Great designFast, responsive appDigital image stabilization4K resolutionWaterproof to 33 feet without a case
Aggressive wind cancelling lowers audio quality4K difference not always noticeableNo removable battery

Way back in July 2015, GoPro unveiled the Hero4 Session, a miniaturized, pared down version of its kích hoạt camera khổng lồ complement the existing Hero4 Black and Silver models. It was smaller and cuter than the regular GoPro, but it completely missed the mark. Initially priced at $400 – neck và neck with the more capable Hero4 Silver – it didn’t vày well. Less than five months after the launch, GoPro cut the price in half.

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With the new Hero5 Session, sitting alongside the flagship Hero5 Black, GoPro seems intent on not repeating its previous mistakes. The first correction they’ve made is the price, which now sits at $300, $100 less than the Hero5 black (and the original Session).

GoPro seems intent on not repeating its previous mistakes with the new Hero5 Session.

The second improvement is to the camera itself. While the Hero4 Session felt heavily truncated compared lớn its peers, the Hero5 Session stacks up competitively against the Hero5 đen – or at least, it appears to.

There are still plenty of reasons lớn opt for the top-of-the-line model, but it helps that GoPro’s entire lineup feels more streamlined this time around. There are just two Hero5 cameras, while the Hero4 Session has been rebranded as just the nhân vật Session và remains on as a low-end offering, at $150. Each camera has a clear place in the sản phẩm line, và deciding between the three is no longer a hapless game of cross-checking specifications until your eyes bleed.

A familiar face

The Hero5 Session may be entirely new on the inside, but you wouldn’t know it just by looking. It could easily be mistaken for the entry-level hero Session, with the same cube-like shape. There’s a lens on the front, a large record button on top, and a smaller menu button on the back. On the left side you’ll find a MicroSD card slot and, new khổng lồ this generation, a USB-C port. It’s gray instead of black this time around, with the same stealthy matte coating as the Hero5 Black.





The small form size of the Session will certainly make it more appealing lớn certain use cases, particularly for those who want a very small clip camera without sacrificing specs. Beyond the reduced form size and weight, it also has the slight benefit of a centered lens, compared lớn the black which puts the lens a little khổng lồ the left. Yes, this is a minor difference, but it’s nice to lớn be able to lớn get a perfectly centered shot when you want it.

The one inevitable downside of the Session’s compact design is that there’s no room for an LCD monitor, which is probably the most noticeable specification difference between the Session & the Black. Fortunately, there is a small display for viewing camera settings, which is surprisingly easy to navigate, if limited in scope. Lớn get the most out of this camera, it’s more or less required lớn install the GoPro Capture app on your phone.

Hero, or sidekick?

With the Session, GoPro is very aware of one thing: convenience is king.

A cursory glance at the spec sheets of the Hero5 Black và Session is all it takes khổng lồ see that these two cameras are very similar. Both offer 4K đoạn clip at 30 frames per second (fps); voice control; digital image stabilization (in non-4K resolutions); & Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The Session can submerge down lớn 33 feet underwater without a case – equal again khổng lồ the Black.

One area where they clearly differ is in still photography, where the đen can shoot 12-megapixel stills compared khổng lồ the Session’s 10. This in itself may not be a huge difference, but the đen can also save high-quality RAW photos, while the Session is limited to lớn compressed JPEGs. Luckily for the Session, we’d hardly call the lack of RAW images a giảm giá khuyến mãi breaker, since we doubt most users care about having that feature in an action camera.

However, the Hero5 black still has its advantages. In a surprise update last year, GoPro unlocked that camera’s internal GPS lớn enable data logging for location, course position, altitude, speed, & g-force. This information can then be overlaid on the video to provide an entertaining new dimension to lớn your adventures. It’s a feature we really liked on Garmin’s Virb Ultra30, and definitely sets the Hero5 black apart from other GoPros.

