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Review

GoPro Hero Review: A casual action camera that works well

GoPro Hero is meant to be the beginners action camera with design of its premium siblings but does it deliver where it matters?

GoPro Hero main

GoPro Hero 3.5 5
BGR Rating :
3.5/5

Highlights

  • With the GoPro Hero, you get quality Full-HD footage that is sharp and smooth.

  • The still images could have been better, though.

  • You also get support for a wide array of GoPro-compatible mounts.

GoPro recently announced that it sold more than 30 million Hero cameras since 2009. It is no small feat considering that Hero cameras are not conventional cameras but rather devices that capture action-based events like ski runs or a surf trip. These achievements seem even more important considering the financial situation of the company.

Since its launch, GoPro has become the household name in the world of action cameras. The Hero cameras are so good that the second-best action camera in the industry has always been a generation or two-old Hero camera. While some companies have tried to compete with GoPro, including Japanese major Nikon, their success has been limited. During the recent earnings call, GoPro shared that it has now sold over 4 million units of Hero 5 Black since its launch in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The Hero 5 Black was the best when it launched in 2016 and GoPro says it has been the fastest selling device for the company. In comparison, the Hero 4 Silver took three more months to reach that milestone. The success of Hero 5 Black and Hero 4 Silver has come despite their huge entry price, and the logical option for GoPro would be to lower the cost and try to increase its reach in the market. With the new Hero, GoPro is basically trying to convince more consumers into buying its action camera. Simply called Hero, without any model number, the device shows it is the one ideal for most uses but does it deliver on the primary use case. Let’s find out if this Rs 18,990 action camera can deliver.

GoPro Hero is designed similar to its premium siblings

Design

While GoPro’s last budget action camera, the Hero 5 Session, tried a cube-shaped design, that was different from its existing lineup and the new Hero sticks to the basic. The new GoPro Hero is designed very similar to the Hero 5 Black or Hero 4 Silver. In fact, if you have seen a GoPro Hero camera before then you will know that this is a GoPro from a long shot. With Hero 5 Session, GoPro got rid of basics like a on-screen display and instead relied on the app for things like framing but the Hero comes with a dedicated 2-inch display to perfectly frame your shots or switch between different capture modes.

It is rather easy to state that the GoPro Hero 5 Black or GoPro Hero 6 Black are the most refined and well designed action cameras out there and by retaining that same basic form factor, GoPro has only made the Hero more usable. However, its entry-level price becomes evident in the fit and finish of the product. For starters, it has an understated look with a dark grey finish and is well-made for a product in this price range. Most similarly priced action cameras will scream cheap out of the box but not this Hero. In fact, it is designed so well that I found people asking, “Is this the new Hero 6?”

Don’t judge this one by its size

Of course, the Hero does not have things found on its larger and premium siblings. For starters, the GoPro Hero cannot record 4K videos, which might sound like a bummer but I realized in the past month using it that it is certainly not. It has a lower-resolution 10-megapixel camera as opposed to the 12-megapixel camera on the Hero 6 Black. The Hero is waterproof up to 10 metres or 33 feet like its expensive cousin but does not support wake to voice. It also lacks the GoPro-designed GP1 chip that responsible for smooth 4K footage on the Hero 6 Black.

It does, however, have a 2-inch touchscreen at the back and the easy-to-use interface is smooth to navigate on that screen. However, on some occasions, the screen might seem a bit cramped when you switch through modes and these functions are more effectively executed through the button. It also comes with a nice plastic casing and is compatible with the wide array of mounts and housings available for Hero cameras.

Image Quality

All those videos of an off-roader going through a desert and spraying all the sand on its monocoque chassis is often shot using a GoPro. For action events like that, you cannot use a better camera for a cinematic appearance. The GoPro Hero, despite is cheaper price tag, does all of that almost as well as a Hero 6 Black, but in 1080p as opposed to 4K. As I wrote before, while it sounds like a bummer to shoot in 1080p, the quality of the footage is excellent nonetheless, and great for full-HD video.

With the Hero’s 10-megapixel camera, you can shoot 1080p videos at 30 or 60 frames per second at a slightly higher resolution of 1440p. However, the 1440p video is captured at 4:3 aspect ratio, which somewhat renders it useless considering 16:9 is the norm today. Simply put, the 1080p footage from the GoPro Hero will be much better in terms of color than a 4K video coming out of your smartphone. The Full HD footage from GoPro Hero is smooth and clean and the built-in image stabilization always seems to be on point.

The colors look good but GoPro has dropped the pro controls that let you tweak exposure, color, white balance and sharpness. This is understandable considering the limited abilities of the camera and the budget price. The GoPro Hero is actually meant for people who would mount the camera to their bike or jetski and let the camera handle rest of the settings. If you need a point-and-shoot style action camera then GoPro has delivered one with the Hero.

I am particularly impressed with the timelapse shot using the GoPro. While timelapse has become a new fad on platforms like Instagram, the quality and interval is not really something that every creators takes into account. If you want to shoot a really long and quality timelapse video then you need the one on the GoPro Hero camera. The wide-angle camera means that the timelapse looks more immersive and context-aware than those shot with the smartphone.

Yes, GoPro Hero does take still images but the fact that it isn’t meant for that shows. It is not even quite there with the likes of flagship smartphone cameras like the Pixel 2 or Galaxy S9+. The ultra wide-angle means that it is also not ideal for taking pictures in all kinds of scenarios. The still images, in particular, seem to be processed a bit too much for noise and there are visible effects of details being clipped in the process. The battery life is acceptable too with GoPro recording two hours of 1080p videos at 60 frames per second on a single charge. You can squeeze out additional 30 minutes by switching to 30 frames per second. Alternatively, you can always carry spare batteries to shoot for a long duration of time.

Other features

GoPro Hero can be easily connected to any smartphone and transferring between smart devices is a rather easy task. GoPro Hero is also compatible with its Quik Stories app that can automatically turn your footage into a video with transitions, music and background filters. I like my content and images to be as simple and pure as possible and I prefer little or no edits, so I did not extensively test the Quik Stories app. However, the tool has been found to be very effective with things like turning a large chunk of photos into a quick video or creating Instagram-friendly videos.

The Hero also supports voice functionality wherein you can trigger the camera to capture with your voice. As I observed with my review of the GoPro Fusion, the voice control mostly works well but you need to be close enough for the camera to perfectly recognize your voice.

Should you buy?

If you have been planning to buy a GoPro for sometime but could not justify the price then Hero is the camera made for you. With Hero, GoPro is not trying to do anything different but is rather trying to offer some of the best features from its premium offering in a package that most consumers can afford. The strongest aspect of the GoPro Hero is its familiar design and ability to shoot really smooth and detailed 1080p video. The compatibility with wide range of GoPro mounts only makes it more of a worthy purchase.

There are action cameras in the market that record 4K videos at the same price as the Hero, which is Rs 18,990, but they don’t match in terms of quality. If you are fine living with an action camera that cannot record 4K then GoPro Hero is where your search should start and end.

  • Published Date: August 12, 2018 10:26 AM IST