GoPro has always occupied a pretty narrow niche of camera users. In fact, there are almost certainly more people who own the action camera than a life gnarled or radical enough to actually need it. With this laser focus, GoPro is able to continue optimizing with every new update of its HERO series.
This action camera experience comes to the fore with the latest version, the HERO6 Black. At $ 499, this is the company’s most expensive addition to date, but the ubiquitous additions to this model make the HERO6 Black a clear flagship for the action cam industry.
In terms of design, it is identical to what was before. So what’s new to differentiate it from the cheaper, still very powerful HERO5 Black?
The resolution and frame rate jumps are the most spectacular features. Capturing 4K at 60 frames and 2.7K at 120 frames is pretty awesome for this tiny camera, and the quality you can get by bringing in 1080p footage at 240 frames per second for buttery slow-motion is very creative. This doubling of frames is opened up by the 6’s specially designed GP1 chip, which also allows the camera to achieve a wider dynamic range than previous cameras and improve performance in low light (although there is still room to grow).
There are some notable improvements to this camera, besides adding higher frame rates to 4K video. Digital image stabilization is perhaps one of the HERO6’s biggest stars – it’s surprisingly good. It’s not a miracle worker for hopelessly bumpy footage, but it does show some magic with source videos that were far from stable during capture without feeling unnatural. For current owners, one of the most notable improvements is stabilization.
If you rely heavily on the GoPro mobile app, you will definitely also notice the 5GHz Wi-Fi support which triple the offload times between the HERO6 and your phone. This time ranges from an incredibly long time on HERO5 to quite a long time on HERO6.
It is important for potential buyers to note that the camera uses the HEVC format, which makes the HERO6 better fit in smaller file sizes. HEVC won’t be friendly with all devices, but if you have a neat new phone or beefy computer running Windows 10 or High Sierra, you can have some fun. Here you can check the compatibility of your device. You can still shoot in H.264 for a variety of other modes, but things like 4K / 60 and 1080p / 240 are only reserved for HEVC, which is a bit stupid.
The battery life leaves a lot to be desired when recording with 4K / 60. After an hour of aggressive shooting, the camera’s battery was dead. Add the extraordinary hassle of discharge clips from the HERO6 to your phone over Wi-Fi and it is obvious that you will want to have some spare batteries on hand. Fortunately, the HERO6 uses the same type of battery as the HERO5.
GoPro, the company, may be eager to find another hit with the Karma drone or the Fusion 360 camera. However, since it comes down to creating features in its flagship line to get consumers to upgrade, they seem to be on the right track with the HERO6.
The little action camera that could still be deliciously fun and shockingly powerful for its size. The HERO6 Black offers excellent performance that surpasses its predecessor in several key metrics. With the HERO5 Black currently selling for $ 299, the decision to buy the HERO6 Black for first-time owners will be much more difficult. However, if you want to take the plunge for $ 499, you get a whole load of cameras.