Sunday, March 29, 2015

GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition - Battery Life

Continuing from my First Impressions post about the Go Pro Hero 4 Black Edition, the next part of my review is battery life.  When shopping and researching for the Hero 4 Black I found all sorts of data about the Hero 3+, but not much on the Hero 4.  Not to mention how the TouchBac REALLY effects battery life, real numbers around the BatteryBac, if video type effects life...any real metrics.  So here I am, presenting my own findings.

I didn't want my tests to be over complicated, but wanted tests that were at least consistent.  I wanted to see the differences between resolutions, and with and without the different Bacs.  I also wanted to test the popular Wasabi Power batteries against the GoPro brand batteries; something else I couldn't find on the Internet for the Hero 4.

I removed the results for the TouchBac and BatteryBac from this post, and will do a separate post on each of them.  I didn't want to kill anyone from data overload.

I repeated each test 3 times, to capture any variations in the tests.  3 tests is not the perfect sample size, but it's better then one.  Even with 3 tests, this took a LONG time.  So enough talking, here's my tests.  All were ran on a Hero 4 Black Edition.  Times are in minutes:seconds.

Test data:

Test 1:

Using the Frame mount (to attempt to minimize overheating in the closed space), on a table top tripod, pointed at my TV (so it is capturing some motion and audio).  Recording 4K/30fps video.

GoPro BatteryWasabi Battery
Test 168:5066:22
Test 265:4167:00
Test 378:2268:50
Min - Max12:412:28

Test 2:

Using the Frame mount on a table top tripod pointed at a TV, recording 1080p/30fps.

GoPro BatteryWasabi Battery
Test 197:3592:22
Test 297:4992:06
Test 3102:4995:12
Min - Max5:143:06

As expected, since the 1080p video requires less processor use to record, it's more battery efficient then recording in 4K.  The difference is about 35% with the GoPro battery, and 38% with the Wasabi battery
Test 3:

Using the stock underwater housing, submerged in a sink of water at ~70F, recording 4K/30fps.

GoPro BatteryWasabi Battery
Test 177:3067:39
Test 276:2869:28
Test 378:2565:03
Min - Max1:574:25

I expected similar but slightly better numbers in this test when compared to Test 1 due to the better heat control with the camera submerged in a pool of a cooling medium.  The Wasabi battery performed about the same, whereas the GoPro battery performed much better.


First and foremost, I discovered there's a "burn-in" period on the batteries.  During my tests I noticed the first run or two with a given battery was lower then the rest.  This is likely due to the batteries sitting on a shelf for some time with no use.  After I discovered this, I threw out those test results and I got a closer Min/Max number.

It appears the camera has a similar burn-in as well.  I noticed after the first few cycles it didn't get as hot as quickly.  That could have also led to the increased battery life as well.  My best guess is there is some thermal grease between a heat sink and the processor that needed to work in.

Summing up those first two findings, I'd strongly suggest using each of your batteries at least once or twice before planning on using them while you're out capturing video.

As you can see from the test data above, the Wasabi batteries do NOT have better life when compared to the GoPro batteries in every test I performed.  From my research on the Internet, this was not the case for the Hero 3 batteries, which is why I decided to try them on the Hero 4.  I crunched some of the data to get a percentage.  It wasn't as consistent as I had hoped, but here it is:

  • Test 1: GoPro outperformed Wasabi by 9%
  • Test 2: GoPro outperformed Wasabi by 7%
  • Test 3: GoPro outperformed Wasabi by 15%
I expected the percentage differences to be closer then what I got.  I don't have any explanation for these results, but there they are.

It's up to you on which battery works for your particular use case.  For me, I'll be using my GoPro mostly underwater, and therefore can't easily change batteries while shooting.  (I'd only be able to do it once. :)  )  While I won't throw out my Wasabi batteries, I'll be using my GoPro batteries first and considering the Wasabi batteries as more of a backup.

More reviews/data coming up soon!  Stay tuned!

As a parting note, I leave you with an important note from Adam Savage:

1 comment:

  1. I expected the percentage differences to be closer then what I got. I don't have any explanation for these results, but there they are. 8x batteries


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