Taking The Legacy Forward
If you look past its price, you will discover the goodnesss packed in GoPro Hero6 Black
In the past few years, action camera maker GoPro has faced its most existential question yet – why does one need an action camera? I mean, with the latest top-tier smartphones packing impressive levels of stabilisation and waterproofing, a GoPro isn’t as much of a necessity to capture footage in the wet and dusty outdoors. With the Hero6 Black, GoPro’s responded with the confidence of a market leader, upping the ante on performance while retaining all that was good in the popular Hero5 Black.
Yet, you are not going to immediately see the difference, especially if you have the predecessor on hand to compare – these two are visually indistinguishable, the dimensions (and the grippy, rugged build) are the same and all the accessories that are meant to work with last year’s model fit right in with the latest GoPro. It is still very much a GoPro, so you can plunge it into 10-meter deep water, mount it on the side of your off-roader and still slide it into your jeans after you are done. Yet, the Hero6 Black dials it up a few notches in every other way, courtesy the beefier processor chip (GoPro calls it the GP1 chip). This allows the Hero6 its marquee 4K video shooting at 60 frames per second, which translates into silky smooth ultra-high-resolution video capture. The extra power on tap also lets this little shooter grab video slowed down to 240 frames per second so that your backflip into the pool can be seen in glorious, super-slow motion!
To pull off these new shooting modes, GoPro’s using a new high-efficiency video coding (HEVC or H.265) video format, which allows the files to be smaller and recorded more efficiently than those encoded in the older H.264 format. The downside is that many smartphones or PCs just don’t have the chops to handle the advanced compression HEVC entails, so footage will likely not play back smoothly on older PCs and smartphones. As with its predecessor, the camera can be controlled via the GoPro app or via voice control.
In good light, the Hero6 Black delivers, and how! Videos from the Hero6 Black look stunning, with better dynamic range and colors, and the stabilisation, albeit digital (not optical), works well, though if you are after cinematic looking videos with added stabilisation, you should consider the optional Karma Grip.
While the GP1 gives the Hero6 much improved low-light capabilities, image noise is discernible in darker shots and you should really consider shooting in GoPro’s Protune mode so that it can be handled in post-production.
All this tech packed into the Hero6’s diminutive frame comes at the expense of battery life, and shooting all that 4K footage drains the battery in a little less than an hour.
Unless you need the new video shooting capabilities, you would do well picking the predecessor and spending the money saved on mounts and accessories. However, if cutting-edge 4K is crucial for you and you have a good smartphone and PC setup, the Hero6 Black is an impressive package that lives up to the GoPro Hero legacy.
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