Prior to it’s launch next week, information is appearing about the new iterations of the Go Pro Hero cameras. Using what data there, we can take a look at what the cameras hold for the HAB / Weather balloon enthusiast.
The new cameras come in 2 premium versions, The GPH4 Silver, likened to the performance of the old GPH 3+ Black, and the new GPH4 Black. There is also the budget Hero.
The GPH4 Black boasts impressive 4k resolution at 30 frames per second. This improves the image quality but as with the high resolution functions of the GPH3+ Black, it drains the battery quickly and is unlikely to last HAB flights over 1 1/2 hours.
The GPH4 Silver offers touch screen control. Why this may be handy to set up your shots in the payload, or onto something you are carrying in your payload, it does add extra weight that you may just not want to carry.
Both new cameras have a redesigned battery. There is no data on battery performance. There is also no news on the ability to include a battery bacpac. The one sure things is that the new battery shape means you will need to buy new ones to fit the new camera.
The new settings button / tag button on the premium cameras is another feature that offers little for the HAB environment. the night photo lapse mode, allowing manual adjustment of exposure setting , does potentially offer improved performance for those people who want to fly a balloon in low light and night settings and I am looking forward to testing this on a clear night.
The idea of a budget Go Pro Hero is great. Who does not like the idea of a cheap and reasonable quality action camera. But there are some factors that may make this camera unsuitable for HAB. First the built in case. If the case cannot be removed then the lens cover is fixed in place. Fixed lens covers most often than not cause the lens to fog (as moisture between the lens and the cover condenses) and this rules it out for HAB. The case also adds extra weight which cannot be removed.
Next there is battery life. The camera has an internal battery and there is no indication that the camera offers the chance to include a battery bacpac. So I hope , but don’t expect, the battery life of this camera to cover the whole duration of a typical HAB flight.
It is still early days and in time more data will come out about the camera. I hope the new batteries allow the whole of a typical HAB flight to be recorded. But I am worried that Go Pro aren’t singing and dancing about improved battery performance. There is also the knock on effect that the second hand value of the existing, and more HAB friendly, Go Pro Hero cameras will come down and that is not a bad thing! If you have flown one of the new cameras in a HAB flight then please let us know how you got on.