GoPro Hero 5 Black in a hands-on test: what is an action camera really capable of?

Photo quality
Video quality
Price quality
Overall rating 4.7 / 5

After GoPro publicly announced its exit from the drone market a few days ago, the company’s focus will likely again be on selling the Actioncam GoPro line of cameras.

In this post, we want to take a closer look at the GoPro Hero 5 Black and explore what features a powerful mini camera has to offer.

We tested the camera both underwater and in the icy conditions of Norway on a husky sled.

The following video shows a hands-on test of the GoPro Hero 5 Black in the USA and Norway:

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Specifications Go Pro Hero 5

The GoPro Hero 5 has voice control and is waterproof up to 10m without the need for an additional housing.

Videos can be recorded at up to 4k and 30fps. Additional possible settings:

  • 2.7k @ 60fps
  • 1440p @ 80fps
  • 1080p @ 120fps, so also suitable for slow motion recording

The small 12MP action camera takes pictures. Photos can be optimized using the ProTunes app before recording.

The camera also has a USB connection, so photos and videos can be transferred directly to a smartphone or laptop.

The camera body is very high quality and offers excellent quality. Everything is perfectly processed, the touch screen and all built-in buttons work flawlessly even after long-term use (already 1.5 years).

The basic equipment of the GoPro Hero 5 kit includes the camera itself, a USB-C cable, two adhesive tapes and a rubber cover.

There is voice control, touchscreen display and the ability to use GPS tracking.

An underwater case (water resistance up to 60 m) can be bought for just under 55 euros if you want to go diving with this Actiocam.

The exact dimensions of the GoPro Hero 5 are 6.2 x 4.5 x 3.3 cm.The camera is really small and it is comfortable in the hand too.

Video and photo recordings in the practice test

The small, handy action camera captures cinematic UHD footage with an approximate runtime of almost 70 minutes. In Full HD mode, the battery lasts for almost 2.5 hours, more than twice as long.

So if you want to do more 4k tapes, you better bring some extra batteries with you.

As you saw in our test video, Ultra HD recordings at 30 frames per second look fantastic. If the image is not smooth enough for you, you can of course switch to 2.7k and 60 FPS and thus create a smoother image.

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The ProTunes app can be used to optimize video settings before recording. Here, for example, you can set the ISO value, brightness or wind noise reduction. Using these settings makes a noticeable difference in our practice test.

In particular, videos recorded in low light get significantly better results with a little pre-optimization.

Electronic IS is much better than the GoPro 4. Unfortunately, this feature cannot be used for Ultra HD recording.

Launch Go Pro Video – Voice Control

The voice control that the 5 Black can control with voice commands is also very cool. There are 13 different voice commands in total, for example:

  • GoPro take a picture
  • Make a GoPro video
  • Turn off your GoPro
  • Etc.

Voice control works incredibly well and directly, so GoPro has done a really great job here. Working with a smartphone via WLAN is practically not required.

When we were making the Huskeytor in Norway and I was wearing the GoPro over my head, this feature was especially useful.

Photos are best taken with the Wide setting, otherwise the quality will deteriorate quickly due to higher magnification. It should also be noted here that the Gopro is well suited for photography, but it cannot and should not be compared to a classic DSLR camera that has different zoom settings.

Our photos are still very good, but first you need a little practice to be able to use the different modes in practice: wide, linear, medium and narrow.

5 Black offers JPG and RAW file formats so professional photographers can get the most out of their shots afterwards.

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The action offers 12 MP, which allows you to save photos at a resolution of 4000 × 3000 pixels. Exposure times can be set up to 60 seconds, so you can even take pictures of the northern lights. It can also be used to take beautiful photos in dark places.

The quality of the photos shown here no longer matches the original format, but they have been slightly compressed so that they can be downloaded quickly, especially on slower Internet connections.

As mentioned, the Hero 5 can be voice controlled as well as through the app. This feature is especially useful for taking selfies or when it’s a little colder outside.

To record the northern lights, we simply set up a tripod and attached the GoPro to it. Then we waited in a warm car until the northern lights appeared. Then we just took a photo on our smartphone. The range is about 4m, anything further away may cause signal strength problems.

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Anyone on YouTube who is thinking of using a GoPro Hero 5 as a selfie camera is likely to be disappointed. The built-in microphone is not completely “silent”, so proper post-processing is always necessary. It should be noted here that there is no action camera on the market that can make audio recordings without interference without using an external microphone.

However, you can connect different microphones to the GoPro 5. We tested it in combination with a Sennheiser MKE 400 microphone and were very pleased with the result. Only downside: GoPro needs a stable stand, as the microphone is longer than the smallest mini camera.

Hero 5 Black looks great both above and underwater. As a lifeguard myself, I also took 4k underwater photos.

The quality is just great and ready to be viewed on the big screen. My depth gauge showed almost 9.5 m, I didn’t want to go anymore, because the GoPro itself shows a maximum diving depth (without an underwater housing!) Of 10 m. Up to this limit, the camera worked without failures.

However, from a certain depth, the light diminishes sharply, so the use of a flashlight or headlamp is highly recommended. For the GoPro 4, we bought an underwater housing with powerful emitters to record the best we can.

The GoPro 5 Bracket can also be attached to the middle of the device, where the GoPro Hero 4 now sits. So this device can be used universally across all GoPro models. The purchase price was not exactly cheap, but for a diver like me it paid off several times.

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There are tons of accessories available for the GoPro 5, but they all come at a price. We bought a sturdy transport bag, a lashing strap (as seen in the Husky photo), a selfie stick, and an underwater case. Of course, it always depends on what you are going to do with this camera in detail.

If you’re looking for a versatile action package at a good price (with Full HD video recording capability), you can check out this offer.

Differences between Go Pro Hero 5 Black and Hero 5 Session

Hero 5 is also available in a slightly cheaper version called “Hero 5 Session”. The differences are mainly in price and built-in performance.

The Hero Session is much smaller than the Black version and measures only 3.8 x 3.8 x 3.6 cm.

The session image resolution is 10 MP, not 12 as in the Black Edition.

Both cameras can record video in Ultra HD, but the 2.7k version at 60fps is only possible with the Hero Black. In addition, there is no way to record slow motion in Full HD at 120 frames per second.

The session is also waterproof up to 10 m and does not require additional housing. Unfortunately, there is no underwater accommodation to buy for the session.In addition, the session does not have a screen on which you can view videos and you cannot change the battery.

GoPro Hero 5 Black Conclusion

Hero 5 Black delivers fantastic, almost cinematic Ultra HD recordings that look very dynamic and fluid thanks to 30 FPS. The image and depth of field are truly remarkable and will satisfy even the most demanding camera enthusiast.

The touch display, as well as voice control, as well as remote control of the action camera via a mobile phone via an app, make using the Hero 5 absolutely easy.

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The electronic IS is much better and works great compared to the previous GoPro Hero 4. The only drawback is that it cannot be used with Ultra HD video resolution.

Also, slightly shorter battery life for 4K recording (around 70 minutes), and the mic is out of the big league. The built-in microphones in action cameras are generally not the best as the field of application is clearly related to Actoin recordings, rather than providing the best sound quality (although this is still better than the previous model!).

From our point of view, the current price of just under 320 euros can also be assessed as very good.

Overall, we are completely satisfied with the GoPro Hero 5 Black and can highly recommend it.