Road Test: GoPro HERO5 Session

gopro packaging

GoPro cameras are known for their versatility, ruggedness and ability to take footage pretty much anywhere – from surfing to rockclimbing, car racing to snowboarding. Anything exciting you can think to record videos of; a GoPro is your best bet.

When GoPro sent me a HERO5 Session camera for road testing, I was ridiculously excited to get going with it. While I’d typically be totally up for going swimming, running, riding and general adventuring to test it to its limits, the universe had a different idea in mind and shortly after the camera arrived on my doorstep I ended up in hospital for an emergency operation to do with my pregnancy, followed by a strict order from the doctors to remain on modified bed rest for the next three to four months.

This left the road testing in my husband’s capable hands (because, let’s face it, he was itching to give it a go and was a little bit jealous that I’d get to use it first) so this year on Father’s Day we took a slightly different approach to using this adventure cam and took some test footage with a family-oriented spin on it…

gopro packaging

The sales pitch

The GoPro HERO5 Session combines great performance with small size; it takes stunning 4k video, is waterproof up to 33ft (10m) without a housing, utilises one-button simplicity and can be activated by voice control.

The camera can take 10MP photos in Single, Burst (up to 10 frames per second), and Time Lapse modes (intervals from 0.5 to 60 seconds). With smooth image stabilisation, it’s also durable to help you capture life as you live it.

The look

Having only seen the ‘standard’ looking HERO4 with the larger casing in the past, I was surprised by how small the Session camera is. There are only two buttons on its exterior – essentially one to scroll through menu options and the other on the top of the camera to turn it on and select/accept in the menu.

A small LCD monochrome panel on top displays the menu and is pretty straightforward to navigate through. A small panel in the side of the camera opens up for the memory card slot and cable connection. Pretty minimalistic but means there’s not much to break!

This then slots into a variety of mounts you can buy – there are over 30 available to help you attach it to everything from a car dashboard, to the side of a helmet, to bike handlebars.

gopro front

Getting it set up

The setup is straightforward as well, suited to people who just want to charge it and get going. In the box with the camera you get a mounting frame, mounting buckle, curved-surface adhesive mount and flat-surface adhesive mount along with the USB cable for charging and transferring images.

When you press the shutter button on top, it powers the camera on and starts recording straight away.

One of the first things I did was download the GoPro app on my phone to control/monitor the camera. You can connect with it via bluetooth or wi-fi easily, as the GoPro app walks you through the connection process.

To get started, I was also provided with a 32GB micro SD memory card capable of dealing with 1080p full-HD, 3D and 4K video footage (which is the type you should be investing in if you’re getting a HERO5 Session). A memory card is not provided in the pack and you will need it for the camera to work.

If you want to set up voice control on it for hands-free use, you can turn this function on in the menu and use these simple commands. I tested these out and it worked perfectly first time with each command; I still remember the days you had to calibrate this kind of hardware to recognise your voice/accent and it was such a painful process to go through as things would often still not work once you’d been through setup!

go pro setup

Testing it out

What would a GoPro review be without some actual footage from the camera? My family took it for a spin on Father’s Day, check out the results!


Some highlights include:

  • Unmounted footage (the camera is hand-held) taken inside a moving vehicle shows great image stabilisation.
  • Stays in focus despite moving subjects (including close ups).
  • You can see me using the GoPro app on my phone to see what the camera is recording in real time. You can also start/stop recording and turn the camera on and off remotely using the app.
  • Even my toddler manages to use it!
  • The range (wi-fi or bluetooth connection) from camera to phone for controlling is pretty decent; during the swings footage with husband and bubs, I was across the road from the park while viewing their video on my phone.

It was super easy to edit too. You can use your own editing software, download GoPro Studio to your computer desktop or phone, or use the nifty Quik app which takes the guesswork out of putting together highlights from your filming. More on that now…

The Quik Pro app

This app is designed for no-brainer video-making and editing. It uses your footage to automatically pick out key moments (you can override this and choose your own if you want to), adds transitions and effects, then syncs it up to music beats. You can then customise it with filters, text etc. so it’s pretty handy if you can’t be bothered sitting in front of your computer for ages trying to get everything perfect.

This is made even easier if you have GoPro’s Quik Key – a micro-USB SD card reader I was also given that you can plug into your phone or tablet to shift content while you’re out and about.

It’s ideal if you’re out and about travelling with your camera or have a tendency to fill up the memory card while you’re on the go (and need to transfer your footage/images off it to clear memory space).

The cons

Can’t really think of anything to be honest. I love its small size, the recording capability and quality, the ruggedness and its simplicity. I was a little dubious at first about how simple it actually seemed, but the footage and images it takes are fantastic.

To sum up

Retailing for $509.99, this pint-sized GoPro may be small but it’s ability to take quality video footage is incredible. It’s rugged, waterproof and versatile; once I’m back from maternity leave I’ll certainly be putting it through its paces and you’ll see more of it in action on my YouTube channel in the future. We own several different cameras and this is the only one I’d trust my toddler to cart around with her.

For more information on the GoPro HERO5 Session and the accessories you can buy to go with it, visit https://shop.gopro.com.

Product provided for review thanks to GoPro

Images / NZ Real Health

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