NOT JUST AN AC­TION

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Business -

There are few com­pa­nies fool­hardy enough to en­cour­age re­view­ers to run their newest prod­uct through its paces in the most pun­ish­ing ways pos­si­ble. GoPro is one such com­pany. When you at­tend its ‘ac­tion cam­era’ prod­uct brief­ing, it usu­ally means you are sign­ing up to be strapped onto a zipline that will send you hurtling over an ar­bo­real canopy; you might prob­a­bly be rid­ing a quad bike over cross-coun­try ter­rain, or try­ing— des­per­ately—to stay atop a wake­board while the surf un­der it is froth­ing to toss you off.

And re­gard­less of what you might be do­ing, you are en­cour­aged to record it on the newest GoPro you are re­view­ing. In the process, you might drop the cam­era a cou­ple of times, bump it around a fair mea­sure, and even drown it in wa­ter while you try to stay afloat.

In­deed, the way GoPro in­tro­duces its prod­ucts to re­view­ers, is also the way it de­signs them. It re­lies on real-world footage cap­tured by its users and com­bines that with sug­ges­tions re­ceived from fo­cus groups, as well as its own re­search and ex­per­i­ments.

Most of their tests, GoPro says, are car­ried out out­doors. For in­stance, dur­ing one of the video shoots for the Hero8 Black, the com­pany mounted 30 cam­eras on sev­eral cars in a de­mo­li­tion derby match. The team ex­pected to lose at least half of them to dam­age, but af­ter each race, which in­cluded cars smash­ing into each other, GoPro engi­neers found the cam­eras were still in great shape. The de­vices were washed clean and were ready to shoot.

Of course, while we didn’t test the Hero8 Black on dash­ing cars, we still sub­merged this new ac­tion cam in wa­ter and tossed it around a fair bit while test­ing. We’re now pleased to say that this new GoPro shooter—like its pre­de­ces­sors: the Black5, Black6 and Black7—ticks all the right boxes when it comes to be­ing rugged and wa­ter­proof with­out a cas­ing. And while al­most each and ev­ery Hero Black since the Hero5 looks iden­ti­cal, the new Hero8 Black in­cor­po­rates some of the big­gest changes yet…

The Hero8 is slightly larger than the Hero5, Hero6 and Hero7 that were iden­ti­cal in size. The shooter comes with a built-in mount—called “fin­gers”—that folds into its base when not in use. To at­tach this cam­era to any of its grips and tripods, sim­ply un­fold the fin­gers from the base and screw it on.

The new shooter’s lens is pro­tected by a ‘2mm’ Go­rilla Glass, which GoPro says is 2X stronger than the 1.3mm glass on the older mod­els. On the flip side, in the past, if this glass got scratched or cracked, you could re­place it. Now, you can­not.

For bet­ter sound cap­ture, GoPro has moved the mi­cro­phone, which was on top of the older mod­els, to the front of the cam­era, right un­der the lens. This mic works in tan­dem with the two oth­ers—on the side and the bot­tom of the de­vice— to re­duce noise and wind dis­tur­bance. In our tests, we found that the new Hero8 al­lows for a richer sound in record­ings.

The Hero8 comes with a sin­gle wa­ter­proof, air-tight door on the side that opens to re­veal a USB Type-C port for charg­ing and file trans­fer, a mi­croSD card slot, and the bat­tery re­cep­ta­cle. The down­sides of this is that the new cam­era no longer has an HDMI port, and switch­ing the mem­ory card can prove to be an­noy­ing due to the placement of the slot; you might re­quire long nails or a pair of tweez­ers for this.

GoPro has made slight in­ter­nal changes to its bat­tery and to dif­fer­en­ti­ate it from older mod­els, the new bat­ter­ies have a blue edge near the con­nec­tors. And while these are the same size and back­ward com­pat­i­ble with older Hero Blacks, the GoPro Hero8 re­quires its blue-edge bat­ter­ies for some of its new fea­tures like the Hyper­S­mooth 2.0 (see be­low) modes.

Low Light, Hyper­S­mooth, Lens (field of view) and Slo-mo. This cus­tomis­able menu al­lows you to get to the ad­just­ments you need im­me­di­ately, with­out hav­ing to nav­i­gate mul­ti­ple menus.

A higher bi­trate means bet­ter im­age and au­dio qual­ity in video out­put, es­pe­cially when it comes to hi-def­i­ni­tion con­tent. The rec­om­mended bi­trate for 4K videos is in the 66-85Mbps range, the Hero8 Black now lets you go up to 100Mbps for your 4K and 2.7K footage.

The Hero7 Black is ca­pa­ble of great video sta­bil­i­sa­tion, but with the Hero8 Black, GoPro has upped the ante. With its new Hyper­S­mooth 2.0 mode, you are promised smoother videos, al­beit with a 10% crop of the Wide lens view. This fea­ture is now avail­able in ev­ery shoot­ing mode, in­clud­ing in 4K clips with a 4:3 as­pect ra­tio and Full HD videos at 240FPS. And for those times you need that lit­tle bit ex­tra, at lower res­o­lu­tions, you can opt for Hyper­S­mooth Boost.

When you switch to a wide-an­gle lens, you will see some form of lens dis­tor­tion. The Lin­ear mode com­pen­sates for this dis­tor­tion and is now avail­able in 4K mode for the first time to give you a cin­e­matic ef­fect.

With Hero7, you could Live Stream HD videos to Face­book; now, GoPro has added sup­port for YouTube and Full HD qual­ity.

The TimeWarp fea­ture in the Hero7 Black lets you shoot high­speed videos. The Hero8 comes with TimeWarp 2.0 that in­tel­li­gently auto ad­justs to your speed when cre­at­ing the clip. You can slow down the footage with a tap to cap­ture a dra­matic ac­tion in real time, and then tap the screen again to speed up the record­ing.

In Photo mode, you get a LiveBurst fea­ture that cap­tures 1.5 sec­onds be­fore and af­ter you press the shut­ter-re­lease but­ton to give you 90 con­sec­u­tive frames. You can then opt for a three-sec­ond video clip or choose the best frame from the burst mode for that perfect ac­tion shot.

The Hero8 Black sup­ports the RAW for­mat in all photo modes for bet­ter post pro­duc­tion.

The GoPro app now comes with an auto-lev­el­ling fea­ture that lets you straighten your footage dur­ing video edit­ing.

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