Welcome to our 10-minute GoPro Buyer’s Guide.
We’re about to cover:
- The New GoPro Range
- Features, And Back-To-Back GoPro Comparisons
- The Best GoPro For The Money
By the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly which GoPro to buy based on your budget, and the type of filming you want to do.
Summary/at a glance
We tested the latest GoPro range (and have used most of the older models over the years). We also took into account online customer reviews and the opinions of other trusted camera and tech sites.
Overall we feel the best value for money in the 2018 lineup is the HERO5 Black. It’s $100 cheaper than the HERO6, and you’re not really losing much in terms of features. It’s also a clear step-up from the entry level HERO.
|HERO||HERO5 Black||HERO6 Black|
|Max Resolution||1440P / 60fps||4K / 30fps||4K/ 60fps|
|Optimum Resolution||1440P / 60fps||1440P / 80fps||1440P / 120fps|
|Battery Life||1h 30m – 2h 05m||1h 20m – 2h 20m||1h – 1h 50m|
Of course, if you need 360 degree shooting, you’ll need to fork out $650+ for the Fusion. In fact, we would choose either the HERO5 or the Fusion (if you want fully immersive shooting), and skip the HERO6 altogether.
But that’s just us, so let’s dig a little deeper.
We’ll start with a quick rundown of the 4 cameras in the 2018 GoPro lineup.
This is the new entry level camera from GoPro, but it’s MUCH improved on their previous lower end options (like the HERO Session).
You won’t get 4K shooting, but you will get 1440p at 60fps. And let’s be honest, for most of us that’s going to be plenty. Slow-mo isn’t going to be supersmooth, but you can just about get away with it at 60fps. Anything other than half speed though is going to start getting a bit jerky.
You’ll also get a (2 inch) touch screen, which is pretty impressive for a GoPro at this price point. And in case you’re wondering, yes, this is the first time that a touch screen has been included in the “budget” GoPro.
Indeed, the fact you have a screen at all is a big plus for the HERO. Last years’ “HERO Session” was basically a grey cube that you could hit record and stop on. If you wanted to review your footage, you’d have to use the app. It was ok for what it was, but this is a big step-up in quality.
Yep, you’ll get waterproofing to 33ft, video stabilization, and a 10MP stills camera.
Not too shabby at all for a GoPro that’s going to cost you just under $200. If you don’t need 4K and are just looking to capture your ride, run, or whatever sport you’re into, then it’s a pretty decent option that you won’t be disappointed with.
(oh, and you’ll also get Wi-fi + bluetooth connectivity built in)
GoPro HERO5 Black
We’re glad that GoPro decided not to ditch the HERO5 Black when they launched the HERO6. Why? Because it’s a truly awesome action cam. In fact, it’s our #1 action cam in 2018.
You’ll get 4K shooting at 30fps, and full HD at 120fps, meaning you can slow down your video in post up to 4x and still have it playback super smooth.
And talking of 4K, it is truly glorious. We know it’s not really needed for most amateur footage (ok, it’s overkill), but when we played back our recordings on the big screen here in the office there were a lot of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’.
We’ll be honest: 4K is really the big differentiator between the HERO5 and the entry level HERO. As we already covered, they’ve chucked a 2” touch screen into the HERO, and you’ll get the same one in the HERO5. You’ll also get the same connectivity options (Wi-fi + bluetooth),
Admittedly, you will get a 12MP stills camera instead of 10MP on the HERO. And you’ll get some control over the exposure (you don’t in the HERO) if you’re into that sort of thing. You can also plug in an external mic, which you can’t do with the HERO.
But that being said, all in all, we really think forking out the extra $100 for 4K (and the above extras) is worth the money if you can afford it. If nothing else, it’s going to future proof your footage a bit. Because let’s face it, resolutions are only going to improve over the next few years. Which means that eventually 1080p footage is going to start to look a little dated.
