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The company has returned to the stage that made it popular, that of the action cams, with a product that does not seem to make any compromises. Could it be true?
The HERO6 Black (Check on Amazon.com) follows the steps of the older sibling. You will not be able to tell them apart, if not for the name on the side. Regardless of the design, this also means absolute compatibility with all the HERO5 (Check on Amazon.com) accessories.
Read more: GoPro HERO5 Black review
The GoPro HERO6 is thus waterproof up to 10m (32ft), without the need of a case. It features a 2 inch (1.9 inch, to be exact) IPS LCD display with a resolution of 320x480px, quite visible even under direct sunlight. On the side, we find the USB Type-C port and a micro HDMI video output. The 1,220mAh battery is also the same. On the front, there is the standard small LCD display, on the right side the physical button for changing shooting mode and on top the one for recording.
Built quality is excellent overall.
Features and video quality
The GoPro HERO6 enhances the HERO5 in every aspect. In fact, if you compare the video mode data you can see how the HERO6 has double the framerate.
Supported Video Format:
- 4K@60fps FOV Wide, 4K@30fps FOV Superview
- 2.7K@120fps FOV Wide, 2.7K@60fps FOV SuperView
- 1080p@240fps FOV Wide, 1080p@120fps FOV SuperView
- 720p@60fps FOV Wide
The HERO6 is equipped in fact, with a new SoC, the first one to be built by GoPro, and named the GP1. It is because of this chipset that such an increase in framerate has been possible, and that the GoPro is so far in front of its Ambarella chip-based rivals. The only other thing that stands out is that GoPro forgot about 720p resolution. Shooting at 720p the HERO6 goes at most to 60fps, whereas the HERO5 reaches 240fps.
Photo modes remain the same.
Supported Photo Format:
- Photo resolution: 12 MB
- Burst (photo/second): 30/1, 30/2, 30/3, 30/6, 10/1, 10/2, 10/3, 5/1, 3/1
- Time-lapse (both photo and video): 0.5-1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60 second
Attention: even though the resolution hasn’t improved, the overall quality has increased. So let’s list out the improvements:
We’ll get started with the color. In general, colors are more vivid, more lively and more accurate. The dynamic range has been considerably extended, especially considering the size of the sensor. This is clearly appreciated in both videos and photos, but if that’s not enough, in the photos you can activate the high dynamic range (HDR) option that further enhances colors and contrasts, and illuminates the whole picture. The result you get is very impressive, even if, like all automatic settings, it is not infallible.
When the sun sets, it is possible that the algorithm introduces excessive noise or fails to reproduce some of the colors.
Along with the dynamic range, there has been a significant increase in quality in low light conditions. The images are in fact quite nice and with less noise, even when shooting indoors. But again, you will have to be careful with the automatic settings. Low-light HDR is not recommended. And when in video mode, you should be careful using Protune, the (semi) manual controls, or the auto low light option, which can help out by reducing the framerate but can also lead to color aberrations.
We have to stress out that in both cases we are referring to extreme situations and hardly “day to day footage”, but that’s what testing is for.
Another thing the company has focused on is automatic exposure speed, which is really quite shocking. Even when there are sharp shifts in brightness, the HERO6 Black takes just a few seconds to expose the correct scene.
The fourth major improvement is the digital stabilization. GoPro has done a great job on this, giving us smooth videos even when walking. The only complaint is that the EIS doesn’t work at maximum framerates. You can use it in 4K, but only at 30fps, in 2.7K at 60fps and in Full HD at 120fps. Pity…
The new features don’t stop here. We now have the option to do a digital zoom before start recording, thus allows us to focus the shot. This mode doesn’t work with the SuperView FOV. Once the video recording starts, however, you won’t be able to change again the zoom of the camera. Honestly, we haven’t used it much but in certain scenes, it can be useful.
GoPro also sped up the transfer rate via Wi-Fi, between the action cam and your smartphone, to three times as fast. When we tested it we didn’t find out this claim to be exact, but there is a marked increase in the transfer speeds which is a welcomed improvement.
Voice commands are still present. Just say “GoPro” followed by one of the following commands:
- Record video
- Stop video
- Take a picture
- Start a timed shot
- Stop timed shot
- Video mode
- Photo mode
- Timed shooting mode
- Sequence mode
- Switch off
- Switch on
As you may have noticed, the commands also work when the cam is off, as long as it hasn’t been turned off for more than 8 hours.
The audio is good as always.
There is nothing new about the app. At launch, there was a problem that kept videos from being downloaded to Android. But GoPro dealt with it promptly.
Other than that, the GoPro app works very well, and you can use it as a viewfinder, to change the settings of the action cam, and in order to keep it up to date. You can also create QuikStories, short videos from GoPro footage, which are automatically picked up and edited (you can always do that manually), adding music, transactions, and another effect. Within a matter of minutes, you will have a video ready to share online, which is not a small feat, considering the time it would take you to make one. Just don’t assume that the automatically-picked scenes are always the best.
The GoPro HERO6 doesn’t take any steps forward in terms of battery life. In our tests, we measured one hour and 10 minutes recording in 4K@60fps.
This is kind of a best-case scenario since the action cam was still shooting the same scene (the inside of our office: a rather static scene) without ever interacting with the GoPro, and with Wi-Fi, GPS and voice commands turned off. In a more realistic situation, you should be looking for a lower autonomy on par with the HERO5.
And watch out for the temperatures! After our stress test of over an hour, the front panel of the HERO6 heated up to 55 °C (131 °F), and the back cover was pretty warm too.
The GoPro HERO6 costs a whooping (Check on Amazon.com).
The HERO6 brings GoPro to the top of a sector synonym to the company. It is an action cam that does not disappoint (even if it is not “perfect”) and that shows the competition what a “quality product” really means. The price remains high, but the result is a product at the top of the segment.