At its core, a GoPro is a small camera the takes the best qualities of point-and-shoots and camcorders and packs them into a rugged frame that’s smaller, waterproof, and virtually indestructible. Inside the cuboid design is an image sensor, processor, ultra wide-angle lens, and up to three microphones for recording audio in different conditions. The users interface is made up of just two or three buttons, and the Hero5 Black and Hero6 Black models feature touchscreens for more control.
To be fair to GoPro I placed by order on Friday afternoon and everything arrived courtesy of UPS Thursday afternoon. If I wanted to be fussy the order wasn't shipped until Tuesday afternoon (from Holland) and the website said 2-3 day delivery time but it's in the busy Christmas period, we've had Black Friday and so everything must be running at full capacity. Either way I'm satisfied that the camera came within an acceptable time frame.
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GoPro cameras are known for their premium shooting capabilities, but not all of them hold up underwater. Some options are a bit blurry, while others lack great depth. Always ensure the GoPro you take diving is able to shoot as well underwater as it can on land. A bit of quality difference is not the end of the world, but you want your videos to be as clear as possible.
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Typically, this is the part where I would say something like "GoPro's only real competition is itself." Of course, there's the Sony Action Cam line, which has some dedicated followers but isn't quite as versatile as a GoPro, thanks to fewer mounts and the slim-but-tall form factor. There's now a new rival from DJI. I already thought the Hero 7 was a better overall camera than the Osmo Action, despite strong competition on the stabilization front (and that second, forward-facing "selfie" screen). The Hero 8 just makes that decision a little clearer.
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This digital ghost town extends to the mobile app, where, again, you’re given the illusion of having more options than you actually do. For example, put the camera into time-lapse mode and you will see what looks like the option to change the shooting interval. However, bringing up the interval menu reveals the default, 0.5-second option as the only option. It’s the exact same story in burst photo mode: You can open the burst rate menu, but 10 fps is the only setting you’ll find.
GoPro’s suite of portable apps is great, too. In the bit of downtime I had, I spent it transferring images and video to my phone and then knocking together an edit on Quik to share on social media. It made keeping people at home updated really easy (also known as #holidayspam). Updates including the new QuikStories are also great, and it’s pleasing to see GoPro’s continued support with improvements and fixes.
GoPro's version of hyperlapse grows up a little in the Hero 8. When introduced last year, it was a welcome addition to the tool bag: something between a regular time-lapse and a smooth video, and perfect for condensing longer moments into something more dynamic. But it could be hit or miss. Did you want the 2X setting? The 5X? Or the... you get it. In short, doing math before you walk up a mountain kinda takes you out of the moment. Now, just set it and forget it -- let the camera do the work.
GoPro’s entry-level camera for 2018 is its least exciting to date, but that’s kind of the point. It’s a no-frills action camera that emphasizes simplicity and ease-of-use over raw power, and it bears an equally no-frills name: Hero — no number, no color. It lacks the high-end specifications of the Hero6 Black, and is even outclassed by 2016’s Hero5 Black, but at $200, it brings core aspects of GoPro’s current Hero family to the lowest price yet.
Typically, each year's flagship GoPro touts a marquee feature. In the past, that's included 4K/30fps video (Hero 4), built-in waterproofing (Hero 5) and really good stabilization (Hero 7). The new Hero 8 Black ($399) does not have a single showstopping feature. Instead, it brings several updates, each of which is good on its own, but together, I think they add up to the sort of big step forward that fans of the brand have been waiting for. There's actually quite a lot to get through, so we'll dive right into what's new.
Frankly, we’re not bothered by the lack of 4K or high frame rates. For what action cameras are typically tasked with, 1080p is just fine — it’s the content that matters, not the pixels. Yes, we enjoy having the option for 4K when it’s there, but if you’re a casual user, you probably don’t need to worry about this. What’s more, 1080p means you can fit more footage onto the same MicroSD card, and it will take up less space on your phone or computer when you transfer it. This isn’t just a positive side-effect; it could be a real advantage for some users — the same users who would choose to set their Hero5 or Hero6 cameras to 1080p mode for this reason.
No, honestly though, who runs GoPro? It’s like some kind of pyramid scheme where they pretend to be a normal online business store, but secretly (or not so secretly) they are just out to swindle money from the people that actually enjoy using their products. Much like most of the people commenting, I’ve had an awful experience with the GoPro ‘support’ team, after being charged twice for an order, being blatantly lied to and misled, I find myself still waiting on my refund for the money they withdrew from my account after 6 weeks and over 15 interactions with the ‘support’ staff. “The refund was processed on the 28th of November, you should have received an email and the money should be in your account” oh ok, that’s funny, there seems to be no money or email and also no mention of this in the past 8-10 conversations I’ve had with the support team since November the 28th. So yeah, don’t ever use their online store for anything, the worst business I’ve ever dealt with by far, they take zero responsibility for any of their actions or inaction and their incompetence is on another level
Editor’s note: The GoPro Hero 5 Black has now been discontinued following GoPro’s announcement of the new Hero 7 range. GoPro did tell us there might “still be some retail inventory of previous cameras”, so it’s possible you’ll be still able to find the GoPro Hero 5 Black on offer. If you want a newer equivalent, then GoPro’s new Hero 7 Silver is the closest model you can get. We’ll bring you a full review of that very soon.
It’s not all perfect, though. My issues with the touchscreen responsiveness still remain, even though there have been firmware updates since my original review – some of which were supposedly designed to address the issue. Sometimes taps at the screen aren’t registered, but more often my problem was with swiping into the screen from the edges. This is something GoPro seems to have now improved in the Hero 6 Black.