And that’s why the HERO5 Black is our favorite GoPro in 2018.
GoPro HERO6 Black
The HERO6 is the top of the tree in the 2018 lineup (we class the fusion as a specialist camera). And there’s no denying, in terms of quality, it is the best GoPro in the current range.
We picked the HERO5 as our #1 camera this year, but that’s really because we feel it offers the best value for money. If you want the actual best GoPro, then you’ll want to shell out for the HERO6.
Where does the HERO6 beat the HERO5?
First up you’ll get 4K video at 60fps (as opposed to 30fps with the HERO5), and you’ll also get up to 240fps at 1080p. So frame rate is basically double for the 2 primary resolutions. Needless to say, regular speed footage is ridiculously good quality, and slow-mo is simply gorgeous.
The stabilization in the HERO6 is also a step-up from the HERO5. We found that even the bumpiest of rides (we tested it out on the Nevis range MTB track in Scotland, home of the world cup) looked super smooth in playback.
Under the hood, the HERO6 is powered by GoPro’s new GP1 chip, which delivers both enhanced image quality (in addition to the upped resolution) and the additional stabilization.
But really, just like the choice to make the step-up from the HERO to HERO5 is about whether you need 4K, the choice here is whether you want 4K in slow-mo and the best video quality on an action cam this year. If you do, and you have the budget, then the GoPro HERO6 is the camera you need to buy.
GoPro’s tagline for the Fusion is “All it shoots is everything”, and they’re not exaggerating. The GoPro Fusion captures a full 360 degree panorama of your surroundings. The big advantage of that? VR playback of your recordings.
But while VR is (super) cool, there’s another big plus of capturing “everything”. The footage can be converted back into regular “flat” footage in post production. And as you’ve captured the whole scene, you can choose which angles (or indeed directions) you want to include in your finished video.
And by the way, all that footage that’s captured… it’s not in 4K. It’s in an incredible 5.2K (30fps). Trust us, that’s next level quality. We didn’t think we’d be able to tell the difference. We were wrong.
Like the HERO6, the stabilization in the Fusion is truly impressive. GoPro claim it is actually slightly enhanced, but we’ll be honest, they seemed pretty equally matched to us. Although that’s far from a negative.
GoPro Comparison Charts
Below, we’ve created various GoPro comparison charts including:
- Video Quality
- GoPros With & Without 4K
- Video Stabilisation
- Wind Noise Reduction & Audio Quality
- Quality Of Stills
- WIFI & Bluetooth
- Touch Display
- Which GoPro Cameras Have Voice Control?
- Battery Life & Recharging
Video quality is the biggest difference between the new GoPro range and the old one.
So, let’s do a direct comparison between the three action cameras in their 2018 range, and one from 2017.
Which GoPro Has 4K?
4K is a resolution that takes footage from the amateur level, into the semi-pro and professional level.
Look of the GoPro surfing footage below.
This gives you an idea of the type of footage you’ll be able to capture in 4K.
The HERO doesn’t have 4k ability. However, you’ll get 4K with the HERO5 Black and HERO6 Black.
|Model||Max Resolution||Optimum Resolution|
|HERO||1440P / 60fps||1440P / 60fps|
|HERO5 Black||4K / 30fps||1440P / 80fps|
|HERO6 Black||4K/ 60fps||1440P / 120fps|
I know what you’re thinking. It’s all about resolution, and nothing else.
Well, it’s not.
It’s pointless being able to shoot in high resolution, if the footage isn’t stabilised.
Not all filming scenarios need video stabilization.
Check out this video stabilisation side-by-side comparison.
At times, it’s not noticeable. But the harsher the conditions, the more it becomes a factor.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, there’s a good chance you need a camera with video stabilisation.
Fortunately all GoPros in the 2018 range have stabilisation built in.
Need video stabilisation on a pro level? You’ll need the HERO6 Black.
