GoPro has done something remarkable with the launch of the GoPro Hero7 Black. The camera has restored faith in the troubled action camera manufacturer, and see’s the company refocusing on its core users.
Other manufacturers should take note, by focusing in on what they do best, GoPro has created something… Well, awesome!
HyperSmooth is the most significant feature to hit GoPro since the original camera launched. As we all know, image stabilisation is nothing new, but there has never been digital image stabilisation quite like this.
This level of smooth flowing footage is incredible, and it’s hard to believe that it’s all done without any mechanical interaction.
It’s now been a couple of months since the GoPro Hero7 arrived and it’s only over that time that the significance of this camera and the technology has sunk in.
I’m out on shoots for a least half my working week and usually have a selection of Sony A7 camera bodies and a DJI Ronin-S in tow. Although recently I’ve noticed myself leaving the Ronin-S behind.
The Ronin-S gimbal is impressive at getting those smooth sweeping shots, but they’re usually short and incidental, and for the most part, the GoPro Hero7 Black being small and light is a better solution.
The Stabilisation is excellent and as long as everything is well lit, the image quality rocks as well.
On the scale of productions that I work on, the GoPro footage can be quickly and seamlessly blended in without issue. OK you don’t get the shallow depth of field and a critical eye will instantly see the difference in visual quality, but when it comes to the fluid motion of HyperSmooth, you’d been hard pushed to notice.
The death of the action camera stabiliser
After a quick update, the GoPro Hero7 Black and Karma grip can now be partnered. To be honest, it’s a bit of a pointless union, a cheap selfie stick, or handle is frankly a better choice.
But, there are plenty of other stabiliser grip options out there for action cameras, there’s the Removu, DJI OSMO and Feiyu Tech for example. Some have their cameras built in, and others take any action camera you wish to mount.
The price of these has also been falling. You can now pick up a decent-quality mechanical stabiliser for around £100, but for a proper action camera, you need to add another £200. At which point you’re not too far off the price of the GoPro Hero7 Black, which will probably do a better job, have better video quality and doesn’t take any setting up.
The launch of the GoPro Hero7 Black has in effect made even the cheapest stabiliser option pointless.
Who needs a mobile stabiliser?
At every event and show we attend there will inevitably be a host of vloggers, and ourselves, trouping around with stabilised mobile phones vlogging happily to their eagerly awaiting viewer.
Again the Hero7 Black kills off the need for the likes of the OSMO. The Hero7 Black is lighter, more agile and once you plug in a Rode Video Micro, the audio is excellent.
It also doesn’t drain your mobile phone battery, take up all of your phone’s storage and leave you walking back from an event because you have no juice left to call a taxi.
The GoPro storms in enables you to film the event and lets you make a call later.
If you need to Live Stream, you can do that as well, although that does start to drain your phone’s battery, but not as much as when filming and live streaming on the mobile itself.
HyperSmooth vs Ronin-S
I love the Ronin-S and the process of setting the gimbal up at the start of every shoot. However, quite often it’s a good five minutes of time that I don’t have for a shot which will frankly only last a second or two.
In one production, I gave the GoPro Hero7 Black a trial, and the footage worked perfectly. It was just for an in-house video, so not intended for a huge audience, but an audience nevertheless that required a certain level of quality.
Not only did it work on this occasion, it stormed it.
What now for mechanical stabilisation?
I’ve put forward two scenarios where the GoPro Hero7 has shown it can radically outperform a traditional motorised gimbal; for use with an action camera or mobile phone.
There’s also the matter of the Ronin-S vs HyperSmooth which is harder fought. There’s no doubt that the Ronin-S is more professional, and the quality of the image that will result is that much higher due to the camera size. But there are occasions where you do have to weigh up the pros and cons.
A year ago this wouldn’t have happened. Even though the Ronin-S hadn’t launched, there were other options, but there was no way an action camera could challenge those solutions.
Now though, I would say that there’s probably a large percentage of videographers who could, on the sly, get away with a bit of the GoPro Hero7 Black HyperSmooth magic, rather than a full-blown stabiliser rig.
Is the mechanical gimbal dead?
I would say it’s future is not healthy. We’ve seen how digital technology has dominated and destroyed mechanic and analogue devices in other sectors. Now, I think, we’ll see the same with stabilisation.
Gimbals are heavy, often unwieldy and although they’re usually a much-loved piece of kit, they often get left behind due to weight and practicality.
When it comes to action cameras and mobiles the time has come to ditch your stabiliser.
In the world of CSC and DSLR video use, I’d say time is short and if GoPro licences out this technology, the camera and accessory landscape is going to change at speed.