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GoPro Hero 5 Black review

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GoPro Hero 5: Review
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  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black
  • GoPro Hero5 Black

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Superb image quality
  • Effective electronic image stabilisation
  • Great microphones
  • Waterproof without a case (to 10m)
  • Additional still image functions
  • Improved design

Cons

  • Old batteries incompatible
  • No EIS in 4K
  • Poor touchscreen responsiveness

Key Features

  • 4K/30fps maximum resolution
  • Waterproof to 10m without a case
  • Dual microphones
  • GPS
  • Electronic Image Stabilisation
  • 2-inch touchscreen display
  • RAW photography and Wide Dynamic Range
  • Manufacturer: GoPro
  • Review Price: £350.00

GoPro Hero 5 Black long-term review

Going on holiday is always the perfect time to test out an action camera such as the GoPro Hero 5 Black. So when I booked in two weeks in Vietnam, I figured it would be opportune to break out what I initially described as GoPro's "best camera to date" for another spin.

During those two weeks, I used the GoPro Hero 5 Black in a number of different scenarios and with a range of mounts. It followed me into the sea and hotel pool. I strapped it to my chest and stuck it to my helmet while riding a moped through cities and rough terrain, and I shot handheld while under duress from some rather aggressive monkeys.

Thankfully, my experience of using the Hero 5 Black constantly for two weeks hasn't changed my opinion much from my original review. This is still the culmination of years of GoPro's experience with action cameras, designed to be a companion for both adrenaline junkies and those afflicted by the travel bug alike.

GoPro Hero5 BlackThe GoPro Hero 5 Black lets you get some creative close-ups

Not needing to worry about dropping the Hero 5 Black into an accompanying waterproof case is a time-saver you don't really appreciate until you're constantly moving around or taking impromptu dips in the middle of a hot and sweaty Vietnam day. It's a far more seamless experience compared to when I took the Yi 4K Action Camera to Bali last year, for example.

The dual microphones were also great when sat on a speedboat or when cruising through Ho Chi Minh City on a moped. Wind noise is far more controlled compared to certain other rival action cameras. When capturing the sound of your environment is just as important as the visuals, it makes a big difference.

A speedboat trip through Can Gio, Vietnam – unedited straight from camera

It's not all perfect, though. My issues with the touchscreen responsiveness still remain, even though there have been firmware updates since my original review – some of which were supposedly designed to address the issue. Sometimes taps at the screen aren't registered, but more often my problem was with swiping into the screen from the edges.

I also had very occasional SD card error messages, which meant that recordings were abruptly stopped – not ideal. I'm not sure what was causing it, either. Powering off the camera and turning it back on again would fix the issue. Fortunately, this only happened twice.

Still, aside from a few niggles, the GoPro Hero 5 Black is just really easy to use, especially when you're travelling. The USB-C charging was also really handy, as I just carried around a portable power bank to take care of charging my smartphone and the two Hero 5 Blacks I was carrying.

GoPro Hero5 BlackShot in the GoPro Hero 5 Black's 'Linear' mode for less distortion

GoPro's suite of portable apps is great, too. In the bit of downtime I had, I spent it transferring images and video to my phone and then knocking together an edit on Quik to share on social media. It made keeping people at home updated really easy (also known as #holidayspam).

As another aside, if talk of GoPro's market misfortunes is true, that news hadn't reached the considerable number of travellers I came across all sporting GoPro's latest and greatest. Of course that's just anecdotal evidence, but it was interesting to see.

Since launch, the price of the GoPro Hero 5 Black has unfortunately increased from £350 to £399. This obviously impacts how you would perceive the action camera, but even then it remains a fantastic all-round action camera. Just be sure to shop around as some retailers are still selling it for the original price.

My original review continues below.

WATCH: GoPro Hero 5 Black video review

What is the GoPro Hero 5 Black?

The Hero 5 Black is the GoPro camera option for those who want the best action cam available right out of the box. You can almost think of the Hero 5 Black as GoPro’s 'Greatest Hits' compilation. It takes the best features from previous-generation GoPro cameras and combines them together in a single unit – and adds a smattering of new functions too.

What's the recipe for the best GoPro camera? Take the same 4K resolution, 30fps video of the Hero 4 Black, throw in the touchscreen display that was a feature of the Hero 4 Silver (and only an optional extra for the more expensive Black), and mix in the built-in waterproof capabilities and improved audio performance of the original Hero Session.

Top this lot off with electronic image stabilisation (finally!), useful voice controls and GPS, and you have one superb action camera – and the best one GoPro has ever released.

Related: GoPro Hero 5 Session review

GoPro Hero 5 Black – Design and Accessories

Putting aside the outlier Hero Session, the Hero 5 Black sees the first drastic re-design to GoPro’s main range of cameras, which is both good and bad; mainly good, however.

It retains its familiar rectangular shape, but the Hero 5 Black is now coated in a grippy, rubberised material. It’s far more rounded at the corners, too.

