GoPro Hero6 Black
£500 | $500 www.gopro.com GoPro’s best, most powerful action camera ever
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.
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.