GoPro’s New HERO5 & Karma Hands-On!

GoPro official 2016 product launch in person


From the official press release and beyond: 

(my photos and comments to follow in-line)

SAN MATEO, Calif., (September 19, 2016) – GoPro, Inc. (NASDAQ: GPRO) today unveiled new products and services that dramatically simplify the process of capturing, editing and sharing engaging content, establishing GoPro as an end-to-end storytelling solution.

In addition to significant gains in performance and convenience, GoPro’s all-new HERO5 line of cameras can auto-upload photos and videos to GoPro Plus, a cloud-based subscription service that makes it easy to access, edit and share GoPro content anytime, anywhere using a phone or computer.


At the launch event, Nick Woodman makes his usual entrance to a cheering crowd. Everyone already has a basic idea of what’s to come, but a lot of details were left out of the press packets the night before.

He started out with the concept of storytelling, and how GoPro is in the “storytelling business”. Then on to the new products – the HERO5 Black comes first. Then the HERO5 Session. Followed by the new Desktop and Mobile apps – and the Quick Key. Finally, the Karma Drone and Handheld Gimbal are announced with some great fanfare and promo videos.

Nick then sends everyone off to meet with their groups as we start our adventures for the day. There were several different group activities that were scheduled and were spread out all over the mountain. Luckily, the GoPro PR team really knew how to pair up folks in the teams to address their interests most. Our team headed straight to the Karma Drone testing area before moving on to anything else. It was cool to be in a group of some of the first outside of the company to get to fly one!


So… on to the products that were announced – and the different cameras and devices that we got to experiment with throughout the day:


HERO5 Cameras – Cloud-Connected and Simplified.


HERO5 Black – Avail 10/2  $399

HERO5 Black is the most powerful, easy-to-use GoPro, ever. Exciting features include:

  • 2-inch Touch Display + Simplified Controls
  • Video Resolutions up to 4K at 30 Frames per Second
  • Professional Quality 12MP Photos
  • Auto-Upload of Photos and Video to Cloud when Camera is Charging*
  • Voice Control with Support for 7 Languages (additional languages coming)
  • Simple 1-Button Control
  • Waterproof Without a Housing to 33 Feet (10m)
  • Compatible with Existing GoPro Mounts, Including Karma
  • Stereo Audio Recording and Advanced Wind Noise Reduction
  • Professional-Grade Electronic Video Stabilization
  • Distortion-Free Wide Angle Video and Photos with New Linear-View Setting
  • RAW and WDR (HDR) Photo Modes
  • GPS


Technical Overview:

The HERO5 Black is a rebuild from the chassis to the new waterproof casing that doesn’t require an external housing up to 10 meter depths. The new battery is redesigned for higher capacity over the HERO4, and all the integrated features combined like electronic stabilization, GPS tagging, RAW/WDR (HDR) photos, voice commands (that really work!), improved audio and improved lens with distortion correction modes for video and photo, make for a completely new production cam for around $400.


While the video technical specifications for shooting with the HERO5 Black aren’t a huge step forward from the HERO4 Black from two years ago, the new form factor and all of the other features and additions still make this the most advanced POV action cam on the market.

**UPDATE 9-24: I tested the HERO5 Black in a live venue corporate event and attached it to an old FeijuTech handheld gimbal stabilizer I had for the HERO3. It obviously didn’t fit perfectly, and the gimbal covers the power button and half of the touchscreen, but nothing a couple rubber bands can’t fix!


And the resulting video clips of the band that was playing at the event (“The Easy Leaves” – http://theeasyleaves.com) – I just did some rough edit clips shot at 1080/60 with no post color/stabilization/sound correction in any way.

Here’s the basic comparison chart of features of all available GoPro Cameras now:




HERO5 Session – Avail 10/2  $299

HERO5 Session shares the same small design and brilliant convenience of the original HERO Session camera, but benefits from significant performance upgrades:

  • Video Resolutions up to 4K at 30 Frames per Second
  • Professional Quality 10MP Photos
  • Auto-Upload of Photos and Video to Cloud when Camera is Charging*
  • Voice Control with Support for 7 Languages (additional languages coming)
  • Simple 1-Button Control
  • Waterproof Without a Housing to 33 Feet (10m)
  • Compatible with Existing GoPro, Mounts Including Karma
  • Professional-Grade Electronic Video Stabilization
  • Distortion-Free Wide Angle Video and Photos with new Linear-View Setting




I’m really impressed with the new Session updates. The hands-free feature of voice control is extremely helpful for the remote operation of the Session – making it an even more valuable tool. Besides the capability of working in 7 different languages (with more coming), it recognizes commands spoken in English much better than iPhone’s Siri, even when spoken with a strong foreign accent (as witnessed in person at the event).