Wind Noise Reduction & Audio Quality
The single biggest factor affecting quality of the audio on GoPros, is the wind noise reduction system.
All cameras in the new range get a degree of noise reduction…
|Model||Wind Noise Reduction System|
For some reason, there’s not a single action sports camera brand that has managed to get this right.
There’s the lower end brands that have almost no wind noise reduction at all.
Then there’s the higher end brands like GoPro, where the wind noise reduction system can be intrusive. It kicks in so harshly, that it makes sound throughout a shoot inconsistent.
That said, there’s an enormous difference between the standard wind noise reduction system offered by the GoPro HERO, and the advanced wind noise reduction system offered by the HERO5 Black and HERO6.
The HERO wind noise reduction system covers little more than a light breeze.
The HERO5/HERO6 wind reduction system is much more advanced, allowing for higher quality audio throughout a shoot.
The wind noise reduction system can be controlled, thanks to the GoPro Wind-Slayer foam (additional purchase).
Quality Of Stills
Like every feature in the new action cameras, you’ll see progression in quality as you move up the range.
|HERO||10MP / 30FPS Burst Time Lapse|
|HERO5 Black||12MP / 30 FPS Burst Time Lapse|
|HERO6 Black||12MP / 30 FPS Burst Time Lapse with HDR photos and touch zoom|
Let’s face it. Most people don’t but a GoPro to take stills. But, if you’re travelling light, it’s nice to have the ability to do so with your GoPro, rather than taking a separate camera for stills.
The time lapse feature allows videographers to become photographers, creating beautiful videos like this one:
And, this is one of the features many GoPro owners overlook. If you want to create time-lapse videos using stills like the one above, 8MP is certainly not going to make the grade.
10MP is borderline, but 12MP is where you need to be at.
There’s a good reason why this is one of the only 8MP time lapse videos on YouTube, the quality of the stills just doesn’t cut it.
WIFI & Bluetooth
With the older GoPros, you’d only get both WIFI and Bluetooth with the higher-end camera; the HERO4.
You’d be limited to just WIFI with the HERO3, and the original HERO had neither.
Luckily, GoPro have upgraded the entire range.
So, all now come with WIFI and Bluetooth.
Touch display isn’t a new feature for GoPro, but it’s been improved considerably.
The new HERO/HERO5/HERO6 Black has a 2-inch touchscreen.
The new scrolling menu replaces the old clickable display. If you’ve ever used a clickable display with cold and wet hands, you’ll know this is a welcome upgrade.
Menu items are bigger too, and the whole menu has been simplified. That means quicker and easier navigation.
Gone are the days when you need to pay more than $500 to get a waterproof action camera. All three GoPro cameras are waterproof up to 33ft (10m).
This is possibly one of the biggest overhauls of the range.
Previous GoPros needed an additional waterproof housing.
Not only does this add to the bulk of the camera, meaning you catch extra wind and decrease sound quality, it also added weight.
Voice control is another cool feature introduced by GoPro.
So, who is it designed for?
Well, if you’re using a chest mount, or your GoPro is easily accessible, there’s a good chance you can live without it.
It’s really designed for those mounting a GoPro in hard to reach areas.
A few mounting examples might be:
In the heat of the action, you’re not going to be able to change what your GoPro is doing without stopping altogether.
You’ll need to get out of your car, get off your bike, take off your helmet or jump off the swell; not good.
Which GoPro Action Cameras Have Voice Control?
Does Voice Control Work?
Like any new piece of technology, voice command by GoPro isn’t short of problems.
Wind Noise – GoPro Won’t Recognize Command
If you engage in a sport where you pick up speed (and wind noise), you’ll sometimes find it hard for your GoPro to recognize your command.
A common way of rectifying this problem is to use the Wind-Slayer foam.
This eliminates an element of background noise, making it easier for the camera to recognize the command.
Not Sure If GoPro Recognized A Command
Now, this is the real problem. When a GoPro recognises a command, it will make a beep. That’s confirming you’re good to go.
