In a world where action lurks down every YouTube link, three Heroes just aren’t enough.
No, when every leap, splash, crash and climb (no matter how insignificant or embarrassing) must be recorded in total clarity, a new Hero is needed.
A Hero that will capture every concussion in 4K at 60fps, before automatically editing them into a fame-worthy compilation of pain to share with your burgeoning fanbase. That Hero is the GoPro Hero6 Black.
What if you're not sure about spending £500 on a top-end action snapper, though? While the days of deciphering the differences between Silver and Black might be behind us, the GoPro range can still look bewildering to a novice.
Thankfully, we’ve sifted through the spec sheets to assess just which GoPro will suit your style of shooting – so you can get back to planning your Supermarket Parkour Compilation.
Best for… novices
GoPro Hero (£200)
GoPro’s first new model for 2018, the Hero (yes, the numbers have been ditched for this one, and it’s simply “Hero”) is a slick entry-level addition to the main action cam range that’ll fit the same cradles, cages and mounts as the pricier Hero5 and Hero6 models.
While you can forget about 4K, super slo-mo recording (and built-in GPS), the Hero totes many of the same features found in more premium-priced GoPros: a 2in touchscreen, voice controls, digital image stabilisation, QuickStories (which automatically moves footage to your phone and edits it into easily sharable clips) and waterproofing to 10m. And 1440p or 1080p video at a smooth 60fps (or 10MP stills) is hardly slumming it on the footage front.
It does lack the ProTune feature for manually controlling various camera settings, but if you’re simply looking for a sturdy, small and simple-to-use action cam that documents your outdoor exploits, the Hero ticks all the boxes.
Best for… 360º shooters
GoPro Fusion (£650)
The Fusion is GoPro’s affordable 360º action cam, with two 180º lenses located on opposite sides of the 8cm square body. Working in tandem, these two ultra wide-angle cameras capture everything around them, then software stitches their separate videos and images together into single 5.2K versions ideal for VR viewing.
Perhaps more impressive for extreme sportspeople is the Fusion’s OverCapture feature, which takes all the data and transforms it into a single flat image format. You can opt for a “tiny planet” video that bends and squeezes the entire 360º image into a single, striking frame, or punch out a single 1080p flat frame from the video that follows a particular object or person as they move around. With the latter, you can essentially shoot everything around you and just cut out the best frame for your highlight reel, ditching the rest.
Eagle-eyed viewers might notice that the stitching isn’t always 100% spot-on, and some softness creeps in towards the edges of the frames, but both issues are par for the course for 360º cams in this price bracket. In any case, the excellent electronic stabilisation and punchy image quality more than compensates, and the inclusion of a selfie stick/low-rise tripod is a thoughtful design touch.
BEST FOR…EVERYDAY STREET SHOOTERS
GoPro Hero Session (£150)
Haven’t got the readies for a pro-level shooter? Even in its trimmed down line-up, entry level doesn’t mean basic: GoPro’s Hero Session is a tough cube that's perfect for shooting videos destined for YouTube or smaller screens.
The only survivor from GoPro’s previous array of action cams, the Session is an ultra-portable shooter designed for quick-click recordings.
Ditching a screen in favour of a compact shell, the Hero Session has a straightforward one-button interface for touch-to-go action. More advanced operation requires a smartphone, connected via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, to frame, shoot and share.
It's not well-suited to longer shoots - the battery is good for just two hours - but for speedy, impromptu filming on a budget, it's tough to beat.
Though it lacks 4K, recording in 1440p at 30fps is plenty good enough for most budding YouTube sharers, while 8MP stills will fare well against most smartphones – especially when you’re 30ft below the waves.
BEST FOR… HELMET CAM FANS
GoPro Hero5 Session (£200)
Names, it seems, aren’t GoPro’s strong point: meet the Session. Well, the Hero5 Session. Like the original Session, only smaller, smarter and sharper.
Take everything that was great about the company’s first mini-cam, throw in higher resolution recordings, video stabilisation and voice control tech, and you’ve got a take-anywhere blockbuster of perfect proportions.
Equipped with 4K video capabilities, it’ll also snap 10MP shots with the push of a single button, before automatically uploading your latest action footage to the cloud through the Quik app – provided you’ve subscribed to GoPro Plus.
Like all GoPro models, the Hero5 Session can be attached to many an object, courtesy of a menagerie of available mounts. Given its dinky form factor and Siri-like handsfree smarts, this could be the one to opt for if you’re after a carefree helmet cam.
Pair its steady image abilities with new linear-field-of-view tech – which corrects the fish-eye distortion familiar to many a GoPro user, albeit not at 4K – and you’ve got footage fit for a downhill champion.
BEST FOR… extreme enthusiasts
GoPro Hero5 Black (£300)
What’s better than a 4K-recording action camera? One that also shoots stills in 12MP RAW: GoPro’s former range-topping snapper is still a touch-screen titan of image resolution.
What’s the benefit of RAW? For serious photo fans, it means enhanced editing flexibility without the need to make countless copies.
Bulkier than its brethren to make room for the extra tech, the Hero5 Black can also capture snaps in WDR mode. That’s 'wide dynamic range' – and it means your ski slope shots will have a brilliantly broad range of exposure.
Throw in two-axis stabilisation smarts and 120 frames-per-second shooting at 1080p (which is plenty good enough for silky smooth slow-mo) and you’ve got yourself a video powerhouse fit for any situation.
Waterproof to 33ft without a case, the spacious 2in screen will be a boon for underwater explorers, while one-touch and voice control capabilities ought to be a welcome addition for gloves-wearing mountain-goers.
It also offers GPS location-tagging, making it a good bet for documenting longer trips, while Wi-Fi and Bluetooth mean you can pair it with your smartphone for editing duties.
Best for… pro action snappers
GoPro Hero6 Black (£400)
So, you want to truly go pro? While the new Hero6 Black might look identical to the Hero5 Black, almost all of its shooting specs have been supercharged to deliver a properly top-end box of rugged recording.
What do you get for the £130 price hike over the 5? Everything that its predecessor had to offer (think touchscreen, Wi-Fi, case-free waterproofing and the rest) plus a chip. More specifically, GoPro’s new GP1 processor - and it makes the world look much, much nicer.
Take the image stabilisation: it might not be optical, but GoPro’s new three-axis digital offering is so darn good that it doesn’t need to be.
Frame rates have been dramatically increased, too, so you can now shoot in sumptuous 4K at 60fps, or create super dramatic slow-mo footage in 1080p at 240fps.
In fact, image quality generally is a cut above anything else in the range, with refined auto-exposure, more delicious dynamic range and stellar low-light performance. It all adds up to satisfyingly smooth, properly watchable videos that look good even on bigger screens.
You will, though, need hardware that can handle the new HEVC codec used to record 4K footage. If you don’t own a recent MacBook or Kaby Lake-equipped Windows machine, you’re probably better off with the the Hero5 Black.
If you do, though - and you’re happy with a battery that’s only good for 45 minutes of 4K/60fps recording - then the Hero6 is easily the best GoPro going.