The dimensions of the camera have changed, which could mean it might not play well with a select few older accessories and mounts. The handheld gimbal I used with the Hero 4 Black, for example, can no longer hold the Hero 5 Black since the frame obscures the camera's lens slightly.

This is because the Hero 5 Black is a few millimetres bigger in all dimensions than the Hero 4 Black when outside of its waterproof case. Most noticeable is its depth, especially when you take into account its protruding lens.

Related: Best Action Cameras roundup

GoPro Hero5 Black

The reason is understandable, though: there’s now a 2in touchscreen display on the rear. The Touch BacPac was an optional accessory for the Hero 4 Black and added to its size.

In addition, the Hero 4 Black was waterproof only in the dedicated case, whereas the new camera is waterproof without the need for any additional housing. It’s safe to take the Hero 5 Black to depths of 10m without a worry. If you want to go deeper, then there is a waterproof housing available as an optional extra.

To keep the internals of the camera free of water, GoPro has more greatly reinforced the battery, microSD and connection port covers compared to previous models to keep them sealed. A little effort is required to access the micro-HDMI and new USB Type-C charging port in particular, since you need to depress a fiddly release button on the side to open the catch before sliding it open.

GoPro Hero5 Black

And yes, you read that right. Having waited this long for GoPro to finally embrace micro-USB ports in place of mini-USB, the company has now moved onto USB Type-C instead. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good move – especially if you have a newer smartphone featuring USB Type-C – but it just tickles me that it happened so rapidly after an initial long wait.

Removing the need for the waterproof case in most shooting scenarios is a big deal. Not only is it more convenient, and makes for a smaller camera, but the audio-capture performance is much improved now that the microphones aren’t encased.

Like the Hero Session, the Hero 5 Black features dual microphones, front and back, which the camera can swap between for the best performance – especially in windy situations. If you’re on a bike, for example, the camera can intelligently swap to the rear microphone for less wind noise.

Related: Best cameras round-up

As a bonus, the Hero 5 Black weighs about 30g less than the Hero 4 Black in its case, which will make it slightly less noticeable if you have it attached to a helmet or on your body.

Instead of having to use the waterproof case from older cameras for mounting, the Hero 5 Black now comes with a plastic frame that wraps around the edge, with the standard GoPro mount on its base.

GoPro Hero5 Black

Since there’s an exposed cut-out on the side of the frame, you can actually remove the USB port cover – just remember to reattach it if you intend to use the camera in water. This means you don’t have to remove the camera from the frame to charge it, or if you need to power the camera for a long period – for a lengthy time-lapse video, for instance – while keeping it mounted.

A standard adhesive mount is included in the box, but the Hero 5 will work with practically all standard GoPro mounts that aren’t based on the specific size of the Hero 4 Black – as was the case with my aforementioned gimbal.

Related: Best GoPro accessories: Must-have mounts and accessories to improve your footage

Overall, I love the new design of the Hero 5 Black. The rubberised exterior makes it great to hold and it helps the camera when it comes to shock-proofing, too. Where I never really felt comfortable using the Hero 4 Black without its protective case even when out of water, the Hero 5 Black feels solidly constructed.

Having now used the Hero 5 Black for a few months, its build quality has largely stood up to the bumps and knocks in use. The front display of my review camera has picked up a scratch and there are a few marks on the edge of the lens' housing, otherwise, all things considered, it's done pretty well.

Not needing a waterproof case for all but the deepest depths is also a real benefit.

Fatty

November 2, 2016, 9:50 pm

I might actually upgrade to GPH5 I still have the 3rd gen

Pit Bull

November 10, 2016, 2:06 am

Camera gets hot! battery life kinda sucks, otherwise its great!

sardinops

November 18, 2016, 12:26 pm

Can you superimpose a speed readout on the video?

Richard Easton

November 21, 2016, 5:19 pm

Following the recent update to the Quik desktop software, you can now!

Alex London

December 14, 2016, 4:20 pm

1. Go pro5 has the major design flow - the usb door snaps off and gone.

2. Each time it happens GoPro cons into buying a replacement door from them for £20

3. The 4k resolution is not available at 60 or even 50 fps. Only with 24 PAL or 30 NTSC - the same as the old GoPro

4. The formats between 4k and HD with a better fps are not supported by tv.

5. The image stabilizer does not work with 4k, only with some old HD formats, same as the old GoPro4

6. Camera overheats and stops recording after just 20 seconds recording. Not suitable for longer clips.

7. The battery is wasted on the heat production and one can literally see the charge indicator unwinds

8. GoPro customer service. Initially they promised to send a free replacement door as I pointed them the design flow. They requested my personal details, receipt, pictures of the camera, but after a month wait they did nothing and told me if I was in a rush I could buy it from their shop for another £20.

9. There is no value for money as the competitors sell the same capability for under £100.

10. The external mic has now USB-C.

11. Be warned about the design problem with the USB door and attach some safety cord?, so when the door snaps off it is not getting lost, at least. GoPro has to recall the product.

