While the GoPro Hero5 has many of the same specs as the previous generation when it comes to video and photo resolutions, there are some new features in it. Individually no single feature is a massive leap forward in the action cam industry, but collectively they represent a notable and substantial difference over the Hero4 Black. This section is mostly focused on these new features, while the remaining sections take a deeper dive into the core functions of the camera, as well as touch on these new features in more detail.
Fully Waterproofed: Probably the most notable item is that the GoPro Hero5 Black is now fully waterproofed without the need for a separate case, just like the GoPro Hero4 Session was. In fact, it has nearly the same rubberish material on the outside.
What is of more concern though is the USB-C/HDMI port door. This door pops off for placement into the Karma gimbal/drone, as well as just for charging:
Now this won’t easily pop-off while it’s locked in place, as you have to press a button down to open it (plus slide it). But, the trick will be not losing it after charging your camera or while the charging cable is attached. GoPro does sell the door as an accessory (albeit over priced), and I know I plan to buy an extra door and then seal it up somewhere special in my backpack/suitcase for traveling. Because I guarantee you that I’ll lose it at the most inopportune time on a trip to some beautiful watery location and be unable to take pictures of The Girl underwater in a bikini without the door.
Speaking of doors that we don’t want opening up, we’ve also got the battery compartment down below. That holds both the battery as well as the micro-SD card:
The Hero5 takes the touch display found on the Hero4 Silver and advanced it forward. As you might remember, the Hero4 Black actually lacked a display. This was one reason that the Hero4 Silver was actually a more day to day favorite of mine than the Hero4 Black was.
However, the touch display acts and feels significantly different here than the Hero7 Silver.
The entire menu system has been redone to make it more intuitive to find settings. Along the bottom it shows you the basics for that mode. For example, in the video mode it shows you resolution and frame rate.
You can tap on it to change these specs. Only the available frame rates will display for a given resolution. In theory this looks beautiful, but in practice it’s actually more cumbersome than I expected. I think this is because there’s just too many resolutions too closely together for a normal sized finger to hit the right resolution on that small display.
On the right side of the display you can enable various advanced settings for that mode, such as ProTune, Image Stabilization, and Audio Control:
All of this is of course waterproof as well. Though, it won’t work underwater. For that you’ll need to use the push-buttons on the top/side of the camera to change modes.
Speaking of a wet display, in general I found it doesn’t work well when wet either. Especially if your fingers are wet, it all goes to crap and fails to respond.
You can turn this option on/off, and it’s available in seven languages. Also, if you have the Remo accessory remote, that’ll accept voice commands too in the event the camera is out of range of your voice.
But…it’s not perfect. I found that it works most of the time when standing still. But once you start moving I found both it and the Hero5 Session actually perform worse than Garmin does. At about 10MPH (15KPH) I find the ability to give commands pretty much dies no matter which way the camera is facing. Whereas with Garmin it’ll continue working above that speed as long as the camera is facing you.
Video & Audio details
Ahh yes, video time. No better place to start diving into features than video modes. In many ways the Hero5 is similar in these modes to the Hero4 Black. After all, it too has 4K @ 30FPS and 720P @ 240FPS, the two ends of the spectrum that people often talk about. The footage looks beautiful in 4K – no doubt.
So what’s new and notable here? Well we’ll start with the video stabilization. Technically this is ‘electronic image stabilization’, which works by taking a larger resolution video clip (i.e. 4K) and then smoothing the video by offering a reduced resolution rate while stabilized (up to 2.7K). By doing this it essentially stabilizes by cutting the edges off the corners to make the video appear smooth. It’s the same thing that Garmin does on their VIRB Ultra 30 (but the Garmin is limited to 1440 vs the higher 2.7K), but is different than what Sony does with their new X3000R, where they use optical image stabilization. That’s better because it doesn’t crop any of the image.
To enable image stabilization, you’ll simply swipe from the right. It’ll warn you about cutting about 10% of the field of view:
For cases where you’ve got some light chop in the roadway, or even for hand holding the unit, image stabilization can dramatically improve things. Though, that’s at the sacrifice of resolution. If your final output product’s 1080p, then it’s largely a no-brainer. Do note that it generally works better when you’re shooting something that has a large portion of the image facing one direction constantly. Versus on a helmet mount, it can get a bit wonky as you move the view around a bunch.
What’s even more interesting though is the ability to record the native audio files from each microphone separately. If you enable ProTune, you’ll see a new option to do this. Within that you have three levels:
All of these were simply taken at room temperature; obviously aspects like environmental temperature will impact things considerably, as will other modes and increased frame rates. But those give you some basic bounds to work within.
While the Hero7 Black doesn’t offer any more resolution than the Hero4 Black did, it does offer a number of substantial photo-focused features. First, the basics though. To get into the photo mode you’ll go ahead and tap the mode button until you see photos. Or, just tell the GoPro to take a photo using voice commands.
Now there are technically different photo modes, including the ability to take a burst photo, a series of photos as a timelapse, or night photos. Note that this photo timelapse is separate from the video timelapse option. This produces a crapton of photo files, whereas the video timelapse produces a single video timelapse file.
That’s the basic differences. Again, both cameras are very good, you won’t go wrong with either. For me, I prefer the Hero5 Black because I like to be able to see and frame up what I’m taking a photo/video of. Whereas the Hero5 Session it’s shoot and pray that you’ve got it lined up. Sure, you can use your phone for certain shots – but most of us won’t do that.