My GoPro HERO5 Black Review
“My content strategy needs a major overhaul. The way people consume information is changing rapidly, and I need to grow and adapt as well.”
That's what I told myself two years ago. And, until this week, I didn't do much to make it happen.
However, over the past couple of years, I've noticed changes in myself and in how I like to consume information. While I LOVE writing, I've come to really enjoy recording both audio and video.
You can watch my video review of the GoPro HERO5 Black here, and it's embedded below:
So, on Sunday, October 2nd, I purchased the new GoPro HERO5 Black and decided to go all-in on my video creating efforts. I've never owned a GoPro before, and I've never used one, so I had a lot of questions.
Questions I Asked Before Buying a New Camera
- Will it shoot in 4k?
- How much does it cost?
- What kind of video quality can I expect?
- Is it good for vlogging?
- Can I use an external microphone?
Will it shoot in 4k?
While 4k video wasn't a requirement, I feel like buying a camera in 2016 that doesn't shoot 4k would be a mistake. Even though I don't own a 4k TV today, I expect I will in the next few years, and I like to “future proof” my technology. So, if I could get a camera that could do 4k without spending a month's mortgage payment, I'd be interested.
The GoPro HERO5 Black shoots in 4K at 30, 25 and 24 frames per second as well as 1080p at 120, 90, 80, 60, 50, 48, 30, 25, 24 frames per second. More than enough for a variety of video types.
How much does it cost?
Price is a big deal to me. I like to run my business lean, and I hate wasting time and money. When I looked at some of the top cameras out there (like the Canon 70D or the newer 80D), I was hesitant to pull the trigger because of their $1000+ price tags.
Unlike the previous versions of the GoPro HERO line of products, the HERO5 Black is the whole package. Plus, it costs less than the versions from a couple of years ago, $100 to be exact. The new GoPro HERO5 Black shoots 4K and 1080p video, takes 12MP pictures and has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for $399. In my opinion, GoPro's picture quality has never been in question, and now I could get almost everything I wanted for $400.
The GoPro HERO5 Black is $399, and the HERO5 Session is $299.
What kind of video quality can I expect?
I've always thought GoPro cameras shot great videos. However, I was NOT a fan of the fish-eye, super-wide angle look. While it's ideal for broad shots from planes, surfboards or sweeping conference room floors, I didn't want to have fish-eye videos for my close-up, in-office shots.
So I did some research.
I found that the fish-eye look that GoPro is known for, is also known as “field of view” or F.O.V. and can be turned off. By adjusting the FOV, you can reduce and even eliminate the fish-eye look and shoot videos like any other camera on the market. I expect that other GoPros have this option too, but people just choose to keep the fish-eye look.
Once I realized I could shoot regular-looking video with the GoPro HERO5, the question about quality was answered, and I could move on to the next question.
Is it good for vlogging?
Vlogging, or video blogging, is something I've been considering for a while. Though I don't expect to post reality-TV type content, I do want to make more videos to help entrepreneurs.
One of my goals, in general, not just with video, is to meet people where they are, with the types of content they want. I know not everyone wants (or has the time) to read. I know not everyone wants (or knows how) to download and listen to podcasts. And, I know not everyone can watch video while they're at work. So, my goal is to do all three.
Is it more work?
But I'm willing to do it if it means that aspiring entrepreneurs can create an exit strategy and leave their jobs, or if I can help business owners to thrive and succeed.
And that's where the vlogging question comes in.
I didn't want to buy a camera that wasn't well suited for creating video-blog type content. That means the camera must be able to focus and shoot video at distances of less than 3 feet, and either record clear audio or connect to an external microphone.
The GoPro HERO5 Black has three internal microphones (also great for reducing wind noise) and accepts a 3.5mm external microphone with $50 adapter. Though I'm not thrilled by the added expense of an adapter, I'm glad it's an option.
Plus, since the GoPro HERO5 is still pretty small, I can carry it around without thinking, “Ugh, I've got to lug this heavy thing!” And, since it's super-portable, I can get great video almost anywhere.
Can I use an external microphone?
As I mentioned above, the GoPro HERO5 can use an external microphone, but it requires this adapter.
Why I Didn't Buy a GoPro HERO4 Silver/Black
I'm not a surfer. The GoPro camera was designed by a surfer for surfers. However, over the past several years, GoPro has expanded into all sorts of action sports and activities around the world.
I mostly sit behind a computer.
Plus, I don't know that I was even aware of what a GoPro was until the GoPro HERO4 launched in the summer of 2015. Maybe I knew about them earlier, but they weren't really on my radar of something to buy.
Previous versions of the GoPro HERO line of cameras also had technical limitations. The GoPro HERO4 Black had no screen so you couldn't frame your shots. The HERO4 Silver lacked features, but it had a screen.
Combine those challenges with the fish-eye look I knew I didn't want… and I passed.
The GoPro HERO5 Black is the first version of the hardware that seems to bring it all together.
Why I Bought a GoPro HERO5 Black
While trying to figure out how to do some video recording with my old Galaxy S4 phone, I realized I was just limping along. I knew it was time for me to really make a solid effort to produce top-quality video, and my current setup left me frustrated.
