GoPro had not released a flagship camera for two years prior to the unveiling of the GoPro Hero 5 Black and Session. The two action cameras are intended to get the company back on track, following a challenging period during which the GoPro share price fell significantly. Never mind the profitability of the corporation, the entire future of GoPro is at stake, and there is no doubt that the GoPro Hero 5 Black and Session will play a significant role in this process.
GoPro Hero 5 – Resolution
The first thing to note about the two action cameras is that GoPro has resisted the temptation to deliver 8K resolution filming. This had been predicted in some quarters prior to the release of the two devices, but in truth the actual need for 8K resolution at this early point in the lifecycle of 4K is negligible.
What could be missed by action camera fans is the inability of the more expensive to GoPro Hero 5 Black to deliver 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. Anyone that has viewed footage in the 30 frames per second which GoPro offers with the two new cameras, and then compared it to 60 frames per second shooting, will easily be able to recognize the difference. It must be considered a disappointment that only 30 frames per second is possible at 4K, although higher frame rates are possible at lower resolutions.
Ease of use
Previous GoPro releases have been criticized in some quarters for lacking user-friendliness, and GoPro has certainly listened to these complaints with the GoPro Hero 5 Black. This new action camera release includes voice control functionality, and a touchscreen to ensure that the camera’s features can be navigated more easily.
Voice control is a fun and also useful feature which makes using the camera easier, and enables users to conduct two different functions simultaneously. Simply saying “GoPro, turn on” will indeed turn the unit on, with the camera capable of understanding several other stock phrases. Voice control can be utilized in order to instruct the camera to capture a photograph, while video is also being recorded. And GoPro has even used accent settings in order to ensure that it can understand your voice accurately.
The previous three-button setup included in the GoPro Hero range has been considered fiddly by some users and critics, and this has been addressed with the touchscreen included in his new flagship range. The focus with the GoPro Hero 5 Black is now on one main button, with the screen enabling users to alternate resolution, frame rate and view in seconds with ease.
Swiping the screen enables numerous functions to be performed as well, and for videos and photos to be brought up on the display. While there are still teething troubles with some aspects of the touchscreen, it is nonetheless a valuable addition to the overall portfolio of features included in the Hero 5 Black.
Another excellent new feature included in both the GoPro Hero 5 Black and Hero 5 Session is the video stabilization functionality, which really does an excellent job of smoothing out footage. Nonetheless, it is important to note that this feature will not work with all resolutions, with 4K smoothing not possible. Perhaps it is a little unreasonable to expect stabilization of advanced 4K resolution at this early stage.
GoPro has also ensured that the Hero 5 Black delivers a superior battery life to previous releases, despite the fact that a touchscreen has been added to the mix. This has been achieved by creating more efficient chips which draw less power from the battery included. It is early days to judge the efficacy of this process, but users have reported that the battery life of the device is indeed significantly improved over the previous generation.
Speaking of design, the GoPro Hero 5 Black features a more compact visage than the previous model in the series, with the silver and black design of the GoPro Hero 4 being replaced with a rubbery black exterior. The plastic case has been removed from the device, while a frame has been included to ensure that the camera can be mounted conveniently. But all the accessories are still compatible with the unit.
Overall, the design of the GoPro Hero 5 Black can be commended, with the camera both more visually appealing and easier to carry around than previously GoPro Hero releases.
Another major new feature included in the GoPro Hero 5 Black is waterproofing up to 10 meters deep. This enables the units to be utilized in sea settings for the first time without an attendant case, although divers wishing to utilize the camera at deeper than 10 meters will indeed require to purchase casing. This is a welcome addition that once again adds to the flexibility of the camera.
GoPro has also included new editing software for computers, which goes by the name of Quik. This software suite can be considered a cross between an automated program and a full editor, enabling users to choose moments within a video clip, edit them and add music. The Quik software and then pulls all of these disparate elements together, with key moments cuts to the beat of the song selected.
Videos can be fully shared on social media or downloaded, and overall this is an interesting new aspect of the GoPro Hero 5 that should appeal to the social media generation. One criticism is that there is relatively limited control over this aspect of the camera, but it is ultimately designed to produce a video quickly and easily.
The GoPro Hero 5 Session has many of the same capabilities of its big brother, with some of its specs slightly reduced in comparison to the more expensive release. But this is an even more convenient action camera than the Hero 5 Black, with the unit taking up only about half the size of the larger camera. It is also $110 cheaper than the Hero 5 Black, meaning that the Session is a very valid option for the amateur video creator.