September 21, 2016

Photokina 2016: Go Pro HD Hero 5 Black

The (Go Pro) Hero Returns with some cool new features

Go Pro HD Hero 5

Pretty slick looking huh! Check out the official video of the Go Pro HD Hero 5 below:

The Go Pro HD Hero 4 Black edition was announced and released 2 years ago this month. It came with some superb features and upgrades...of course, I bought one.

I have used the Hero 4 on many jobs including weddings, aerial video with the Phantom 2 drone and more. It has been a camera that always tends to be in my bag. I use it for any shoot that requires a small form, high quality 4K camera or simply as a B or C camera.

There were still a few gripes with the HD Hero 4 features that the users were asking to be addressed. With the newly announced HD Hero 5, it seems that Go Pro have listened to some, and ignored others. So what's all the fuss about?

Go Pro HD Hero 5 Features

It makes me laugh when companies like Go Pro say "Simply the best Go Pro, or iPhone, ever!". Apple did the same with the latest iPhone 7 release.

Of course it is the newest and it's a given that it should be better.

I can't see anyone releasing a product with the tagline "this is the newest Go Pro ever but not quite as good as the last one or even what you are looking for but please buy it anyway"…

Anyway. The Go Pro HD Hero 5 does come with some superb new features such as:

No Case Required

The HD Hero 5 comes as a standalone camera for the first time and is good for up to 33ft or 10m underwater with no housing. This is great for those adventurers that want to use the camera without housing around water. The lack of casing helps to capture the best "stereo" audio.

The following can now use the Go Pro right out of the bag without worrying about water:

  • Skiers
  • Snowboarders
  • Surfers
  • Snorkelers
  • Swimmers
  • Skydivers
  • Mountain bikers

For deeper activities, you can still buy the usual underwater housing to take you to greater depths.

2 Inch Rear Touch Screen

Excellent! No more having to buy expensive after market products or a lesser model (silver version) to be able to see what you are filming. The Go Pro HD Hero 5 now comes with a 2" rear touch screen as standard. This is great for previewing and playing back your footage.

Video Stabilisation

For the first time in a Go Pro, the Hero 5 comes with built in video stabilisation. I am not sure how effective this is when compared to using a third party stabiliser but anything is better than nothing. Plus it shows that Go Pro are listening to people! Time will tell how good this is.

You can see from this test footage from a mountain bike that the stabilisation appears to be pretty good:

Voice Control

Now this is huge. You can now give voice commands (in seven languages including English, Japanese, French, Italian, German, Chinese and Spanish) to the Go Pro HD Hero 5

Commands such as:

  • "Go Pro take a photo"
  • "Go Pro shoot burst"
  • "Turn off"

...which will undoubtedly please extreme sports enthusiasts who have their hands full most of the time.

This will save us all time and SD card space. However, I can see hilarity ensuing as friends and family take over (voice) control whenever you have this activated.

Video and Photo Quality

The HD Hero 4 already produced superb 4K and 2.7K video but the HD Hero 5 now touts:

  • Professional grade low-light performance
  • Ultra-sharp image quality
  • All-new video stabilization

IS (image stabilisation) has been a long requested feature among Go Pro users. It is finally a part of the new Hero 5 camera.

Another big issue for me in the Hero 4 and all other Go Pro cameras is the barrel distortion. I was hoping that Go Pro would eliminate this entirely which they haven't. However, they have addressed it with a new "Linear Mode" which reduces the effect significantly. Apparently.

This Linear Mode is separate from all other modes (SuperView, Wide, Medium and Narrow) and has to be set prior to filming. It is only available with wide angle view. If (when) I buy this camera, I can see myself leaving the Go Pro HD Hero 5 on this setting for most of my shoots.

Video rates are (sadly) the same as the Hero 4…

  • 4K video at either 30 or 25 frames per second in wide
  • 1440p at 80fps
  • 1080p at 120fps
  • SuperView and Wide shoot 4K at 24fps
  • Medium and Linear modes shoot in 2.7K
  • Narrow mode is capped at 1080p HD

You also get…

  • One touch start and recording
  • Auto upload to cloud

I would love to have seen 4K at 60fps and faster frame rates for other sizes but hey ho, we can't have everything.

For stills, the HD Hero 5 has a GPS chip for location recording and the ability to produce 12mp RAW photos. These are much better for editing and manipulating. It will also shoot a higher dynamic range with HDR photos at 12mp, 30fps bursts and time lapse video.

12mp JPEGs come in at around 7mb.

Sound Quality

Since the release of the Go Pro HD Hero 3 and 4, the sound quality has been pretty good when the Go Pro is out of its casing. Check out the huge improvement in video and sound quality between the HD Hero, HD Hero 2, HD Hero 3 and HD Hero 4.

The Hero 5 now has three on board mics so it can record in stereo. Supposedly, it can also choose between the microphones and "cherry pick" the sound quality depending on the wind noise it picks up. I will hopefully be doing a full comparison between the Go Pro HD Hero 4 and 5 soon.

Of course, using an external microphone wherever possible will give you the ultimate in sound quality.

HD Hero 5 Battery

Battery power and recording times have always been an issue with the later Go Pros. Smaller form cameras with faster processors and rear screens mean less run times (just over an hour in my use of the Hero 4) and I always found myself using an external battery pack.

With the Hero 5, the replaceable lithium-ion battery is a notch better than before at 1220mAh. This is up from the 1160mAh battery in previous models and may run up to two hours.

A more modern approach from Go Pro gives the HD Hero 5 the latest and reversible USB Type-C cable to recharge and connect to your computer.

Both GoPro Hero 4 Black and Silver used the USB mini when they were released two years ago. Back then it was already becoming dated to the micro USB.

There are still a few specs that I would like to know and clarify but for now, this new Go Pro looks like it will be finding one new home with me. After all, I have owned and used every release to date so why stop now?

The Hero 5 Black will work with all existing accessories and costs £349.99. It will be going on sale from October 2nd.

Go Pro HD Hero 5 Row

Also, be sure to check out the new Go Pro Karma Drone which utilises the Go Pro HD Hero 5 (and 4 & 6) and takes it to new heights…literally!

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gadgets, Go Pro, new releases, video

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