The 4K/12MP HERO5 Black is a substantial redesign over the previous HERO4 Black and Silver models. Though it retains the signature HERO form factor, a 33' waterproof protective housing is now built in. This means for anything short of scuba diving, the “naked” camera alone will suffice.
Addressing one of the biggest challenges when mounting an action camera on something moving, the HERO5 Black features electronic image stabilization, which can be enabled when shooting at Full HD (1080p) resolution. Image stabilization is not available in 4K because the technology requires extra space on the sensor from which to crop a window. This shouldn’t be a big deal, since for fast-moving situations, the higher frame rates offered by the HD modes (up to 120 fps in 1080p) are generally preferred over the highest resolution.
Like the HERO4 Silver, the HERO5 Black will feature an LCD touch screen combined with an all-new, intuitive menu system. To make basic operation as seamless as possible—especially in the heat of the moment—the HERO5 Black features one-button control. This means pressing a single, easy to locate button powers the camera on and triggers recording. If that weren’t enough, the HERO5 Black will be the first GoPro to implement voice recognition. Just by verbal command you can start/stop recording, take photos, and even tag a highlight event with the Highlight Tag feature. Thanks to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, you will also be able to pair the HERO5 Black with your smartphone to view a live image, access settings, automatically upload content to the cloud, and more.
Like its predecessor, the HERO5 Black boasts just about every video setting you could possibly want, from low-res but Web-friendly WVGA up to UHD 4K. For slow-motion effects, it can record 720p at up to 240 fps and 1080p at up to 120 fps. Video is recorded in the MP4 (H.264) codec at up to 60 Mb/s, depending on setting. Field-of-view settings include the familiar Narrow, Wide, and SuperView modes, among others. There is also a new “Linear” setting for wide-angle capture with significantly reduced fisheye distortion.
Photos are captured in the sensor’s full effective resolution of 12MP. In addition to JPEG, the HERO5 Black features raw and WDR (wide dynamic range) capture. WDR uses a single image, but expands the dynamic range for better detail reproduction in the highlights and shadows. This is most useful in high-contrast situations, such as on the ski slopes. Besides single-shot, time-lapse and burst record modes are also available.
I/O connectivity has been simplified. Gone is the proprietary HERO Bus and the legacy Mini-USB port has been cast away in favor of reversible USB-C. Out of the box, the USB-C port can be used for data transfer and battery charging. With an available 3.5mm mic adapter, you can use the port to capture audio from an external microphone or other source. Along with USB-C there is a micro-HDMI port; handy if you want to play back footage directly on a TV or in certain professional applications, such as transmitting with the VISLINK HEROCast, where a live camera feed is required.
Speaking of audio, to overcome wind noise GoPro has bolstered its wind-noise reduction algorithms even further. In addition, the HERO5 Black has not two, but three built-in microphones. This allows the camera to pick out which mic has the cleanest signal and use just its audio. If the right and left channels are both receiving equally good audio, the camera is smart enough to default to recording stereo instead. It can also be locked into stereo recording via the settings for situations where you know wind noise won’t be a problem. Additionally, there is a pro setting where all three mics get recorded, allowing the editor to pick the best track in post or mix several tracks together.