So, while sitting out on my porch on Thursday, September 29th, I did a Google search for “GoPro alternative,” and began looking for cameras in the $300-$500 range.
Though I'd love to have the new Canon 80D, I knew it wasn't in the budget in the time frame I wanted. I also looked at the YI 4K edition but was concerned about build-quality.
For some reason, I don't know if it was an ad or what, but I decided to see what GoPro was up to. Lo and behold, GoPro's homepage told me their new model was coming out, AND, that it was $100 less than what I'd expected.
Now I could get a camera that was essentially top-of-the-line for right around my price range. I ran the HERO5 through my mental check list (which I outlined above) and felt like I'd found what I'd been looking for.
When the HERO5 came out on Sunday, October 2nd, I was in line to pick one up.
GoPro HERO5 Accessories I Chose to Buy
AmazonBasics Carrying Case for GoPro – Small – $12.49
As I mentioned in my review video, I've already started to accumulate “stuff” for my new camera.
To carry it all, I grabbed this inexpensive carrying case from Amazon to carry my charger, extra batteries, selfie-stick/tripod, and other items.
(Official) GoPro 3-Way Grip, Arm, Tripod – $69.99
Without either this 3-way folding tripod, this cheaper one, or one of the hundreds of mounts, your new GoPro is destined to either sit on your desk, mounted one of the included adhesive mounts, or go hand-held.
(Official) GoPro Rechargeable Battery – $19.99
During my research, I learned that GoPro cameras aren't known for their battery life. Since batteries last anywhere from 70 to 100 minutes (depending on how you use the camera of course), I decided to pick up another one. However, since the only way to charge these GoPro batteries is while they're in the camera, I decided to also purchase the Dual Battery Charger + Battery (HERO5 Black) from GoPro's website a couple of days later.
(Official) GoPro Dual Battery Charger + Battery (HERO5 Black) – $49.99 ($39.99 with GoPro Plus subscription)
With my new camera, I got a 60-day trial of the new GoPro Plus subscription. I wasn't all that interested in paying the $4.99/mo for the subscription, but I WAS interested in saving 20% on the additional accessories I was going to buy.
GoPro (Official) Pro 3.5mm Mic Adapter – $49.99 ($39.99 with GoPro Plus subscription) – COMING SOON (date TBD)
After I heard the quality of the recorded audio of the HERO5, I was impressed. That is until I heard what I recorded using my $20 lavalier mic from Movo that I plugged into my Galaxy S6. The difference was noticeable and is, therefore, worth the $40 for the mic adapter.
As of this writing (October 4, 2016), GoPro has not set a release date for the Pro 3.5mm Mic Adapter, and the sales rep I spoke to on the phone couldn't give me a projection. My guess is it'll release about a week after the 60-day trial of GoPro Plus ends, and we either have to renew or pay full price.
Final Thoughts on the GoPro HERO5 Black
If you watched the video (shown above), you know that I had a somewhat frustrating time getting the HERO5 out of its case. The instructions shown on the back of the box aren't clear, and I felt like I was going to break the camera before I even powered it on. Now I know.
Also, there are several things you need to open, adjust, or detach before you can actually get to “Step One” of the instructions. GoPro could benefit from updating their “get started instructions.”
If you go into the purchase thinking you'll get a full day of recording, or even a half-day for that matter, you'll be in for a big surprise. If you buy a GoPro, you'll need more than one battery, and possibly several.
Accessories Will Be Required
My $399 purchase quickly turned into a $650 (ish) investment. While almost any purchase will include add-ons and upgrades, that's especially true with the GoPro HERO5 Black. It won't even work with your existing batteries.
Because batteries get chewed up pretty quick, you'll need an external charger ($50) with a couple more batteries ($20 each). You'll also need some sort of mount or selfie-stick ($20-$70). Plus, you'll need something to carry it all in ($10 and up).
Don't make your buying decision based on the list price of $399. There are a lot of accessories you'll need. I think I'll end up spending around $650.
Mobile “Capture” App (Semi) Required
To get the most out of your GoPro, you'll want to download and use the free “Capture” app on your mobile device. It's practically required and makes your camera much easier to control (as well as turning your phone into a wireless remote).
My computer is top of the line. I have a Dell XPS 15 with a quad-core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M video card, and a 512GB PCIe solid state hard drive. My computer cost almost $2000; it's super-fast, and it still strained while editing the video embedded at the top of this post.
4K video and 1080p video over 30 frames per second is a TON of information. The finished version of the video above was 17.5 GB, and I only produced it at 1080p. It also took nearly 2 hours to produce. Know what you're getting into.
Ease of Use
After all of my frustrations getting the HERO5 out of its packaging and having it stop recording at random (see video), the GoPro is pretty fool-proof. It's relatively easy to use, and the fish eye lens makes it easy to get great shots.
Additionally, you're not overwhelmed with options as you might be with the Canon 70D or 80D. No offense to surfers, but if a surfer can use it, you probably can too. If you can get it out of the box, that is.
At the end of the day, the jury is still out, but I'm optimistic. I'm not ready to give up on my little GoPro HERO5 and plan on using it for a long time to come.
Over to you: What do you think of the new GoPro HERO5 Black/Session?