Technophile

GoPro Hero5: Lights, camera, lots of action

Mirza Mohammed Ali Khan | Updated on January 16, 2018

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Jump into the water or take it around for a spin — if the battery lasts long enough

Ever since American action camera maker GoPro launched in India earlier this June with three products, the company has been steadily looking to expand its presence here. That should not come as a surprise, though. With more and more Indians getting into fitness and adventure activities, this does seem the right time to make such products available for consumers.

Last week, GoPro launched its latest line of HERO5 cameras in India — the HERO5 Black and the HERO5 Session.

A lot seems to be riding on these new products for GoPro, which will reportedly shut down its entertainment division and slash over 200 jobs in a bid to cut expenditure.

GoPro also seems to be looking towards India as a potentially large market and is keen on increasing its base and influence. The two new cameras are now available for sale along with GoPro’s previous offerings — the HERO4 Black, the Hero4 Silver, and the HERO Session.

I got my hands on the HERO5 Black, and what better conditions to form a first opinion than water sports and some good old biking. Here’s how it panned out.

Size doesn’t matter

One USP of GoPro’s products is their size. The HERO5 is smaller than your palm and fits in a fist, making it convenient for adventure activities. It weighs a little over 100 grams and has a smooth dark grey finish. The front houses GoPro’s trademark large lens casing along with a screen that displays the video recording time, battery, and other essentials, which comes handy when you’re shooting with the camera facing yourself. The back is entirely taken up by the two-inch touchscreen display. The shutter button is on top and the power and mode button is on the right side. The bottom houses the battery hatch and the left side houses the USB Type C and HDMI ports.

Customise your settings

The HERO5 Black is 12MP, and offers video capture of up to 4K at 30fps. The picture quality was fine, with colours standing out in good contrast. Video recording is offered in resolutions starting at 480p up to 4K. However, video stabilisation is not available at 4K resolution or for over 60 fps capture. There is the availability of the Protune option for videos that lets you customise parameters such as white balance and ISO. The HERO5 Black also lets you shoot in the RAW mode, which is good news for those shutterbugs who like editing their shots extensively. It also offers GPS to record the location of where your pictures or videos were shot.

Handy features

The camera is water resistant up to 33 feet (10 metres) without a casing. I strapped it on and plunged into the ocean, and even had it on while surfing so I could record my myriad failed attempts at balancing on the surfboard, and it worked absolutely fine. Once I was out of the water, I towel-dried it and shook out the sand, and it was as good as new. However, you might want to get some extra casing on it if you plan to dive deeper than 10 metres.

Underwater recording was seamless too, and I managed to get some clear shots of the shallow seabed while wading in the waves and surf. This camera sure is a tough one and did well with my numerous jumps and falls in the water.

The HERO5 Black offers voice controls for taking pictures, recording videos, and for turning itself off, among others. While voice commands were picked up well indoors, it doesn’t do too well outdoors with ambient noise. There were multiple occasions when I was left looking embarrassed on the beach and while biking, after having screamed, “GoPro take a photo!” on the top of my voice and the screen continued to stare unresponsively back at me.

Audio capture is decent, but I felt the wind noise reduction could be a little better, especially on the videos captured during high speed biking. I mounted it on my helmet, and to test it, kept talking in a fairly loud voice as I rode. But on checking the videos later, I could hardly hear myself over the rush of the wind. Video stabilisation works very well and I had good quality footage despite the various bumps and vibrations during the long ride.

The two-inch screen is handy as it lets you control settings and customise your requirements easily. It also lets you view the pictures and playback the videos you’ve captured. Another useful feature is that it lets you trim the videos on the camera itself, so you don’t have to download them on a desktop or phone for quick trimming. However, the touch screen doesn’t have the best responsiveness and it took me fairly hard drags and flicks to toggle between displays. It has a screen lock option, which I recommend you use when in water because a rough wave or a hard jump can trigger responses on it.

This one’s battery life is a letdown. The fully charged HERO5 Black that I got before hitting the waves ran out in about an hour of recording and photo capture. Another drawback I noticed was that at low battery, the camera becomes extremely sluggish and response to touch and voice commands is erratic. The camera also has this tendency to heat up on prolonged use, and also when connected to the phone, and especially when downloading footage.

Overall, GoPro has got a lot of things right with the HERO5 Black, but at this price point, you would expect that the glitches mentioned shouldn’t have existed. The appeal is for those who love clicking pictures and taking videos when on adventures of various kinds and for those who don’t want to deal with the size and settings of a DSLR. For those who aren’t adventure junkies, I would say it is a decent missing link between an excellent phone camera and a DSLR. It remains to be seen how GoPro fares in India, but one thing the company seems to be doing right is creating a buzz around its products. Let’s wait and watch whether consumers will lap them up.

Price: ₹38,000

Love: Durable, picture and video quality, water-proof

Hate: Poor battery life, heats up, poor touchscreen response

Published on December 07, 2016

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