GoPro has finally unveiled the GoPro Hero 5 Session and GoPro Hero 5 Black action cameras, two device releases considered critical for the future of the company. The share price of GoPro has slumped significantly over the last couple of years, falling 80 percent from its peak value. Clearly the company needs to demonstrate to investors and the city that it has a viable portfolio of products going forward, and the GoPro Hero 5 cameras will undoubtedly play a major role in this process.

Announced alongside the equally anticipated Karma drone, the Hero 5 Session and Hero 5 Black will have to demonstrate to consumers that they are enough of an improvement over the existing GoPro Hero 4 generation in order to convince people to upgrade. So how do they compare to the last generation devices?

GoPro Hero 5 Black
Image source: GoPro

Resolution

Firstly, GoPro has decided not to increase the resolution of either action camera, despite the fact that reports that suggested an 8K recording capacity could be included. So the GoPro Hero 5 Black will output video at 4K resolution, with 30 frames per second the maximum possible frame rate. The GoPro Hero 5 Session, the more affordable off the two devices, also outputs at 4K at 30 frames per second.

Waterproofing

GoPro had promised that it would deliver a significant upgrade in terms of waterproofing with the GoPro Hero 5 generation, and this has indeed been achieved. Both the GoPro Hero 5 Black and GoPro Hero 5 Session are capable of being utilized underwater at a depth of 10 meters. This was impossible with the GoPro Hero 4, with both of the releases in the previous generation requiring a special add-on unit in order to achieve waterproofing.

Photography

There is little tangible improvement in the photographic capabilities of the GoPro Hero 5 Black, but the still photo capturing of the GoPro Hero 5 Session has been improved slightly. Whereas the GoPro Hero 4 Session captured still photographs at 8-megapixels, the new action camera will deliver a 10-megapixel maximum. The GoPro Hero 5 Black can provide still photographs at 12-megapixels resolution, exactly the same as the last generation equivalent.

GoPro Hero 5 vs. GoPro Hero 4 – specs sheet

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Touchscreen

The GoPro Hero 5 Black is notable for the inclusion of a two-inch touchscreen, which can be used to navigate the camera’s functions. This is something which has never been included in the GoPro Hero Black range previously, and indeed is not part of the portfolio of features included in the GoPro Hero 5 Session.

Sound and recording

GoPro has emphasized the sound and recording capabilities of the new GoPro Hero range, with both cameras fitted with a three-microphone system which enables stereo recording. Additionally, there is a four-speaker system built into both the GoPro Hero 5 Session and GoPro Hero 5 Black which will improve significantly on the sound production of the action cameras. Both of the previous generation action cameras delivered sound at 48KHz with Advanced Audio Coding.

GoPro Hero 4 Session

GPS

Another improvement that GoPro has made with the GoPro Hero 5 generation is the introduction of a GPS system. This is becoming increasingly important in all manner of technology, with Apple having recently introduced GPS into the Apple Watch smartwatch, with the second generation release.

Neither the GoPro Hero 4 Black nor GoPro Hero 4 Session included GPS, so this is a significant step forward for the series.

Electronic Stabilization

GoPro has also included a new electronic stabilization system in both the GoPro Hero 5 releases, ensuring that even amateurs can produce professional standard video footage. This is a completely new feature which was not present in either of the GoPro Hero 4 releases.

Drone

Alongside the release of the two action cameras, GoPro has unveiled the hotly anticipated Karma drone, with the corporation promising that both the GoPro Hero 5 Black and GoPro Hero 5 Session collaborate significantly with this innovative device. The drone is certainly a expensive, and it is debatable to what extent consumers will be interested in shelling out for what is a niche device.

Launch price

It is some time since the GoPro Hero 4 generation was released, but the more expensive of the two devices retailed at $710 at the time. The GoPro Hero 4 Session was always intended to be a more affordable variant of the action camera, and was sold at $399 relatively recently, before the corporation cut the price ahead of the release of the Go Pro Hero 5.

However, GoPro realized that both of the next generation action cameras must be made more attractive to consumers in the challenging market climate, and therefore they both retail at lower price points than either the GoPro Hero 4 Session or Black did when they were first released. Thus, you can pick up the GoPro Hero 5 Black for $399, with the GoPro Hero 5 Session costing just $299.

Conclusion

Those looking to purchase an action camera may have hoped that the specs of the GoPro Hero 5 would be improved more tangibly over the last generation action camera. However, some of the practical improvements made in this series should help GoPro offer more to everyday consumers, and the price tag of the two devices is certainly attractive as well. This could translate into significant sales, which GoPro certainly needs to materialize if it is to recover its market position and secure its ultimate future.