The entire GoPro line sees a refresh this fall with the introduction of a new flagship model, the HERO5 Black, as well as a new ultra-compact option, the HERO5 Session. To complement these new cameras, a plethora of new accessories has likewise been announced.
The 4K/12MP HERO5 Black is a substantial redesign over the previous HERO4 Black and Silver models. Though it retains the signature HERO form factor, a 33' waterproof protective housing is now built in. This means for anything short of scuba diving, the “naked” camera alone will suffice.
Addressing one of the biggest challenges when mounting an action camera on something moving, the HERO5 Black features electronic image stabilization, which can be enabled when shooting at Full HD (1080p) resolution. Image stabilization is not available in 4K because the technology requires extra space on the sensor from which to crop a window. This shouldn’t be a big deal, since for fast-moving situations, the higher frame rates offered by the HD modes (up to 120 fps in 1080p) are generally preferred over the highest resolution.
Like the HERO4 Silver, the HERO5 Black will feature an LCD touch screen combined with an all-new, intuitive menu system. To make basic operation as seamless as possible—especially in the heat of the moment—the HERO5 Black features one-button control. This means pressing a single, easy to locate button powers the camera on and triggers recording. If that weren’t enough, the HERO5 Black will be the first GoPro to implement voice recognition. Just by verbal command you can start/stop recording, take photos, and even tag a highlight event with the Highlight Tag feature. Thanks to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, you will also be able to pair the HERO5 Black with your smartphone to view a live image, access settings, automatically upload content to the cloud, and more.
Like its predecessor, the HERO5 Black boasts just about every video setting you could possibly want, from low-res but Web-friendly WVGA up to UHD 4K. For slow-motion effects, it can record 720p at up to 240 fps and 1080p at up to 120 fps. Video is recorded in the MP4 (H.264) codec at up to 60 Mb/s, depending on setting. Field-of-view settings include the familiar Narrow, Wide, and SuperView modes, among others. There is also a new “Linear” setting for wide-angle capture with significantly reduced fisheye distortion.
Photos are captured in the sensor’s full effective resolution of 12MP. In addition to JPEG, the HERO5 Black features raw and WDR (wide dynamic range) capture. WDR uses a single image, but expands the dynamic range for better detail reproduction in the highlights and shadows. This is most useful in high-contrast situations, such as on the ski slopes. Besides single-shot, time-lapse and burst record modes are also available.
I/O connectivity has been simplified. Gone is the proprietary HERO Bus and the legacy Mini-USB port has been cast away in favor of reversible USB-C. Out of the box, the USB-C port can be used for data transfer and battery charging. With an available 3.5mm mic adapter, you can use the port to capture audio from an external microphone or other source. Along with USB-C there is a micro-HDMI port; handy if you want to play back footage directly on a TV or in certain professional applications, such as transmitting with the VISLINK HEROCast, where a live camera feed is required.
Speaking of audio, to overcome wind noise GoPro has bolstered its wind-noise reduction algorithms even further. In addition, the HERO5 Black has not two, but three built-in microphones. This allows the camera to pick out which mic has the cleanest signal and use just its audio. If the right and left channels are both receiving equally good audio, the camera is smart enough to default to recording stereo instead. It can also be locked into stereo recording via the settings for situations where you know wind noise won’t be a problem. Additionally, there is a pro setting where all three mics get recorded, allowing the editor to pick the best track in post or mix several tracks together.
The HERO5 Session retains the cube-shaped, ultra-compact form factor, and 33' waterproof rating of the original HERO Session. However, it has been substantially updated under the hood to give it performance that approximates the HERO5 Black, most notably 4K video recording at 30 fps. Also in common with the HERO5 Black, the HERO5 Session features electronic image stabilization at HD resolution.
Like the HERO5 Black, you are spoiled for choice with the HERO5 Session’s numerous video modes. These include up to 120 fps in 720p and up to 90 fps in 1080p, with MP4 bitrates up to 60 Mb/s. It also offers the Narrow, Wide, SuperView, and Linear field-of-view settings. Photos are captured at a slightly lower but still respectable 10MP using JPEG compression. Burst and time-lapse modes are likewise available.
Size being the principle concern, the HERO5 Session’s design keeps things as simple as possible. This means an integrated rather than removable battery and all-in-one USB-C port for charging and data transfer. The port also serves as an HDMI output using an available adapter. Here, one-button control really pays off since there simply isn’t room on the body for much more. For additional control and playback capability, you can use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to pair the HERO5 Session with your mobile device.
With new cameras come new accessories. Since the HERO5 Black incorporates its own housing, accessories will center around the camera itself more than the housing. For most mounting scenarios, the Frame will be your go-to starting point. Surrounding the body for a secure hold, the Frame will allow the camera to attach to most GoPro mounting accessories—new as well as existing. It features the familiar “two-prong,” thumbscrew tightened-style interface dating to the earliest HEROs. There is also an adapter that enables the Frame to lock into the Mounting Buckle system, a quick-release alternative toward which more and more GoPro mounts are moving.
New mounts being released include the small and large Bar Mount. These can be used for handlebars, roll cages, seat posts, and other sorts of tubular configurations. Most notably feature captive thumbscrews—long gone are the days of dropping a wingnut in the snow and losing it forever. There is also an update to the Sportsman Barrel Mount for outdoor and sporting enthusiasts.
While the HERO5 Black is waterproof and not merely “splash proof,” there are times you will want to take it diving or desire the additional protection afforded by an external housing. For you, my friend, GoPro offers the Super Suit Dive Housing. The housing features a capacitive LCD touch backdoor so that you can change settings with agility, as well as review recorded footage without having to remove that camera. Keep in mind the touch function will not work underwater; however, one-button operation will be unhindered.
Since the lens port of the Super Suit Housing is updated from the Dive Housing lens port, a range of new filters for underwater color correction will be available. There will also be a smaller selection of filters that mount directly on the camera itself for shallow water or dry land applications. Furthermore, the integrated housing’s lens protector is removable for easy replacement, should it get scratched or damaged.
For the HERO5 Black, the new REMO remote control provides a simple way to trigger camera functions when the camera itself is mounted inaccessibly. If features a chunky button for one-button operation that can be pressed while wearing gloves. It also features a microphone so that you can take advantage of voice commands even with the camera placed out of earshot.
The HERO5 Black uses a revamped battery system, which means a new spare battery model. To help you charge not only GoPro, but all of your USB-powered devices, look no further than the Supercharger. When used with a GoPro HERO5, the Supercharger yields a high-amp output for fast charging, compared to most other USB chargers on the market. An assortment of plug adapters for international use come included. To charge batteries separately from the camera, there is a dual charger kit. The kit also includes one spare battery.
For those using the HERO5 around the water but not taking it beneath the surface, the Floaty is sure to be a must-have. This high-visibility orange life preserver fits on the camera and makes it easy to spot, should your HERO5 fall overboard. There is a version for the HERO5 Black and another for the HERO5 Session.
For more information on the new cameras and accessories, please visit the B&H website.