On September 20th, GoPro announced the release of the Hero Black 5, Session 5 and their all-new Karma drone. While the press release left much to be desired in terms of presentation, the new promotional videos and announcements were definitely worth the excitement. Above all else, we at Bombear Media believe this new product release from GoPro proves that the industry is moving in an exciting direction.
First, what GoPro did right
The key element of yesterday’s product launch was pricing. In case you haven’t followed GoPro’s stock (NASDAQ:GPRO) closely, there’s been concern over its astronomical price drop over the last twelve months. Two years ago, following the company’s IPO, GoPro’s stock was the hottest thing in the market. The stock price soared from USD $24 to USD $86 in just 4 months. Since then, the stock has been consistently plummeting and currently sits at 14.97.
Initially, the stock was hurt after analyst started speculating that the main product offering from GoPro was easily replaceable by the likes of smart phones or cheaper devices. Then, news about a new Apple patent on a similar technology, further decreased confidence in the stock. Finally, though, the biggest blunder came from GoPro themselves. The price point for one of their most exciting product, the GoPro session, proved to be too high for consumers. This made GoPro miss earnings estimates and the rest is history.
It would now seem that GoPro has taken its time on a new release. Largely it was thought that much of the company’s future was expected to be placed on its new Karma drone, however yesterday’s news proved different. Turns out they have completely overhauled their product lineup with now significantly competitive pricing.
Second, what matters to the average user
In a LinkedIn article I published back in 2014, I mentioned that GoPro’s biggest challenge would be to integrate user friendly software that would make it easy for customers to use their recorded footage. Up until now, it would seem to me that more than half of people that have purchased their GoPro’s end up with enormous amounts of unused footage. You are not seeing the awesome video edits or photographs expected from gigantic increases in GoPro users.
Fortunately that problem has now been addressed. The GoPro Hero 5 now allows you to upload photos and videos directly to the cloud for easy viewing, editing and sharing on the go. The new app is apparently now sporting an overhauled editing software that lets you cut and add music to your video from your phone. Added image stabilization and 4k quality at 30fps will make it easier for the average Joe to dish out spectacular videos.
Now, let’s run through each product
New features for the Hero Black 5 that matter:
- Voice Control: You can now talk to it. How do you like them apples now Garmin (Garmin has been boasting about this feature incessantly with its new camera launch)? Can’t think of how many times I’ve been riding my bike with the camera mounted to my helmet and fiddling with the buttons just before a jump is approaching. This feature can literally save lives.
- 2-Inch Touch Display: Who cares? Apparently this is a big thing for consumers. I personally don’t get it. I can hardly miss a shot with such a wide angle, especially when you have the phone app that can also let you see what the camera can see.
- Waterproof: They got rid of the case! Perfect. Less bulk and easier to manage. Not to mention the fact that it’s black. I had actually blacked out my Hero 3+ just for the sake of it being less intrusive and attention grabber.
- Simple one button control: Sure, why not. Makes it easier to get it running.
New features for the Hero Session 5 that matter:
- Voice Control: Same as for Hero Black 5.
- 4k Video: This is now a worthwhile camera for $299, end of.
Karma features that matter:
- Compact: Smaller and more practical than any other drone offering out there at the moment.
- Ease of use: It all comes in a compact package that’s ready to plug and play.
- Compatibility: Officially it’s compatible with the Hero 4 camera as well. However, since the Hero 3 and 3+ are the same size as the 4, it can be assumed compatibility is there as long as you get a tad bit creative on the mounting.
- Price: I usually don’t get excited for drones, but at this price? You bet.
- Extras: No additional price for the stabilization gimbal and custom backpack that come with the drone. Both items that would be considerably expensive on their own and can be used for other purposes. Win all around.
But, what actually matters for those of us amateur filmmakers?
The biggest upgrades in our opinion are as follows:
- 4k Superview: To be honest, 4k is great. The Hero 4 camera could shoot 4k quality footage. However, only up until this new Hero Black 5 is the 4K available in Superview. The reason this matters is because Point of View (POV) footage significantly benefits from Superview, and its probably only worthwhile in that setting.
- Form factor: Again, they got rid of the case. GoPro is particularly enticing because of its size. Its easy to carry around and use. The story is first, so the best camera you can have is the one that can actually capture the moment. Usually this means the most readily usable camera. The improvements on the new Hero Black 5 make it so its less bulky, faster to get going and ultimately requires less accessories due to its electronic image stabilization.
- Raw: I shoot raw bro! You knew I had to. For those of us actually spending time on doctoring images after the fact, this is an essential and necessary improvement. This just gives more control to users on image quality, which you can never go wrong with.
What about alternatives?
This is where it gets interesting. Although GoPro has proven time and again to be ahead in of the pack in the POV camera segment, other strong players are quickly catching up.
Take Nikon and their Key Mission product lineup. Sexy indeed.
Garmin also has a POV camera that has some additional fun factor in terms of integrating captivating telemetry.
Not to mention, DJI's rummored leaked image of a more compact drone in the make. DJI has been a strong player in this field and could potentially be outpacing GoPro soon enough.
Ultimately it will all come to how well GoPro executes these new features. It all looks well in theory for now, but how will it all fare up once users start fiddling with it? In the past, GoPro has delivered superbly so I believe it will still reign overall. However, although these other companies are lacking in many respects, they are also breaking ground with some features that might not be as important but can be quite fun. For example, Sony now has optical image stabilization offerings that would likely exceed GoPro’s electronic image stabilization, if not for the free gimbal.
We also like what other more sophisticated manufacturers are coming up with, such as Black Magic's Micro Cinema camera. If only it would offer more frames per second in video mode, this would be a true contender in sports photography.
At the end of the day, we like where this is going. The benefits of capitalism and a free-market working wonders for us amateur filmmakers. The more these companies fight for supremacy, the more inexpensive cutting edge technology we will become. Enjoy.