GoPro Hero5 Black vs Hero5 Session vs YI 4K

Oct 12, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

GoPro Hero5 Black vs Hero5 Session vs YI 4K

Oct 12, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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gopro5vsyi4k

A lot has been said about the new GoPro Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session cameras since their recent release. The new touchscreen LCD has received a lot of praise, as has the fact that you can finally use it underwater without an external housing. But the resolutions and frame rates haven’t changed since the Hero4 Black. So how does it compare?

We posted our own GoPro Hero4 Black vs YI 4K comparison video not too long ago, and the YI 4K pretty much smoked it in almost every aspect. Have GoPro done enough with the Hero5 to make up ground? What about the Hero5 Session? In this review video from Ben Schmanke, we get to find out.

YouTube video

To keep things fair, Ben updated the firmware on all three cameras. This helps to ensure that all are running optimally at the time of review. The specs of all three cameras are quite comparable, of course the Session does lack a few features like an LCD. It also can’t quite reach the slow motion frame rates of the Hero5 Black or the Yi 4K.

Despite GoPro now finally adding an LCD screen to their flagship camera (the biggest complaint about the Hero4 Black), Ben prefers the screen of the YI 4K.

It’s a tad larger, sharper, brighter image on screen, and feels faster and a bit snappier, while the GoPro was sometimes glitchy. Mine even froze up, the screen wouldn’t work, the power button wouldn’t turn off. I had to pull the battery to restart it.

Having your camera crash on you is never a good thing. Having to remove the battery to turn it off and reset it isn’t really an ideal solution for an action camera. If you’re underwater, or out in extreme conditions and your camera locks up, it may not even be possible at all to fix it on the spot.

The Hero5 Session obviously doesn’t have a big touchscreen LCD, but it does still include an LCD offering prompts and information. The Hero5 Black also contains the familiar front LCD.

gopro_lcds

Having played with both the Hero5 Black and the YI 4K myself, I have to agree that the YI feels a bit more responsive than the Hero5 Black. I didn’t experience any of the crashes or lockups myself in my brief time with the Hero5 Black, though. But the YI 4K still wins out for me here.

The biggest advantage that the Hero5 Black (and session) have over the YI 4K is their ability to go underwater without a case. If you want to use the YI 4K underwater, you’ll need one. That’s the YI 4K’s biggest drawback, I think. When it’s inside a case, you can’t use the touchscreen and you take a massive hit in audio quality.

Ok, so you’re not going to be recording many voices underwater, but if you come up above the surface to talk, the camera’s not going to hear much. Well, aside from a lot of handling noise.

Next up is the battery life. Both the Hero5 Black and the YI 4K have removable batteries. The Hero5 Black has a 1,220 mAh battery, while the YI 4K’s is 1400mAh. The Hero5 Session has a built in non-removable 1000mAh battery that you charge through a USB cable.

Ben says that both Hero5 cameras showed a much better battery life than their predecessors. And while the Hero5 Black still didn’t quite keep up with the YI 4K, the Hero5 Session blew them both away. This was likely due to the lack of a touchscreen LCD sucking all the juice. After a few hours of shooting the battery percentages speak for themselves.

gopro_yi_battery_life

So, while the Session has the lowest battery capacity of the three, you can expect it to last much longer.

With those out of the way, how do the images compare? Well, under ideal conditions with a flat profile, the Hero5 Black seems to win fairly easily. There seems to be more colour information in the highlights, and more detail in the shadows. This means more latitude to correct and grade in post.

gopro_yi_flat_profile

Swapped over to a regular colour profile, though, it’s a bit of a different situation, and all three look very good.

gopro_yi_regular_profile

Surprisingly, where the YI 4K did shine, though, was in darker low light conditions. The YI 4K appeared to handle this with no problems at all, and featured far less noise than the Hero 5 Black.

The YI 4K also came up top in the image stabilisation test. But, all three cameras do require the camera be set to a lower resolution than 4K in order to enable stabilisation. With the resolutions lowered, the YI didn’t quite keep up with the image quality of the GoPros.

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of in-camera electronic stabilisation anyway. I think you’re far better off either shooting in 4K and stabilising in post, or just using a gimbal.

So, the GoPro cameras win on some aspects, and the YI 4K still wins on others. At half the price of the Hero5 Black, that the Yi 4K keeps up at all is extremely impressive.

Watch the full review video up top for more of Ben’s insights, or buy your own and test for yourself.

Have you got your Hero5 Black or Session yet? How do you like it? Have you experienced crashing issues? Has it lived up to your expectations or left you feeling a little underwhelmed? Have you gone for the YI 4K instead? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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7 responses to “GoPro Hero5 Black vs Hero5 Session vs YI 4K”

  1. radcraig Avatar
    radcraig

    The comparison screenshot at the end looks like the gopro is exposed brighter (way more visible detail in the background and the reflection on the table) so I wonder if the noise would be reduced if you darken the gopro to match the YI?

  2. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    Keep in mind that the Yi can probably have its settings tweaked like the 1080P version to improve image quality.

    1. theSUBVERSIVE Avatar
      theSUBVERSIVE

      It seems that YI will allow users to tweak the 4K like the hacked orginal action cam, so it will become an even better camera.

  3. Renato Murakami Avatar
    Renato Murakami

    I wanted to see a review like this, thanks for sharing John!
    It’s about what I expected I guess… all great cameras with it’s own unique strong points.

  4. Smilewithani Avatar
    Smilewithani

    The price of hero5 black is$399 and session is $299.

  5. ジルダス シドブル Avatar
    ジルダス シドブル

    exactly YI has an open API and can be found easily on github: so meaning that it authorize lot of stuff that Go pro doesnt…
    for example in my case shooting in 360° with 22 cams Yi 4K and managing them by wifi (all of them) go pro doesnt let me do it, Yi yes!

    if the purpose is exclusively video (not taking pictures) so the Yi won!

    ;)

  6. Wäinä Järvelä Avatar
    Wäinä Järvelä

    I just ordered Yi2 for 389€ (inc. taxes) and GoPro could be found in a store nearby for 394€ (inc. taxes). So price comparison is useless. Only matter now is that accessories are cheaper for Yi2.