Where once were many, now there are three: GoPro has taken a chisel to its ballooning range of rugged video shooters.
Gone are the days of deciphering the differences between Silver and Black, Session and Standard.
Now, a mere handful of hardcore cameras sit on GoPro’s shelf. Three, though, is still a crowd. And unless you’ve been especially good this year, Santa is unlikely to gift you action footage in triplicate.
Thankfully, we’ve sifted through the spec sheets to assess just which GoPro will suit your style of shooting – so you can get back to that base jumping trip.
BEST FOR…EVERYDAY STREET SHOOTERS (GoPro Hero Session, £180)
Haven’t got the readies for a pro-level shooter? Even in its smaller line-up, entry level doesn’t mean basic: GoPro’s Hero Session is a tough cube that's perfect for shooting videos destined for YouTube or smaller screens.
The only survivor from GoPro’s previous array of action cams, the Session is an ultra-portable shooter designed for quick-click recordings.
Ditching a screen in favour of a compact shell, the Hero Session has a straightforward one-button interface for touch-to-go action. More advanced operation requires a smartphone, connected via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, to frame, shoot and share.
It's not well-suited to longer shoots - the battery is good for just two hours - but for speedy, impromptu filming on a budget, it's tough to beat.
Though it lacks 4K, recording in 1440p at 30fps is plenty good enough for most budding YouTube sharers, whilst 8MP stills will fare well against most smartphones – especially when you’re 30ft below the waves.
BEST FOR…HELMET CAM FANS (GoPro Hero5 Session, £250)
Names, it seems, aren’t GoPro’s strong point: meet the Session. Well, the Hero5 Session. Like the original Session, only smaller, smarter and sharper.
Take everything that was great about the company’s first mini-cam, throw in higher resolution recordings, video stabilisation and voice control tech, and you’ve got a take-anywhere blockbuster of perfect proportions.
Equipped with 4K video capabilities, it’ll also snap 10MP shots with the push of a single button, before automatically uploading your latest action footage to the cloud through the Quik app – provided you’ve subscribed to GoPro Plus.
Like all GoPro models, the Hero5 Session can be attached to many an object, courtesy of a menagerie of available mounts. Given its dinky form factor and Siri-like handsfree smarts, this could be the one to opt for if you’re after a carefree helmet cam.
Pair its steady image abilities with new linear field of view tech – which corrects the fish-eye distortion familiar to many a GoPro user, albeit not at 4K – and you’ve got footage fit for a downhill champion.
BEST FOR…SERIOUS ACTION SNAPPERS (GoPro Hero5 Black, £350)
What’s better than a 4K-recording action camera? One that also shoots stills in 12MP RAW: GoPro’s top-end snapper is a touch-screen titan of image resolution.
What’s the benefit of RAW? For serious photo fans, it means enhanced editing flexibility without the need to make countless copies.
Bulkier than its brethren to make room for the extra tech, the Hero5 Black can also capture snaps in WDR mode. That’s 'wide dynamic range' – and it means your ski slope shots will have a brilliantly broad range of exposure.
Throw in stabilisation smarts and 120 frames-per-second shooting at 1080p (for silky smooth slow-mo) and you’ve got yourself a video powerhouse fit for any situation.
Waterproof to 33ft without a case, the spacious 2in screen will be a boon for underwater explorers, while one-touch and voice control capabilities ought to be a welcome addition for gloves-wearing mountain-goers.
It's also the only GoPro model GPS location-tagging, making it a good bet for documenting longer trips, while Wi-Fi and Bluetooth means you can pair it with your smartphone for editing duties.
BEST OF THE REST
It’s worth bearing in mind that the rest of the range isn’t dead – yet. While GoPro is no longer directly selling its older cameras, some shops will be. So, is it worth picking one up?
If you’re after a simplistic shooter that does the basics very well, the standard Hero is worth investigating. Sure, it lacks a screen, Wi-Fi and a removable battery, but it’ll happily record hours of HD footage at 30fps. Spot one in the sales for less than £100 and you’ve got yourself a steal.
Conversely, if you’re looking for high-end kit at a lower price tag, grab a Hero4 Silver (£260, Currys) or Black (£300, Currys). The former offers a tough-as-nails touch display, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and 4K at 15fps; the latter does the same, but with 4K at 30fps.
Either will suit serious snappers on a budget. Of course, opting for an older model might mean waiving your warranty - many stores sell GoPros with cover for two years, but only on the latest devices. And unlike the GoPro Hero5, both need to be kept inside their included waterproof cases to keep moisture at bay.