External wind noise is unavoidable. If you’re flying down a Piste, surfing in rough conditions, or on a motorcycle, there’s a good chance you won’t hear that beep.
The solution? The GoPro Remo. A wrist mounted device that connects you and your voice, to your GoPro.
Voice Control Commands List
There’s a tonne of voice control commands you can use from starting recording, through to starting and stopping a time lapse.
Just shout out any of the voice commands below:
- GoPro Start Recording
- GoPro Stop Recording
- GoPro Take a Photo
- GoPro Shoot Burst
- GoPro Start Time Lapse
- GoPro Stop Time Lapse
- GoPro Video Mode
- GoPro Photo Mode
- GoPro Time Lapse Mode
- GoPro Burst Mode
- GoPro Turn Off
Battery Life & Recharging
Battery life is a key concern for us action sports junkies.
It’s going to be affected by the mode you’re shooting in. A lower quality mode means more battery life.
If you’re looking to film for less than an hour at a time, you’re good to go.
|Model||Battery Life||Removable Battery?|
|HERO||1h 20m – 2h||No|
|HERO5 Black||1h 20m – 2h 20m||Yes|
|HERO6 Black||1h – 1h 50m||Yes|
Improving Battery Life
The options for improving battery life are minimal.
However, we’ve found that turning off WIFI and Bluetooth when they are not being used can give an additional 10-15 minutes.
Removable Batteries & Charging
The Session and HERO5 Session don’t have removable batteries. So, if you need more than 1.5-2 hours of film, you’ll need to charge on the move.
If you can’t live with 1.5-2 hours and can’t charge on the move, the HERO5 Black/HERO6 are the only option options; they’ve got removeable batteries.
You’ll get the same 1.5-2 hours of filming time. But, GoPro sell genuine spare batteries too.
So, you can switch them out; fast.
Take a handful with you and you’ve got a full day of filming.
And they’re rechargeable, so set them charging over night and you’re good to go for day two.
Which GoPro Is Right For You?
Choosing which GoPro to buy boils down to two simple things.
#1 – Cost
GoPros start at around $150 (for low-end refurbished models), to over $700.
That’s a big jump in price, and most people are going to be restricted by budget.
#2 – Video Quality & Features
In this life, you get what you pay for; GoPros are no different.
The more you spend, the more you’re going to get out of your action camera.
And, one of the big deal breakers for the cheaper Session, is that it doesn’t shoot in 4K.
Let’s face it. Every action sports junkie wants to show off their latest adventure in 4K.
Which GoPro is Best in 2018?
Below we’ve added a brief review of each GoPro, explaining when and where each is going to make a suitable purchase. And, we’ve added a detailed GoPro HERO5 Black review (our top pick) after this section.
To be honest, we’re super impressed with what GoPro have manged to cram into the 2018 HERO.
1440P is pretty decent, and the fact you now get a touch screen, voice control, and enhanced connectivity in the “budget” model is admirable.
If you don’t need 4K, or control over settings, exposure etc, then you won’t be disappointed with the HERO.
GoPro HERO5 Black
Expect to be able to capture professional footage, that provides quality like that of the average broadcast.
You’ll get smooth slow-motion sequences, making this the top pick new and experienced action camera junkies.
4K across the board and you’ll be able to create awesome time lapse videos with the 12MP stills; a 4MP jump on the HERO4 Session, and 2MP on the HERO5 Session.
GoPro HERO6 Black
If you’ve got the budget and don’t want to compromise on video quality, the HERO6 is for you.
You’ll get the same quality of stills, but there’s a big jump in footage quality in both 2.7K & 4K.
To put this simply, you’ll get 4K / 30fps or 2.7K / 60fps with the HERO5 Black.
That’s boosted to 4K/ 60fps or 2.7K / 120fps with the HERO6 Black. 2x the performance.
