Recently I got brake-tested by a car and hit the back of it. So I decided it was time to get a cycling camera. Plus I could join those who film everything on Go Pro for when the inevitable happens. On a more positive note, it’ll add something new to my blog posts as well. So there’s some upsides to it as well!
I searched around the various bike camera reviews on the market. I ended up with the small, compact and unobtrusive option of the Go Pro Hero Session 4. Go Pro has pretty much taken over the action camera market. So much so, that ‘Go Pro’ has become the genericism (like hoover or jacuzzi).
So far I’ve taken it with me on the Dragon Ride and for a stint in Derby Velodrome, and the Women’s Tour of Britain. I was impressed, the quality is amazing, particularly when the camera is stationary.
This being Go Pro, there are a tonne of accessories out there. Generally, everything is backwards compatible too. Using the same locking system across the board is a great touch.
Stationary Go Pro Session footage
Below is an example from the Women’s Tour of Britain stage that went from Stoke on Trent to Stoke on Trent (via Stafford). I placed it on the kerb pointing down the road and hit record when I saw the first rider begin to come round the bend ahead. Fixed onto the flat platform mount that came with the Go Pro Hero Session 4, it took good quality video, even if the murky day made the colours a touch bland. The fish-eye lens helps to give a really wide field of view too.
Moving Go Pro Session footage
Attached to the bike the quality still stacks up. Naturally it suffers a bit on bumpier roads as the mount doesn’t fix the camera in position but gives it some rotation play. Generally, it has worked out fine though. Only a couple of bumps on the Dragon Ride re-adjusted where the camera was pointing. They were probably the worst ones I hit on that day. Landscapes are visible, again the murky day in places doesn’t help things but in the bright sunlight, the colour does appear very nice.
I mounted the Go Pro Hero Session 4 as pictured above under the Garmin and also early in the ride it was under my saddle pointing backwards. The ease of being able to buy mounts for the Go Pro Hero Session means you can pretty much attach it to anything going.
As a safety camera for cyclist commuters
I bought the Go Pro Hero Session primarily after an accident where a driver brake-tested me late before a junction and then tried to claim for the damage to their car (subsequently dropped thankfully). It was then I decided that I wanted some video to cover my back. Just in case it happened again – especially as on that particular ride I’d forgotten to press Go on my Garmin.
I’m someone who commutes through central Birmingham semi-regularly. Naturally, I’ve have had quite a few near-misses and a couple of non-near-misses too riding in the city. The driving at times can be shocking in Birmingham. So far I’ve managed to record another late overtake brake test, the quality of which was perfect. The registration plate was clear and visible. The situation leading up to the overtake is obvious and it matches my thoughts at the time. If I’d been unlucky enough to hit the back of the van, I feel like I would be able to cover myself thanks to the footage.
Final Review of Go Pro Hero Session 4
So far, after two or three weeks using this camera I’m very impressed. The footage quality is perfect for what I want. Plus the variety of what you can do with it is amazing. I can set up mounts all over my bike. Including, my helmet and my actual body if I wanted and just quickly switch it between them. Videos are definitely better when there’s some variety in viewpoint so this was a big plus for me.
The Go Pro Hero Session 4 has recently been overtaken model number-wise by the Session 5. So these are now doing the rounds for about £150 at the moment. Quite reasonable for something so all-round high-quality that ticks all the boxes.
2020 Edit: Things have moved on! The Hero8 is now on sale for roughly £275. I stand by the review of the Hero Session 4 though, if you can find it cheaply on Ebay it’d be great value.