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GoPro Wants the Hero12 Black to Be the Sports Camera for the TikTok Generation

The $400 action camera sports new vertical capture capabilities, and GoPro promises you can record in 5.3K continuously for more than an hour.

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A GoPro Hero12 Black attached to a head mount on a snowboarder with yellow goggles.
The GoPro Hero 12 includes the same 8:7 aspect ratio features of the 11, but now there’s a 9:16 vertical perspective as well.
Image: GoPro

GoPro now says you don’t need to fall out of a plane to go fully vertical with its cameras. The company’s latest action product in its Black line supports a new vertical mode for shooting those TikTok-worthy escapades, and now the company said users should expect longer runtimes, even when shooting HDR and 4K video.

The $400 GoPro Hero12 Black, announced Wednesday, shoots in a 9:16 aspect ratio when filming vertically and can maintain that same ratio even when the camera is mounted in its regular horizontal position. The new vertical mode supports up to 2X slowmo instead of the wide lens’ 8X at 2.7K. Otherwise, there’s still the HyperView and Horizon Lock, first introduced with the Hero 11. The TimeWarp, Time Lapse, and Night Lapse features, which allow for some unique light painting and night sky capture, are available in the 8:7 aspect ratio, allowing for a taller field of view.

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GoPro also dropped the new and improved $99 Max Lens Mod 2.0 Wednesday, which beefs up the sensor to a 177 degree field of view that supports 4K video at 60 FPS. With the lens installed, the GoPro Black 12 can enable a new mode called Max HyperView using the 8:7 sensor. GoPro claimed this setting is for taking extra, extra wide video—several times wider and taller than the standard lens.

One of the biggest claims to fame for GoPros are their survivability, and the company is promising that the device won’t be easy to destroy at all, even with the additional lens. GoPro said this lens should be tougher than the previous iteration with more scratch-resistant glass and a hydrophobic lens coating to resist wayward water drops. During a media Q&A, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman said he “went down hard” with the Max Lens Mod installed while shooting promo video on a biking trip, and the device survived intact.

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The new version of the Max Lens Mod is supposed to capture a very wide viewing angle, and the company promised this one is more scratch resistant than before.
The new version of the Max Lens Mod is supposed to capture a very wide viewing angle, and the company promised this one is more scratch resistant than before.
Image: GoPro

Beyond the picture quality additions, the company is touting its new action camera’s runtime. GoPro claimed that its improved power management allows for up to 70 minutes of continuous recording at the 5.3K, 60 FPS Ultra HD video with the HyperSmooth 6.0 turned on. That timeframe is twice the touted runtime of the Hero11, though higher resolution does make the device tend to run hot. Past reviews have noted similar lifespans for 5.3K on the last iteration of the Hero, so how long the camera lasts will depend on the user. There’s still the option to enable QuickCapture mode to turn on the device and start recording with the press of a button, which is a good way to save battery.

Most layman GoPro users are fine using the company’s proprietary mounts, but the company is finally offering more options for standardized mounts. In between the mounting fingers, there’s now a hole for 1.4-20 mounting threads, which means the Hero12 is compatible with most tripods right out of the box. This also means its able to attach to a new 48-inch collapsible extension pole that includes a detachable Bluetooth remote shutter, which will arrive sometime in October.

The Hero12 still maintains the 8:7 aspect ratio option introduced with the Hero 11, but now there’s also extra GP-Log color correction options for the professionals using the GoPro in a more professional setting. It’s mostly a feature that professionals will use in the post-production process, but it’s an extra sticking point for an increasingly crowded market with devices such as the Insta360 Go 3 muscling in on the action camera territory. The device still supports up to four Bluetooth devices connected at once, including earbuds or microphones, and the software also includes wireless timecode sync for easier editing in post.

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The other big update this year is to the company’s cloud-based software. The company unveiled the GoPro Quik app last year, allowing those who pay to subscribe to more easily download their content from their camera to the cloud. The app launched shortly after the Hero 11, but now both the desktop and mobile versions should sync together for users to quickly download their content from the cloud for quick editing. Quik desktop will only be available on Mac to start Nov. 1. The Windows version should be available sometime next summer.

The GoPro Hero 12 Black goes on pre-order Wednesday, with full release set for Sept. 13