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GoPro HERO12 announced: Double the battery life and new Max Lens Mod

The new GoPro HERO12 promises hugely increased battery life. Image: GoPro
5 minute read
The new GoPro HERO12 promises hugely increased battery life. Image: GoPro

The new GoPro HERO12 dramatically improves on battery life and introduces a new and improved Max Lens Mod. Here's the lowdown on what to expect.

It does sometimes feel like there's a new action camera announced every five minutes at the moment, but one of the most hotly awaited ones is from GoPro. The HERO12 Black has just been announced, and although it is yet more evolution rather than revolution, it features some capabilities that have been requested for a long time.

What's new on the GoPro HERO12?

As I suspected, the 1-inch sensor rumour that was doing the rounds on Twitter (let's not get drawn into that X business) was false. One of the main headline features of the HERO12 is not a fancy new sensor, nor frame rates or resolution, but battery life.

Battery life has been the bane of any GoPro user's life, and for this year's model the company hasn't just made a slight gain in duration, but a huge one. Not only that, but the extra long battery life goes hand in hand with much better thermal management.

To put it into figures, the HERO12 black can record up to 70 minutes in 5.3K 60p with HyperSmooth turned on before it becomes thermally limited vs 35 minutes on the HERO11. The new camera can run for 58 minutes in 4K 120p with HyperSmooth turned on before it becomes thermally limited vs 28 minutes for the HERO11.


In 5.3K 30p, you can expect 90 minutes of continuous recording with no thermal limitation with HyperSmooth on, and up to 155 minutes in 1080 30p. With DJI's Action 4 setting the standard for good battery life, it appears that GoPro has come back fighting with some impressive stats of its own. Even better is that these figures have been achieved with HyperSmooth, Bluetooth, and other wireless connections turned on, rather than being fudged.

How has this been achieved? GoPro didn't want to give away the full secrets, but it appears a lot of optimisation has been done, since the HERO12 still uses the same GP2 processor that is found in the previous two models.

New mount?

I was very much hoping that GoPro would replace its finger style mounting for the much faster magnetic style that is increasingly being found on other makes. However, while the folding fingers are still here, GoPro has finally now included a 1/4" screw mount on the base as well.

Other than the new screw mount addition, externally the HERO12 is pretty much the same as the HERO11. Those expecting a new bezel less display or front touch screen will be disappointed. However, what the camera lacks in external evolution, it makes up for internally.

For more professional application the camera now includes a new GP-Log mode, alongside LUTs for use in grading software. Although it's not clear whether the new log mode switches the camera into the wide colour gamut mode that used to need the labs firmware to enable.

HyperSmooth has been upgraded to version 6. Until now it has been difficult to see the differences in HyperSmooth evolutions, but we were shown a demo that showed a clear difference between version 6.0 on the HERO12 and version 5.0 on the HERO11. Auto Boost now processes 4x more data than the previous iteration, and can keep a wider angle of view whilst vastly improving stabilisation during violent movement.


HDR video

New HDR video modes have been included on the HERO12, but this isn't HDR in the sense of using it on HDR displays. In frame rates up to 30p in 5.3K and up to 60p in 4K, the camera will combine two different exposures on two different frames to achieve a useful boost to dynamic range. The demos we were shown looked impressive, although it remains to see how well it works in practice. This mode could be very useful for mountain bikers who often go into dark forests with bright patches of light being cast through the trees.

HERO12 cameras can now be timecode synched to one another for multi-GoPro shoots, and the new device can also now record audio from bluetooth earbuds. So for example, you could mount the camera on the bonnet of your car and record audio from inside using a pair of wireless earbuds. This isn't quite the same as using a wireless mic such as the RØDE Wireless Go series, but it appears to be a very useful addition. In addition, the HERO12 can connect to up to four bluetooth devices simultaneously, so you don't have to sacrifice the remote for earbud recording or vice versa. The GoPro will also respond to voice commands using your earbuds as well, giving feedback as to whether it has begun recording.

Last year, when GoPro introduced its new 8x7 ratio sensor, users could choose multiple aspect ratios for output without sacrificing resolution. However, some users simply just want vertical video. With that in mind the camera can now be placed into a vertical video recording mode. This doesn't require any re-orientation of the camera itself, since it merely crops in on the 8x7 sensor area, saving time for those users who only ever use that aspect ratio.

Max-Lens-Mod-2.0_ HERO12-Black_detached
The New Max Lens Mod 2.0 offers 177-degrees FOV. Image: GoPro

Max Lens Mod 2.0

I was hoping for a wider lens on the camera itself, but GoPro has given us the next best thing, a new version of the Max Lens Mod. I loved the original Max Lens Mod, but I stopped using it for two reasons. The first was that it wasn't hydrophobic, so water droplets were a real issue with using it, and the second was that it was vulnerable to scratches.

Max Lens Mod 2.0 comes complete with a hydrophobic coating and a claimed 2x better scratch resistance than the original. The Max Lens Mod 2.0 gives the HERO12 a 177-degree FOV with full horizon levelling, making it superb for POV. But that's not the main story here. Unlike the original Max Lens Mod mode, which was limited to 2.7K, the HERO12 can now use it and record 4K resolution up to 60fps and 1080p at up to 120fps.

Max Lens Mod 2.0 only works in 16:9 modes due to the way it works, but it should make for some extremely immersive and creative shots.

Desktop software

The Quik app on a phone is where a lot of casual users do their editing. But for those who prefer using desktop software, GoPro is finally bringing the Quik app to both macOS and Windows (in 2024). The interface we were shown looked extremely clean and easy to use, and any edits that are made with the phone app will appear in the desktop app as well, assuming you have a GoPro subscription.

One of the questions I get asked most about by GoPro users is what the best software is for editing the footage. I find it difficult to recommend phone apps, since editing with those is a royal pain as far as I'm concerned, and I can't really recommend complex software like Resolve to someone who doesn't know their Rec.709 from their Cineon. For users who are after something easy to use to perform their edits on, with minimal learning curve, the new Quik desktop software could be just the ticket. Even without a subscription, it will still allow edits of all types of footage to be performed, not just from a GoPro camera.


Other features

Other new features include an interval photo mode that can go down to a timing of 0.5 seconds between images, capturing 27MP images. All camera modes can now use the 8x7 ratio, such as NightLapse and TimeWarp.

GoPro also claims to have made big gains with the efficiency of video encoding. The bitrate is still a maximum of 120Mbps (which can be boosted once the Labs firmware is released for the camera), but the company says that image quality has been improved due to much better compression efficiency in the new camera.

Other cameras?

One interesting tidbit that GoPro founder Nick Woodman revealed during the briefing about the HERO12 is that the company is working on a new MAX 360 camera. No specific details were revealed about its capabilities other than it is in the works, and that it will be significantly more capable than the existing camera. This will come as welcome news for 360 enthusiasts,  since the existing MAX is now four years old. With the resolution of sensor now being used in the standard GoPro, and the Max Lens Mod 2.0 now 4K capable, this opens up some intriguing possibilities for over capture resolution on the new camera, given that the Max Lens Mod is effectively one half of a 360 camera, with its 177-degree FOV. In fact, some have experimented capturing 360 footage in the past using two GoPros with Max Lens Mods back to back. Fascinating stuff!

The GoPro HERO12 Black and Max Lens Mod 2.0 are available for pre-order now priced at $399.99 and $99.99 ($79.99 for GoPro subscribers) respectively, with availability beginning on 13th Sept.

GoPro is also hosting an "Ask me anything" virtual event for GoPro subscribers on Sept 7th, which you can register for here.

Tags: Production News Featured Action cameras