GoPro Hero6 Black review: Epic. Little. Camera.

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The Good The GoPro Hero6 Black has groundbreaking electronic video stabilization for the category, a long list of resolutions and frame rates to choose from and overall improved image quality. Its faster Wi-Fi makes mobile transfers a little less painful.

The Bad It's pricey at $500, £500 or AU$750 and all those extra features and faster performance don't do battery life any favors.

The Bottom Line GoPro one ups its own top camera with the Hero6 Black and its superior stabilization and performance in the same small waterproof package as its predecessor.

8.8 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Image quality 8

The GoPro Hero6 Black looks just like the Hero5 Black. It's the same small size and still waterproof to 10 meters (33 feet) with the same ports, controls, battery and same size touchscreen on back. 

But, as the saying goes, it's what's inside that counts, and what's inside is a new custom-designed processor, the GP1, that's responsible for a whole lot of improvements. CEO Nick Woodman said in the past GoPro was building its cameras around off-the-shelf processors and those chips were available to competitors as well. The GP1 ends that by allowing GoPro to make a camera with the capabilities it wanted. 

However, those extra capabilities will cost you: $499, £500 or AU$750. It's $100 more than the Hero5 Black, which stays in the lineup along with the Hero5 Session and the original Session. (Here's a chart to see all of the Hero6 Black features in comparison to the others.) If you have the money, it is without a doubt worth getting the Hero6 Black. 


The Hero6 Black on a tripod.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Movin' on up

The Hero6 Black isn't quite the complete overhaul that the Hero5 Black was, but it does raise the bar on what you can expect out of such a small freakin' camera. For starters, that new GP1 chip means faster frame rates at higher resolutions. The Hero6 Black can record 4K 2,160-pixel resolution clips at 60 frames per second, which can give fast action a smoother look. And if you're into slow-motion clips, you can record in 2.7K at 120fps and 1,080p at 240fps. 

Keep in mind, though, these higher resolutions and frame rates require a reasonably powerful computer for playback and editing. Also, GoPro switched from the H.264 video codec to the newer H.265 codec also called HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) to save on storage space while keeping quality about the same. HEVC is natively supported on Windows 10 and MacOS High Sierra as well as on Android 5.0 or higher and iOS 11, but again, your computer, phone or tablet will need a strong processor. You can read more about HEVC on GoPro's support page

GoPro also claims the GP1 helps improve tonal range, color accuracy and low-light quality. There is a noticeable improvement in video quality over the Hero5, particularly with color and dynamic range. It's not as quick to blow out highlights and there is less image noise overall. Although l did see an increase in artifacts and fine details appeared softer as my conditions went from daylight to dusk, it wasn't bad at all and again, an improvement over past models. 


A top feature for the Hero6 Black: Solid stabilization.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Now that's stable

The new processor gave GoPro the headroom to improve on the Hero5's electronic image stabilization (EIS) promising gimbal-like performance. That's a pretty big claim and one that could potentially cut into the sales of its own motorized gimbal. To GoPro's credit, the EIS works really well. 

If you're running or walking hard with the camera, you'll get a visible shake with every step. However it's nothing compared to what you get without the EIS. That said, it's awesome at controlling shake from vibration, such as you would get from a handlebar or chest mount. For big movements, you'll still want a gimbal, but the EIS can handle a lot and while it occasionally looks a little jerky, I'll take that over nauseatingly unwatchable shakiness any day. 

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