One of the fun activities that were available to us to test were the RC off-road buggies. For those who have been following my projects, you’ll know what a fan I am of RC rovers and will definitely be trying out the new HERO5 Session with the Stabilization on one of mine soon as well! Here’s a short video taken with the Session mounted at 90º to capture the vertical slices of the side of one of the buggies I was able to drive (and crash/roll) but I didn’t have the Stabilization enabled so you might see some rolling shutter in the clips. I’ll be following up with more examples later on.

I’m looking forward to doing further testing with the HERO5 Session’s Stabilization feature enabled to help reduce the vibration and rolling shutter on mounts that typically generate such artifacts during shooting. It’s only available in certain resolutions and frame rates and can produce up to a 10% crop of your image, but I can only imagine how it will save otherwise unusable footage. This feature alone makes the HERO5 Session a real advancement in my book!

Charging Accessories

For professionals that demand a lot from their GoPros and run through a lot of batteries during a production, there is now a dual-battery charger for the HERO5 Black.


In addition, there is a new portable charger to keep in your backpack for a quick boost of all your GoPro gear.


(more to come with further testing this week)



KARMA – Much More Than a Drone.

Avail 10/23  $799 with Gimbal Only ($999 w/H5 Session, $1099 w/H5 Black)

Karma features a compact, fits-in-a-small-backpack design and includes an image-stabilization grip that can be handheld or mounted to vehicles, gear and more. Karma makes it easy for anyone to capture amazingly smooth, stabilized video during almost any activity.


Karma features a painless out-of-the-box experience unlike any other drone in the market:

  • Compact and foldable, the entire system fits into the included backpack that’s so comfortable to wear during any activity, users will forget they’ve got it on.
  • A game-style controller features an integrated touch display, making it fun, fast and easy to fly without the need for a separate phone or tablet to see what your drone sees.
  • The 3-axis camera stabilizer can be removed from the drone and attached to the included Karma Grip for capturing ultra-smooth handheld and gear-mounted footage.
  • Great for beginners with just enough assistance to help them master their piloting skills without totally removing the true piloting experience.


Drone Specs:

Maximum Speed 35 mph (15 m/s)
Maximum Distance 3280ft (1000m)
Maximum Flight Altitude 14,500ft (4,500m)
Maximum Wind Resistance 22mph (10m/s)
Operating Frequency 2.4GHz
Dimensions (Opened/No Propellers) Length: 12in (303mm)
Width: 16.2in (411mm)
Height: 4.6in (117mm)
Dimensions (Folded/Transport) Length: 14.4in (365.2mm)
Width: 8.8in (224.3mm)
Height: 3.5in (89.9mm)
Propeller Length 10in (25.4cm)
Weight 35.5oz (1006g)


Controller Specs:

Screen Size 5in (12.7cm)
Screen Resolution 720p
Screen Brightness 900 nits
Battery Life 4 hours
Operating Frequency 2.4GHz
Weight 22oz (625g)


Karma Battery:

Dimensions Length: 8in (201.3mm)
Width: 3.6in (91.62mm)
Height: 1.75in (42.7mm)
Weight 19.3oz (545g)
Flight Time Up to 20 minutes
Rating 14.8V 5100mAH (75.4Wh)
Battery Type Li-Po


Battery Charger:

Rating 16.8V 5A
Charging Time for Karma Battery 1 hour
Charging Time for Karma Controller 2.5 hours
Charging Time for Karma Grip 2 hour


Gimbal Specs:

Range of motion -90° to 0° (down/up)
Camera Compatibility HERO5 Black, HERO5 Session, HERO4 Black & Silver
Weight 8oz (230g)
Number of Axes 3


Obviously, this is REALLY what folks at the launch event were waiting for at the launch event! When Nick introduced the Karma and took one out of the case on stage, everyone was on their feet in moments. He played the video (shown above) and then talked about the complete system (not just a drone) – which it truly isn’t when you consider the stabilizer gimbal handle.