Gil Amorin

January 20, 2017, 6:44 am

Dear future GoPro Hero 5 Users,

I’m writing you to communicate and share my huge deception and terrible experience with your last GoPro Hero 5 product I recently acquired.

I bought this product thinking it was I great video recording system to take with us on our honeymoon trip; easy to carry on and above all, WATERPROOF.

Just right after our arrival, and literally at the second time of using it underwater — I use it no more than 10 mins, at 1 meter depth —, the camera completely stopped working.

That is very frustrating to buy a product that is supposed to be waterproof, and discover at the actual practice that in fact, it is not.

I’ve been working in fashion photography and video for many years, and I’m very careful and handle with and extreme care all my technological material.

And so I did with your product, watching very carefully that all the lock systems were very well sealed and closed before using it underwater.

It is a nonsense and very shameful to sell a product making advantage of its waterproof specifications, and see that in real practice it shows to be fake.

This already ruined the next days of our holidays, as it was the video recording system we brought with us on this trip.

I DEFINITELY DON’T RECOMMEND TO BUY A GOPRO HERO 5 BLACK IF YOU’RE THINKING USING IT UNDERWATER AS IT IS NOT WATERPROOF !!

Regards,
G.

L. Sunshine

February 22, 2017, 3:00 am

My partner and I bought a GoPro Hero 5 two months ago because its waterproof body was supposed to allow users to operate it up to 33 feet underwater without the need for a separate housing. Brought it to take photos in very shallow water and after a few minutes the camera just stopped working. It was unfortunate because it's the only camera we brought for our trip. We checked and discovered water leaked in. We are very careful with our gadgets and we made sure the Hero 5 was properly locked before we used it. Contacted GoPro and sent them back the faulty unit. Just received a replacement; but not sure if it was a new unit or they just fixed the old one. Have yet to try if it works because GoPro did not include a new set of battery and microSD. These items will cost me about PHP 3000 (about USD 60). Also, GoPro Hero 5 batteries are hard to come by here in the Philippines. Checked 5 camera shops in my area and they don't have it in stock. I appreciate the relatively fast response from GoPro but GoPro should have provided these items and perhaps more to compensate for the inconvenience (and the undocumented memories) especially since the Hero 5 was not able to do what it's designed and advertised to do.

Robert Sokolich

February 26, 2017, 5:25 pm

On my 4th go pro hero 5 black
and 4th copy still freezing, tried different brand of memory cards as recommended.
Units keeps freezing and leaving a black screen ,camera can't even turn off.
Only fix to this is to remove and reinsert a battery.
Other issue is within a minute of operating in some cases it says low battery and unit shuts off, after taking battery out and back in it shows full charge.
Good potential and great features only if it works.
No more go pro for me

winfred

February 26, 2017, 11:14 pm

Hi! I am considering this Hero 5 model but you present it as an "action camera", so I'm wondering. I hope to travel possibly for several years around the world on a low budget and hope to have YouTube videos, maybe a "channel". I had once thought the Go Pro would be ideal. I'm not going to do "action" shots unless maybe riding a bicycle or taking a train or bus , or walking through villages. I want to interview local people of many cultures yet hike and camp in back country or in the tropical rainforests like the Amazon and possibly video wildlife. I'll also do monologues where I sit and talk to the viewers or hold one of those extension poles. I also might go snorkeling and carry my own goggles and a breathing tube. In fresh water or ocean I hope to take some videos. Are there better cameras than Go Pro Hero 5 for that? My top budget price would be $400 for the camera and about $50 for needed accessories. I don't like how reports come in with Hero 5 breaking and difficult to find battery as I plan to be in uncommon parts of the world. I also hope for nice quality images and color. I have a tascom DR-05 digital sound recorder I might patch in for stereo sound too. Anyone suggest other possible cameras and maybe website that's good for advice. Thanks for having this review of the latest Go Pro!
Sincerely,
Winfred

Martin Trepanier

March 5, 2017, 6:45 pm

Hi, I try my hero5 in diving at 30 feet the pressure make the button on top ( record) don't work, so i wanna make movie but the only thing I've make it picture. that was realy bad.
this is the only bad point i see it

scottbybike

March 15, 2017, 5:32 pm

I've had several GoPros, and considered the 5. But on a reasonably new 4, the lens frame pulled off when removing the glass lens cover. It seems like a common design flaw if you read the blogs. I talked with GoPro and the best they could do under their "Warranty" was to give me a 40% discount on the 5, which still puts money in their pocket and leaves me having to buy all new spare batteries and chargers, once again, since every model release has new battery systems, etc. Done with GoPro and heading toward one of the competitors who is rapidly outpacing them on tech and service.

cristian matei

April 22, 2017, 7:16 am

In my opinion, Sony FDR X3000R is the best option for your budget, followed by GP Hero 5 Black, Olympus TG Tracker.. Check them and decide

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