For a long time, GoPro stood at the top of the action camera podium; they were the only ones making good cams, and if you wanted to get good footage of your sport or event, you’d have a GoPro. Things changed, though, with the entry of a few other brands into the scene, challenging GoPro on price and quality. But with the release of the new HERO5 series and the Karma drone, GoPro is looking to get back on top. Let’s take a look at what’s new
The HERO5: All the Features
With three different cameras in the new HERO5 family, there’s something for everyone. The top of the line is the HERO5 Black; at $400, it’s going to be a wallet-breaker for most people, but it includes pretty much everything you could want from an action cam. It offers 4K video, 12MP photos, a touch display, waterproof case, single-button operation, wifi and bluetooth connectivity, and voice control. So you can control the camera with a single button or without touching it at all (which is going to be very convenient when you’re bombing down a huge descent and realize you forgot to start recording).
A step down from the Black camera is the HERO5 Session, a small but powerful camera that incorporates most of the features from its bigger brother. It doesn’t have a screen, but it still offers 4K recording and 10MP photo capability, voice control, and one-button operation. For $300, it’s still a significant investment, but it feels a little more manageable than the Black model.
The final new action cam from GoPro is the HERO Session, which compromises in a few areas. Although it’s high-resolution, it doesn’t offer 4K video, the photos are 8MP snaps, and it doesn’t have the video stabilization offered by the two higher-end models. At $200, it’s significantly more affordable, and many of the compromises are simply ones of convenience. This is going to be a very popular camera.
Another cool POV cam comes to us from Sony with some unique mountain options. To learn more about the sony action cam helmet mount be sure to check out our story.
To see the exact differences in specs and features, check out the GoPro Cameras page, where you can find a detailed comparison. You can also sign up for a notification when they come out (October 2nd).
The Karma Drone: The Next Generation of Action Cam
A few different action cam drones have been released, and everyone’s been waiting for GoPro to drop one of their own. It’s finally here, and it’s called the Karma. This quad-copter drone will fly your GoPro up to 3,000 feet away at speeds up to 35 mph so you can get killer aerial shots of landscapes, sports, or any activity you want. With 20 minutes of battery time, you can get some solid sequences of footage.
Included in the $800 price tag is the drone itself, a controller (which has its own video display), a battery and charger, a stabilizer cradle for the camera, a hand grip you can use with your GoPro and the stabilizer, and a carrying case that you can sling over your shoulder.
It’s a hefty price tag, but the drone looks great. Its size and battery life are comparable to other similar drones, and the controller looks like it makes flying very easy. The most notable missing feature is auto-follow; unlike drones like the AirDog and DJI Phantom, you have to either use the controller to direct the drone or use the Auto Shot Path feature, which will send the drone off in a certain pattern (such as a straight line with pan or a circle).
Another important feature that GoPro neglected to include in the Karma is automatic obstacle avoidance; so if you fly the drone into a tree, it’ll crash. Fortunately, crashing the drone will turn it off, and you can easily replace most of the parts, but when competitors are able to save you from your own stupidity, it seems like a bit oversight on GoPro’s part.
While the Karma hasn’t been released to the public yet, it looks like GoPro’s drone is a competitive, but not market-busting, option. The stabilizer cradle and included handle are nice touches, but the lack of auto-follow and obstacle avoidance in an $800 drone are a bit worrying. We’ll have to see what happens when more people get their hands on the drone.
Should You Upgrade?
If you have a GoPro now, should you drop the cash to pick up a HERO5 or a Karma? It’s never an easy choice, especially when several hundred dollars are on the line. If you have a HERO4 Black, for example, you already have 4K recording capability, but the voice control is a really fantastic thing to have. If you have an older GoPro that doesn’t have wifi or Bluetooth connectivity, that’s another cool feature you could add with a newer model.
The drone, however, isn’t such a clear decision. If you have $800 to drop on a drone, there’s a good chance that you could do better than the Karma. Again, we’ll have to wait until consumers are able to get their hands on one at the end of next month. And keep in mind that adding mechanical noise to the peaceful places we all love to spend time in probably won’t be looked upon kindly. And depending on where you are, you might not even be able to fly it (they’re still banned in national parks, and state parks vary).
What do you think about the new GoPro offerings? Will you upgrade, or buy one for the first time? What do you think of the Karma’s features? Share your thoughts in the comments below!