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Gadgets & Gizmos: Action Hero

For those looking beyond smartphone cameras for their adventure trips, GoPro's Hero5 black is a must buy

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GoPro is probably the first, if not the only name that comes to mind when you talk about action and adventure cameras — the kind you can strap onto a helmet or bolt onto the side of your bike/car and record your exciting (or mundane, I am not judging) adventures. It is for good reason, too — not only did GoPro practically invent the segment, it has upped its game consistently enough to dominate the market. The last couple of years have been quiet for the company, giving the competition a foot in the door… and the new Hero5 Black, GoPro’s comeback charge, is the all-out no-compromise package that the company needed to refresh its lineup.

It is in the Hero5 Black’s design that GoPro’s taken the biggest leap forward from previous generations. The camera is still small and diminutive, with curved corners and a soft-touch rubberised exterior. But the camera is now completely rugged and waterproof without the need of a protective housing, something you had to add as an accessory with previous models. As a result, you can now dunk your Hero5 Black in water (up to 33 feet) or take it to the wild outdoors with the camera showing no signs of being worse for wear. The case-free design also means the camera captures better stereo audio right out of the box as well.

Now, while the design retains the characteristic front monochrome LCD for displaying stats like remaining storage capacity and battery life, the 2-inch touchscreen LCD around the rear is where all the action happens. Whether it is playing back videos, watching the live video view or changing settings, the responsive touch-enabled interface makes the device almost as intuitive to use as any smartphone — a big plus for something that is competing with increasingly weather-resistant smartphones from Apple and Samsung. The coolest bit? Voice control. Just say “GoPro, take a photo” or “GoPro, start recording” or one of a dozen-or-so commands, and the three mics pick up your voice, and do your bidding. For the most part, it works as advertised, even with some amount of background noise, and is a fun, hands-free way to work the device, especially when you are biking or holding onto something for dear life! Just remember, battery life is a middling 1.5 hours of continuous shooting, so buy a spare battery if you are a heavy user.

In packing in the bells and whistles into the Hero 5 Black, GoPro’s legendary video output remains untouched, and the new model shoots up to 12 megapixel photos and 4K resolution video at 30 frames per second, and dialing down the resolution to full HD affords 120 frames per second of slow-motion video. For a camera this size, the Hero5 Black turns out smooth videos with good details and colours, and the camera is in its element in good light — low light results are usable but this clearly isn’t a low-light champ. I quite liked the new Linear View shooting mode, since it eliminates the distortion you see in the typical ‘GoPro fisheye’ wide-angle videos, and the introduction of electronic image stabilisation makes handheld videos noticeably smoother and look incredibly professionally shot.

The Hero5 Black then represents the culmination of years of GoPro’s experience of making action cameras for adrenaline addicts and travel buffs, and those considering an action camera should have this at the top of their list.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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gadgets & gizmos Gopro magazine 01 May 2017

Tushar Kanwar

The author is Technology Columnist and Program Manager in Bengaluru, India

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