GoPro Hero6 Black

£500 | $500 www.gopro.com GoPro’s best, most pow­er­ful ac­tion cam­era ever

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Look­ing at the tiny GoPro Hero6 Black, it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to tell it apart from last year’s GoPro Hero5 Black. There are, how­ever, plenty of note­wor­thy dif­fer­ences on the in­side.

The new cam­era can cap­ture su­per-slow-mo­tion video at a high res­o­lu­tion, out­put a sta­bilised im­age in 4K, and trans­fer ev­ery­thing to your phone at faster speeds – your video can be posted be­fore your GoPro-doc­u­mented ad­ven­ture is even over if you wish.

It’s not per­fect, of course. The prob­lem with GoPro’s de­vices is that the im­age qual­ity is more im­pres­sive than phones and other de­vices are ca­pa­ble of han­dling at times, thanks to huge file sizes.

It’s a big prob­lem when you of­fload and edit the video, es­pe­cially slow-mo­tion footage at a silky-smooth 240 frames per sec­ond. You can find your phone and PC over­whelmed by the de­mands of GoPro video files.

That said, GoPro’s edit-in-post soft­ware is a lot bet­ter in 2017, so as long as you don’t feel in over your head trans­fer­ring HD and 4K video files to your de­vice this is the best ac­tion cam­era you can buy to­day

The big­gest change to the Hero6 Black is the ar­rival of GoPro’s first cus­tom chipset, the aptly named GP1 pro­ces­sor. This en­ables the Hero6 Black to of­fer 4K video cap­ture at a smooth 60 frames per sec­ond (fps); the Hero5 Black is only ca­pa­ble of shoot­ing at 30fps.

That’s not all. The Hero6 Black can cap­ture 1080p Full HD footage at an im­pres­sive 240fps. In be­tween those two ex­tremes it’s pos­si­ble to shoot 2.7K footage at 120fps.

GoPro hasn’t just con­cen­trated on boost­ing the frame rate of the Hero6 Black over its pre­de­ces­sor, also tin­ker­ing with the im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion sys­tem. Thanks to the GP1, it’s pos­si­ble to have im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion ac­tive while shoot­ing 4K footage. Sta­bil­i­sa­tion is capped at 30fps, but it’s a marked im­prove­ment over its Hero5 Black pre­de­ces­sor. Sta­bil­i­sa­tion is also pos­si­ble at up to 120fps at Full HD.

The Hero6 can also cap­ture 12MP still im­ages in sin­gle, burst and time-lapse modes. What’s new is a built-in HDR (High Dy­namic Range) mode for high-con­trast scenes. This re­places the Wide Dy­namic Range mode on the Hero5 Black, and, again thanks to the GP1 pro­cess­ing en­gine, it cap­tures im­ages with greater de­tail in both the shad­ows and high­lights. And, if you’re in the habit of ven­tur­ing out after dark, Night mode is here for more ac­com­plished low-light shoot­ing.

Build and han­dling

While there was quite a de­sign shift from the Hero4 Black to the Hero5 Black, the Hero6 Black doesn’t look any dif­fer­ent from its pre­de­ces­sor. This ac­tion cam­era is as dis­creet as ever, it’s com­pact, feels ex­tremely durable, and is wa­ter­proof (down to

10m) with­out the need for a hous­ing. The ab­sence of a hous­ing also means that with no cas­ing get­ting in the way of the built-in mic, au­dio qual­ity is bet­ter.

It also comes with a sturdy plas­tic frame that al­lows for all sorts of fun cam­era mounts, while the en­tire de­sign is in­cred­i­bly tight, snug­gly fit­ting the mi­croSD card right up against the user-swap­pable bat­tery.

The Hero6 Black has a 5.08cm touch­screen on the back for re­view­ing pho­tos and videos, and ad­just­ing set­tings, us­ing what seems like the world’s tini­est touch-based user in­ter­face. You’d think this might be fid­dly to use, but it’s not bad, with sim­ple swipes and taps enough to ac­cess the set­tings and make changes.

If us­ing the touch­screen is too much ef­fort, the Hero6 also of­fers voice con­trol. This isn’t en­abled by de­fault, but it’s easy to ac­ti­vate in the pref­er­ences menu, and you can then shout ‘GoPro start record­ing’, or ‘GoPro take a photo’ for the Hero6 to spring into ac­tion. There are 12 sim­ple voice com­mands, cov­er­ing pretty much ev­ery­thing you’re likely to want to do.

The Hero6 Black also has a new Wake On Voice func­tion. Turn the cam­era off with a voice com­mand and your Hero6 Black will switch off

“If us­ing the touch­screen is too much ef­fort, the GoPro Hero6 Black also of­fers voice con­trol”

and run in low-power lis­ten­ing mode, wait­ing for the com­mand ‘GoPro turn on’. Leave it longer than eight hours and the Hero6 Black shuts down com­pletely.

Video and photo qual­ity

The GoPro Hero6 Black is built for catch­ing ac­tion in­cred­i­bly fast and you’ll ben­e­fit from the en­hanced per­for­mance if want to record video at ‘nor­mal’ frame rates too. The im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion has been beefed up, with footage slightly cropped to re­duce shak­i­ness. The ef­fect is no­tice­able, but don’t throw away your GoPro Karma Grip, as soft­ware-based sta­bil­i­sa­tion can only cor­rect so much.

Low-light per­for­mance has al­ways been a GoPro short­com­ing, but the Hero6 de­liv­ers im­proved dy­namic range, thanks to its new pro­ces­sor, re­sult­ing in bet­ter im­age qual­ity in­doors and out.

Edit­ing and apps

Raw sup­port is wel­come for still im­ages, al­though be­cause of the sen­sor’s small size don’t ex­pect im­age qual­ity to be any bet­ter than from a de­cent point-and-shoot com­pact. Nonethe­less, it’s a handy fea­ture to have.

The Hero6 takes un­com­pro­mised video, but of­fload­ing that raw GoPro footage has in­creas­ingly been a pain due to large file sizes, es­pe­cially with older phones. GoPro is tack­ling this is­sue with a three­p­ronged ap­proach: First, the Hero6 sup­ports the High Ef­fi­ciency Video Cod­ing (HEVC) codec, which can halve file sizes, mean­ing it’ll save space on com­pat­i­ble phones, and make cam­era-to-phone trans­fers faster. Sec­ond, the Hero6 utilises the 5GHz wire­less fre­quency, which can of­fer trans­fer speeds three times faster than the Hero5 could man­age. We found trans­fer times were faster in our early test­ing. Third, QuikS­to­ries re­turns as a way to trans­fer and com­pile your footage into an au­to­matic video col­lage, adding tran­si­tions and even mu­sic. The best part is that videos re­main fully ed­itable.

Shoot­ing video with your GoPro isn’t the hard part. Trans­fer­ring hours of 4K 60fps video and 240fps su­per-slow mo­tion-movies, though, can feel like a chore. The Hero6 Black does a good job at chip­ping away at the work­load. But we still find that of­fload­ing and edit­ing cam­era footage takes prac­tice.

Sum­mary

The GoPro Hero6 Black in­stantly be­comes the best ac­tion cam­era. At £500 ($500), though, the Hero6 Black is £100 ($100) more than its now re­duced-in-price pre­de­ces­sor.

Is slow-mo­tion video worth the ex­tra money? No, but im­proved im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion, wider dy­namic range and bet­ter low-light per­for­mance, plus faster trans­fer speeds and small file sizes are.

With huge im­prove­ments over its pre­de­ces­sor, the Hero6 Black is our new favourite ac­tion cam­era.

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