GoPro's recently announced Hero5 camera marks quite a significant upgrade over the previous flagship model. I managed to battle past the crowds gathered around the GoPro stand at Photokina to take a closer look at the new action camera.
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The Hero5 has undergone a little bit of a makeover when it comes to styling and looks over its predecessor. It now has a rubberised design, which gives it a classier, more expensive look – something you'll probably be grateful for considering you'll be handing over the best part of £350 for it.
As is befitting for action cameras, the dinky size of the Hero5 ensures it fits in the palm of your hand, and it appears that the company has tried to make it as easy as possible to use the camera in a variety of situations and conditions.
One of the big new features is that the Hero5 is now waterproof, minus a case, down to 10 metres, meaning snorkelers and surfers will be covered. The camera is less cumbersome, and you have the benefit of clearer sound, since there's no plastic casing to hinder the microphones.
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The simplified controls now incorporate a 2-inch touchscreen display, which you can use to make changes to the settings, with a one-button control design complementing it. For example, using the touchscreen you can press resolution and move between the various resolution options and frame rates; 4K tops out at 30fps. Gone are the days of having to press a combination of different buttons to get the Hero to behave how you want it to – a blessing when speed is of the essence.
In addition to the touchscreen there are two physical buttons on the Hero5. The first is the one-button control, which sits at the top of the device, to start and stop video recording. A second button on the side of the camera switches the device on and off, and can also be used to toggle through different capture options (such as stills or video).
One of the new features you'll find if you move through the various menu options is the ability to turn on raw format recording. Although this is a feature that is welcomed by many photographers, it will take up a lot of memory card space.
Voice control also debuts on the Hero5, and although I wasn't able to test the feature in the environment of a show – it should be a genuinely useful specification for those times when touching the camera itself is a little awkward. Hopefully, there will be some confirmation that a photo or video has started to record, reassuring you that the GoPro has registered your command.
The Hero5 does offer some scope for controlling certain aspects of shooting parameters – such as white balance and Auto ISO controls – but there isn't so much to bog you down and get in the way of letting the camera just capture what you're doing.
The new Hero5 is compatible with existing GoPro mounts and, excitingly, with the new Karma drone. Attach one of these to a drone and you'll be able to capture some pretty decent aerial footage at a somewhat reasonable price point – prepare for your Facebook feed to be littered even more than it is.
When the camera is on charge, you can set it to automatically upload any images or video that you have taken to the cloud. In addition, there's an optional smartphone fob to take clips straight across for uploading to social networks. Again, this isn't something I've been able to put through its paces just yet, but it will be good to see it works in practice.
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GoPro is saying that this action cam is the best it's ever produced, and there's a bunch of new nifty features that should be appealing to those looking for high image quality from an action camera. I can't wait to see how the Wide Dynamic Range mode works out, for instance, and how much you can push those raw files.
GoPro is pretty much the go-to name for action cams at the moment, and the Hero5 has created a good deal of buzz.
The latest version of the camera is easier to use than ever before, something I can see even before I've gotten my hands on a full production sample. The touchscreen makes navigating through various options so quick and simple that it's hard to imagine you'll ever become quite so frustrated with the Hero5.
The fact that it's waterproof adds further to the attraction, plus specs such as automatic uploading to the cloud and a new, more premium design suggest that this camera will be top of the Christmas list for many this year.
Keep an eye out for a full review in due course.