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The most notable element is the improved video stabilization, which eliminates the need for a gimbal. GoPro has also made notable resolution changes: the Hero6 (unlike the Hero5) captures 4K images at 60 frames per second and 1080p images at 240 frames per second. Finally, thanks to a more powerful Wi-Fi signal, the Hero6 has a better integration for applications and works with the new feature QuikStories, which allows you to automatically get mounted video sequences.
I managed to get one of these cameras when it was launched, and I have been able to test it since. I took her on a four-day mountain bike, go-kart and hike. I also played with at home. Overall, I was very impressed with the progress GoPro made between 5 and 6. Here are the reasons.
In my opinion, the improved image stabilization is the most important upgrade to the most exciting Hero6, which produces smooth, smooth images without additional equipment, such as a gimbal for example.
Before, I had to mount my GoPro on a stabilizer, like the Karma Grip from GoPro, to reduce the jolts present during filming. With the 6, unlike before, I simply activate the internal image stabilization function on the touch screen, and that’s it: I can film a mountain bike ride in the mountains without having a desire to throw up when I look at what I I filmed.
While the Hero5 also had internal stabilization, it was only active on two axes. Also, stabilization only worked when you took a picture with a narrow or medium field of view (which is actually the field width for which the camera is configured). The Hero6, meanwhile, features a three-axis stabilization that is available in a wider range of resolutions and images (like the 4K at 30 fps and the 1080p at 120 fps), including for a wide field of vision.
Is stabilization of Hero6 equal to the professional level of Steadicam? Absolutely not. But this is a major improvement over the Hero5, and it helps you a lot to create more professional videos.
OK, stabilization is the key update for this camera, but I was also quite enthusiastic about improvements such as 1080p video at 240 frames per second, which creates ultra-slow motion sequences that are ideal for capture images of different sports.
The iPhone 8 can capture the same kind of slow motion, but the GoPro still has the advantage of mobility and ergonomics: it is much easier to attach to your bike, your ski helmet or your dog. In addition, I worry less about the sustainability of a $ 500 GoPro than a $ 1,000 fragile iPhone.
That said, you will have to use the 240 fps function in moderation, since it is intended to capture sporting moments.
High-resolution video capture at 60 frames per second
For video buffs like me, this faster frame rate is indeed a big upgrade, as it is more efficient at capturing moments in high resolution. But most of the time, it’s actually too much for most people – the files are too big.
If you transfer clips from the Hero6 to your phone and upload them to Instagram or Facebook, these clips will be compressed at a lower resolution: 720p or 1080p. If you plan to edit your images with Premiere Pro or Final Cut, then yes, 4K images reduced to 1080p will be really beautiful. But how many people will notice this on Instagram? More importantly for most users, 4K shooting takes up much more storage space on your memory card (and your computer) than shooting in 1080p.
The clips from GoPro Hero6 are beautiful, but what we must draw here is that you will have to choose the right resolution, frame rate and the right display for each situation. If you only shoot for Instagram, do not go near the 4K. If you shoot for a real movie, go for it. It can be difficult to always choose the right combo, but fortunately for us GoPro has a guide to getting the most out of your camera depending on what you are filming.
The GoPro app
The power of your GoPro can expand when it is related to the application, and this integration has been significantly improved.
First of all, it’s much easier to pair your Hero6 with the app thanks to a new proprietary processor that makes the Wi-Fi signal three times faster. The pairing process is not perfect either – I still have some problems, and the application has also frozen but it is much better than before.
The other important development is called QuikStories. It’s an integrated editing program that automatically uses Face Detection, GPS, and audio to identify the best clips, and then adapts them to fit.
As a professional video editor, I was skeptical about QuickStories. But now that I’ve seen it work, I’m impressed. It captures much of what I would consider to be the highlights, then puts them together in a concise, easy-to-read, set-up setting on an audio track of your choice. You do not need to spend time climbing if you do not want to.
But it’s not perfect, and it often misses key scenes. To make editing easier, you can capture shorter moments (to analyze this faster) and highlight the clips you think are important. (You can do this by using the voice command of the camera saying “GoPro Highlight.”)
GoPro has introduced voice control with the Hero5, but it improves with the Hero6. Being able to stop and start recording, switch from photo mode to video mode and turn on / off the camera without ever touching it, this is extremely useful when you ski or ride a mountain bike and you need to focus on it you are doing.
The Hero6 is first and foremost a video camera, but it also captures beautiful shots: the camera is the same as that of the Hero5 and produces a JPEG or RAW 12 megapixels.
Is the camera better than what’s in the new iPhones? Nope. But again, the GoPro is ideal for angles that your phone can hardly capture, if you take into account all the different places you can climb with.
Should you upgrade?
I’ve used the Hero4 Black and Silver models a lot since they were launched in 2014 and I never really felt the need to switch to the Hero5, the biggest improvements of which have been waterproofing without the case, voice control and two-axis stabilization. In my opinion, none of these features agreed to provide a remarkably better device.
With the Hero6, however, I get the best of the Hero5, plus improved stabilization, better quality images and better integration for the application. This has become an obvious upgrade for anyone with a Hero4. If you have the Hero5, you’ll still enjoy smoother, higher quality video, as well as an easier-to-use mobile app.
One last note: If you are saving money to buy a POV camera, you should also think about the new Fusion camera, the GoPro 360-degree camera delivered in December. I’m not a big fan of 360-degree images, but I can not wait to see how a device called Overcapture works. It is said that it is possible to film a spherical and complete video, then, after the fact, to choose an angle and to read it like a regular POV video with fixed perspective.