Which GoPro camera should I buy? Which GoPro camera is the best?

Hero3PicI have been getting a lot of questions about which type of GoPro camera one should buy if interested. I first think it is great that you're looking into finally getting one, especially after watching the latest events on TV and all of the great camera angles they were able to capture of the professionals. I've had mine for 2 years and could not be any happier. Just last weekend I attached it to my dog on our hike and posted it to Facebook and got some likes from a few cute girls (because likes mean everything, right!?). I'll post the video later this week. I digress, and provide you with some tips when deciding to purchase your GoPro.

To get right to the point of my writing: I can't give you a definite answer. What I can definitely tell you right now is that we are to focus on the GoPro HERO4 and HERO3+'s (and I will touch base on a few HERO2 and original 3's as well), as it is the best technology and provides options for numerous consumers. With the recent announcement of the HERO4's especially, we'll tackle the main features of those to help you decide if that hefty price is worth it.

Ultimately, what GoPro camera you're going to buy is subjective and that depends on a few of your conditions! These are:

  • Your budget
  • What you will be using the camera for
  • Which conditions/environments you will be in the majority of your use

Your budget

Although obvious, I put this here first because this is one of the most important factors when purchasing your camera. The HERO3 has three editions (white, silver and black), ranging from $199 - $399 (prices continue to drop annually as newer versions are released -- we'll keep you updated on those). The HERO2's are at the bottom of this gap, but aren't as "new" and lack some features the 3's have (they're discontinued at this point but can be found on the net here and there).

The brand new Hero 4's are even more powerful, hence the hefty price of 5 bills with the HERO4 black. They come in either a Black or Silver Edition; however, there's also a new budget-friendly choice called the "HERO" which has some essential features to work with at around $130. I love the fact that GoPro brought this into the market to give us a choice -- i'll be buying a few of my friends one for Christmas.

Here are the retails for each. It is all dependent on how much you want to spend of that money you so strategically saved to get you one of these bad boys:

  • HERO4: Black Edition $499 (available October 3rd)
  • HERO4: Silver Edition $399 (available October 3rd)
  • HERO $129 (available October 3rd)
  • HERO3: White Edition: $199
  • HERO3: Silver Edition: $229
  • HERO3: Black Edition: $379
  • HERO3+: Black Edition: $399
  • HERO3+: Silver Edition: $299
  • HERO2 Cameras: $269

Last updated: October 1st, 2014

What will you be using the GoPro camera for?

Now that you've checked out the prices and can keep those in consideration, what are you using the camera for? Professional use (some movies have used them before)? Everyday use (like with me and my dog)? Or somewhere in the middle along the lines of motorbiking or surfing in more extreme sports conditions?

The new GoPro Hero 4 is a beast

The Hero 4 Black Edition is a monster -- you may want to grab the best of the best.

The reason I ask what you will be using it for is to determine which set of features you need. If you're going to be using it for simpler activities, don't go all out for a Black edition with a 60fps, 1080p cam (all HERO3's are 1080p, anyways). The reason the Black Edition is so expensive is because of the crazy quality it has, and if you're using it for a more simple basis I wouldn't worry about the difference. The Silver or even White is perfectly fine for you. The main difference between these two is the white's camera has a 5 megapixels with 3fps burst while the silver is 11 megapixels with a 10 fps burst -- is that worth $100 to you?

Also note that their newest line of cameras, the HERO3+ (plus) are only smaller in size and lighter in weight. As of now, the Black Edition for both Hero3 and Hero3+ are only a few dollars different in terms of price, so go for the plus! And now that the HERO4's are out, check the prices of previous versions as they'll be dropping slowly. Unless of course you want the newest of the new, check out their HERO4!

Here are the features for the HERO's organized simply in a chart to compare, and provided are links to the lowest price we can find:

Camera Model
Max Video Resolution*
Photo Quality
Wi-Fi Built-in?**
LCD Screen Built-in?
Price
Purchase in US
Purchase in UK
HERO4: Black
4K Cinema/30fps
12 MP
(30 fps burst)
Yes
No (Sold separately)
$499.99

ActiveLifeStore

ActiveLifeStore
HERO4: Silver
1080p/60fps
12 MP
(30 fps burst)
Yes
Yes
$399.99

ActiveLifeStore

ActiveLifeStore
HERO3+: Black
4K Cinema/15fps
12 MP
(30 fps burst)
Yes
No (Sold separately)
$399.99
Buy on Amazon
Amazon UK
HERO3: Black
4K Cinema/15fps
12 MP
(30 fps burst)
Yes
No (Sold separately)
$379.99
Buy on Amazon
Amazon UK
HERO3+: Silver
1080p/30fps
11 MP
(10 fps burst)
No
No (Sold separately)
$299.99
Buy on Amazon
Amazon UK
HERO3: Silver
1080p/30fps
11 MP
(10 fps burst)
No
No (Sold separately)
$229.00
Buy on Amazon
Amazon UK
HERO3: White
1080p/30fps
5 MP
(3 fps burst)
No
No (Sold separately)
$199.99
Buy on Amazon
Amazon UK
HERO2 Cameras
1080p/30fps
11 MP
(10 fps burst)
No
No (Sold separately)
$250.00 - $300.00
Buy on Amazon
Amazon UK

Last updated: October 1st, 2014

* This is the max resolution in terms of HD resolution. You have the ability to lower this in the cameras which in results increases the fps and recording time.

** You are able to purchase the WiFi BacPac separately.

Note: All GoPro cameras are GoPro App compatible.

Which conditions/environments you will be in the majority of your use

What you're using your GoPro with can determine which cam/edition you need to purchase.

What you're using your GoPro with can determine which cam/edition you need to purchase.

