Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

GoPro Hero 5 Black review: The Hero5 now only £249

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
339
inc VAT

GoPro's Hero5 Black takes all that's great about its predecessors and crams it into the best package yet

Pros 
Waterproof up to 10m
Image stablisation
Vastly improved audio
Cons 
Finicky touchscreen
Advertisement

From the outset, GoPro’s Hero 5 Black is quite a radical departure from last year’s Hero 4. It’s still rectangular like its older brothers, but this time around it’s slightly less box-like thanks to its curved edges and semi-rubberised body. It’s a little easier to hold, especially with gloves on, and it should withstand a few more drops and bumps than its predecessors.

Thanks to the redesign, it renders any older GoPro cases or accessories all but useless. The Hero 5 Black is a couple millimetres thicker at all angles, and my efforts to cram it into a waterproof Hero 4 case proved unsuccessful.

Not that you’ll be needing a waterproof case anyway, as the Hero 5 is waterproof all on its own, without the need for a special housing. If you’re the adventurous type to take your GoPro for a dip, you can now take it to a maximum depth of 10m without damaging the camera inside. And because it doesn’t need a case, underwater sound quality is much better, and no longer sounds like you’re stuck in a vacuum.

GoPro Hero 5 Black review display

To keep its internals nice and air-tight, the Hero 5 does have some reinforced covers over its ports, which are far more tightly sealed than its predecessors. Admittedly, it does mean the battery, microSD slot, USB Type-C and Micro HDMI ports are all a little trickier to access now, so you can’t really open them in a pinch, but at least they’re much safer from the perils of water damage and should survive multiple openings and closings.

GoPro Hero 5 Black review: Touchscreen

Gone are the days of having to remember each GoPro button’s action for navigating the menus. The physical shutter and mode buttons are still here, but the old triple button scheme is officially dead and buried thanks to the Hero 5’s shiny new 2in touchscreen.

Using the touchscreen feels very similar to using a camera on a smartphone. You can swipe to navigate menus and toggle features on and off, and swiping to the right will bring up your gallery. Here, you can take a quick look at all of your captured footage in a grid-based menu. Swipe left, and you can toggle additional settings, such as video stabilisation and the option to capture images in RAW format for easier editing. Dragging down exits these menus and brings you back to the live-view.

Being able to look through the lens without the need of a smartphone app makes the shooting experience far easier. Sure, its touch gestures are a little finicky to begin with, especially when you’re so used to the old GoPro way of doing things, but it isn’t too long before it feels perfectly natural. You can also still use your phone for some fine tuning after you’ve finished shooting.

The only real issue is that touchscreen navigation was just a little too sluggish for my liking, especially during fast-paced shooting. There’s a brief, yet noticeable delay when switching between modes and swiping to access special settings, and there’s an annoying delay between each image capture. It’s not terrible by any means, but it nevertheless feels like your swipes and touches aren’t always being registered correctly.

GoPro Hero 5 Black review lens

Luckily, you can still use the physical buttons to switch between modes and capture footage if you prefer, so its laggy touchscreen doesn’t render the Hero 5 totally unusable. If you’re feeling particularly confident, you can also take advantage of the Hero 5’s fancy new voice controls. Whether it’s “GoPro turn on” or “GoPro start video”, the Hero 5 picked up my orders with minimal fuss, even in noisy environments, allowing me to go hands-free whenever I pleased.

GoPro Hero 5 Black review: Image and video quality

On the inside, there isn’t all that much that distinguishes the Hero 5 from its predecessor. It still has a 1/2.3in CMOS sensor, and it can still only record 4K video at 30fps. Higher frame rates are available at lower resolutions, and here you get 2.7K, 1,440p, 1,080p, 960p, 720p and 480p options. Dropping the resolution down can increase the framerate up to a max of 240fps, too, allowing for some super slow-motion footage.

Its newest feature, and something that stands out from the rest of the GoPro range, is its electronic image stabilisation (EIS). This digitally stabilises your footage once it hits the Hero 5 Black’s image processing chip, helping to smooth out any unwanted camera shake. The EIS functions reasonably well for the most part, and you can see the benefits in my test footage below. Just bear in mind that it crops 10% of the image to help combat camera movement when EIS is turned on, though.

Video quality at 4K resolution is wonderful, with fantastic levels of detail keeping noise levels to a minimum. As was the case with last year’s Hero 4, colour saturation is a tad muted, but this was admittedly during some pretty cloudy weather conditions. It’s still a decent performer in low-light conditions, too, even if noise levels are a tad more commonplace.

In terms of stills, its 12-megapixel lens does a great job of producing clear and crisp images with wonderfully vibrant colours and very little noise. Again, some of the low-light shots of our still life arrangement are a little fuzzy, especially around the bear, for instance, but the overall shots aren’t glaringly bad and auto exposure levels are on point. Now that we can finally capture images in RAW, image editing is made so much easier, too.

On the audio front, we’ve got three in-built microphones this time around, compared to last year’s mono mic. Sound quality has never really been GoPro’s strong suit, especially with a waterproof case surrounding it, but the Hero 5 Black really raises the bar. A wider soundscape is picked up, which coupled with the in-built wind reduction makes for far clearer sound than the action camera it supersedes.

The only mildly disappointing thing about the Hero 5 Black is that its battery life is nigh on identical to its predecessor’s. Heavy stop/start use netted me around 1hr 45min on a single charge. More conservative use and whacking the screen brightness down to a minimum might see you squeeze a bit more juice out of it, of course, but I was hoping for more of an improvement. The battery is replaceable, though, so you can always carry around spares if you’re planning to embark on a long adventure.

GoPro Hero 5 Black review: Verdict

It’s not quite perfect, but when the GoPro Hero 5 Black takes all the fancy features from its other models and crams it into a single device, it’s by far the most well-rounded action camera money can buy right now. It’s also a Brexit-beater, too. We’ve seen a lot of 2016 pieces of tech fall foul of price hikes thanks to Brexit, but GoPro hasn’t followed suit, with the Hero 5 Black costing £339 - £20 less than what last year’s model went for at launch.

GoPro Hero 5 Black review main alt

That said, when you can now pick up a new Hero 4 for around £300 these days, the biggest question is whether you think the added waterproofing, electronic image stabilisation, RAW capture and touchscreen features are really worth the added £50.

If you’ve already got a Hero 4, I’d stick with it for the time being, but if you’re looking for your first action camera crammed with all the bells and whistles you’ll need for your travels, the GoPro Hero 5 Black is a must buy.

Hardware
App controlAndroid, iOS
Sensor1/2.3in CMOS
Sensor pixels12,000,000
LCD screen size2in
Video recording formatMP4
Video recording resolutions4K (24/30fps), 2.7K (24/30/48/60fps), 2.7K 4:3 (30fps), 1440p (24/30/48/60/80fps), 1080p (24/30/48/60/80/90/120fps), 960p (60/120fps) 720p (30/60/100/120/240fps), 480 (240fps)
Max recording resolution4K (30fps)
Time lapse mode intervals0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60s
Video recording mediamicroSD
Sound48KHz stereo
Maximum still image resolution4,000 x 3,000
Memory slot (card supplied)microSD (none)
Data connectionsUSB Type-C
AV connectionsMicro HDMI output
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery life1h 45m
Battery charging positionCamcorder
Dimensions (HxWxD)44.5x62x32mm
Weight117g

Read more

Reviews