When it comes to the action cam world, GoPro has been romping ahead with their little units, every year introducing ever more updates. The GoPro HERO6 may look the same as the HERO5, but it also brings new features under the hood.
The update brings some much-needed features to expand on how the unit is used and where, as well as an increase in quality. Here we will dig into the new features and see if the total package is worth the upgrade.
One thing that is apparent with the latest GoPro models is the high-end quality is a double-edged sword. Everybody wants super-smooth 4K video at 60 frames per second, but this situation equals very large file sizes and takes quite a bit of horsepower on a computer or smartphone to edit. In other words, if you want regular high-end footage, you may have to be prepared to upgrade your video card or computer.
However, high-quality footage goes with the territory of better hardware, so GoPro has charged ahead with a custom chipset in this cam called the GP1 processor. This allows 4K video at 60fps, 1080p video at 240fps, 2.7K footage at 120fps, and 12MP still images.
There have also been tweaks to the image stabilization system to work in 4K, but only up to 30fps and with HD at 120fps. still pretty reasonable for most applications.
For still images, there is now a built-in HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode which replaces the Wide Dynamic Range mode, along with single, burst, and timelapse modes. This mode also should work well in low light situations.
As for the overall design of the GoPro HERO6, there’s virtually no difference to the HERO5 Black, with the same waterproofing going down to 33ft, or 10m, with the options of other housings for deeper diving.
This model also comes with an outer frame to attach to a variety of camera mounts. The back of the camera has a two-inch touchscreen, still, fiddly to use, with the option of voice control with 12 voice commands which you have to manually engage via the menus. A Wake On Voice function has also been added this time around.
The front of the camera has the usual small, LCD screen for basic information and the usual protruding bulbous lens. A simple design on the outside, which gives immediate confidence that this thing can take a few knocks and bruises and keep on going.
The GoPro HERO6 in Use
It’s immediately apparent with the GoPro HERO6 that there is extended video quality. The 60fps 4K video, the 120fps at 2.7K, and 240fps at 1080p, are great for capturing fast action footage. These modes will chew up data faster than anything, but the results will be worth it.
If you just want to stick to regular frame rates, the image stabilization system helps out enormously, but the footage is slightly cropped, just so you know in advance. The system works very well with small amounts of movement, but it still won’t be a replacement for a dedicated gimbal system like the GoPro Karma Grip.
As for low light performance, the new processor does a lot of the heavy lifting, with a better dynamic range. This doesn’t mean that you can shoot in complete darkness with smooth footage, but lowlight performance has definitely been increased from older models.
Footage, on the whole, comes out sharp with a reasonable range of contrast. As with any small sensor camera, the more light you can give the thing, the better. 60fps 4K video comes out really smooth and the 240fps extremely good fun if you want to delve into a bit of slo-mo.
As for still images, RAW files are supported, but as the sensor size is quite small, the results are on a par with a small compact camera. Still images, on the whole, are really just for capturing still frames that can accompany your video work.
Capturing high-quality video is fine, but the next step is getting the footage into something that can process the video efficiently. The HERO6 clearly works best with the latest crop of smartphones which have High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), but like any large video files, nothing beats a high performing computer for editing.
5GHz wireless means files can be transferred three times faster than the HERO5 Black, which also speeds up workflow. A good thing when you have to transfer tons of footage. It can still feel like a chore, but at least it’s getting faster.
Other handy features include the QuikStories app which allows for compiling and editing of footage in a very automatic way. You can also add transitions and music very easily for basic video presentations.
How Does It Compare?
The GoPro used to be the go-to action cam, mainly because it was the most popular and well-known. Now there are other action cameras on the market which provide similar specs and can be found for somewhat cheaper.
One of these is the YI 4K Plus Sports Action Camera. Both units seem to have similar features, such as 4K, a touchscreen, and voice control, but the GoPro tips the balance with stabilization, waterproofing, and generally more pro-features.
However, the YI 4K Plus can use a waterproof housing and if you can find one for a reasonable enough price, they can tick most of the boxes which are provided by the GoPro HERO6.
|GoPro HERO6||Y1 4K Plus|
The GoPro HERO6 comes along with much-needed additions which boost the video features and produce excellent video footage. The various video modes give plenty of choices depending on your needs, with extra fun features like the slow-motion mode.
The image stabilization and wider dynamic range for low light performance are going to help everybody out with faster and more efficient ways to transfer data which are very needed aspects. In total, the extra facilities are worth the extra price and you definitely cannot fault the video quality from such a tiny unit which never ceases to amaze.