Now that you've considered the features of the GoPro cameras and if the price is worth the activities you will be using it for, it is time to figure out which edition you need. The White and Silvers come in only one, so you will have to purchase specific mounts/parts you will need separately (do the math, the Black Editions with the mounts you need & WiFi accessories are a financially smart to purchase instead of a cheaper cam and everything else separately if that's what you  may be doing).

The HERO4's come with only a few mounts and do not come with Wi-Fi accessories because it's built-in! If you're looking at getting a brand new GoPro and the best of the best, the HERO4 is what you need to look at. In our opinion, the Black Edition at $500 retail is a bit steep and is geared more towards movie makers and professional studios. What we found interesting was the fact that the Silver Edition has a built-in LCD but the Black does not. Is this important to you? Also, the 4K cinema at 30fps with the Black Edition is crazy; however, it eats up a lot of battery. The Silver Edition films in perfect 1080p which is the standard for most playback devices, so going with the Silver as opposed to the Black is more recommended in our opinion.

Do you snowboard, ski, or partake in other snow sports? Moto? Surf? Here's what's included in the cam packages:

HERO 4 models

  • Hero 4 Silver: 131'/40m standard housing, skeleton and touch backdoor, rechargeable battery, curved and flat adhesive mounts, quick release buckles, 3-way pivot arm, USB cable
  • Hero 4 Silver (Surf Edition): 131'/40m standard housing, skeleton and touch backdoors, rechargeable battery, surfboard mount, FCS plug mount, camera tether, quick release buckles, 3-way pivot arm
  • Hero 4 Silver (Music Edition): rechargeable battery, The Frame, 2 instrument mounts (removable), mic stand mount, mic stand mount, protective lens and cap, quick release buckles, 3-way pivot arm, USB cable
  • Hero 4 Black: 131'/40m standard housing, skeleton backdoor, rechargeable battery, curved and flat adhesive mount, quick release buckles, 3-way pivot arm and USB cable.
  • Hero 4 Black (Surf Edition): 131'/40m standard housing, skeleton and touch backdoors, rechargeable battery, surfboard mount, FCS plug mount, camera tether, quick release buckles, 3-way pivot arm
  • Hero 4 Black (Music Edition): rechargeable battery, The Frame, 2 instrument mounts (removable), mic stand mount, mic stand mount, protective lens and cap, quick release buckles, 3-way pivot arm, USB cable
  • HERO: Integrated housing, built-in battery, skeleton backdoor, curved and flat adhesive mounts, quick release buckle, USB cable

Hero 3 and 3+ models

  • HERO3+ Silver: 131'/40m waterproof housing, higher capacity Li-ion battery, quick release buckle, vertical quick release buckle, 1 curved and 1 flat adhesive mount, 3-way pivot arm, USB cable
  • HERO3+ Black: 131'/40m waterproof housing, Wi-Fi remote, Wi-Fi remote charging cable, higher capacity Li-ion battery, quick release buckle, vertical quick release buckle, 1 curved and 1 flat adhesive mount, 3-way pivot arm, USB cable
  • HERO3 White: Waterproof housing, rechargeable Li-ion battery, QR buckle, 1 curved and 1 flat adhesive mount, USB charging cable
  • HERO3 Silver: Waterproof housing, rechargeable Li-ion battery, QR buckle, J-Hook buckle, 3-way pivot, 1 curved and 1 flat adhesive mount, USB Charging cable
  • HERO3 Black (Adventure Edition): Waterproof housing, Wi-Fi remote + key ring, remote charging cable, rechargeable li-ion battery, QR buckle, J-Hook buckle, 3-way pivot, 1 curved and 1 flat adhesive mount, assorted mounts and hardware, USB charging cable
  • HERO3 Black (Motorsports Edition): Waterproof housing, Wi-Fi remote + key ring, remote charging cable, rechargeable li-ion battery, QR buckle, J-Hook buckle, 3-way pivot, 1 curved and 1 flat adhesive mount, assorted mounts and hardware, USB charging cable
  • HERO3 Black (Surf Edition): Waterproof housing, Wi-Fi remote + key ring, remote charging cable, rechargeable Li-ion battery, QR buckle, J-Hook buckle, 3-way pivot, surfboard mount

All other models

  • HERO2 (Outdoor Edition): Waterproof housing, rechargeable Li-ion battery, USB cable, vented helmet strap, head strap, 2 curved and 2 flat surface mounts, 3-way pivot
  • HERO2 (Motorsports Edition): Waterproof housing, HD skeleton housing, rechargeable Li-ion battery, USB cable, suction cup mount, J-Hook buckle, 2 curved adhesive mounts, 3 flat surface mounts, 3-way pivot arm
  • HERO2 (Surf Edition): Waterproof housing, HD skeleton housing, rechargeable li-ion battery, USB cable, 2 surfboard mounts, FCS plug mount, floaty backdoor 

Check out our post on memory cards if you're looking into what kind you need for your new GoPro.

Our post on which cases hold the best value for your GoPro camera.

The final word on choosing your GoPro camera

When attempting to choose what GoPro cam is right for you, be sure to keep these three aspects into consideration. Is the price right for you? Are the features necessary for your activities? Which mounts/accessories do you need for the conditions/environment/sports you will be partaking in? Be sure to post some videos you guys take, we're always interested in your uses of GoPro cams!

Check out our website for GoPro cameras, mounts and accessories as we usually have some good bundles going if you're looking to save a few bucks!

Which model of GoPro do you have? Do you like it?

Sean Mouradian

Marketing Director at ActiveLifeStore.com
Sean is the Marketing Director and Executive Writer of ActiveLifeStore.com's blog.

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