It’s been over a year-and-a-half since the GoPro Hero4 Silver and Black were introduced, and we’re finally getting our first look at the brand new Hero5. It’s still a cute little cube that’ll record you adventures, so what exactly is new this time? Here’s a clear breakdown of the latest action camera in the company’s lineup.
The Hero4 was available in two versions, the Silver and Black, that were differentiated by their target users. The Hero4 Black was the first GoPro capable of shooting 4K video at a full 30 frames per second, and 1080P hi-def footage at 120 frames per second, making the camera ideal for production companies and other professional users. The Hero4 Silver wasn’t quite as capable as the Black when it came to video, topping out at 2K footage at 30 frames per second, but it introduced a touchscreen making it easier for amateur videographers to frame shots and navigate settings.
The Hero5 now incorporates the best features of both of those cameras. It captures 4K footage at up to 30 frames per second like the Black, while also incorporating the Hero4 Silver’s touchscreen, which allows you to frame shots without the use of a wirelessly-connected smartphone, and makes it much easier to tweak settings and options. Perhaps most shockingly, the action super camera comes with a dramatic drop in price, to just $399. It seems GoPro’s feeling the heat from the competition.
In addition to its 4K capabilities, the Hero5 shoots 2K at 60 frames per second, 1920 x 1080 at 120 frames per second, and also incorporates image stabilization to help smooth out video when there’s a lot of vibrations, like when the camera is strapped to the handlebars of a bike. There’s GPS built right in now, too, for tagging location data to a clip.
GoPro has also made some useful improvements to the Hero5's physical hardware. Previous versions of the camera made an external waterproof shell a must-have accessory if you intended to use it outdoors where there was a risk of the camera getting wet. But like the low-end Hero4 Session, the Hero5 now boasts a waterproof housing, allowing the camera to survive dunks to depths of just over 30 feet without the need for an additional case. Any deeper and you’ll definitely want it to suit up in an additional clear housing.
The touchscreen isn’t the only way that GoPro has improved the user interface on the Hero5. Like with Garmin’s new VIRB Ultra 30 action cam, the Hero5 can be operated hands-free using simple voice commands. Like with Apple’s Siri, you simply need to address your GoPro by name to get its attention, followed by a verbal command. So saying “GoPro start video” starts it capturing footage, while “GoPro take a photo” has it automatically snapping stills instead.
There are also voice commands for powering up and down the camera, starting and stopping timelapses, and for tagging important moments while the Hero5's recording. And they can be called on simultaneously, so while you’re recording video, you can still grab still images with a quick shout-out.
But of all the new hardware and software features, it might be a new off-camera feature that makes the Hero5 worth the upgrade. GoPro is introducing a cloud service called GoPro Plus where users can store all of their footage and access it from any of their mobile devices for editing or sharing.
Once the camera is plugged into a power source to charge it will automatically upload all of its video and photo content over wi-fi to GoPro Plus servers, making it then available for download through its Quik and Splice editing apps on any mobile device, or desktop, you have connected to your GoPro account. You’ll have to pay a $5 per month subscription fee to take full advantage of the GoPro Plus online service, but if you consider that it doubles as a cloud-based backup for all of your footage, you can easily justify that added cost as insurance for your memories.
GoPro has also updated its smallest action cam with the Hero5 Session that gets a massive bump in video resolution from just 1080p on the original to full 4K now, without a boost in its minute size.
Like the new Hero5, it’s also waterproof, and accepts the same voice commands—in seven different languages—so you can operate it without actually having to touch it. Understandably, given its size and equally tiny battery, there’s no touchscreen on the Hero5 Session, nor is there GPS. But in exchange you can pick one up for just $299, making it one of the better and more affordable entry-level action cams available.
Both cameras, the GoPro Hero5 and the Hero5 Session, will be officially available starting on October 2. And both are certainly worth considering when it comes to upgrading your hardware. With every update GoPro succeeds in making meaningful updates to its cameras, and not just adding extra features for the sole reason of slapping a ‘new and improved’ sticker on the box. The touchscreen controls on the Hero5 make accessing new software features less of a chore, and unlike Siri, being able to talk to your GoPro is a feature many users will actually use.