GoPro cameras - seriously over-rated?

I think it would be fair to say that no camera has ever taken the world by storm the way the GoPro has.
The concept is great - compact, ruggedised, waterproof shooting high quality video & stills. Personally I’ve found the reality very different.
I’m a professional photographer & video maker so the GoPro can be invaluable for getting shots I otherwise couldn’t capture. In theory at least.
I have found these cameras to be highly unreliable.
I have owned GoPros from Hero 3 onwards & found all manner of issues…
Hero 3 had a very short battery life but was reasonably reliable however it was prone to overheating & shutting down. I had two different models of the 3. Both behaved the same.
Hero 4 battery life was terrible, would overheat & also shut down randomly for no explicable reason but most annoying thing was battery drain while off.
You could put the camera away fully-charged (I always recharge after a shoot) with everything switched off, pick it up two or three days later & it would have zero charge.
Problem this created was that every time you want to shoot you have to start charging the camera at least 6-hours beforehand.
After months & months of backwards & forwards hassling with GoPro they agreed to either replace my 4 with the same unit or I could buy a new model at a deep discount.
I went for the latter & bought a Hero 5 Session.
Guess what?
Same battery issues. Goes flat while doing nothing even with everything switched off.
I’ve also found the much vaunted wi-fi connectivity is difficult, flakey and massively increases battery drain.
In-short, I see these cameras as unreliable yet everyone fawns over them.
I do wish they were as good as they claim as I have shot some great footage (that’s why I still have one in my kit) but maybe the ability to shoot great footage message drowns out the unreliability side of things.
I suppose my experience highlights an irony of the product - it markets itself on the awesome spontaneity of its use but because of the limitations it’s very difficult to be spontaneous with it.
I’d be interested to hear the experience of others.


For quite a while now i have had the Go Pro 3+ Black edition.And have been extremely happy with it.Footage is great could be even better if Youtube changed there upload rates.And then i can film at a higher rate.What do you run yours on adam1.I film at 1080p Maybe a suggestion is to lower your specs your running on that could make a big difference to your battery life.Off the top of my head mine can run around 1 hour and 15-20 mins max.With it constantly recording.Only suggestion i would say is exhaust the battery every time before recharging.The only issue i have is when they update there editing software it’s almost impossible to get it working again.It’s very difficult and they have made it very confusing.At the moment my camera does not even work,i have a mate who is a wizz at this stuff and he is going to help me with it.Even he has found it not easy.I would never buy myself another one as this one has so much more room to move on

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I also bought a HERO 4 last year for a once in a lifetime sailing trip up the WA coast. 2 weeks into the trip it just stopped working . (and it had not a lot of use before this I might add) . Loved the footage I did get but missed out on some valuable opportunities for shooting our trip. Nowhere up there coast was I able to exchange it (too remote) . Very disappointed. Harvey Norman exchanged it on my return and my new one is back in use, although I have had a few issues with getting videos off the memory card onto my PC (?? - these have been resolved by a patient Gen Y daughter - although it took her a while and shouldn’t have been an issue). Thank you for drawing attention to the battery charge time also - I have had a problem with this but will learn to live with it. In short, I love the clear videos and photos the Go Pro takes, but it isn’t all it’s made out to be.

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@PeterZaluzny recently looked at this issue. His article on the pros and cons of GoPro cameras and other alternitives is below for reference.

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I think you’ve touched on something there that will put you apart from most people - being professional I’d guess you use these things more in a week than most people would in a year, and by demanding more you’ll see the limitations and problems way sooner than others do - if they see them at all. For that reason your insights are very interesting to people like me who use our action cams once a month if that …

I have a Hero 3 and two Sessions.

I’d have to agree the Hero 3 is a piece of crap - overheating and unreliable and YES the battery goes flat doing nothing. Wifi is a challenge to say the least. I have a spare battery and I reckon they go flat even when not in the camera! I can’t see how this could even be, but a few times I’ve gone bush with what I was ‘sure’ were charged batteries and found them with minimal charge … but I can’t swear on that :slight_smile: Even when ‘just charged’ the battery life is woeful - add the display back and you might as well not bother. Wifi likewise.

My experience with the Sessions has been ‘better’. I’ve dropped a 64GB card in each and they seem to charge and hold charge fine (a few weeks of not being used and still a good charge) - still I always recharge before use. I’d say I get between 90 and 120 minutes of video on a charge? No Wifi. The Session is also much nicer to mount on a helmet or elsewhere on a bike and I’ve not had any issues with them coming off good mounts (RAM) at ‘higher speeds’ (80m/s and more cracked a mount on my Hero3 - no problems with Sessions).

Summary - I’d never buy the original format again, but for my use the Session variant has been OK - but I’m a very basic user - press the button and go, no Wifi … come home and drag the files off as simple copies and work them up on the laptop.

GoPro is ‘considered’ the original and ‘therefore’ the best I reckon. Has a bit of a fan-base type following rather than a completely purist technical following - like some mobile phones I won’t mention :slight_smile: and theres probably a tendency of people not to like to admit they bought something bad, or not use it enough to realise, or a bit of both.

I’d be really interested to know if there is anything significantly better …