Furthermore, while the Session is no slouch, it won’t quite match the image quality of the Black. The newer, higher-resolution sensor in the black can shoot 4K in the extra-wide SuperView mode, while the Session has to lớn drop down to lớn 2.7K or lower to lớn use SuperView. According to lớn GoPro, it also won’t hold up as well in darker environments, with “consumer grade” low-light capability compared to the Black’s “professional grade.” For average use, this probably won’t make much difference, but these are things to be aware of, & discerning users should opt for the black for the best image quality.

There Hero5 black can also shoot at higher framerates, up to 120 fps in Full HD 1080p. The Session maxes out at 80 fps in Full HD. This gives the black an edge for capturing fast-moving action, which will translate lớn better slow motion with greater detail.

Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

Additionally, the black features a removable battery, so if you run out of juice (as you’re likely to do) you can swap in a fresh one. The Session’s battery can’t be removed, so you have khổng lồ plug the camera in lớn recharge it. Luckily, you can do this via a USB power nguồn brick, but you’re still going to kết thúc up with some downtime in the middle of your shoot.

What’s interesting is that none of these shortcomings make the Session a bad camera; it’s still a very good value at its price. Instead, this illustrates how much more value is built into the Hero5 Black. At just $400, it’s a pretty remarkable achievement. The Session is a good choice, but the black remains the better one – unless you really need the smallest possible camera.

User experience, image quality, & audio

With the Session, GoPro is very aware of one thing: convenience is king. When you’re in the middle of a ride, drive, or climb, fumbling with camera controls is the last thing you want to do. This isn’t an issue with the Session – with a single tap of the record button, the camera will power nguồn on & begin recording. Or, turn on voice control lớn speak commands lượt thích “GoPro, start recording,” or “GoPro, shoot bursts.”

GoPro’s implementation of digital image stabilization strikes a good balance between maintaining sharpness and smoothing out rough footage.

Voice control works really well provided there’s no background noise, but when you’re bombing down a hill with wind rushing around you, you’ll need lớn yell at the Session khổng lồ get it to lớn hear you. Depending on where it’s mounted, you also might not be able to tell if the camera acknowledged your command, leading you to lớn needlessly repeat yourself.

GoPro’s implementation of digital image stabilization strikes a good balance between maintaining sharpness và smoothing out rough footage. That is to lớn say, it’s not the most aggressive stabilization, so riding your bike down a cobblestone street will still look lượt thích a bumpy ride, but image softening is kept to lớn a minimum. There’s still a noticeable crop with stabilization turned on, but given how wide-angle the camera is lớn begin with, we didn’t mind it.

For maximum image quality, you can shoot in 4K resolution, but keep in mind that this limits your framerate lớn either 24 or 30 frames per second. In our experience, shooting in 4K didn’t offer a significant benefit over 1080p. Some of this may be due to lens, processing, & compression, but part of it is simply a result of how action cameras tend lớn be used. When you’re shooting from a fast-moving platform, the resulting motion blur will limit the amount of detail captured. Our recommendation is just to lớn shoot in 1080p, which will take up less memory & be faster lớn edit & share. 4K is there when you want it, just know you may not always appreciate the difference.

If the Hero5 Session has an Achilles heel, it’s the audio quality. It doesn’t seem khổng lồ be an issue with the microphones themselves, but rather how the camera is processing the signal. When standing still, audio is good but not great – more or less what you’d expect from a small kích hoạt camera. However, start moving and things get a little weird. Pick up speed, & soon you’ll sound lượt thích you’re underwater.

This appears lớn be the consequence of aggressive noise cancelling designed khổng lồ cut out the sound of wind. We will admit it does a good job of achieving that goal, & can, in some circumstances, make voices more audible. However, it also results in audio that just doesn’t sound natural. And as we already mentioned, there is a noticeable change in sound chất lượng from being still lớn being in motion, which leads to very distracting shifts in the audio if you accelerate or decelerate.

