It’s been exactly a year since the GoPro Hero11 Black was released in India. It doesn’t seem that long though, probably because we had quite a few adventures with it for months before publishing its long-term review. Hero11 was a major upgrade over its predecessors, and packed a lot of new features, including the larger sensor with an unusual aspect ratio of 8:7. That squarish frame seemed odd on paper, but the thought behind it and its implementation impressed us.
Its successor, the GoPro Hero12 Black has now arrived. We did not expect it to be drastically different from the 11, and in all fairness it isn’t; it probably didn’t need to be. Having said that, it does bring a bunch of novelties to the table to justify its existence. Some of them are just incremental, while a few make a bigger impact and some make you wonder why they weren’t available all this while. Here are the top 5 new features of the GoPro Hero12 Black that make it stand out from its predecessor.
HDR now in videos too
While HDR was available in photos on the Hero11, we finally have it in videos too on the Hero12. The high dynamic range in videos enables better details and contrast in the captured footage, and the colours look more vibrant too. The difference is more conspicuous when shooting in sub-optimal lighting. You can now record HDR videos in 5.3K and 4K resolution.
Compatibility with Bluetooth earphones/headphones
Why wasn’t this available before? Aren’t you thinking about the same too? A feature so simple but so useful graces the GoPro Hero12 Black. You can simply pair your Apple Airpods or almost any Bluetooth earphones or headphones with this camera and record your live commentary despite being a fair distance away from the camera (but within the wireless range). The possibilities are endless with such a setup.
For instance, you can mount the GoPro on top of your vehicle to capture the action, while you can do the commentary from the quieter confines of your car with the windows rolled up. If you are into capturing footage of birds or animals, you can place the camera at the desired spot and share your voice inputs from afar without disturbing or scaring away your subjects. Even better, you can use this setup to issue voice commands remotely to start or stop recording and save battery by not leaving the GoPro on all the time. That brings us to our next point.
Significant improvement in battery backup in high-res video modes
While GoPro opted for the new Enduro battery in the Hero11, the battery backup was only marginally better than the Hero10. And shooting in higher resolution modes that were introduced then took a heavy toll on the battery. The Hero12 strives to fix that despite using the same battery, courtesy of some serious optimisations to the recording algorithm and power management.
The GoPro Hero12 promises double the battery backup as compared to the Hero11 when recording in two of the most demanding modes – 5.3K at 60 FPS and 4K at 120 FPS. While we will reserve our final opinion on the subject for the detailed review, my initial observations tend to tally with the company’s claims. Having used the Hero11 extensively, the battery backup of the Hero12 seemed significantly better, and it lasted the whole day when shooting short clips every now and then mostly in 5.3K/60 mode along with dozens of photos at the highest setting.
Vertical capture without the need to tilt the camera by 90 degrees
This may be a simple thing but highly versatile for the creators of Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, and for all those who like to shoot in a vertical 9:16 aspect ratio. The Hero11 Black could record in that format but one needed to tilt the camera to a vertical orientation to capture the footage. With the Hero12 you don’t need to. You can simply choose that aspect ratio and start recording, keeping the camera horizontal where it is a lot easier to mount.
Do more with 8:7 along with integration of photos and videos
The versatile 8:7 aspect ratio can now be used in TimeWarp, Time Lapse, Night Lapse and Night Effects modes too for a taller field of vision (FOV). There’s also a very interesting addition to Night Effects. While the Hero12 does exactly what the 11 did with Light paintings, Star trails and Vehicle light trails, it also automatically creates a high quality still image from the recorded footage, saving you the time and trouble of creating one later using editing apps.
The photo and video integration goes beyond Night Effects on the GoPro Hero12 Black. I am sure you too have faced the issue of missing out on a photo opportunity while recording a video. Often a still image captures the moment better than a video. The Interval Photo feature ends that dilemma and offers you the best of both worlds. You can set it to click photos at fixed intervals, ranging from half a second to two minutes, while you focus on recording the video.
Other interesting additions
While the above features top our list of novelties, the company has come up with a few more things that have grabbed our attention. For starters, their HyperSmooth video stabilisation keeps getting better with every release, and its 6th iteration promises to do one better than version 5.0. We will check it out more closely in the review, if the difference is discernible. GoPro also released the Max Lens Mod 2.0 that provides a crazy wide 177-degrees FOV and offers some interesting possibilities.
There’s a big update on the software front with the popular Quik app soon to be available on desktops too. Mac users are expected to get it before the end of this year, while Windows users will have to wait till early 2024. And last but not the least, the GoPro Hero12 Black is priced at Rs 45,000 in India, which is a good Rs 6,500 lower than the launch price of the Hero11 Black in 2022. A better deal is always welcome. Stay tuned for the detailed GoPro Hero12 Black review with some mid-ocean and on/off road adventure footage.