If you want to create the best video footage possible, it’s going to be with the HERO6 Black.
Let’s start by saying the GoPro Fusion is expensive. In terms of price, there’s just no comparison with anything else in the range. You should expect to pay in the region of $700, and that’s double the price of our top pick; the HERO5 Black.
So, if it’s so expensive and the HERO5 Black is so good, why are people ACTUALLY buying the GoPro Fusion?
360-degree filming capabilities. Well, that’s the majority of where your $700 goes anyway. So, if you can deal WITHOUT 360-degree filming, you’ll save $200-300 by buying the HERO5 Black or the HERO6 Black.
There’s an obvious boost in footage quality compared with other GoPros too. You’ll get 5.2k. Put simply, that’s over 20% better than you’ll get from the HERO6 Black. And the same goes for stills. Even the HERO6 only has a 12MP camera. The GoPro Fusion? You’ll get 18MP for stills.
Oddly, there is an area that the Fusion lacks, and that’s waterproofing. With the majority of the GoPros over the years, you’ve got 10m/33ft of protection. With the Fusion? You’ll only get 5m. That said, there are plenty of 360-degree cameras in a similar price range that you’ll get ZERO waterproofing from.
If you can’t compromise on film quality (and have the budget for the very best), the GoPro Fusion is for you.
GoPro HERO5 Black Review
Let’s face it. For those that have the budget, the GoPro HERO5 Black is only topped by the HERO6 in the action camera world.
It might not be the cheapest camera, but what it offers for the price is more than exceptional.
It’s an action camera for every sport. Whether you’re diving up to 33ft/10m (it’s waterproof up to this depth), hitting muddy trails or mountaineering, it’s robust enough to deal with it all.
And, the end-result is nothing short of spectacular. The quality of the footage alone, is worth the cost.
Check out some video shot with a HERO5 Black below.
Enter, Touch Display
If you’re using an old HERO4, there’s a big feature you’re going to be missing out on; a 2-inch touch screen display.
Unlike previous GoPros, this touchscreen doesn’t need a waterproof housing to keep it safe. And, that means it’s sleeker and lighter than ever.
Particularly important if you plan to mount it on a helmet. The extra weight makes a lot of difference here.
You’re cold, wet, and you’ve been navigating the clickable display for minutes. That’s hassle. And, that’s the old GoPros.
This is where the GoPro HERO5 Black beats its predecessors with the new scrollable menu.
Menu items are larger and that makes navigation an absolute breeze.
And, as an additional bonus, you can edit footage on the move.
Yup, straight from the touch screen.
Battery life isn’t set in stone. Start switching on Bluetooth, GPS and WIFI, and you’ll notice the battery drain speed up. Even the heat can affect how fast the battery dies. On an average day, you’ll get 1.5-2 hours of footage.
Battery is again where the HERO5 Black, trumps the Session.
Finally, a removable battery.
The non-removable battery of the Session are almost a deal breaker. It means carrying battery packs and sitting around waiting for a charge.
Who has time for that?
If you use a stick or chest mount, operating a GoPro isn’t exactly difficult.
But, mount it on a board or helmet, and it’s almost a 2-person job. And, that’s why GoPro have introduced voice activation. Just shout out “GoPro, start recording” and you’re good to go.
You’ll hear beeps as you shout out your commands, and that’s a sign the command has been accepted.
This is where the HERO5 Black earns its price tag.
I mean, just go ahead and check this out.
So, you get the same 4K as you do in the HERO5 Session, but this is extended to their SuperView filming mode.
The HERO5 Session drops to 2.7K here. And, the HERO5 Black it shoots 4K at 30fps which is considerably better than any competitor products.
You’ll get a wide-angle lens to compliment the 4K and that’s what enables you to grab footage like the video above.
But, more impressive of all, is the quality holds for low-light scenarios. If you plan to film in the evening, or maybe even in a cave, this is the camera for you.
