GoPro stole the show at Photokina this week by annoucing their shiny new flagship camera, the GoPro HERO 5, alongside their own drone design, the "Karma". In what is now a saturated market of small extreme-condition cameras and drones, and with competitors like DJI gaining ground, how do GoPro's new products shape up?
I was gleeful when I got my GoPro HERO 3+ Black Edition a few years back, but a few months in and it was clear that what it offered wasn't good enough for professional standard footage. The camera's waterproof housing, while undeniably a necessity for most conditions in which you would use a GoPro, destroyed the sound capture capabilities and hampered the image quality, which struggled to perform to a professional standard anyway.
The GoPro 5 HERO Black Edition changes all of that.
The biggest new feature swiftly follows in the footsteps of the new i-Phone 7: out-of-the-box waterproofing, effective underwater up to ten metres. Unlike previous GoPro models, the GoPro HERO 5 is fully waterproof without the extra protection of the annoying plastic case that was a constant hindrance to its performance. The GoPro 5 will naturally need a cage to mount it onto the various GoPro accessories, but none of these will constrict it in the ways the original case did.
Additionally, both the sound and the image have had massive upgrades. The sound recording now uses three on-board microphones as opposed to the previous one, and the camera is automatically tuned to select the best recording channel for wind reduction. As for the image, GoPro is now on par with its competitors, with the GoPro HERO 5 able to shoot 4K image in 30fps, 1140p at 80fps, and 1080p at 120fps. RAW still photo capability is also a boon for anyone wanting to get better results from the GoPro.
The icing on the cake is the new voice-activiation technology. With this upgrade, a small wireless microphone attaches to the user and allows them to command the GoPro hands-free, with commands like "GoPro, record!". And even if you do still like to use buttons, the new one-button menu setup will reduce confusion from previous models which used two.
If you're looking for something smaller and cheaper, the GoPro HERO Session 5 is the little cousin of the regular HERO 5, and features most of the HERO's updates, with the exception of the image capture capabilities, which are slightly lower.
GoPro have described the new HERO 5 as the "GoPro we always wanted to make". What they may have made is the GoPro I always wanted to buy.
As if that wasn't enough, GoPro also annouced their own drone design, the "Karma". This was a long time coming, since GoPros have become one of the standard drone-mounted cameras.
There are definitely some nice features. Firstly, the drone is small and is very compact, which will attract any users wanting to operate drones in locations where normal drone kits would be a pain to set up. It also features a cool camera grip that detaches and effectively operates as a hand-held gimbal, which will minimize the amount of kit that users will potentially have to invest in and carry.
At a retail price of $1,099 including a GoPro Hero 5 (which by itself starts at $399; the Session starts at $299), it is a little bit cheaper than the DJI Phantom 3 Professional (retail price $1,259), but fails to be really revolutionary, despite some nice features. It is likely to challenge the Phantom well, but is unlikely to leave DJI panicking about being left behind in the market.