Top positive review
From first-time action camera owner: Great versatility, decent video quality
November 26, 2016
This review is from my perspective as a freelance videographer and first-time action camera owner. I will keep the review short by going over the good, the bad, and the ugly of the GoPro Hero 5 Black.
The good (+3)
- Highly portable. I can quickly charge it and stick it in my pocket for on-the-go shooting.
- Waterproof. Drop this in water and you'll be fine. Swish it around, and still fine. Go diving, yep, still fine (up to 33' without housing).
- Android connectivity. It works fantastically! With the Capture app, I can pay attention to the shot on my 5" phone screen while guiding my arm.
- Stabilization. Unbelievably good. If I'm doing a panning shot or walking down stairs, I don't have to worry about arm jiggle. It's smooth on a bike.
- Audio. Multi-directional recording on this tiny camera is very good. Listen to the raw audio in the attached video to see what I mean.
- Sturdy construction. The smooth plastic, large touch screen, and heft give it a quality feel fitting to the price range.
- Timelapses look great! I recorded a 2-hour once-per-2-seconds timelapse on a single battery and was able to immediately wirelessly transfer it to my phone and share it.
The bad (-1)
- The flap on the USB C port on the side has jammed and fallen off several times. It is easy to put back on, though the possibility of it falling off again has made me think about accidentally losing it.
- The water-tight housing (allows it to go much deeper in water) bumps up against the record button and takes a bit of a squeeze to get it on. Not the worst thing in the world, but hey, it is a hassle.
The ugly (-2)
- At any light lower than near-direct sunlight, digital grain is visible. When in the shade or when it is cloudy, the quality is noticeably worse than in sunlight. Think of the grain as like a fine paint daub look, circa 2010 phone cameras. Yes, it can shoot 4K at a 60 Mb/s bitrate, but even downscaled to 1080p, the digital grain is noticeable. See what I mean in the attached video. My phone, Galaxy S7, takes far better video than the GoPro in lower-light settings. However, no phone camera beats the wide-angle, waterproofing, and general versatility of this camera.
- The GoPro Hero 5 Black is a great $400 action camera intended for a very specific market of videographers. The major downside of this camera (video quality in low light) does not outweigh all that this camera can do. Throw this tiny camera in your bag, go skiing, surfing, traveling the country, and when you're all done, put together something worth sharing. What you don't get with video quality you in return get not having to hassle with lenses, extra batteries, external chargers, equipment bags, and the like, which all get in the way of the action.
22 total points with 4 taken off = 21/24, or about 4/5 stars.