If you're in the market for a compact action camera you might be considering the GoPro Hero Session. Its a small, water resistant and very capable but then you ask yourself “whats the difference between the GoPro Hero Session and GoPro Hero5 Session?! They look exactly the same!” Well don't worry I’ve got you covered! At the time of this recording you can pick up a GoPro Hero Session bundle that includes a 16 gb micro sd card and a handle grip for $179.00 on Amazon. Link is in the description. The newer GoPro Hero5 Session currently retails for $299 on Amazon and I’ll update that link if I find a deal on it for you. Keep In mind the Hero5 Session Doesn't include a Micro SD Card.
Both Sessions are 1 and a half inch cubes that have tiny black and white screens on top that you interact with by pressing either 1 of the buttons found on the top or back of the device. Both Sessions come included with a housing, usb cable, and two mounting surfaces so you can attach your GoPro. One is Flat while the other is curved. Both of the cameras have built in batteries that will last you between 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on your capture settings, if you have wifi or bluetooth on, or if you're using the voice control feature (more on that in a second).
Both Sessions have a side door that opens up that reveals its connection port and micro SD slot. The Hero Session uses a micro usb port while the Hero5 Session uses a USB type C port. The USB type C Port lets you plug in its cable in either direction and also allows for faster transfer speeds. As long as the side door is closed shut, both Sessions are water proof down to 33 ft under water. Any deeper and you'll need a water proof case. On the front of the camera you will notice there are screws going all around the lens, they're not just there for looks. those screws allow you to replace the lens incase its gets scratched or banged up.
If you want to adjust the settings of either Session or switch between photo or video mode, you first have press on the bottom button. You then cycle through your options by pressing the bottom button and make a selection by pressing the shutter button. Theres a learning curve when it comes to using these GoPro’s, but you'll get the hang of it after awhile. Thankfully these cameras can connect to your phone via the go pro app. you can adjust all settings from your phone and you can also use it as a view finder to help you set up your shots or even see what the camera is recording in real time.
Now lets get into the technical stuff, the Hero Session can take photos at 8 Mega Pixels and it can take time lapse at 10 frames per second. The Hero Session is capable of recording at 1440P at 30 frames per second or 1080Pat 60 or 30 frames per second. If you're interested in slow motion the Session can capture WVGA at 120 Frames Pre Second with a Wide Filed of View. The Hero5 Session on the Other hand can do everything the Hero Session can do, but better. The Hero5 Session can take photos at 10 Mega Pixels and it can even record 4K video at 30 frames per second. Also, the Hero5 Session can record slow mo video at 720P at 120 frames per second. Now the Hero5 Session and Hero Session have way more capture settings but i think these are the stats that are going to interest your average consumer most.
It is worth noting the Hero5 Session has way more Field of View options at various resolutions and capture speeds than the Hero Session. Which means, if video quality is of high importance and you want to prevent having to deal with video distortion or having that curved look in your videos then you should opt in for the Hero5 Session. But if having perfect video isn't super important to you or if you don't have a computer that can render 4k video for editing than you should opt in for the Hero Session instead and save some money.
Aside from video quality, the Sessions also differ when it comes to sound recording. The Hero5 Session has improved microphones that lets it get clearer (clearer, is that correct? I feel weird saying that) sound. It also has an increased audio range by 10 decibels.
The Hero5 Session also features image stabilization which does a great job of smoothing out your video. The image stabilization on the Hero5 Session is taken care of by built in software unlike the optical stabilization found on some other action cameras or phones. But keep in mind, if you do choose to use the image stabilization it'll drain your battery a little faster.
The Hero5 Session also features voice controls which allow you to tell your GoPro to start recording, take a picture, or stop recording. Is it a gimmick? sure. But its a well made feature that is highly accurate. Its even more accurate than Siri sometimes. But just like the image stabilization feature… it'll drain your battery a little faster if you choose to use it. Now, if you're looking for a GoPro because you're going to get the new Karma Drone… keep in mind the Hero Session isn't compatible. So that means you have to get the Hero5 Session, Hero5 Black, or Hero 4.
So lets answer that pesky question from the beginning of the article. Which one should you get? If you're an amateur that just wants to catch some video of yourself snowboarding, riding your motorcycle or dirt bike, or what have you and video distortion isn't a big deal and you want to save money then get the Hero Session. You can always stabilize your video with video editing software on your computer. If you're trying to capture higher quality video, you understand what FOV means, and you routinely record fast moving objects then you should get the Hero5 Session because of the higher frame rate capabilities. Personally I’ve been using the Hero Session when I go out to play paintball. Its small enough that i can tuck anywhere and not have to worry about it catching a stray paintball, its water resistant so i don't have to worry about it when it starts to rain mid game, and the video quality it captures is just fine for me.