GoPro just announced the HERO12 Black, which boasts a number of noteworthy upgrades over previous iterations. The update to the action camera’s flagship line is chock full of technical specs sure to intrigue professional filmmakers. But many readers might be most intrigued by upgrades designed to make life easier for content creators operating in a stripped-down camera/phone/laptop ecosystem.
We got a glimpse of the HERO12 Black’s capabilities during a media event last week, and there’s a lot to talk about. GearJunkie has a review upcoming, but here are some of the updates that caught our eye ahead of the launch.
Let’s get this out of the way first. The GoPro HERO12 Black maxes out at 5.3K60, 4K30, and 1080p30. That’s plenty of resolution for all but the most pixel-hungry creators. And because GoPro is all about that slow-mo, HERO12 Black can slow it down 8x in 2.6K or 4x (120fps) in 4K.
GoPro also tweaked its proprietary image stabilization software. The company says its HyperSmooth 6.0 feature is improved over previous iterations. However, it will probably take dedicated side-by-side testing to tell the difference.
For the action-sports crowd, GoPro rolled out a new feature to help you achieve even wider, more immersive shots. The HERO12 Black’s HyperView setting digitally warps the GoPro’s native field of view to a wider perspective. It’s been around for a minute. But it really comes into its own when combined with GoPro’s optional Max Lens Mod 2.0 accessory, an updated version of GoPro’s original external lens.
Pair them together, and you get a field of view that GoPro claims is 36% wider than the standard HERO12 lens.
In a media event held last week, GoPro founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman illustrated the concept as the difference between seeing your front tire and top tube instead of just your handlebars when viewing helmet-mounted footage from a mountain bike video.
As you’d expect from a brand with GoPro’s action-sports pedigree, the Lens Mod 2.0 comes with a hydrophobic lens coating. GoPro says the lens is twice as scratch-resistant as the 1.0 model.
The HERO12 Black claims runtimes of up to twice as long as its previous iteration, the HERO11 Black. The secret sauce is in a redesigned power management system and other optimizations, according to GoPro representatives.
What does that mean in practicality? GoPro says the redesign gets you 70 minutes of continuous recording at 5.3K60 with its proprietary stabilization feature turned on. Our reviewer only got 30 minutes of recording time at 5.3K30 with the HERO11 Black, so that’s nothing to sneeze at.
GoPro says users can expect 90 minutes of recording at 5.3K30, and 155 minutes at 1080p30 (both with image stabilization activated).
Native Vertical Video Capture (8:7 sensor!)
In the past, if you wanted to shoot horizontal video with a GoPro, you had to crop in post or mount the camera horizontally. No longer. The GoPro HERO12 Black sports a beefy 1/1.9-inch (8:7) sensor that allows you to choose from a variety of aspect ratios — including vertical 9:16.
Past iterations of the HERO line have sported this sensor, but the HERO12 Black marks the first time the vertical 9:16 ratio has been available with the press of a button.
Also of note, the 8:7 sensor is now available across all video resolutions and the HERO12 Black’s various effects modes, including TimeWarp, Time Lapse, Night Lapse, and all Night Effects.
For the Pros
If you shoot with GoPro in a professional or even semi-professional setting, heads up: The HERO12 Black sports an array of updates you’re probably going to flip for.
The first is time code syncing across up to four GoPros. The sync feature sets up via a QR code held in front of each of the cameras. Once you get into editing, you can easily switch back and forth between footage imported into Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, or other popular video editors without losing sync. That’s a major plus for overworked editors everywhere.
The second update worthy of note is the expanded BlueTooth compatibility. Now, you can connect a wireless mic to the GoPro HERO12 Black without springing for a media mod or wrangling cables on your rig. You can also connect wireless earbuds or a remote control. When wearing wireless earbuds with a microphone, you can use voice-activated commands to interact with the camera. (Think, “Hey, GoPro, take a picture.”)
What’s more, the GoPro HERO12 Black’s software lets you choose between the different audio channels when editing — or even create a mix between them. Just note that GoPro still isn’t including advanced audio control features — looking at you, gain — in the internal controls.
A seemingly minor tweak that will nevertheless capture the heart of dedicated users is the upgraded native 1/4-20 mounting threads. Yep. The GoPro is (finally) compatible with standard camera-mounting hardware.
Finally, GoPro is rolling out a GP-Log setting for professional shooters. If you know what that is and you just got excited, good. If you don’t know, no worries. GP-Log is just a setting that allows video nerds to preserve the most data in their cameras and then adjust that data in post.
Basically, it’s telling the camera to make fewer decisions in the moment and allowing the editor to make those decisions after the fact. It can be confusing to casual shooters. But for those intent on wringing every last drop of utility out of this little camera, it’s a real win.
For the Newbs
If talk of microphones, sensors, and advanced settings makes your eyes cross, fear not. The HERO12 Black is undoubtedly a powerful tool. But GoPro is aware that a large segment of its users aren’t camera experts, and the company has accommodated accordingly.
GoPro claims it has streamlined the “Easy Controls” menu to be even more user-friendly. And the company is launching a desktop version of its proprietary photo/video editor, Quik.
Like other popular content creation ecosystems (think Adobe Creative Suite), the Quik app shares resources in the cloud between desktop and phone versions (GoPro subscription required). The upshot? Start a rough edit in the field on your phone, flip it to your laptop for detail work, then finish on your phone for streamlined uploading and sharing.
The updated app can also generate AI-edited reels, complete with music — similar to popular photo-storage applications like Google Photos or Apple Photos. The Quik desktop app launches on Nov. 1 for Mac and summer 2024 for PC.
Speaking of photos, the easiest way to generate them with a GoPro has always been grabbing a still from your video footage. The HERO12 Black’s powerful sensor allows for crisp 24.7-megapixel grabs.
As a final touch, the HERO12 Black now includes high dynamic range (HDR) technology on both video and photo settings. HDR makes multiple exposures of one image, then digitally stitches them together in real time. Clouds are less overexposed, shadows are less underexposed, and everything looks just a little more like how the human eye perceives things.
There are definitely some fine details to explore, but doing so will require some hands-on testing — stay tuned.
In the meantime, the GoPro HERO12 Black is available for preorder now for MSRP $400. The Max Lens Mod 2.0 is also available for preorder (MSRP $100 or $80 for GoPro subscribers). The creator edition, which ships with a variety of mods and useful vlogging tools, will run MSRP $600. Units will hit stores on Sept. 13.