GoPro Hero 6 Black Review Snap Verdict
The release of the GoPro Hero6 Black has been one of the most anticipated of 2017. Which would be surprising for a camera that fits in your pocket, but then this is a camera from GoPro, a company that more than most knows the importance of getting noticed.
The compact GoPro Hero6 Black has caused more speculation and intrigue than many cameras twice its size, but can it really live up to its hype? This last week we’ve been putting the Hero 6 through it’s paces and sure enough it is the best action camera we’ve used… but it’s not all been plain sailing.
For the GoPro Hero6 Black
- 60fps at 4K
- 240fps at 1080p
- Fits all Hero 5 accessories
Against the GoPro Hero6 Black
- No Live streaming feature
- Lens scratches easily
- Same old audio issues
Everyone expected the GoPro Hero6 Black to pack in the headline features: 8K, live streaming and smart features that set it aside from the action camera mainstream. We even put forward our best guesses: some of which were right, and some of which were wrong.
We’d been excited and speculating for months about what the new GoPro camera was going to reveal, but as the usual late September release date approached a swath of leaks from retailers across the globe gave us an early insight into what it would actually offer.
Those early sightings showed us one thing: although the camera would look identical to the Hero 5 Black there would be no big leaps in resolution. This release was all about something new inside.
Let’s not at this early stage of our GoPro Hero6 Black review dismiss the new camera’s leap in frame rates for both 4K and 1080p; they are after all double what we had in the Hero5 Black, it’s just that frame rates just doesn’t have the pull of big scale resolution.
When the Hero5 was released we were all expecting to see 8K, that didn’t materialise, but we did get voice activation, GPS, LCD and a touch screen, and for many GoPro die hards it was felt that GoPro was back on track. The Hero5 Black was a major update.
And with so much crammed into the Hero5 it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that the new Hero6 Black’s feature set pales in comparison. However packed inside the now familiar GoPro design is a new GP1 processor, a small chip that’s so incredibly powerful that it pushes the abilities and quality of GoPro footage well beyond anything that has been possible before.
The Hero6 Black includes the usual progressive frame rate increase, but the big headline feature for this release really is that new processor, and from the outset it shows exactly what it can do.
Let’s get this over with: the design of the new GoPro Hero6 Black is the same as the GoPro Hero5 Black, size shape and weight are almost identical. The new GoPro is 1g lighter, although my kitchen scales showed them weighing in at the same, and rather than having Hero 5 printed on the side it has Hero 6. Aside from that there really are no differences.
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The cage is also exactly the same, with the standard GoPro mount on the bottom and a single action lever lock holding the thing together. Same design, same quality, and this means that it’s fully compatible with all existing official GoPro mounts and accessories.
As with the previous camera, the Hero 6 Black body measures in at 62 X 44.6 X 32.7mm and weights in at 117g with battery and card. Really there is no discernible difference between this and the Hero 5 Black. For those of us who’ve invested in a GoPro Hero 5 Black accessory or two, like the Karma Grip the identical form factor comes as a relief, as there’s no additional expenditure on new cages.
The big features are as always in the tech spec’s. Resolution remains at a maximum of 4K but pushes the frame rates to 60fps from 30fps on the Hero5 Black, 1080p boosts to 240fps, basically doubling the headline frame rates of the previous generation. What this means in real terms is that you can now shoot slow motion footage that will stretch 1 second of film over a staggering 8 seconds.
The full list of resolutions and their partnered frames rates is impressive, but one thing that’s instantly noticeable is that the volume of options has dropped significantly, especially at the bottom end. For instance, 480p is gone, all the additional 720p frame rates have also disappeared and 960p has bitten the dust as well.
This reduction of options makes sense. Best to keep it simple. That way when navigating the settings and options, the ones you want and use most often are quick and easy to select without wading through all the additional options that you’re never going to use. One day we may even see a custom menu that enables you to select only the options you use the most. Now I’m starting to think about the GoPro Hero7 Black! But I digress…
Before we shift away from resolution there is one other resolution feature that is of real interest and another that’s linked.
4K 4:3 is a new option and one that makes full use of the image sensor. All the 4:3 means is that the image has an aspect ration of 4:3 rather than the more common 16:9 that we’re so used to seeing with TVs. Ultimately you get a little more at the top and bottom of the image which can be handy for composition. Interestingly, the Hero 5 offered the 4:3 option for 2.7k.
Image stabilisation is back and can be used for 4K video shooting at 30fps. Unlike the 5 you only loose 5% to crop compared with 10% on the previous generation.
ProTune sees the bulk of the Hero6’s updates with white balance now offering an ultra warm 2300k option with the cool end still stopping at 6500k. The 2300k value is often associated with early morning light, or that produced by tungsten and will be a handy addition for many film makers and has probably been added to support the Karma drone.
GoPro has highlighted the improved low-light performance, and ISO changes reflect this with a new low ISO of 100 for bright conditions all the way through to 6400. Although the higher sensitivity remains the same, the lowering of value at the less sensitive end of the scale should signify improved image quality when it comes to grain, colour and tone.
Shutter speed options were introduced with the Hero 5 and it’s good to see those options once again increase. Taking the 1080p at 60fps as an example you still have the option for 1/60sec, 1/120, 1/240 but there’s now the addition of 1/960sec. Why is this good? Well it gives you the tools to break some rules or to be exact the 360 degree shutter rule.
In normal use you’d want the shutter speed to be double that of the frame rate; by pushing the shutter speed up you can add a visual effect to the footage that makes everything a little more jittery and action packed.
What this means for you is that you can take a sedate ride through the woods and by using the shutter speed you can make the whole thing look a hell of a lot more exciting than it is!
The rest of the ProTune options stay much the same, that might not seem like a huge leap forward when it comes to spec’s but believe me it is.
Other new and notables include the touch zoom – this enables you to progressively zoom in and out of an image with your finger. This zoom is digital rather than optical obviously but the quality is still impressive.
Then there’s cloud back-up. This enables your GoPro once set-up to automatically upload the footage you’ve shot to the GoPro server. There is a slight catch with this in as far as you need to sign up to GoPro Plus which incurs a fee, but once done you’re free to access and edit the footage from anywhere.