Common Tread

Video: GoPro Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session review

Nov 19, 2016

About a month ago I wrote an article asking what you want to know about the new GoPro Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session. After receiving a ton of great feedback, I went to work.

I’ve spent the last month with my hands on these cameras putting them through the RevZilla wringer with two goals: assess GoPro’s position in the action camera industry and help you decide whether one of the Hero5 cameras is worth buying.

GoPro has obviously done a remarkable job marketing their name and establishing themselves as the action camera, but are they still living up to it? There is certainly no lack of competition, with cameras like the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 and Xiaomi Yi 4K stealing GoPro’s market share. The Garmin VIRB Ultra 30, specifically, boasted voice control and image stabilization prior to the Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session release. The Xiaomi Yi 4K may not have all the bells and whistles, but at a more budget-oriented price point, it offers impressive video quality.

To be frank, I think GoPro is back on top with the Hero5 line. Barely.

I don’t want to give all the details away and spoil the video review, but here are my top 3 reasons why.

Usability and app integration

GoPro has developed their most user-friendly camera to date. The Hero5 Black now has a one-touch power on and record design, touchscreen, and voice control. These features perform just as well as you would hope. My favorite addition, though, is not even in the camera itself. It’s an app.

GoPro Quik app
GoPro’s new Quik app makes it easy to create and share video on your smartphone. RevZilla photo.
A lot of the friction you might have experienced in the past while trying to make a video has been removed with GoPro’s new Quik app. As long as you have a smartphone, it will edit a video to music for you based on photos and videos you select. Pretty nifty for the user who doesn’t want to mess with desktop-based editing. Did I mention you never even have to transfer footage to your computer? GoPro rolled out GoPro Plus, a subscription-based service that will upload your footage from your GoPro to the cloud for $5 a month. A cheap workaround is to use GoPro’s Capture app to transfer video straight from your GoPro to your smartphone, then use the Quik app from there.

GoPro Hero5 battery life test
Moments before the battery life face-off began determining the Hero5 Black as the winner. RevZilla photo.

Battery life

I have been known to complain once or twice about GoPro’s poor battery life in some of their older models. The bummer for me is that, unlike the Hero4 and Hero3 cameras, there is no longer a rear connector for a battery BacPac. That complaint became less worrisome when I got more than two hours of continuous recording time shooting in 1080p on the Hero5 Black. A couple extra batteries would put you in pretty good shape to record as long as needed. The Hero5 Session didn’t fare as well, lasting only an hour and 44 minutes, 27 minutes less than its predecessor. If you go this route, definitely keep a portable charger handy, since the Hero5 Session battery is not removeable.

Wind reduction

I was initially disappointed with the Hero4 Session’s supposed wind reduction capabilities, switching back and forth between two microphones. The Hero4 Black and Silver weren’t great, either. You used to have to adhere to the loose recommendations printed on the back of these cameras for best audio at high speeds, but stuffing the cameras in their dive housings didn’t work great for me on a motorcycle.

The Hero5 Black wind reduction mode is killer. I had great results and surprisingly clean audio at speeds in excess of 50 mph with the Hero5 Black mounted in the included frame. I was impressed, considering that was on the handlebar of my naked Suzuki SV650.

You’ll have to watch the video for all the details, but maybe I’m onto something. Who knows? Time will tell if GoPro is able to keep iterating and staying ahead of the competition. The battle is only getting more heated, but ultimately that’s how the consumer wins.

As for the new bells and whistles of the Hero5 line, well maybe I’m completely wrong and no one will use the new apps or care about the new features. What do you think?

I hope the review helps you along in your decision-making process. If you have other questions I wasn’t able to answer in the video or article, feel free to hit me up in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out. Until next time, happy shooting!