So much for the drone. During an event today to promote its Karma quadcopter, GoPro may have upstaged itself by unveiling the GoPro Hero 5 Black and Hero 5 Session. The two new action cameras will release Oct. 2, and both will be compatible with the company’s Karma.
The drone compatibility isn’t the big news, though quadcopter fans will dig it. Instead, what’s impressive is that both cameras in the GoPro Hero 5 line shoot in 4K at 30 frames per second and both are waterproof up to 33 feet without a housing, and both respond to voice controls. The Black is also features advanced image stabilization.
Suddenly that $399 price tag for the GoPro Hero 5 Black and $299 price for the GoPro Hero 5 Session look mighty attractive. The action cameras’ nearest specs competitor, the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 Action Camera, carries a $500 MSRP.
Neither the Black nor Session capture the same altitude metrics as the VIRB Ultra 30, but they do capture GPS coordinates.
The upcoming cameras’ video- and photo-capture capabilities sound impressive. In addition to shooting 4K video, the Black captures 12MP photos in Single, Burst and Time Lapse modes. Those 12MP photos can be taken in RAW format for processing flexibility, while video supports Wide Dynamic Range for added detail.
By comparison, the Session shoots at 10MP and doesn’t include RAW or WDR support.
As I said in my Intova HD2 action camera review, audio’s an important part of the experience for me. Garmin’s attention to audio is one of the aspects that most intrigues me about its VIRB Ultra 30. By the sound of it — pun not intended — GoPro’s taking audio seriously on the new Hero 5 cameras too.
Both the GoPro Hero 5 Black and Session support stereo sound capture. For those who didn’t grow up in the 1980s, what that means is the cameras capture sound using left and right audio channels. This could mean great things for environmental audio, as you may be able to distinguish between elements on a specific side of the picture.
The stereo sound is probably possible because of the cameras’ advanced water resistance. As I said in my Intova HD2 review, action cameras are notorious for having bad audio quality when they’re shoved into a protective case. By making the GoPro Hero 5 Black waterproof up to 33 feet without a housing, GoPro has eliminated a big plastic barrier to capturing higher-quality audio.
With the GoPro Hero 5 release date just two weeks out, we don’t have long to wait to see whether the cameras live up to their specified hype. You can read more about their specs here.