The best action camera, if you can afford it

Varun Aggarwal | Updated on January 09, 2018

The GoPro Hero6 Black adds necessary upgrades to its predecessor, but at a steep price

As I struggled to control my bike on a steep slope, I could barely handle it, let alone try to shoot the ride with the camera or even a cell phone. What came to my rescue was the GoPro Hero6 Black, which was not only easy to mount on my wrist but didn’t even require for me to press any button to start shooting. All I had to do was shout, “GoPro take a photo” or “GoPro start recording” and voila. Honestly, it wasn’t as simple as it sounds since the Hero6 mostly couldn’t recognise my accent. But the effort was well worth it as I was still able to get some great footage.

While the voice commands were also present in the Hero5, what comes as a pleasant surprise on the Hero6 is the ability to wake up the camera even after the power was turned off. GoPro also promises that an update to include the Indian accent is in the works.

The GoPro Hero6 Black looks identical to its predecessor the Hero5 but packs in new features, some of which you’d otherwise only associate with larger cameras.

It packs in a new processor chip, the GP1, which uses the same 12 MP sensor that was used in the Hero5 but lets you record 4K video at 60 fps instead of 30 fps, which can turn this little camera into something that can actually shoot professional videos. Once turned to 1080p mode, you can increase the frame rate to 240 fps, which essentially means that you can create super slow-motion video (using software), which when played at 30 fps, can slow down the action by eight times.

As was the case with the Hero5, the new Hero6 works under water up to 33 feet, without the need for a waterproof case, which works well unless you’re planning to go for deep diving.

The biggest challenge with shooting videos is the amount of storage space that they take up. To overcome this, GoPro is leveraging the new video codec, H.265 (high efficiency video coding). That means you can record in 4K yet consume lesser space than a standard HD video.

When it comes to clicking pictures, the camera may not be able to compare with DSLR cameras, but it does allow you to shoot in manual mode, similar to a DSLR, giving maximum control over settings and to add to that you can save images in raw format.

The new processor chip has further helped in improving the image quality on the camera. But while the camera performs brilliantly in bright day light, low-light performance is where it’s unable to keep up. The same issue you’ll find while shooting videos in low-light conditions on the Hero6.

To improve video quality, GoPro has considerably improved image stabilisation, although the company continues to use digital image stabilisation instead of the more efficient optical option. The new GP1 processor makes it possible to have image stabilisation active while shooting 4K footage. While the stabilization is capped at 30 fps, it is a significant improvement over the Hero5, which could only offer this on Full HD footage.

The biggest upgrade that GoPro has made with the Hero6 Black is really on the software side. The company, which is known for its sports camera hardware, is trying to reposition itself as a software solutions company. The camera supports both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so you can wake the camera with the Android or iOS GoPro app. It also has integrated GPS.

What makes the Hero6 all the more useful is the new QuikStories app, which automatically creates short videos from a bunch of your images and videos that you’ve recorded and even add a soundtrack and title to them.

The video created by QuikStories is fully customisable, which means you can change the soundtrack, decide the length of each video that you want, add or delete images — all this on your phone. We were able to create short videos out of hundreds of pictures and over half-an-hour of video footage within a few minutes.

The GoPro Hero6 Black will have to compete with several Chinese brands that are selling their GoPro knock-offs for a fraction of the price. Yet, the GoPro Hero6 remains the sturdiest and most reliable action camera in the market if you’re willing to shell out enough money for it. Though you can also buy the Hero5, which is now about ₹8,000- ₹10,000 cheaper.

Price: ₹45,000

Pros: Superb electronic image stabilisation, improved image quality, durable, waterproof body, super-slow-motion 240 fps video, faster Wi-Fi transfer

Cons: Poor battery life, compressed 4K videos not supported by most smartphones, voice controls a bit tricky with Indian accent, high price

Published on November 22, 2017

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