GoPro recently refreshed its action camera line-up with two new Hero5 models. But how do the new Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session compare to each other, and the Hero Session which is sticking around? Here we look at the key specifications of the current GoPro line-up to help you decide which one is right for you.
The current GoPro actioncams come in two sizes. The Hero5 Black is of similar proportions to the previous Hero4 Black and Silver (but no longer needs a bulky case to be waterproof) while the Session cameras are considerably smaller and more cube-like.
As you would expect, the bigger Hero5 Black is also heavier than its Session stable-mates. This could make a difference to where you'll be able to mount it, whether on your body or a drone.
None of these cameras are afraid of getting wet, and don't need any additional housing to be waterproof to 33 ft (10 m). This is a big advantage over previous models.
Monitor / Touchscreen
If you want to see what you're recording, or have recorded, without reaching for your smartphone, the Hero5 Black is your only option, as it has a built-in touchscreen monitor.
The two new Hero5 cameras feature the ability to be controlled via voice, meaning you can speak controls such as "GoPro, start recording" in a choice of seven languages.
Field of View
While GoPro, and action-camera footage in general, is know for its immersive wide-angle footage, the cameras are able to shoot a variety of fields of view including wide, medium and superview. The new Hero5 cameras also add linear, which is a wide angle with the fish-eye effect reduced.
All of the GoPro line-up use fast F2.8 lenses.
While the flagship Hero5 Black uses a 1/2.3-inch sensor, the Hero Session uses a smaller 1/3.2-inch offering. If everything else is equal, this will mean its image quality and low-light performance won't be quite as good. GoPro has told us it's not able to provide details about the size of sensor in the Hero5 Session.
Both of the new Hero5 cameras are able to record wide-angle 4K video at 30/25 fps (frames per second). However, that doesn't mean they are equal. The Hero5 Black is also able to shoot 4K footage at 24 fps in wide or super-view fields of view. It also has more options when shooting 2.7K and 1440p footage.
Full HD recording
All of the current GoPro cameras are able to shoot Full HD 1080p footage, though the maximum frame-rates and available fields of view again improve as you move up the line. These are the maximum frame-rates, but others are also available.
Once again, all of these cameras can shoot at frame-rates allowing you to produce slow-motion footage of your extreme escapades. However, you will again be limited to lower resolutions and restricted fields of view depending on your camera.
The two new Hero5 cameras introduce video stabilization to the GoPro line-up. While this is electronic rather than the more capable optical stabilization we've seen on Sony action-cams, GoPro is claiming it will still do a good job of smoothing out shaky footage.
High video bit-rate
The new Hero5 cameras are able to record video with a higher 60 Mb/s bit-rate, meaning they can deliver better video quality, especially handy if you plan on post-processing your footage.
Audio / Microphone
All of the cameras offer wind-noise reduction for clearer audio, though the Hero5 Black should do this best with its 3-mic processing. The Hero 5 duo also allow users to plug in an external microphone using a 3.5 mm audio mic input.
Still photo resolutions
The Hero5 Black offers the highest resolution photo shooting with its 12-megapixels. Given it also uses a 1/2.3-inch sensor this means its stills should be significantly better.
Stills burst rate
Firing off a quick succession of stills can make all the difference when shooting fast action. Therefore the fact that the Hero5 cameras can rattle off three times as many photos in a second over the older Session gives them a distinct advantage. Other slower burst speeds are also available.
Protune gives you more control over what you're shooting, with the ability to adjust settings including color, ISO limit, white balance, sharpness and exposure. The GoPro Session can only do this for video, while the newer cameras can also make use of Protune for stills too.
RAW Photo + Audio
The new Hero5 Black camera also gains RAW photo and audio shooting. This is a great bonus for people who do a lot of post-processing, as it means images will have more dynamic range and be of a higher quality.
All of the current GoPro line-up feature both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The two new GoPro Hero5 cameras are both able to automatically upload footage to the subscription-based GoPro Plus cloud service.
Only the new Hero5 Black gives you the ability to automatically log GPS data with your footage.
All of the current GoPro cameras use microSD memory cards.
The Hero5 Black is the only one of the current GoPro cameras to feature a removable battery. This could be a big deal for you if you intend on filming for long periods of time and want to use spare batteries rather than waiting for your camera to recharge.
How much you're able, or willing, to spend on an action camera will have a big impact on which you opt for. The flagship Hero5 Black comes in at US$400, with $100 steps down to the Hero5 Session and Hero Session. It's worth noting that when the Hero4 Session (now just called the Hero Session) was released last year, it initially cost $400, so the price drop on this model is significant.
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