GoPro Hero 12 Black is the latest camera from the much-loved US brand, and it brings a battery life boost, boosted performance, connection to AirPods and other Bluetooth earbuds, and support for vertical videos to share directly to TikTok and Instagram Reels. It’s a packed upgrade, which is available to preorder now and will release worldwide on September 13, 2023.
As the name suggests, GoPro Hero 12 Black (stylised as HERO12 Black) is the successor to the GoPro Hero 11 Black launched last summer.
From the outside, little seems to have changed.
You’ll find the same rugged case design, front-and-rear facing screens to line up your perfect shot, black colourway (although GoPro has added a pleasant speckling of blue to refresh things), and built-in mounting fingers to attach the camera to your helmet, selfie stick, skis, wheel arches, surfboard, and much more. As we’ve come to expect from recent GoPro cameras, the Hero 12 Black is waterproof without the need for an extra case and has multiple microphones to cancel-out wind noise.
This time around, GoPro has added support for wireless earbuds – like Apple AirPods – so you’ll be able to use voice commands to control the camera with your ‘buds when it’s out of reach. While filming, you’ll also be able to use the microphones on your ‘buds to narrate the video.
GoPro confirmed that skydivers would be able to wear AirPods inside their helmet and their narration would be recorded while the GoPro records the descent. Likewise, you can attach the GoPro to the outside of your car while off-roading and still hear what’s being said inside the cabin. It’s clever stuff and should make voice commands more useful and enable some inventive new ways for creators to capture audio with their clips.
Setting up your new GoPro, you’ll be given a choice between a simplified menu (dubbed Easy Mode) designed for those who want to point-and-shoot, share some clips to social media ..and that’s about it.
There’s also an advanced mode, known as Pro mode, that’ll appeal to keen photographers as well as the slew of television and film production companies that rely on GoPro cameras for their shoots. GoPro has divided up its software experience like this for a few years, but it has streamlined some of the menus on both this time around based on user feedback.
First up, we’ll cover the new additions to the GoPro Hero 12 Black that everyone will benefit from, before moving onto a number of specific tweaks that will appeal to professionals.
For this new camera, GoPro says it has reworked every aspect of its power management system. It’s keeping tight-lipped on the details of its new magic sauce, but the result is 2x longer battery life in some modes.
To further help boost battery, GoPro Hero 12 Black ships with one of the brand’s Enduro battery packs in the box. While this has been available for older GoPro models for some time, it was always as an optional extra. Enduro battery packs enable longer running times in moderate temperatures and more reliable performance in extreme temperatures (down to -10°C/14°F).
At the highest performance setting – 60 frames-per-second at 5.3K resolution – GoPro says to expect 70-minutes of continuous recording, thanks to the efficiencies of the new chipset, Enduro battery, and the rest of the work that’s gone into the new power management system.
Drop down to 30 frames-per-second at the same resolution and that rises to 95-minutes of recording. If you’re content with a more modest 1080p resolution at 30 frames-per-second, GoPro says you can capture 155-minutes of footage between charges.
Of course, we’ll need to test this out for ourselves to see if those numbers are accurate, but that’s a staggering leap in battery performance compared to the previous model.
GoPro says all of its battery tests were conducted with its improved HyperSmooth 6.0 video stabilisation switched on.
On the subject of video stabilisation, GoPro has a number of Emmy Awards on its shelves thanks to its clever stabilisation tech. GoPro Hero 12 Black arrives with the next-generation of this system, dubbed HyperSmooth 6.0. It features improved AutoBoost that automatically boosts the amount of video stabilisation needed while filming – so your footage will remain buttery-smooth, even if things get unexpectedly bumpy.
The system intelligently switches between crop levels, all while preserving the maximum amount of the original frame as possible.
Social media users will find a new Vertical Capture Mode inside the settings that captures vertical 9:16 aspect ratio video, even while the camera is mounted horizontally. This pixel-packed footage is designed to be shared straight to vertically-oriented social channels, like Instagram Reels and TikTok. GoPro subscribers will see their footage uploaded automatically to the cloud whenever their camera is charging and connected to Wi-Fi (at 100% original quality, of course).
Those clips can be edited in the Quick app on your smartphone or tablet and exported to post on social media channels.
GoPro has confirmed plans to launch a desktop version of its Quick editor, which uses AI to start putting together edits for you – isolating choice moments from clips, removing disruptive background noise, and adding titles and music. All of this can be edited to suit your own tastes, but it’s designed to inspire you to start putting together footage from your latest trip.
Already available on iOS and Android, Quik will launch on Mac on November 1 and Windows sometime in summer 2024.
If you’re not a subscriber, you’ll need to wirelessly beam footage from your GoPro to your smartphone or tablet using a local Wi-Fi connection, or connect to a laptop or PC with the bundled USB-C cable. Since your footage won’t be automatically stored in the cloud, you run the risk of losing everything if you misplace your camera during a trip or decide to push the rugged design of the latest GoPro a little too far.
“Hero 12 Black resets the bar for immersive life-capture,” says GoPro CEO and Founder Nicholas Woodman. “Our new flagship camera is the culmination of GoPro’s 21 years of experience and our passion for helping you capture and share your life in an immersive, dream-like way that makes you and your audience feel like you’re right there again, reliving your favourite experiences in vivid detail.”
Industry professionals who rely on GoPro cameras for footage will find a number of improvements in the GoPro Hero 12 Black to make their lives easier.
For the first time, GoPro is making GP-Log with Look Up Tables (LUTs) available to enable professional users to have more control when colour grading their footage.
And those who use GoPro cameras for multi-camera shoots will be able to sync an unlimited number of Hero 12 Black cameras for easy edits. GoPro says its wireless synchronisation feature is designed to work with Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier, and other industry-standard editing apps.
You can buy the Hero 12 Black as a standalone, or in a bundle, known as the Hero 12 Black Creator Edition. The latter is the same camera, but paired with a multitude of accessories to transform this action camera into an all-in-one content capturing powerhouse that makes vlogging, filmmaking, and live streaming easy. In the box, you’ll find a long-lasting battery grip with built-in buttons for one-handed camera control and over four hours of 4K recording per charge.
The Creator Edition also includes an optional directional microphone, external mic input, HDMI port for connecting to external displays, a high-output LED light and two cold shoe mounts for mounting additional accessories.
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