Now, there may be some room for debate here. Many users report not having any issues with the audio whatsoever. You can watch our review video above to hear a sample of what we’re talking about, but perhaps your interpretation of it will be different.

There’s an phầm mềm (and a membership) for that

Although you don’t technically need it, we highly recommend using GoPro’s Capture tiện ích with the Hero5 Session. It opens up all kinds of control and gives you a live-view window so you can frame your shot from your phone, with virtually no lag. It also grants access to lớn ProTune, which lets you control a number of advanced settings lượt thích maximum ISO, exposure compensation, and màu sắc profile.

Naturally, images and videos saved on the MicroSD thẻ can be viewed, edited, & shared in the app, & GoPro Plus members can upload straight khổng lồ the cloud khổng lồ make their videos available on any device.

With Plus membership, you can also have the camera automatically upload footage lớn the cloud when it’s plugged in, although this is limited khổng lồ clips shot in 1080p/30. Higher resolution clips will have lớn be imported manually. Members also get access lớn licensed music tracks and discounts on GoPro accessories. Plus membership costs $5 per month.

Thankfully, given how often you’ll need to lớn use it, Capture is a well-designed app. It’s simple, very responsive, & way better than most other camera manufacturer apps we’ve tried. It will also alert you when new firmware is available & will even wirelessly install it to the camera. This is a nice feature, as camera firmware updates are often a hassle.

For more advanced editing, there’s the Quik app, which lets you địa chỉ cửa hàng text, music, và filters và can automatically sort through your footage lớn find the best moments. If you’d still prefer khổng lồ work your postproduction magic from a desktop computer, there’s a Quik desktop app, too.

Warranty information

GoPro provides a one-year limited warranty on the Hero5 Session.

Our Take

The Hero5 Session is a great little action camera. We’re especially glad to see that GoPro has worked out the kinks in its hàng hóa lineup, in which the new Session has a clearly defined position. It offers significantly more features than the original Hero4 Session, all while coming in at $100 less than the original’s price. We still feel the Hero5 đen is the camera to get and is more than worth the extra $100, but if you’re after the smallest possible GoPro, then the Hero5 Session will fit the bill.

However, the otherwise great experience is marred somewhat by the poor audio. If the Session is lớn be a second camera, then this won’t be an issue. Or, if you’re lượt thích the many owners who don’t have (or simply don’t notice) the audio problems, then maybe it won’t matter to you at all. Either way, we recommend listening to some examples on YouTube or testing out the camera yourself (carefully) during the 30-day return period. Again, some people may not care about the issue, but for others, it could be a khuyễn mãi giảm giá breaker.

Is there a better alternative?

If you can spring for the Hero5 Black, we say, vị it – it is still the GoPro khổng lồ have, and the kích hoạt camera to beat. We love the Session for its small and lightweight design và pure simplicity, but if you can own only one action camera, the black will make you happier in the long run. Even if you don’t think you need features lượt thích GPS telemetry today, you may want them down the road. Also, the đen lets you disable wind noise reduction, giving you more control over the audio quality; external mic support (via an optional adapter) makes things sound even better.

As a second camera, or in those rare cases where a larger kích hoạt cam just won’t fit, then there’s really nothing out there that can compete with the Hero5 Session.

How long will it last?

Like any kích hoạt camera, the Hero5 Session is built to lớn endure a rough a tumble lifestyle. We have no reason to lớn suspect it won’t last a long time. GoPro also seems to lớn have built it with the future in mind, bestowing it with a USB-C port. Be warned, however, that damage resulting from accidents is not covered by the warranty, so should your Session need lớn be repaired or replaced within its first year, you might be out of luck.

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Should you buy it?

There isn’t an easy answer here, but we’re mostly leaning toward yes. We say go for the Hero5 black if you can, và the Session’s audio issues should not be ignored. But despite everything, we still really enjoyed using it. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it kích hoạt cam that is powerful, simple, & plenty of fun. It’s not perfect, but depending on your needs, that might matter at all.