While the main thing people were waiting for at the recent GoPro launch event was the Karma drone, the headline announcements were, in fact, for the new Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session cameras.
Interestingly, the main focus of the new cameras was not on any particular improvements to the sensor technology, but to convenience features. Both new cameras do not need a housing for waterproofing. The Hero5 Black, for instance, is rated down to 30ft without a housing (although to mount them onto helmets, bike handlebars etc., they will still need to be put into a frame case). This should mean that sound recording, now in stereo, in wet settings should be much improved. In addition, the Black Edition has built-in noise cancellation.
The Hero5 Black now incorporates a 2" LCD touchscreen display on the rear and a newly revamped menu system over previous models.
GPS is also now incorporated into the Hero5 Black. These are all pretty good additions. However, the headline features include a new voice control system to activate still photo taking and to start and stop video recording. It's a great idea, although it will be interesting to see how it copes with the sometimes very noisy natural environments that these cameras find themselves in. This function apparently also recognises seven different languages.
Electronic stabilisation is also now featured on both the Session and the Black, a feature which has been featured on rival cameras for some time now. So, it is good to see GoPro finally implementing this.
Interestingly, as far as video specifications are concerned, both cameras can record 4K at up to 30fps, which may disappoint those who were hoping for 4K at 60P with even higher frame rates at 1080 resolutions. The Black is now capable of taking raw stills at up to 12MP, while the Session can take JPEG photos at up to 10MP. There is also a new WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) mode for JPEG photos.
GoPro Hero5 Session
Usability seems to be the order of the day, especially when it comes to editing. The cameras can now upload footage automatically to the cloud if you have a GoPro+ account, while charging. Once uploaded, you can use the mobile app to edit the footage. GoPro showcased the new auto-editing features, which can automatically create an edit for you in the shot order you select and will create cuts on musical beats for you. A new key fob with an SD sot is also available to enable the quick transfer of footage from the camera to a smartphone.
There's no doubt that GoPro has been losing ground to other, less expensive rivals in the last few years and a lot is riding on the new cameras. The ocmpany may just have found the right balance here though. The Karma has been priced very sensibly ($799) and the new Hero5 cameras have introduced some very usable features at a price point that is slightly more palatable that previous versions – most certainly an evolution rather than a revolution.
$399 (£306) will get you the Black, while $299 (£299) will get you the Session and both cameras will be available on 2nd October. It will be interesting to see if this all amounts to the boost the company needs.