There’s far less to delve into with performance on the Hero 2018 compared with GoPro’s last three releases. It’s also another camera that breaks my basic rules for action camera specifications: 1080p at 60fps and 4k at 30fps. It hits the 1080p 60fps requirement but doesn’t offer any type of 4K option. I find this disappointing, especially as there is a 1440p option.
I can only guess that the inclusion of 1440p is to give users a little scope for cropping into the image for better composition during editing. However, as this camera is all about simplicity, I would have thought that cropping to improve composition would be a slightly more advanced feature.
No 4K Video
4K video is fast becoming standard but it still presents some issues for some mobile devices and computers, whereas just about anyone can edit HD video. Nevertheless, the inclusion of 4K video capability would have future-proofed the camera for a few years.
As it is, I imagine that the majority of people will stick to shooting 1080p at 60fps as this is probably the most widely compatible option for editing and playback.
Another disappointment is the lack of compatibility with the Karma Grip and Drone. The drone may be discontinued, but the grip is still very much on sale. I would have thought that the new Hero would be an ideal Karma Grip partner, but at the moment if you plug it into the Karma Grip, you just get the ‘connected to USB’ screen showing on the GoPro. Maybe this will change with a firmware update in the near future?
Impressive built-in stabilisation
Saying that, the built-in image stabilisation works incredibly well, and although it’s not quite up to Karma standards it’s still impressive.
For any camera, the longevity of the battery is an important factor, and the new GoPro Hero has an impressive recording time of 2 hours and 5 minutes when filming 1080p at 60fps. Around an hour and a half is still the average for most action cameras.
It’s also good to see that the battery is replaceable, so if you are out for a long ride or away on holiday then a couple of spare batteries should easily see you through.
As with the GoPro Hero6, the Hero 2018 has the exposure lock feature. This works by holding your finger down on the screen for a couple of seconds. Once the exposure box appears you can then shift the point of exposure around the screen and then click to lock. This is a little-known option but it’s incredibly useful when you’re filming.
Aimed at the entry-level there is no visible decrease in the image quality at the available resolutions when you compare the footage with that shot on the GoPro Hero 6.
Colours are clear and vibrant and the amount of detail and tones really is impressive. Switching between 30fps and 60fps it’s hard to see any difference in the actual quality. Only moving objects within the frame highlight the increase in framerate by being slightly more fluid in movement.
Shooting at 60fps does to some degree mask and drop in frame quality. Looking at the bitrate and it shows that at both 30 and 60fps the average Mbit/s is around 30, which for a camera of this size is impressive.
Colour and tone and both framerates looks crisp, clear and vibrant and even in the relatively dull weather conditions on the first day of the test the small camera was capable of capturing a good amount of shadow and highlight detail.
Decent quality replaceable lens
Later in the test and with the backing of a couple of sunny days and the camera really came into its own with beautifully vibrant colour that showed an abundance of detail.
The lens did show the usual signs of mild fish-eye distortion, but this is all part of the GoPro look and it would be disappointing if there was an absence of distortion. There are little to no signs of Chromatic aberration towards the edges of the lens or at the contrast edges.
Having a lens that can be easily replaced is an essential for any true action camera, as by the very nature of the genre they’re going to get damaged. Quite often this damage will effect image quality so a new lens is often a quick and easy way to revitalise your camera.
One of the advanced features is the Image stabilisation and this can be switched on and off as you need. Once activated it does reduce you FOV by 10% but then if you’re using the camera for Vlogging then this isn’t really going to bother you too much. The stabilisation effect is excellent smoothing out footage exceptionally well. It’s not quite as good as the Karma but really not that far off.
Since the release of the Hero 5 there have been a few issues with the GoPro audio with people complaining about it sounding muffled, bad in windy conditions etc. I have to admit that I find the GoPro audio exceptional when compared with many other action cameras, but I have to say that the audio on the Hero seemed to be a step-up.
Standing in front of the GoPro Hero and talking the audio recorded clearly. Even though there was plenty of ambient noise coming from the road I was really impressed with the quality. Moving around the camera and each of the small microphones takes a second or so to catch up but again the quality from each mic is good.
Unlike the Hero 5 and 6 there’s no way to adjust the audio settings and it seems the camera handles all audio levels adjustments.