GoPro have just announced the release of their latest camera model, the HERO5, and their long awaited drone, the Karma. Rumours GoPro were developing their own drone had been floating around for a while, but little was known about what would separate it from the competitors until now.
HERO5 – 02/10/2016
KARMA – 23/10/2016
Camera – 12MP / 30 FPS burst time-lapse
Video – 4K30/1440P80/1080P120
Waterproof 33FT (10m) WITHOUT a case
The GoPro HERO5 represents more of a natural progression from its predecessor models than a major overhaul and it’s not like the release of the HERO Session, which was a totally different style of camera. Instead, there are a few changes that make it perform and look better than the previous models.
Notable by their absence are the HERO Silver and White editions, the less powerful models in the series. There are now just the HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session to choose between.
The HERO5 is very different from earlier models in terms of appearence, having undergone the biggest transformation in the GoPro HERO series yet. Since the first model, the camera has always had the same silver face, with the power button situated underneath the screen. The new camera has a single button on the top and a touchscreen on the back, expanding on the One Button control seen on the Session model and available as an option on the HERO4. The entire camera is now a darker matte grey, as opposed to the two tone style of the past few releases, which gives it a far sleeker look and ties in with the aesthetic of the new Karma acessories.
Main new features
- Waterproof and Rugged
Unlike its predecessors, the HERO5 is now completely waterproof (up to 10m) WITHOUT housing. Whereas before you would need a case to ensure the durability of the camera, now it is embracing this key selling point and making it a standalone unit. Although cases will still be available for the more demanding tasks, the main one included in the box is a Skeleton Case, which protects the sides and corners only, leaving the front and back open.
- Voice Control
The HERO5 comes with the option of voice control, which means you can talk to it the same way as you might to Siri or Google. As long as you have the setting activated, you can say “GoPro, take a photo” or “GoPro take a video” to increase simplicity and speed. This also means that taking the often-elusive group photo or filming a video where the camera is out of reach will be made much easier.
Although the main resolution of the camera is the same as the HERO4, there are some notable differences that really add to its overall performance, including advanced wind noise reduction. Anyone that has used a GoPro in the wild will tell you that wind noise can be a real obstacle, especially when using the camera outside of a case. Given the fact that the HERO5 is designed to be used without a case, it was vital that this new feature be included and be effective.
By their nature, GoPros are used in all sorts of different situations, with an emphasis on action sports, so the welcome addition of video stabilisation, something not available on the older models, should mean that there is a huge leap in video quality.
Drone – $799
There are three main parts to the new drone system:
- The Karma Drone
- The Karma Grip
- The Karma Controller
Let’s evaluate them separately:
What separates the Karma drone from the rest of the market is the portability of the device. This is the key selling point of the drone and fits with GoPro’s business model, based around allowing you to film in the field.
This has been achieved in two main ways. The first is to make the wings foldable; all four wings are able to fold forward to greatly decrease the surface area of the drone. The second is to place the camera on the front of the device. Most of the current drones that allow for gimbal and GoPro attachments put the camera on the bottom, which is usually so that the weight is evenly distributed across the wings. However, as GoPro’s drone is compatible only with their own devices, they already know the weight that needs to be offset and are therefore able to slim down the overall depth of the drone by putting the camera at the front.
The Karma Grip is essentially a gimbal. Third party gimbals designed to be used with GoPros have been on the market for a while now, but their main problem has always been their durability. While most other 3-axis gimbals are able to create the same degree of image stabilisation, what GoPro have done is essentially what they did to the common camera in the first place; make it durable. This means you can carry it around in your bag with no concerns or hold it in your hand whilst skiing, for example, without worrying about it falling and wrecking $300 of equipment.
The other main feature of the Grip, is that it is completely compatible with the GoPro universal mounting system. This means that you can attach it to any of your existing accessories or to any others that may catch your eye, including the backpack mount, which gives you active stabilisation without needing to occupy your hands.
GoPro’s main goal for their controller was simplicity. Whilst some of its competitors do have simple controllers, GoPro has essentially made their controller like a self-contained games console. With directional buttons on the left and an analogue stick on the right, a single button for take-off and landing and another for returning home, they have really stripped the controller down to its basics.
Another key component of the controller is safety. Obviously, safety is a big issue when it comes to flying drones and GoPro have tried to tackle this head on by showing the user a briefing before they use it. The built in screen also has further tuition available on it. In addition, you can allow the controller to fly the device itself, meaning that you no longer need two people to operate the camera and the drone’s movement separately. You can now set a path for the drone to travel while you control the camera.
Finally, they have made the controller compatible with their partner app. This means that anyone else can see what the camera on the drone is filming by connecting their smartphone or tablet to the controller.
There is also going to be a case available. Although this does not build directly into the new release of devices, it is designed with the entire Karma range in mind. The case is able to fit all three components inside it, as well as being a backpack. It also has the external mount that you can fit the Grip onto.