GoPro have realised that a lot of their customers are a lil’ crazier than they thought. And, for extreme footage, a camera needs extreme video stabilisation.
They’ve given the HERO5 video stabilisation below 4K and it’s a significant improvement on older HERO4 models.
Of course, there’s only far video stabilisation can go. There’s going to be some movement in the picture for exceptionally bumpy rides.
But, with improved stabilisation comes much better sound quality too.
The stabilisation helps to stop the wind reduction system kicking in, which is notorious for muffling sound, making sound inconsistent throughout a video.
You’re not short of ability when it comes to taking stills either.
Using 12MP, you’ll be able to get some excellent shots. That’s a full 4MP higher than the original Session.
Like video, there’s image stabilisation available which helps to improve the quality of stills.
There’s a noticeable difference between the wind noise on the Session and the HERO5/HERO6 models. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not still a problem.
If you’re a surfer, long boarder, cyclist, motorcyclist or even a paraglider, your videos are going to be overpowered by wind noise.
And, that’s why we’d recommend getting some foam to protect from wind noise. GoPro produce their own foam called the “Wind-Slayer”.
Who Should Buy The GoPro HERO5 Black?
You want quality footage, but don’t have an unlimited budget. You don’t want to take amateur footage, but something that’s border-line pro.
The HERO5 Black has everything the average filmographer needs in terms of:
- Video stabilisation
- Quality of stills and video
- Wind noise reduction
So, that’s where we’d be putting our money.Check Price
Cheap GoPro Models (Discontinued)
Looking for a GoPro camera but don’t have the budget for the 2018 line-up? Good news…
GoPro update their range; A LOT! And when they do, the older models get discontinued, but, they’re still available online. That means you’ll be able to get a top quality action camera, for a fraction of the original MSRP.
Want to know something even better? Most discontinued GoPros are available new, used and even reconditioned. The used and reconditioned models for sale offer further savings, compared to the MSRP.
Ready to check out the discontinued GoPro cameras?
GoPro HERO4 Black
If you’re checking out the 2018 action camera range, you’re going to need a budget of around $300-700. For the HERO4 Black? You’ll need somewhere in the region of $200 (slightly less for used and reconditioned models).
At the time it was launched, the HERO4 was revolutionary, to a point where it even won an Emmy Award. Why? It was GoPros most powerful camera to date.
It allowed amateur videographers to capture better footage than they ever had before, on a budget. And, that’s partly thanks to the 2x extra processing power compared with other models, and 4K30/2.7k60 video that they were able to utilize.
Oddly, the waterproofing on the HERO4 is better than anything in the current GoPro range; there’s just no comparison. You’ll get 10m/33ft from a typical GoPro these days. The HERO4? You’ll get 141ft. Yup. You heard us. 141ft or 40m!
And, the quality of stills is impressive too. You’ll get 12MP for photos.
All that combined, in our opinion, makes the GoPro HERO4 Black one of the best discontinued GoPros for the money.
The GoPro Session is perfect for those on a budget.
It allows amateurs to capture footage ready for the web. You’ll be able to create slow motion sequences, although zoom in post-production is minimal.
Adjusting settings for stills and video is limited.
It’s a simple camera designed for those that want to just get out there and play, rather than perfect their videography skills.
But that comes at a price, resolution is down to 8MP for stills and 1440P for video.
GoPro HERO5 Session
With the GoPro HERO5 session, footage improves to the semi-pro mark. Wind noise reduction is improved in comparison to the Session.
Settings adjustment here is improved over the Session too, and that means you’ll be able to shoot some real cool stuff.
But, you’ll need to install the GoPro App to get the best out of the camera and adjust settings.
The stills increase in quality, up from 8MP in the Session to 10MP here.
The deal maker is you can shoot 4K. Although, it’s limited to 2.7K in SuperView, but standard mode (and 4K) can be used in most scenarios.
Ready To Take Your GoPro Footage To The Next Level?
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