3-karmas-flyingWe were able to go in groups up the hill to a ski run that we could test fly the Karma Drone safely. There were three in the air at any one time and the GoPro test flight engineers were right there to help everyone from first-timers to experienced pilots get a chance to fly and answer all the technical questions we had for them.

I got to take a turn at the controls myself to get a sense of how the Karma handled. Unfortunately, they had all of these test units cranked-down slow (Beginner mode) so they had limited speed and height/distance geofencing enabled. It definitely feels much simpler overall than a DJI Phantom 4 but more control and response than the 3DR Solo.

Here’s my (very short) first flight test during the event:

It’s obvious that while GoPro is new to the drone marketplace, they are no strangers to action photography/video and we’re only just beginning to see the capabilities of their efforts.

I predict we’ll see more advanced features and option in this category in the years to come with more autonomy and collision avoidance, follow-me and more.

(stay tuned for more about the Karma Drone and handheld stabilizer coming soon!)


GoPro Plus and Quik Apps – Access, Edit and Share Anytime, Anywhere.  

GoPro Plus – Game-Changing Convenience. (Avail 10/2 $4.99/mo after free trial)

Offloading and enjoying footage from a GoPro is now as easy as plugging it in to charge. When a HERO5 camera is charging, it can auto-upload photos and videos to GoPro Plus, a cloud-based subscription service that makes it easy to access, edit and share GoPro content anytime, anywhere. Editing and sharing has never been easier with this game-changing experience.

A GoPro Plus subscription also unlocks additional premium benefits:

  • Access to an Expansive Library of Music Soundtracks for Editing
  • 20% off Mounts and Accessories at GoPro.com
  • Exclusive Access to GoPro Apparel
  • Premium Support

Quik App – Mobile and Desktop Editing Made Awesome

Editing and sharing content is easy thanks to the Quik app for mobile and desktop. As the name implies, Quik enables users to quickly produce high-quality videos that are fun to create and easy to share.

Using Quik for desktop is simple. Import your videos, pick your favorite moments, choose a soundtrack from a library of songs, and Quik will automatically edit your video to the beat of the music.

The Quik Mobile App – with more than 17 million downloads — is a fast, easy way to create awesome videos. In just seconds, Quik analyzes your photos and video clips to find the best moments, adds beautiful transitions and effects, and syncs everything to the beat of the music.

img_0911I’ve tried the Quick Mobile App on the iPhone for a couple of projects while on-site just to try it out. While it might be fun for some quick videos to share on social media (utilizing both video clips and photos you select) the format and automation is too limiting for anything more than just fun. But really – FUN it is and I see a lot of people using this app in the near future – not just for you GoPro videos and photos, but anything you have in you smartphone/tablet media libraries.

Here’s my video tests using the Quick Mobile App:



(I’ll be sharing more about the Quick Mobile App and other features soon)


Additional New Products

GoPro is also launching several new accessories later this year:

  • Quik Key, a key-chain, micro-USB card reader that plugs into your phone to quickly transfer photos and videos from your GoPro.
  • REMO, a voice-activated remote that extends the voice control range of HERO5 cameras while providing one-button remote control.

quickkeyI’ve used the Quick Key to upload videos and photos directly to my iPhone from the GoPro’s SD card and edited in the Quick App (see above). Although the iOS can’t play back 2.7K or above, or videos higher than 60fps (unless on an iPad Pro) you can do a lot of basic edits right on your iPhone and post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more.


From Nick Woodman – Answers to tough questions

img_0903During a Q&A session with GoPro founder and CEO, Nick Woodman, he was asked some very pointed questions, such as “Why did you wait so long to release the HERO5 and Karma Drone?” and “Why have GoPro stock shares dropped significantly in the past two years”? I was able to grab his most honest response with my iPhone which I’ll share with you:

Check back for more updates and content throughout the next week as I get it processed and uploaded here! ~ Jeff


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Jeff Foster has written and contributed to several books and magazines, and has been producing motion graphics, photography and creative design for major corporations, television and film for more than 25 years. See his full…