The GoPro Hero5 Black has arrived, and although I’ve been able to check out the camera briefly over the last few weeks, this is the first time worried friends haven’t quickly recalled their new and prized possession.
The Hero5 is a very different camera to the first four iterations of the Hero, the biggest change is of course that it loses the waterproof housing, but really side-by-side, compared to the Hero4 you can instantly see that this is a product that has grown-up.
Taking a quick look through the specs you can see that actually it seems that very little has changed between the Hero4 and 5, especially when it comes to video resolution and frame rates.
We still have a top resolution of 4K at 30fps, 2.7k at 60fps, 1080p at 120fps and WVGA at 240fps, and ProTune is still there for the video pros. The camera is still rated at 12 million pixels and still has a good selection of modes including burst and time-lapse.
These specifications are essentially the reason for GoPro, to shoot video and the odd still at the best possible quality for the size and style of the camera. However these values and the GoPro mount are all the remains of the old style GoPro everything else from here on in is new.
Unlike when the Hero3 and Hero4 were released there is at present only one camera, no Standard or Silver versions just the Hero5 Black. There is the Hero5 Session but that’s another story and the old Session will also continue.
SEE MORE: GoPro Hero 5 vs Hero 4
GoPro Hero 5: a great new design
Starting with the camera it instantly feels like a step-up in class over the Hero4, the build and feel is far more solid and although the GoPro Hero4 felt like a quality camera the Hero5 is in a completely different league.
In the last couple of years we’ve seen a steady stream on GoPro copycats and to be honest some of them are as good if not better than the GoPro Hero4, so with the GoPro Hero5 it’s good to see that the new cameras build is significantly different to the cameras that have been before, and you can see that the product designers have really gone to town on the design.
Following on from the original Session the new camera loses the bulky waterproof housing and instead fits inside a skeleton caddy that features the usual GoPro mount on the base.
There was some rumour that GoPro had redesigned the mount, but thankfully it’s stayed the same so for many of us who have invested in the system it’s good to see that it hasn’t changed.
As with the old housing the new cage is held firmly around the GoPro by a lever style lock and once in place the camera is waterproof to a depth of 10m, if you want to go deeper then there’s the new Super Suit which is a slightly redesigned version of the old case.
Comparing the Hero4 and Hero5 side-by-side and both released from their housing and cage the Hero5 is noticeably bigger and slightly heavier, but seeing as how it’s now waterproof without the housing that increase in size and weight all balances out.
Putting them on the scales actually shows an identical weight for the fully equipped Hero4 and Hero5, 170g each.
Once released from the cage there are a couple of protected waterproof doors. A small recessed button on the side releases a door that protects the HDMI and new USB connector. On the base is another door that gives you access to the battery and which is a 1220 mAh 3.85v li-Ion.
Dotted around the camera are the new microphones that are supposed to dramatically improve audio quality.
The new design also means that the camera is a bit more streamline than the previous version and the fact that you can now directly push the buttons without having to use the contact buttons through the waterproof housing is a definite improvement.
On the exterior there are now only two buttons, the top for on touch video record, and the mode button on the side. For me this streamlined approach is a welcome addition and instantly makes sense. Less time faffing around and more time to have fun. This GoPro also boast one touch operation which is always good.
The reduction in buttons is due to a completely reworked menu and navigation system. The small mono display on the front of the camera still exists but this has now been joined by a large 2-inch touch display on the back.
The display is clear and bright and the touch navigation instantly makes sense. It also offers the ability to quickly flick through options and settings in a style that many will be familiar with due to smart phones.
The Menu system has several direct functions that enable you to change resolution, frame rates etc, then swiping the screen in each direction will instantly give you access to a variety of different options.
GoPro Hero 5: a few advanced extras
I’m always surprised where GoPro’s turn-up and more often than not it’s not an extreme sports enthusiast. GoPro’s are used by all sorts of people including many photographers but until now there has been one feature that been sorely missing and thats exposure control.
There’s now the ability to control exposure and this finally enables you to lock the camera’s shutter speed so the issues of constantly changing exposure will be a thing of the past.
GoPro have really looked at the imaging needs and alongside the 4K video and 12 MP photos they’ve added RAW WDR photo capture, the WDR stands for wide dynamic range and enables the camera to capture more shadow and highlight detail. A feature no doubt aimed at drone users and ideal for the release of the Karma.
They’ve also included GPS as standard so you can now record where you have been which is all very handy.
Finally there’s the new voice control so you can shout at your GoPro which I’m sure I’ll enjoy immensely.
As re-workings go I think the GoPro Hero5 is excellent. I’ve already seen a few reviews digging at certain features and glitches with the software, but so far this model at least seem to be working 100%.