GoPro has been teasing the release of its much-anticipated HERO5 for months. The company actually released two new HERO5 models and an RC Drone. The first, the HERO5 Session, is essentially a refined version of the 2015 HERO Session. It’s new, pretty, packed with features and comparatively affordable.
The second camera GoPro released is the big one fans have been looking forward to: the HERO5 Black. The camera’s shell is significantly more rugged than its predecessor’s. Unlike the HERO4, the Black is waterproof to 33 feet, so you don’t need to buy a separate, expensive polycarbonate housing to take it in the water. If you want to go deeper than 33 feet, you can always purchase the GoPro Super Suit dive case.
In addition, GoPro also simplified the camera’s controls, which now consist of a 2-inch touchscreen and a single button. It also made improvements to the user interface; for example, the menus are now more streamlined.
In the past, GoPro’s cameras have struggled with wind noise, as do most action cams. After all, you’re often recording while engaging in intense activities outdoors, so wind is bound to be a factor, and there isn’t much to be done about it. To improve sound quality as much as possible, the GoPro HERO5 Black features three separate microphones. Cleverly, the little action cam switches between the mics to provide you with sound that has as little wind interference as possible. It’s still not perfect, but it’s a definite improvement.
Sound clarity is crucial because the Black uses voice commands. You can use these spoken commands to do a variety of things, including start and stop recordings, capture photos, and tag clip highlights. The command library continues to grow, and the introduction of the Remo remote control further expands the voice command capabilities.
This action camera captures 4K video at up to 30 frames per second, so you can play back your videos in Ultra HD. You can also capture stunning 12MP RAW images and make use of a high dynamic range, which GoPro calls WDR, to bring even greater detail to your photos.
There are a few other useful image capture features, including 30 fps bursts, which are great for capturing action shots, and there is a time-lapse mode. The linear-view mode eliminates image stretching and distortion when you capture wide-angle images and videos. In addition, video stabilization minimizes camera shake, although if you’re engaging in seriously intense activity or are bumping around on an off-road mountain bike trail, you’re still bound to experience some image shake. Also, built-in GPS makes tagging your location easy.
GoPro’s previous action cams had overly complex and sometimes inadequate sharing capabilities, but the HERO5 Black simplifies the process. However, there is a cost associated with this ease – you need to buy a monthly subscription to GoPro Plus, which is essentially a cloud service. Using this service, when you connect your HERO5 to its charger, the camera automatically uploads all of your captured content to the cloud. You can then access, edit and share your videos and pictures from your smartphone or tablet. The service also includes access to licensed music tracks you can slip into your videos, as well as offers like 20 percent off GoPro mounts and accessories.
To make editing easier for the average consumer, GoPro now offers two editing apps: Splice and Quik. They are available for Android and Apple devices as well as desktop computers. Quik has an auto-edit function that analyzes your content and edits out the boring parts, only keeping what it thinks are the most exciting bits. It also adds smooth transitions between the edited frames and syncs them to the beat of the music you choose to drop in. If you’re not happy with the results, you can make further edits yourself.