Editor’s note: The GoPro Hero 6 Black and Hero 5 Black have now been discontinued following GoPro’s announcement of the Hero 7 range. GoPro did tell us there might “still be some retail inventory of previous cameras”, so it’s possible you’ll be still able to find both cameras on offer. Read our GoPro range guide, for cameras new and old, to find out which one is the best for you, plus our full review of the flagship Hero 7 Black.
When Trusted Reviews reviewed the GoPro Hero 5 Black we called it GoPro’s ‘greatest hits action camera’ in the sense that it brought together the best component pieces from GoPro’s previous cameras with a smattering of new useful features. It’s just had a major price cut, from £399 to £299, so it’s now even better value than ever.
The Hero 6 Black therefore builds upon some strong foundations, but is it worth the upgrade? Let’s dive in and find out.
GoPro Hero 6 Black vs GoPro Hero 5 Black – Design
We can keep this one short and sweet. Visually, the two models are identical. That means they both feature that slightly ruggedised rubbery exterior and built-in waterproofing to 10m without the need for a separate case. There’s still dual microphones, too.
This is good news if you’ve picked up any Hero 5 Black-specific mounts, third-party gimbals, the Karma drone or Karma Grip as they’ll still work just fine. Of course both models also work with the wide range of standard GoPro mounts out there, too.
GoPro Hero 6 Black vs GoPro Hero 5 Black – Resolution and framerates
This is where things deviate. The GoPro Hero 6 Black’s major upgrade is internal and that comes from the GP1 custom processor. This is used to unlock higher resolution and frame rate options compared to the Hero 5 Black.
The Hero 5 Black tops out at 4K resolution at 30fps, whereas the Hero 6 Black can now shoot 4K at a slick 60fps. It’s a similar case for slow-motion footage. The Hero 5 Black could only shoot 240fps slow-motion video at a reduced 720p frame rate. With the Hero 6 Black, you can now shoot 240fps at a much sharper 1080p resolution. Both of these are pretty big upgrades if you want smooth high-resolution footage or sharp slow-motion. On top of that, there’s 2.7K at 120fps if you don’t want to drop the resolution quite so much but still want some flexibility around slow-motion.
GoPro has also said the GP1 processor will allow for better dynamic range and low-light performance. Until we can put it through its paces it’ll be difficult to see how much of an improvement this will be. But certainly the resolution and frame rate options give the Hero 6 Black an advantage.
Related: Best action cameras
GoPro Hero 6 Black vs GoPro Hero 5 Black – Controls and stabilisation
Both models still support voice controls in 10 different languages and include a touch screen. The Hero 6 Black also introduces a wake on voice option. If you turn the camera off with a voice command, it now goes into listening mode for 8 hours, then you can use ‘GoPro turn on’ or ‘GoPro start recording’.
New for the Hero 6 Black is touch zoom, which allows you to digitally zoom. This will be at a detriment to image quality compared to optical zoom but if you want to get closer to the action it will be a useful option to fall back on without necessarily putting yourself in harms way. This is actually not technically new, however. Zooming into the image is really only changing the field of view to what previously was the ‘Narrow’ option, which has now been removed. GoPro says this is more intuitive. Having a slider adjustment will also mean incremental zooming is available, which wasn’t an option before.
Both models support electronic image stabilisation but GoPro has said the Hero 6 Black features its most advanced image stabilisation yet, again courtesy of that GP1 processor providing extra grunt for the software stabilisation. The Hero 6 Black will also support electronic image stabilisation at 4K/30 and 1080p/120, which isn’t available on the Hero 5 Black, which is a very welcome addition. Essentially, electronic image stabilisation is available at any resolution a setting down from its maximum.
Having had some early tests with the new Hero 6 Black, the improved electronic image stabilisation really is a big step up from the previous model, with much better handling of roll adjustment in particular. Walking handheld footage is much smoother with less of that characteristic bounce.
GoPro Hero 6 Black vs GoPro Hero 5 Black – Battery life
Both models use the same battery, which is great news if you have existing spares considering the battery changed between Hero 4 and Hero 5. GoPro has said that battery life between the two models will be around the same when shooting in equivalent modes. We saw around 1 hour 30 minutes shooting 1080p/30 from the Hero 5 Black, so this should be the same.
You can expect less battery life when shooting in the more intense 4K and slow-motion modes.
GoPro Hero 6 Black vs GoPro Hero 5 Black – Price
The GoPro Hero 6 Black will cost $499/£499. Just recently, GoPro dropped the price of the GoPro Hero 5 Black from £399 to £299, making it a very compelling choice. Based on this, it’s going to meet the needs of most people and is great value.
GoPro Hero 6 Black vs GoPro Hero 5 Black summary – What’s the difference?
For a quick breakdown of the differences between these two action cameras, here’s what you need to know:
Design: Both models are identical in terms of design. This means both are compatible with the Karma drone and Karma Grip.
Resolution and framerates: The Hero 5 Black tops out at 4K/30 and 720p/240 slow motion; the Hero 6 Black can shoot 4K/60 and 1080p/240 slow-motion. The Hero 6 Black reportedly has better dynamic range and low-light performance, too.
Controls and stabilisation: The Hero 6 Black supports a new touch zoom feature and has more advanced electronic image stabilisation.
Battery life: This should be identical between models when shooting in equivalent modes. Both models use the same battery.
Price: The price of the Hero 6 Black is $499 /£499. The Hero 5 Black has dropped to just £299.
Really, it’s the resolution and frame rate boosts that separate the two models, so you’ll need to consider this when deciding which camera is best for you. If you’re non-plussed by slow-motion video, you might not appreciate the upgrades quite as much.
The enhanced image quality might make a real difference but we won’t know how big until we can get the Hero 6 Black in for a thorough review.
What do you think of the GoPro Hero 6 Black? Will you be upgrading? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.