 15fps|
2.7K / 30fps
1440p / 30fps
1080p / 60fps
960p / 100fps
720p / 120fps
WVGA / 240fps
|1440p / 30fps|
1080p / 60fps
960p / 60fps
720p / 100fps
WVGA / 120fps
|1080p / 60fps|
720p / 60fps
720p SuperView / 60fps
|1080p / 60fps|
720p / 60fps
720p SuperView / 60fps
|1080p / 30fps|
720p / 60fps
|1080p / 60fps |
960p / 60fps
720p / 120fps
WVGA / 120fps
|Video File Format (Codec)||MP4 (H.264)||MP4 (H.264)||MP4 (H.264)||MP4 (H.264)||MP4 (H.264)||MP4 (H.264)||MP4 (H.264)|
|Max Photo Size||12 MP / 4000x3000px||12 MP / 4000x3000px||8 MP / 3264x2448px||8 MP / 3264x2448px||8 MP / 3264x2448px||5 MP / 2592x1944px||10 MP / 3680x2760px|
|High Bitrate||60 Mb/s (7.5 MB/s)||45 Mb/s (5.7 MB/s)||35 Mb/s (4.4 MB/s)|
|Protune||Video + Stills||Video + Stills||Video||No||No||No||No|
|Burst Mode||30 / 1s||30 / 1s||10 / 1s||10 / 2s||10 / 2s||10 / 2s||10|
|Timelapse Photo Mode||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Timelapse Video Mode||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|Night Photo Mode||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|Audio Format||48kHz AAC||48kHz AAC||32kHz AAC||48kHz AAC||48kHz AAC||48kHz AAC||48kHz AAC|
|External Mic Compatibility||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Battery Type||1160mAh||1160mAh||1030mAh (internal)||1160mAh (internal)||1160mAh (internal)||1180mAh (internal)||1180mAh|
How to Decide
Ultimately, both are very capable cameras that you can use to capture great footage or photos. There’s no question that the Silver is a better camera. It does everything the HERO+ LCD does and quite a lot more, and the quality of its video and photos is better. But it’s also $100 more expensive. If that’s not a big deciding factor for you, go with the Silver.
But if your budget is tight, the HERO+ LCD is still a very impressive camera. If you’re trying to decide whether it meets your needs, the first things to consider are whether it has the video modes you need and that you are comfortable with having an internal battery that can’t be replaced or swapped for a freshly charged one. Then consider things like how critical having the best possible video quality is to you, whether you plan to use the still photos function much, and whether you’d like to have extra features like TimeLapse Video and night photo modes. Beyond that you start getting into the nitty gritty of things exposure compensation, white balance controls, and external microphones. GoPro is betting–and probably quite rightly–that the HERO+ LCD is going to meet the needs of many users who don’t need a lot of those more advanced features.